WVAS Local News
Governor Robert Bentley has backed off his first major proposal before the 2013 legislative session starting February 5th. Bentley began talking in September about passing incentives for veteran state employees to retire. His goal was to reduce the state payroll. But Bentley says he's decided they are not needed right now because enough people are leaving state service and because the stat is saving money in other areas.
New Probate Judge
Montgomery County gets a new Probate Judge, Democrat Steven Reed takes office today. Reed ousted the longtime Republican officer holder Reese McKinney in last year's election. The Probate Judge handles matters ranging from vehicle tags, elections and some issues pertaining to mental health. Reed will serve a six year term.
A University of Alabama student died of injuries she suffered in a wreck last week involving a bus that was carrying cheerleaders from the University of Alabama. Montgomery police said 20-year-old Natalie Baine of Roswell, Georgia, died Friday. Baine was a passenger in a pickup truck that collided with a bus last Tuesday on the South Boulevard near Interstate 65. Officials say the bus was taking the cheerleaders back to Tuscaloosa after the BCS Championship football game in Miami. No one in the bus was injured.
University Student Honored
Officials at Auburn University say a memorial flag will fly to honor James Thomas McCollum, a 19-year-old student who was killed during a burglary in Pike Road. Authorities have said McCollum was beaten, stabbed and shot during a burglary on New Year's Eve and 23-year-old Jason Ferguson of Wetumpka was arrested days later in connection with the incident. Auburn University will fly a memorial flage for McCollum today, display it in the school's student center for two weeks and present it to McCollum's family. Ferguson is being held on $1 million bond in the Montgomery County Detention Facility.
Alabama's Suicide Rate
Officials hope to reduce Alabama's suicide rate, which is worse than the national average. The Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resources Coalition is planning an an advertising campaign for this summer to address the taboo against talking about suicide. State suicide prevention director Debra Hodges said suicide rates have climbed sharply across the country since the recession began, and Alabama's problem has been worse than average. She said guns account for about 70 percent of all suicides in Alabama.
Pastor's Wife Murdered
The United Methodist bishop for north Alabama is trying to comfort members of a large church where the senior pastor is charged with murder in his wife's gunshot killing. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett preached Sunday in all three services at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church. Gardendale police say the Reverend Terry Greer is charged with murder in the shooting death of his wife Lisa Greer, who was slain in the church-owned parsonage last Thursday. He's also charged with attempted murder in the wounding of their 18-year-old daughter.