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Athens News Courier (Newspaper) - March 5, 2009, Athens, Alabama 1 3 5 Spring forward March 8 Daylight Savings Time begins e News Courier Serving Athens and Limestone County: A Community oflradition and tutiire Г)0 t ents Thursday, March 5, 2009 Visit us online www.enewscourierxoni Inside Today Johnson looks to rebound Three-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2009 and hopes to turn his season around this weekend in Atlanta. SPORTS, PAGE IB NASA gets $1B from stimulus Funding earmarked for climate-watching satellites and exploration, among other things. PAGE 8A Subscribe (iet tiu* nevNs with your moniiiig eoliee SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWS COURIER BY CALLING 232-2720 Index Business ........5A Classifieds.......4B Comics..........3B Ledger.......   .6A Lottery..........ЗА Obituaries.......2 A Kathryn Janice Carwile Julian I. Hazlewood Helen Shannon Mathis Harry R. Thompson Sports...........IB Weather.........2A 69847 00001 June plant closure still looms News of GM buyout brings no joy for local Delphi plant By Keu.y K.YZFK KiilysFiithvnsncws-i'tmritrxxHn No one is celebrating today in the emptying buildings of Delphi manuficturing complex off U.S. 31. Despite word Tuesday night that its former parent company General Motors had purchased the steering division of Delphi Corp., local employees knew their situation would not improve. The closure of the Limestone County plant, where auto steering components are made, was announced in 2007 and was to occur this month. However, closure was extended to June 30 as operations are phased out. Vaughn Goodwin of Local 2195, who also is mayor of the small city of Trinity in Morgan County, said too much of the local plant already has been moved under a plan to consolidate with a Saginaw, Mich., plant. “The decision had alreacfy been made to consolidate with Saginaw and we’re so you saw it fij^t o peaking news at fer under way... We’ve already moved out most of the machines.” Goodwin said. “We’re so fer gone.” Delphi Corp. went into bankruptcy protection in October 2005 and oflBcials said the sale of its steering operations back to GM is part of its efforts to emeige from bankruptcy protection. Work force A once buigeoning staff that numbered more than 4,000 but was down to about 1,900 when closure was announced now stands at about 600, Goodwin said. “We’ll be losing about another 150 by the end of month,” he said. “CXit of those 150, probably 100 are going to Springhill See Delphi, page 2A NEWS COURIER FILE PHOTO The news Tuesday of GM's buyout of Delphi's steering division brought no joy to employees of the Limestone County plant. The local facility still is scheduled to close by June 30. There’s a new tavern in town NEWS COURIER/KIM RYNDERS The Oasis on East Washington Street, which closed several months ago, is being reopened by new owners and renamed The Limestone Tavern. The grand opening is scheduled for March 17. Downtown eatery to reopen with new name, management “The Whole Foods chain was made famous by Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray, because that is where they shop,” he said. Smith said he will have a grand opening on March 17, preceded by a “soft opening” on March 13, in which people will be admitted by invitation only and be permitted to sample “eveiything on the menu.” Smith said he formerly owned the Tip-Top Café in Huntsville and his wife, Traci, owned Joy’s Barbecue, also in Huntsville. Traci now owns and operates Little Britches Baby Bou- By Karfn Middleton atlwiisni‘\vs-a)uricr.a)m Downtown Athens is getting another eatery to replace the recently closed Oasis on East Washington Street. Tommy Smith and his wife, Traci, bought the restaurant that for many years was known as Easter’s Café. The new business is called The Limestone Tavern. “I’ve owned restaurants before, but I will not be running this one day-to-day,” said Smith. “I’ve got a man from Hoover coming up, Norwood Van Dyke, who is the lead chef at Whole Foods. See Tavern, page ЗА Investigators keeping eyes on Limestone sex offenders By Iv\ren Middlfix)N kiin VK" utlx 4is;i( ‘ws-itnirk y >/;i rhrœ city arrests for sex offenses in i30 days might make some think such crimes are increasing, but both city and county law enforcement officials say it might be more a case of better reporting. “ Iffiere’s been more recently, but there still is no reason for a big panic,” said Athens Police Capt. Marty Bruce. The three city cases (xxurred between Jan. 29 and Feb. 21. They were one failure to register as a œnvicted sex offender, one sexual abuse of a child under 12 and one of enticing a child. Bruce said three arrests in a relatively short periixl, might lead someone to believe there is a crime wave in sex oftenses, but a look at 2008 sex offenses shows this year’s arrests are not unusual. In 2(W8, Athens City Police reported: one incest with a child under 12/sexual abuse; two sexual abuse of a children under 12; one case of attempted sex abuses; four sexual abuses; oge of enticing a child; one for two counts of failure to register as a sex offend-erdiving too close to a school; and one indecent exposure. Registering offenders In the past decade law enforcement agencies are increasingly called ирш to enforce Megan’s Law. Megan’s Law is an informal name for laws in the United States requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders. To have this information readily available, agencies must make sure all convicted sex offenders in their œunties register their addresses with law enforcement. Also, those residences must not be near schools or day care centers. See Offenders, page 2A Habitat to establish Volunteer Coordination Committee BYjpJViNIFFR R- HllX Jcnnifer&atbcnsnews-i' Evan Wellden has been woddng hard since his installment as the volunteer coordinator at Athens-Limestone County Habitat for Humanity. However, his days are numbered because he is only serving a year throi^ an AmeriCorps VISTA training program. His goal is to have a functioning Volunteer Coordination Committee in place before his service time is up. “A committee will make volunteer relations go much smoother,” Wellden said. “When I leave in August the committee will run itself.” The committee made up of three to five people will “identify, recruit, orient, utilize, retain and recognize volunteers in order to carry out the ministry of Habitat for Humanity. The committee is responsible for ensuring that the program is volunteer-fiiendly and conducive to a rewarding experience to maintain the hipest possible level of participation.” Wellden will be interviewing community members interested in being on the committee through mid-April. Those applying should: • Have good “people skills” and able to work with various types of people • Be familiar with their community re- See Habitat, page 3A ;