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New statistics prepared for Alabama counties reveal that agriculture, forestry and related industries have an annual economic impact in Alabama of $70.4 billion. The data includes the number of jobs created that are related to the agriculture and forestry industries. The report also includes the number of farmers in each county and the acreage farmed. The study was conducted by Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Beating Death Trial
A federal court jury will begin deliberations today in the trial of a former prison supervisor charged with fatally beating an inmate and trying to cover up what happened. The jury of eight women and four men got the case Monday but told the judge they wanted to wait until today to begin deliberations in the case of former Ventress Correctional Facility Lt. Michael Smith. The state Department of Corrections fired Smith after inmate Rocrast Mack died nearly three years ago. In closing argument, prosecutors said Smith repeatedly hit Mack even though Mack wasn't resisting. A defense attorney said Smith did his job to maintain order in the prison. Smith is charged with violating Mack's rights, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
Alabama's voluntary pre-kindergarten program is expected to see a roughly 40 percent increase thanks to increased funding. The Legislature increased funding for the pre-kindergarten program from $19.1 million to $28.5 million for fiscal year 2014. Commissioner of the Department of Children's Affairs, Jeana Ross, says he plans to offer more details on the planned expansion later this week.