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Athens News Courier (Newspaper) - December 29, 2009, Athens, Alabama Alabama hoping to avoid Sugar Bowl repeat PAGE IBThe News Courier SiTviiig Atli(4is ami IJmcstonc County: A СоппттНу ol' iradition ami Culiirr Г)0 C'i'iils Tuesday, December 29, 2009 Visit us oniifie www.enewscourier.comInside Today Long distance Christmas Daughters speak to their father stationed in Iraq on Christmas VALLEY, PAGE 4A Hangin' around Despite leave, Florida’s Meyer expects to lead Gators in 2010 SPORTS, PAGE IB Subscribe C(‘t lilt' news willi your iiioruiiig eoliec' SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWS COURIER BY CALLING 232-2720 Index Classifieds.......4B Comics..........3B Ledger ..........5A Obituaries.......2A Clayton Beasley Alice Blankenship Charles Collier Sr. Carl Morris Sports...........IB 7    69847G00Ü1 Qements family needs help after devastating lire By Jkan Coi i jciili ^ ;t(h('nsii('\\ s-c()iiri(‘r.C(>iii CLEMENTS - Two days after Christmas, the Donnie Smith family aw'oke to a nightmare — their home at 14138 Fwans Road was going up in flames. “They w'oke up with flames coming through the ceiling,” said Donnie’s mother, Betty Noll of Tanner. “They got out in their bare feet. It went up quick. They didn’t get anything out.” Firefighters from Clements and Reid, along wuth nine fire trucks, battled the blaze in western Limestone County for hours but were unable to save the small mobile home. The cause of the fire has not been officially determined, but firefighters believe it may have started wuth an electrical short in the fuse box, Noll said. The Smiths — including 10-year-old son Donnie Jr. and ?)-year-old daughter Ashley — were left with nothing but a need to cope. “Ashley doesn’t want to go to sleep — it’s hanging with her,” Noll said. “Fler mother is having a rough time of it, too.” Sunday’s fire struck a family already struggling. Regina, 37, is battling ovari-qn cancer, and Donnie, also 37, has been disabled by a back injury. Noll, who has lived in the Clements community all of her life and w'ho used to work at Athens-Limestone Hospital, is coping by trying to get the family w^hat they need. “They need a permanent place to live and they need clothes and shoes,” she said. The family has applied for low-income housing in Athens and they have sought help from the Community Action Agency. The Limestone County chapter of the American Red Cross, which is low' on money this year, sent the family to Goodwill to pick out some clothes. The Red Cross also paid for one night’s stay in a hotel. But because the family stayed at the scene of the fire until nearly 5 a.m. Sunday morning and had to check out of the hotel by 9 a.m., they used the $100 Visa card they also received to pay for tw'o more nights in a hotel. Tonight they w'ill have to stay with Noll See Fire, page 2A Outlandish COURTESY PHOTO BY BILLY HALL Hundreds of American white pelicans have been seen on the Elk River in the past two weeks. Conservation officers say the birds migrate for the winter from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, but in recent years, some have wintered in North Alabama. Hundreds of pelicans visit Elk River By K.\hi:n Middi.kio.n kitn 'II я III I и 'iisiH '\\s-( i iiihi ‘r.miii FTmails and Facebook postings w'cnt out over the w'eekend fix)m residents near the F]lk River abt)ut hundreds of American white pelicans congregating there. One longtime Idk Ihwr resident, retired Athens State University professor Penne Laubenthal said in her “RiverVue” blog on the Swampland Web site that it is the second time she ever remembers seeing pelicans on the Idk. Liubentkil blogged: “White Pelicans are a rarity' on Flk River. I had never seen one north of Gull Shores, bul on Christmas morning of 2(X)7, a friend down the river called to say that a dozen White Pelicans were winging our w'ay in the midst of a fl(K'k of cor-miTrants. I had despaired of ever sighting peliains on Filk River, but suddenly, there they w'ere — resplendent in all their pristine glory, like outlandish angels Hying in formation. Last Christmas I did not see them, but this morning, December 17, over one hundred arrK'ed at our end of the river — this sans fellow' cormorants.” Billy Flail, cilso an Filk RK'cr resident, captured several photos of the gr-dcefril birds. He estimates the lltx:k See Pelicans, page 2A NAACP welcomes new^ year with youth activities By K.vHtN M11)01.J- ION kuivn(^ IIIlu'iisnt'w s-cinirhr.coiii The Limestone County branch oi the NAACP is setting the tone for a year of youth activities when it sponsors the organization’s Youth Council New Year’s Extravaganza. Deloris Fletcher said the multi-cultural event is a w'ay of “reaching out to all the youth of the community.” “This is something new this year for all the youth of the community to get together,” said Fletcher. “Our youth wanted to reach out and do something positive.” The Extravaganza will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday at Lau’ Court Event Center at Nick Davis and Mc-Culley Mill roads. Fletcher said the evening would begin with a praise program and end w'ith a social. Vocalists Andre Carr and Gary White, both of Athens, will perform, and there will be a dance performance by the Weapons of David Hip-Hop Ministry. There will also be talks by motivational speakers Shelia Woods of Athens, Brandon Nance of Huntsville and Brandon “Pastor B” Waltham of Decatur. Dress is casual and partygo-ers will be treated to heavy hors d’ouvres and dancing to music played by a DJ. “We wanted to start something new w'here the kids can come together as one,” said Fletcher. “This w'ill be the first event of the new' year. We will follow this with a concert in the park, a revival in the park, basketball tournament, plus more youth togetherness socials. These will be multicultural — breaking the bonds.” Tickets are on sale for the Limestone County NAACP Youth Council’s New Year’s Youth Extravaganza at $10 each or $50 per table of eight. For tickets or more information, call Fletcher at (256) 374-2201 or the NAACP office at (256) 206-6536. Joel D. Gooch Jr.Deputy’s observation eads to 2 arrests in burglary ByJka.n Coi i jt'UII (I iltlH'IISIH'W ^-Cinihl'r.COIII Two Filkmont brothers have been arrested in connection w'ith a burglary and cigarette theft at a Salem convenience store, an official said. Joel Dwight Gooch Jr., 24, and Joshua Matthew Gooch, 21, both of 22574 Easter Ferry Road, w'ere arrested Saturday on one count each of third-degree burglary, said Limestone County Sheriff’s Chief Investigator Stanley McNatt. They are accused of breaking the glass in the front door of Discount F’ood Mart in the Salem community on Saturday morning and stealing assorted cartons of cigarettes of undetermined value, McNatt said. “A video camera caught them and even their truck,” McNatt said. The video images W'ere sent to other law-enforcement agencies along with a description of the vehicle. While on patrol that same morning. Deputy Tom Gilbert saw' a truck fitting the description on Poplar Point Road. See Burglary, page 2ANew doctors office open in Elkmont By Kakkn MiDDi r io.n karr 11 athriisiirws-rmirii'r.roiii Dr. Wayne Jones has a new office in Elkmont. Alabama Elk River Development Association Director Randall Hammock said Jones and his staff of two nurse-practitioners — Jeff Crawford and Lorrie Davis — moved into the office in the Piggly Wiggly Shopping Center about tw'o months ago trom a former office on F^rt Hampton Road. Hammock said the clinic, which occupies offices on the south end ol the building, recently received a $71,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to outfit the office with new medical equipment. “HRSA is the same organization that provided a grant to fund the See Doctor page ЗА Joshua M. Gooch ;