Athens News Courier (Newspaper) - December 16, 2009, Athens, Alabama
Fed expected to leave interest rates unchanged PAGE lOAThe News Courier
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All-America team has 6 from Bama
Mark Ingram, Rolando McClain, Terrence Cody lead record contingent of all-stars as Crimson Tide prepares to face Texas Longhorns in Jan. 7 national championship game.
SPORTS, PAGE IB
Time change for council meeting
The Athens City Council will meet at 3 p.m. Monday for a work session followed by a regular meeting at 3:30 p.m. The council is meeting earlier so members can attend a reception for the new chancellor of the two-year college system, Freida Hill, in Decatur.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Pope enters guilty plea
By Jflvn Qini:
jt 'iiniflalhonsiu 'w -.s-i Y«/n< r. t y w/j James Gardner’s eyes filled with tears and his thin hands gripped the arms of his wheelchair, as he spoke of the neighbor who pleaded guilty TUesday to shooting him follownng a fight over a bull in March.
“I wish he would have gotten 20 years,” Gardner said in the lobby of the Limestone County
Courthouse, where Jerry Odum Pope, 58, of 19848 East limestone Road had entered a last-minute plea as his trial was about to begin. “He took everything fixjm me with one single shot. I built houses for 20 years and I taught my kids to build houses. Now I just take it one day at a time.”
Earlier in the morning, a beleaguered Pope hugged femily members after entering a blind
plea to first-degree assault, which limestone Circuit Judge Bob Baker accepted. The blind plea means Pope admitted guilt without guarantee of a particular sentence. First-degree assault in connection with a firearm carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years.
See Guilty, page 6A
rhe Power of Love’
NEWS COURIER/KIM RYNDERS
Birdie Tliomtoii clients share Christmas
On Tuesday morning, members of The News Courier staff made their second annual trip to the Birdie Thornton Center for mentally handicapped adults, bearing small bags of treats. Each staff member fills four or five bags so that all 67 clients at the center will receive a bag filled with small gifts and candy. Birdie Thornton clients repay the gifts with a mini concert
featuring the center’s choir. This year, the choir sang “Silent Night,” with a solo by Clara Petty, and the gospel song “The Power of Love.” Above, Nick I.x3ng gives a hug to News Courier publisher Ann Laurence after he received his gift bag. Below, Petty and Neal White sing “The Power of Love” with more choir members joining in the background.
NEWS COURIER/KIM RYNDERS
Another purse-snatching reported in Athens
By Jean Cole jcaniii>atiwnsiu’\vs-C()uher.com Better keep your purse, and your cards, close to your vest.
Athens Police are investigating the second of two purse-snatchings in three days and asking the public for any helpful information.
“We do believe they’re related,” Lt. Floyd Johnson said of the two incidents. “They may be related to a couple of cases we had in October. Those cases are still open.”
The most recent incident occurred about 7:25 p.m. Monday at Madison and Bryan streets.
A woman told Officer Brandon McCuiston a black man — whom she described as 25- to 30-years old, standing 6 feet tall, weighing about 200 pounds and wearing a black hat and handkerchief on his head, a red and white jacket and dark pants — ran up to her from behind and grabbed her Auburn bag, then fled west on
See Snatching, page 6A
Utilities to end mailing of past-due notification
By Karen Middi.eion
karcii n nlhriisiivws-courur.ann Beginning in about February, Athens Utilities customers will notice a new look to their monthly billings.
Along with the new look, the utilities will no longer mail out past-due notices.
“Occasionally, we’ve gotten complaints that anyone can read the account numbers on bills,” said Utilities General Manager Gary Scroggins of the present postcard-style bills. “So before we could be found in violation of privacy laws, we thought we’d go tthead and change them.”
Scroggins said the Utilities is working with a billing company on a design for the new bills, which will be mailed in an envelope.
“It will probably be a sheet bill, sort of like an invoice, that will provide updates and what is going on with rate changes,” said Scroggins. “Prominently, in a different ink color will be the wording that there will be no late notice sent out. The bill will contain the final date when customers are subject to being cut ofi.”
See Notices, page 6A
Planners OK new non-profit dental facility
By K.4REN MlDDEElON kart ‘irSatlwiisni'ws-t чппк r. com
Athens Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to a request by Sarrell Dental Center for a conditional use permit to operate a non-profit dental clinic out of the old health department building on FJm Street.
Brent Meadows of the Public Works Department said the old health department building, which has been vacant for a year since Limestone County Department of Health moved to a new building on Clyde Mabry Drive off U.S. 31 South, is located in an agricultural zone.
However, agricultural zoiies allow medical facilities up to 50,000 square feet. The old health department building is 8,100 square feet.
Sarrell local marketing representative Bobby Shoulders said Sarrell provides ft-ee dental screenings to all children from 1-20 both in Limestone County and surrounding counties. If follow-up care is needed, Sarrell dentists bill Medicaid, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or All Kids dental insurance.
“Our home office is in Anniston and
See Dental, page 6A
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