Athens News Courier (Newspaper) - March 19, 2009, Athens, Alabama Elkmont, West split doubleheacler PAGE IB The News Coud Sening Athens and Limestone County: A Coinnninity of Tradition and Future Visit us online www.enewscourierxom Inside Today March Madness begins NCAA tourney kicks off today when Morehead State meets Louisville SPORTS, PAGE IB Octuplets get 'Hollywood' welcome Two of the eight babies born to Nadya Suleman were released Wednesday and taken to their new home, above, in La Habra, Calf. PAGE 8A Thursday, March 19, 2009 Subscribe (iel the news w ith your morning a)iie€* SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWS COURIER BY CALLING 232-2720 Index Business ........5A Classifieds.......4B Comics..........3B Ledger..........6A Obituaries.......2A Mrs. Eddie Caldwell Amy Marie Carlton Myrl Dean Collier Jaimena R. Garrison Russell Kent George}r. James Dou^as Griffin Glenda Joyce Hc^rd Richard McGee Martha Jean Smith Sports...........IB 69847 00001 Called TACT’ for a reason Local, man threatens suit, says prepaid tuition contracts should be binding By Keixy K\zek keIl\i4cithensne\\-s-i'ouritr.cr)ni ELKMONT - In 1991, Jerry Witt’s first daughter Bailey was bom. He and his wife, thinking ahead, decided to pay into a new plan called Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan, which would mean her tuition to a state college would be paid in full by the time Bailey graduated high school. B^ey, a senior at EJkmont High School, is a few months fium that goal. She’s been accepted at the University of North Alabama and applied for student housing. The only problem is, the Witts are no longer sure if PACT has the money it promised 18 years ago. TVeasurer Kay Ivey announced earlier this month that, due to the economy, the PACT program has lost about 45 percent of its value since 2007, although a chart on the PACT Web site does not reflect this loss. She also said, in a statement that shocked many parents, the program is not guaranteed and that it is not backed by state funds. Angered that the program was reportedly being managed by a firm that put all the funds in stocks and did not diversify, Witt has made inquiries about filing a class-action lawsuit. What can be done? Panic-stricken parents met March 12 with Ivey in Montgomery, demanding their agreements, taken out in good faith, be honored. They were gK^en no solutions but w'ere told the board that governs PACT would meet i^ain at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Capitol Auditorium in Montgomery. According to the PACT Web page on the State Treasurer’s Web site at 800alapact.com, 275 people have dropped out of the program since Ivey’s announcement. Bradley Byrne, the chancellor of Alabama’s tw'O-year college system. See PACT, page 3A Happy Trails NEWS COURIER/KIM RYNOERS Richard Martin, left, and his grandson, Andrew Martin, dig sassafras tree roots to brew tea Saturday at a vine-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the 11-mile Rails-to-Trails project. Vine-cutting event to mark end of 20-year Rails-to-Trails project By Kaiu:n Middleton karvn@a thcnsnew s-ivurier. cow It took some political haggling and about $1.1 million, but organizers of the local Rails-to-Trails project say they never had a doubt it would be completed. It was just a matter of when. Saturday, the Limestone County Parks and Recreation Board will host a vine cutting to mark the completion of the 20-year project that began with the purchase of 11 miles of abandoned CSX railway fix>m Hays Mill to Veto at the Termessee state line. The board and fiiends wiU gather at 10 a.m. at Mitchell Coflfinan Park at 19529 Piney Chapel Road to cut a vine and toast the comple- Vine cutting A vine cutting will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mitchell Coffman Park at 19529 Piney Chapel Road tion with hot sassafras tea. Richard Martin, who spearheaded the drive to build the trail, went out with his grandstrn, Andrew Martin, Wednesday to dig sassafras roots with which to brew the tea along the trail at the 1.5-mile marker north of Elkmont. “Just smell that root,’’ said Martin as his See Trails, page 3A Pharmacy broken into in Athens Authorities reiease mug of suspect By JI AN C^oi.K jcnmF iitlwiisiH'ws-anirU'r.coin Athens Police have released a photograph of the man suspected of breaking into Athens Pharmacy early Wednesday and stealing an undetermined number of pills. Police obtained a warrant Wednesday afternoon for 29-year-old Jacob H. Flanagan in connection w’ith the 5:20 a.m. burglary at the pharmacy at 705 W. Market St. in Athens, across from Athens-Limestone Hospital, said Athens Police Lt. Floyd Johnson. “ F1 a n a -gan entered through the roof of The Athens Clinic, which is in the same building with Athens Pharmacy,” Johnson said. “Once inside the clinic, Flanagan broke a glass door going into the pharmacy.” Police say he stole an undetermined number of Xanax, a tranquilizer and anti-anxiety medication, and Lortab, a narcotic painkiller. Flanagan, a white male, is 5 feet, 4 inchqs tall and weighs 135 pounds. Anyone with information about his location should call Athens Police at (256) 233-8700 Jacob Flanagan \s breaking new: you saw »reaking news at www.enew8courter.com Doggie Fest helps feed, fix pets By Karen Middleton kiiren^athensnews-courier. ami A weak econcany is also affecting man’s four-footed friends. One local group. Helping Our Pets in Limestone County, wants to help keep owners and their pets together in these tough times. “Our primary goal is to help people with little income who can’t afford food or neutering for their pets,” said new HOPLC member Ken Mathias. He said he joined the group about three weeks ago because he believed in their cause. HOPLC will sponsor a Doggie Fun Fest March 28 on Athens State University’s Beasl^ Field. They’re inviting the public to bring leashed dogs and join the fun. Dogs can participate in flyball, acts of agility, and disc dog. There will be search and rescue demonstrations by HEMSI do^. How to go The inaugural Doggie Fun Fest will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 28 at Beasley Field off Hobbs Street. “Children will go hide and the dogs will find them,” Mathias said. There will be music and food vendors and vendors selling pet items. There will also be items to bid on, T-shirts for sale, and a donation box. But admission is fiee. “We have a COTimittee that meets to determine whether someone qualifies for assistance for their pets,” Mathias said. HOPLC President Cindy Buckman said people with an annual income of $18,000 or less per household qualify for pet food or pet neutering as- Ste Doggie, page 3A COURTESY PHOTO This is the first dog adopted through the organization Helping Our Pets in Limestone County. The group will sponsor the Doggie Fun Fest March 28 to provide assistance to low-lncome households to purchase pet food or pet neutering.