Athens News Courier (Newspaper) - March 18, 2009, Athens, Alabama Athens golfers place in local invitational PAGE 2B The News Courier Sening Athens and Limestone County: A Connnunity of Tradition and Future 50 cents Visit us online w¥rw.enewscourierxom Inside Today A great homemade sauce Christy Jordan shares great Spaghetti lovers recipes. LIFESTYLES, PAGE Cl B'ham boy performs m Xlrque Dreams' HEALTH, PAGE 8A Index Obituaries.......2A Bessie Davis James Griffin Randy Lane Johnson Jaminiena T. Garrison Ledger .......6A Sports...........IB Comics..........3B Lifestyles........1C 7 698 47 00001 6 Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Gov. funds to aid lending here Bank Independent officials say their share will help increase local loans B\ K.ARFLS MlDDIinX)N kan ‘nTtatfu‘Hsne\vs-c rniricr.am) Bank Independent officials said Tuesday they would use so-called government “bailout” money to increase lending in its service area. “But it’s not a bailout to us,” said Bank Independent President Macke Mauldin. “The TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) has two components — troubled assets and money loaned to banks so they can increase loans to their communities.” Mauldin said Bank Independent “did not wmit or need” the $21.5 million it received Friday from the U.S. Treasury Department through the Capital Purchase Program. “After speaking to our regulators, who encouraged our bank to take advanta^ of ftmding to promote growth in our communities. Bank Independent’s management and board believe this is a rare opportunity to employ funds for what is best for the immunity,” said Mauldin. “We want to take the ftmds and stimulate the econonty.” Bank Independent, which was begun by a group of farmers in Leighton in 1947 to finance crops, operates in six counties of North Alabama — Limestone, Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence and Morgan counties. •• y “We never participated in any of See Funds, page 3A Concert kicks off rodeo COURTESY PHOTO Music group Confederate Railroad above is scheduled to play at the Sheriff's Rodeo May 9. Confederate Railroad, Doug Stone to perform at rodeo arena May 9 This year’s 27th Annual Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo will bring a new rodeo week kickoff with an opening concert featuring Confederate Railroad and Doug Stone. “These two recording artists draw big crowds and are very popular among country music fans, and should set the stage for a successful rodeo week,” said Sheriff Mike Blakely. The concert will be at 8 p.m. May 9 at the rodeo arena on Alabama 99 at Elm Street. Advance tickets will go on sale April 1 at Railroad Bazaar in Athens for $15 advance, $25 at the gate. Ф See Rodeo, page 2A Doug Stone Susan Parker: ‘Energy efficiency’ might be fifth power source By Kaiut^ MiDDiJ-TixiN kan'niffathcnsnc\\s-tx)iuier.a>m Public Service Commission member Susan Parker told the Athens Oons Club Tuesday night that in the drive to find renewable power sources the easiest and most economical might be “energy efficiency.” She said a concept she has introduced on tiie commission, which she calls “Consumer Education Initiative,” could be called the “fifth” renewable power source. The others are hydro, wind, solar and nuclear. “I have started to teach people how to use less energy, but I wiU say that we are doing pretty good, compared to the rest of the country,” she said. She said the country is about to see a “carbon tax” on coal energy because coal produces carbon that pollutes the atmosphere. Parker said there is a move underway See Parker, page 2A Mason Funeral Home on track to be reopened By KARtJ^ MlDDIFIX)N kan'niffatlmtsitcv's-txmrkrxxm The new owners of Mason’s Funeral Home, vriiich operated on Brownsferry Street for 75 years before closing three years ago, has won conditional approval fiom the Athens Planning Commission to reqjen the busii^ss. The Commission on a 8-to-2 vote approved sending a recommendatkHi to the City Council to grant conditional approval Felton Burger, a Huntsville dvH engineer who represented the unnamed own- See Mason, page 3A Grocer was selling drugs from store, sheriff says By Kelly Kazek kellyiM^^athcnsncws-amrier.cimi The owner of a Ripley grocery store not only was using a back room for illegal gambling but for selling marijuana, said Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely. James Steelman, 36, of Athens was charged Monday night with promoting gambling, trafficking in marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He remained in Limestone County Jail on Tuesday. Bond had not been set. Blakely said Steelman was weighing out a pound of marijuana when authorities arrived to raid USA Grocery at the comer of Ripley and Zehner roads at about 8 p.m. The marijuana and five illegal video poker machines were located in a cramped back room marked with a sign saying: “Absolutely no. one but employees back here.” Blakely said the floor of the See Grocer, page 3A NEWS COURICR/KIM RYNDCRS Limestone County Sheriff’s Department drug investigators Josh McLaughlin, left, and Lt. Lance Royals unload illegal video poker machines that were confiscated Monday night from USA Grocery in Ripley. The store's owner was running an illegal gambling operation and selling drugs from a back room in the store, investigators said. 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