Lonnie Washington, a Bessemer attorney, has been appointed trustee of Alabama State University by Gov. Robert Bentley. His appointment, made Tuesday, needs approval by the state Senate. Washington will replace Larry D. Thornton Sr.; a Birmingham businessman and former chairman of the ASU board. Washington, 49, is 1988 ASU graduate.
The suspect charged in Sunday's slaying of an Auburn football player made his initial court appearance Monday. A district judge ordered 22-year-old Markhale Hart of Camp Hill held on $500,000 bond. Hart is accused of fatally shooting 18-year-old Jakell Mitchell of Opelika. Family members and other held a candlelight vigil last night to remember Mitchell.
Montgomery Police were called to a shooting incident in the 2700 block of Zelda Road just after 9 a.m. When a police officer arrived on the scene, shots were reportedly fired in his direction. Two vehicles then fled the area. One of those vehicles eventually collided with a care in the 2100 block of Woodley Road. Three adults and a two-year-old were in the fleeing vehicle. All were hurt in the accident with the driver sustaining life-threatening injuries. The child's injuries were described as serious. The driver of the other vehicle was last reported in serious condition.
Family and friends are mourning the shooting death of an Auburn football player. Opelika Police say a 22-year-old man is being held in the Lee County Jail following his arrest in connection with Sunday morning's murder of 18-year-old Jakell Mitchell of Opelika. Police said the shooting took place at the same apartment complex where two former football players and a third man were slain in June 2012. Opelika police said 22-year-old Markhale Hart of Camp Hill, Alabama was taken into custody in Dadeville late Sunday morning.
Coca-Cola Bottling Company United is expanding its distribution operation into Montgomery with a $35 million dollar capital investment. The company recently purchased an 850,000 square-foot facility on Westport Boulevard where it will carry out sales, distribution and service of Coke products in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Dothan, Evergreen and West Point, Georgia. Sales Center Manager for Montgomery Coca-Cola Bottling Company Don Densmore says 37 new jobs were also added to the 247 existing jobs.
The governor has challenged legislators to be leaders as they address the state's budget crisis next year. Robert Bentley, in a speech to first year legislators Thursday, said he wants to make significant changes instead of putting a band-aid on the state's budgets in 2015. The governor also said he is somewhat open to the idea of expanding Medicaid, but the plan would have be designed by the state and would have to participate in a job training program.
The state's graduation rate has soared to 86 percent. State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice released the new numbers Thursday, which represent a six percent increase over last year. Bice says the state is ahead of schedule with the plan 2020 standards. Bice says the record-breaking graduation rate is proof that teachers and students are working harder than ever.
Alabama's Prison Reform Task Force will discuss the state's troubled and overcrowded prison system today. Shelby County Senator Cam Ward, who chairs the panel, said the discussion will center on proposals that would reform the prison system. A federal judge in Montgomery has ordered trial to begin in March 2016 in a lawsuit involving medical care and mental health care for Alabama prisoners.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office has hired a familiar face. Former Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy will now hold the position as second in command to Sheriff-elect Derrick Cunningham. Cunningham had mentioned in November that Murphy was in the running for the slot. The sheriff-elect says that he needed someone he could trust who would have his back. Several other candidates were considered, though their names were never released. Murphy retired from the police department, though he says it was not a voluntary retirement.
Alabama is one of 18 states being given federal grants to boost access to preschool programs. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced today that federal officials are awarding more than $226 million dollars nationally, and Alabama will be given $17.5 million in development grants. The Pre-K Task Force of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance recently announced that it's planning to ask the Legislature to increase its allocation by $13.2 million dollars to help expand preschool access.