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Athens News Courier Newspaper Archive: June 20, 2009 - Page 1

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   Athens News Courier (Newspaper) - June 20, 2009, Athens, Alabama                                 V) A w  jr Weir first-round leader at rain-delayed U.S. Open PAGE IB  2 09  — _  The News Courier  Serving Athens and Limestone County: A Community of Tradition and Future  50 cents  Saturday, June 20, 2009  Visit us online   www.enewscourier.com   Inside  Today  Juiy will hear abuse case  By Jean Cole   jeaii@athensnews-courier.ami  An Ardmore mother charged with felony child abuse and her boyfriend have asked the court to let a jury decide their case in September.  Melinda Leigh Barnes, 30, and Kevin Bruce Bennett, 32, both of 29775 Elkwood Section Road, will stand trial at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 before Circuit Judge Bob Baker, records show.  The two are accused of spanking her 6-year-old daughter so severely it left bruises on her buttocks and legs, an official said.  Barnes and Bennett have pleaded innocent to  the charges.  They were initially arrested and charged Sept. 10. A grand jury formally charged them in November.  An Ardmore schoolteacher first detected what she believed was abuse when the girl kept fidgeting in her seat at school and asked the girl if something was wrong, Limestone County Sheriffs Chief Investigator Stanley McNatt said after their initial arrest.  “The girl wouldn’t complete her supper meals, so they spanked her and made her sit at the table, sometimes for eight hours at a time,” McNatt said. “The bruising was pretty bad.”  The teacher reported the bruising to the Department of Human Resources, which reported it to the Sheriff s Department Aug. 31.  Limestone Sheriffs Investigator Leslie Ramsey determined charges were warranted.  “Investigator Ramsey interviewed the 6-year-old and found she indeed had severe bruising on her buttocks and legs,” McNatt said. “The boyfriend had spanked her and also her mother said she had spanked her.”  The child was removecf from the home and placed with the DHR, McNatt said after their initial arrest.  Rarnes and Bennett are free on bond.  U.S. soccer aiming for World Cup  Americans have bought more tickets for next year's World Cup soccer competition in South Africa than fans from any other country.  SPORTS, PAGE IB  Military: Moves a safeguard  A new anti-missile system ordered for Hawaii is partly a strategy to deter North Korea from test-firing a long-range missile across the Pacific and partly a precaution against the unpredictable regime, U.S. military officials said Friday.  PAGE 2A  Subscribe  Get the news with your morning coffee  SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWS COURIER BY CALLING 232-2720  Index  Classifieds 4B  Comics..........3B  Ledger..........4A  Lottery..........3A  Obituaries  none  Sports ..........IB  Weather.........2 A  69847 00001  County recognizes amateur radio operators' contributions  By Karen Middleton kare/i &a thensnews -count r. com The public is invited to come out and HAM it up with local amateur radio operators.  The Limestone County Commission has declared June 27 as Amateur Radio Field Day.  Radio operators will conduct an emergency-preparedness exercise at the Emergency Management Agency building off West Market Street at Hine Street.  More than 20 local licensed amateur radio operators provide volunteer radio communications when violent weather threatens or when other emergencies occur.  Commission Chairman David Seibert presented a certificate of proclamation to amateur radio operator Joe Ivey at Friday’s commission meeting.  Other business  In other business, the commission took the following action:  • Accepted a $100,000 grant agreement with the Appalachian Regional Commission, which requires a $122,000 county match, to install fiber-optic cable for video-conferencing between all county buildings and the EMA office.  See Radio, page 2B  What can your 20 bucks buy shopping with local merchants?  By Karen Middleton  karm@atlimimews-eourier.cam   In these days of the shrinking dollar, shoppers might wonder what 20 bucks can buy.  If you are the governments of Athens and Limestone County, $20 could go a long way toward providing services for 76,135 citizens.  In today’s News Courier, you will find a full-page advertisement by 15 local businesses urging each resident to spend $20 today. If each of the county’s 76,135 residents spent $20 today, it would pump $1,522,700 into the local economy.  Tlie city of Athens, which keeps 2 percent of its 8-percent sales tax, would realize $8,800 in tax revenue, of which 50 percent — or $4,400 — would go to the General Fund and $4,400 to Athens City Schools.  One hundred percent of Limestone County’s 2 percent in  See Shopping, page 3A  State’s jobless rate up for May  From staff'and wire reports  Alabama’s unemployment rate jumped to 9.8 percent for May - the highest in nearly 25 years and more than double the rate from a year ago.  Limestone County fared better than 54 of the state’s 67 counties with a rate of 8.6 percent, reflecting 3,102 people out of work.  Unemployment in Mississippi and Georgia is now lower than much of Alabama, though not lower than Limestone County.  State Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees announced Friday that Alabama’s rate had risen from 9.0 percent in April to 9.8 percent in May. The last time Alabama’s rate was that high was in December 1984.  Alabama’s rate a year ago was 4.7 percent. May’s rate reflected 208,917 unemployed people.  “Unfortunately, the nation is still gripped in a serious recession, and Alabama is not immune to its effects,” Surtees said.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that Alabama was one of 48 states that saw increases in unemployment in May.  Sam Addy, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of .Alabama, said the state has been hit hard by losses in manufacturing jobs, but he’s hopeful that 9.8 percent will be the state’s peak.  “As the recovery takes hold, we will do better,” he predicted.  See Jobless, page 2B  Serving their country  NEWS COURIER/KIM RYNDERS  Specialist Shawn Cooley of the 203rd Military Police Battalion, above, plants one of the first of many goodbye kisses on wife Samantha after a deployment ceremony at Athens State University's Beasley Field Friday. The unit departs for Ft. Bliss Sunday before heading for Iraq to train military police there. Below, Maj. Gen. A.C. Blalock, adjutant general, Alabama National Guard, inspects the troops.  Athens bids farewell to 203rd as Guardsmen deploy to Iraq  By Karen Middleton  kart ‘iiifl atliensnt 1 ws-courit r.cow Many of those who turned out Friday on Athens State University’s Beasley Field to bid farewell to the 203rd Military Police Battalion, mopped their brows in the scorching, late-aftemoon sun.  With the heat index near 100 degrees, it was heard more than once, “I’ll bet this isn’t anywhere as hot as it is in Iraq.”  For the hundreds who turned out, the focus was not on their discomfort but on the 80 soldiers standing on the field for their deployment ceremony and what they would face in hostile territory.  Their commander, Lt. Col. Charles H. Buxton, promised their families, “I promise to you we will not unnecessarily risk the lives of these soldiers.” Maj. Gen. A.C. Blalock, adjutant general of Al-  See Deployment, page 3A   

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