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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2007
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AREA NEWS IN BRIEF

Man who spanked charged with abuse

ATHENS — An Athens man who spanked a child too hard, according to investigators, is out of jail on $50,000 bond.

Limestone County Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Stanley McNatt said the 2-year-old boy has “deep bruises” on his bottom.

McNatt identified the suspect as Joseph Edward Weathers, 39, of 9615 Sgt. Holden Lane.

He said Weathers’ girlfriend spanked her son and then asked Weathers to spank the boy. McNatt said Weathers used his hand.

The boy’s father discovered the bruising after picking up his son for a visit, McNatt said.

Department of Human Resources and Limestone investigators Leslie Ramsey and Jay Stinnett investigated. Authorities charged Weathers on Thursday with child abuse.

Holly Hollman

NARCOG approves transportation plan

The North-central Alabama Regional Council of Governments approved the 2008 to 2011 Transportation Improvement Program on Friday.

The program resembles the draft plan NARCOG approved in July with the addition of two projects. These projects include development of Beltline Road Southwest and aerial mapping of Morgan County.

Funded by federal monies, right-of-way acquisition for Phase 3 of the Beltline from U.S. 31 to Danville Road is set for 2010 at a cost of $300,000. Phase 3 represents the final stage of the project designated to widen the Beltline to six lanes.

In addition to the Beltline project, state financing allowed for the production of a Morgan County aerial map.

The map will aid the Engineering Department when evaluating the probability and expense of road projects, said Dewayne Hellums, NARCOG director of transportation.

Catherine Godbey

Nucor employee in fair condition

A Nucor employee injured while binding steel coils remains at Huntsville Hospital in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said Friday.

Bernice Petty Cain, 44, of Athens was staying in a regular room in the hospital’s trauma department. Lt. Frank DeButy, a Decatur police spokesman, said officers spoke with plant supervisor Brent Ashcraft after a beam laden with steel coils injured Cain’s foot at the plant at 1400 Red Hat Road at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“He said Cain was putting metal bands around some of the steels coils,” DeButy said. “The coils were sitting on a steel beam that moves up and down. As the beam moves, the coils shift down the beam. Ashcraft heard Cain scream. When he got to her, her foot was caught underneath the beam. He said he wasn’t sure what caused the accident.”

MedFlight transported Cain to Huntsville Hospital.

Seth Burkett

Hartselle man faces sex abuse charges

MONTGOMERY — The arrest of a Hartselle man by state agents stemmed from a sex crime he allegedly committed on a small child, Alabama Attorney General Troy King said Friday.

Investigators from King’s office arrested Billy Ray Hopkins, 55, of 19 Cagle Road on Wednesday on a warrant charging him with sexual abuse of a child under 12.

“This is a case involving serious allegations of a sex crime involving a small child,” King said. “I want to reassure the citizens of Morgan County and throughout Alabama that we are committed to acting swiftly and aggressively to protect children from those who would harm and abuse them.”

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and Hartselle and Huntsville police assisted the attorney general’s Investigations Division.

King’s office said it could not issue further information about the investigation or Hopkins’ alleged crime. Hopkins remained in Morgan County Jail on Friday in lieu of $50,000 bond.

Seth Burkett

Truck catches fire; I-65 shut down

ELKMONT — Responders shut down Interstate 65 in Elkmont on Friday morning when a tractor-trailer truck hauling 46,000 pounds of flammable liquid caught fire.

Athens Fire Capt. Larry Nelson said the driver was headed to Birmingham when he looked in his mirror and saw smoke.

The fire began at about 6:10 a.m., state troopers said.

The driver stopped near the Elkmont exit and found his tires on fire. Responders were worried the fire would burn through the truck’s tanks, one of which contained 29,000 pounds of ketone, a flammable solvent.

Nelson said the other tank had 17,000 pounds of a flammable liquid, but he did not know what type. The fire did not damage the tanks, and no one was injured.

Firefighters from Elkmont put out the blaze, and firefighters from Piney Chapel and Ardmore assisted troopers in rerouting traffic from the southbound lanes.

Holly Hollman
and Seth Burkett

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