News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news

Polar Bear Club takes its annual January plunge in Decatur.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Polar Bear Club takes its annual January plunge in Decatur.

2006: Tennessee Valley top stories


Jan. 3: Woman leaves scene of accident, killed at second wreck scene. Melody Livingston, 41, was involved in a wreck and left the scene only to be killed in a second wreck a couple of miles away, authorities say.

Jan. 13: Wayne Farms gets new high-tech facility. New plant costs $55 million and would bring in 152 new employees.

Jan. 18: Jeff Clark jumps party. Morgan commissioner’s Republican party swap leads to a first-time all Republican commission in modern history.

Jan. 25: Daniel Wade Moore charges are out. A federal judge dismissed Daniel Wade Moore’s civil charges against Assistant Attorney Generals William Dill and Donald G. Valeska, the city of Decatur and Decatur police detective Michael Pettey, but ruled Moore could refile if he wins the criminal appeal that could set him free.

Jan. 26: Commissioner vs. sheriff at meeting. Sheriff Greg Bartlett called Commissioner Stacy George a pig as a result of an argument about jail staffing. George called Bartlett a duck. This was the beginning of a series of incidents between George and Bartlett.


Feb. 1: Commissioner Stacy George to run for sheriff. After a month of battling with Sheriff Greg Bartlett, Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George decides to challenge him and makes a bid for sheriff.

Feb. 7: VP
Cheney in Priceville.
Arriving to stormy skies at Celebration Arena, Vice President Dick
Cheney makes political stop in support of Robert Aderholt’s bid for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Feb. 7: Athelyne Banks and John Caddell pass away. Longstanding icons of Decatur Athelyne Banks and John Caddell both died on this date.

Feb. 22: Two Moulton firemen die in blaze. Assistant Fire Chief Lloyd McCulloch and firefighter Justin Jones were killed when a wall collapsed on the pair while they were fighting a blaze at Outdoor Parts and Service. This tragedy resulted in a landmark legislation including various issues about firefighter benefits, fire department insurance rates and charging arsonists with murder if a firefighter is killed.

Feb. 23: Lucky found in garbage bin. Lucky the dog survived brutal treatment resulting in a lost limb but in a happier home. He was found in a garbage bin left for dead with his snout duct-taped shut.


March 4: Brick building on Bank Street collapses. Poor maintenance doomed a 1920s building on Bank Street, causing a brick wall to collapse. The single-story building was unoccupied. Area businessmen noted the wall had been leaning out about 8 inches for weeks.

March 14: Confederate
monument in Lawrence County causes commotion.
NAACP fought to make the Lawrence County Commission rescind a vote that would place a Confederate monument on the lawn of the courthouse. The NAACP declared the decision “despicable.”

March 21: 3M announces
With a 100,000-square-foot expansion in the works, 3M will hire an additional 50 workers. The expansion will cost $120 million.

March 24: Austin grad turned minister allegedly shot by wife. Matthew Winkler, 31, was found dead in his home in Selmer, Tenn. Authorities believed his wife, Mary Winkler, shot him to death.

March 27: Night court coming to Decatur. A possible solution to case overload for municipal court could result in a night court for Decatur. Other options have failed.


April 1: Possible Delphi closing announced. Delphi would close its doors in January 2008 if it does not find a buyer, the company said in a bankruptcy filing. The 2,100 employees of Delphi got a double dose of bad news when they also got word that all union labor agreements would be canceled.

April 7: Teacher showing offensive Bush video on leave. Steve White was placed on leave from West Limestone High School after a parent complained he was showing negative videos related to President Bush in his classroom. Originally handled by the administration, the situation soon escalated.

April 9: Falkville High gives prom to Bay High School in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi. After Katrina hit, most students of Bay High thought a prom was just an afterthought. But a group of students and teachers from Falkville High school pulled together and gave the students of Bay High a night to remember.

April 10: Gordon Terry dies. “It’s all been about having a big time and getting paid.” That quote by Gordon Terry summed up his life. Terry’s career ended with a star-studded celebration of his life and musical talent at Trinity Baptist Church.

April 10: Duke vs. Mexican National in soccer. Duke beat Mexican National in women’s soccer in Decatur in front of 3,000 spectators, mostly Hispanic.


May is hot-air balloon time at Alabama Jubilee.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
May is hot-air balloon time at Alabama Jubilee.
May 1: Wayne Farms closes for immigration rally. Wayne Farms closed one of three plants today to allow its mostly Hispanic staff to take part in a Huntsville rally for immigration reform.

May 3: Brookhaven and Cotaco to allow girls in football. Brookhaven and Cotaco made strides in equal rights in sports when both schools allowed girls to try out for the football teams. Jessica Hept and Heather Lowman from Brookhaven and Mary Grubaugh from Cotaco may be making big plays in the formerly all-male sport.

May 9: International Paper expands. A $53 million expansion for International Paper was announced at a Lawrence County Commission meeting, evidence that IP wants to keep the Courtland mill open.

May 16: AHS, DHS get IB OK. Decatur is the first Alabama school system north of Birmingham and one of five in the state to offer the International Baccalaureate honors program for juniors and seniors. City officials are hoping this will give Decatur an advantage in attracting newcomers, business and industry.

May 17: West Limestone teacher loses job. Steve White, a teacher at West Limestone, was fired after being accused of showing students sexually explicit Internet videos. He had been accused earlier of showing students negative Bush clips on the Internet.


June 7: Sheriff Greg Bartlett defeats Commissioner Stacy George. Sheriff Greg Bartlett won the Republican primary by 3-1 over Stacy George. He will face Democrat Tom Little in November.

June 5: Nucor adds 100 jobs. Nucor announces a $150 million expansion that will bring 100 jobs.

June 16: Cargill reopens. Though the long-term future of Cargill is unclear, the plant is reopening.

June 23: Nucor, 3M get abatements. Decatur awards Nucor and 3M tax abatements for expansions. Over 10 years the city/county tax breaks mean $7.49 million to Nucor and $2.2 million for 3M.

June 28: Drug bust in Limestone nets 28; officer shoots man. A multi-jurisdictional drug raid results in officers shooting Kenneth Jamar. The task force of federal and area officers did not include Limestone County deputies. Officers discovered the man who was shot was not the man they sought.


July 7: The Crossings. With the opening of The Crossings Shopping Center, traffic will accelerate. The center will house Target in its 245,680 square feet of retail space and will be accessible from U.S. 31 and Alabama 67.

July 8: Cardiac docs head to Parkway. In a surprising move for Decatur General, a group of heart doctors jumped hospitals and landed at Parkway Medical Center. A few days later, Decatur General announced plans to replace the group.

July 22: Daniel Wade Moore gets new
A state appeals court ruled that Daniel Wade Moore will receive a new trial in the slaying of Karen Tipton after Judge Glenn Thompson overturned the murder verdict on charges of misconduct by prosecutors.

July 28: Teacher fired for Bush video. Steve White’s arbitration hearing with the Limestone County Board of Education was closed to the public. Charges of showing Bush-bashing and sexually oriented videos cost the teacher his job in May.

July 28: Driest year. This is the driest year since 1982 and the sixth driest year on record.


August.jpg - 80240 Bytes
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Decatur Utilities workers struggle to plug a broken water main in August.
Aug. 4: Wilson lock damaged. River traffic was halted when a barge with hazardous cargo headed for BP Decatur struck and damaged the lock.

Aug. 4: Mom’s ashes in man’s stolen car. Michael Donnelly’s day off turned into a nightmare when his car was stolen. The thief didn’t know there was a passenger on board. The ashes of Donnelly’s mother, Lillian Peterson, were tucked in the car. The ashes and car were returned.

Aug. 6: Property tax appraisals going up in Limestone County. The move to appraise property taxes annually means the citizens will most likely be paying higher property tax payments. This is the first year for Limestone County to participate. Morgan has participated since 2004 and Lawrence County since 2005.

Aug. 14: Lost and found in Bankhead. Ray LouAllen said he got lost in Bankhead National Forest when he “just turned around ...” LouAllen was looking for wild boar.

Aug. 19: Carbon monoxide death. Billy Wayne Thomas was killed in a freak accident caused by a carbon monoxide leak on board his boat docked at Decatur Boat Harbor. Three others were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.


The Decatur Red Raiders, ready to take the field in September.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
The Decatur Red Raiders, ready to take the field in September.
Sept. 8: Athens gunpoint prayer. Tammie Lee Doss, with the help of two friends, tried to force her brother, Randy Doss, into repenting of his sins at gunpoint.

Sept. 8: Goodyear sold. The local Goodyear plant was sold to Hyosung Corp. While the deal includes a supply agreement covering five to 10 years, the effect on the local plant is unknown.

Sept. 18: Brick burns. The Brick Deli burned, closing one of Decatur’s hottest spots.

Sept. 19: Riverfest’s new site a smash. Ingalls Harbor became home to the annual barbecue cook off. This was its best year.

Sept. 21: Target
The Crossings, Decatur’s new shopping center, broke ground today.

Sept. 26: Courthouse
bypass squabble.

Despite objections from the County Commission, lawyers and other employees of the Morgan County Courthouse will continue to bypass the courthouse security devices


Oct. 4: Lockheed Boeing venture. Call Decatur “Space Port America” as the United Launch Alliance is approved. This merger between Lockheed Martin and Boeing’s satellite-launch business could bring as many as 250 jobs to the area.

Oct. 17: Lower DU rates. After announcing earlier this year there would be an increase from Decatur Utilities for electricity, DU announced a decrease in rates for natural gas. DU also implemented an electric-rate reduction passed down from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Oct. 21: Hartselle soldier Caleb Lee is Iraq bomb victim. Caleb Lee, a Hartselle soldier on patrol in Mosul, Iraq, was injured when a homemade bomb exploded near his vehicle. While he suffered no external injuries, he was sent to a hospital in Germany. He is the son of Earline Lee, a second-grade teacher at Barkley Bridge Elementary School in Hartselle.

Oct. 21: 17 year-old gets life, no chance of parole. Seventeen year-old Evan Miller was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Cole Cannon. He and accomplice Colby Smith killed Cannon with a baseball bat after robbing him of baseball cards and $350, authorities said.

Oct. 31: Day-Orr election battle. Probate Judge Bobby Day accused his opponent in the District 3 state Senate race, Arthur Orr, of benefiting from a family business involved in a price-gouging suit that was settled. Orr denied the claim and asked for an apology and a retraction, which he did not receive.


Nov. 7: Bartlett keeps job. Greg Bartlett defeated Tom Little to hold onto the sheriff’s badge for four more years.

Nov. 10: Car hits tree, two teens die. Two girls from Hartselle were killed when Emily Orr lost control of her vehicle and hit a tree. Her passenger, 17-year-old Kelly Stewart, was also killed. Orr, who was 16, attended Hartselle High School.

Nov. 11: Racy e-mail scandal at courthouse. Racy e-mails containing photos of scantily clad women proved to be the undoing for Jack Underwood, human resources director. He was fired as a result of sending an e-mail to Commission Chairman John Glasscock, who then forwarded it to Mayor Don Kyle. No action was brought against Glasscock. Kyle said he asked Glasscock not to forward more.

Nov. 13: Hartselle library
Hartselle renamed the city library for native son William Bradford Huie, one of the state’s most prolific authors.

Nov. 19: AU’s Iron Grip. Auburn went 5-0 in the annual Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama.

Nov. 30: Hartselle soldier killed. Jon-Erik Loney was killed in the Salahuddin Province in Iraq when the vehicle he was driving struck a roadside bomb. Loney was a graduate of Danville High School.


November.jpg - 12504 Bytes
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Violet Kaylor at son Cpl. Jon-Erik Loney’s December funeral after he died in Iraq.
Dec. 1: Boeing, Lockheed tie the knot. The merger became official today, creating United Launch Alliance and bringing Lockheed’s rocket operations to Decatur. Decatur will now be the sole manufacturer of the only satellite-launch rockets used by the U.S. government.

Dec. 9: Rich Rodriguez no go. Rodriguez decides to keep the home fires burning in West Virginia by rejecting the Crimson Tide football program. Rodriguez said it was not about Alabama, but about his sense of loyalty to West Virginia.

Dec. 17: Courthouse e-mails. Revenue Commissioner Amanda Scott and Sheriff Greg Bartlett have apparently won round one of the e-mail scandal, leaving Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George at a loss as to what to do next. Scott changed the locks on the doors to her department to prevent access to her computers and a deputy stopped access to Bartlett’s computers.

Dec. 17: Ex-Athens hoops star killed. During a shooting resulting from a suspected argument over a woman, Tanqueray Beavers was killed at a TGI Friday’s in Huntsville. The accused is Jamal Woods of Huntsville. Woods allegedly shot Beavers and three others. Another victim from Athens, Thurston Duran Turner, died later.

Dec. 18: Historic church burns. Falkville First United Methodist Church burned today. The only thing left standing of the 137-year-old church was the stone façade.

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