News from Around Alabama

Finding information on Alabama boards proves difficult

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ The state of Alabama has more than 300 boards, commissions and task forces affecting everything from podiatrists to prisoners of war.

But finding information about them is often difficult.

Many don't have offices or Web sites. Many are not listed on the state's official Web site. And some haven't met for years.

The vice president of the Alabama Policy Intitute, Michael Ciamarra, says information on the boards should be available to the public.

State Representative Paul DeMarco of Homewood, plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming regular session that would require state boards to give certain information to the secretary of state's office. The secretary of state would put the information on her Web site.


Decatur students learn Habitat building

DECATUR, Ala. (AP) _ Decatur High School senior Trey Winton likes working with his hands.

He likes it if it's a socket wrench and a car, or a hammer and a storage building for Habitat for Humanity.

Decatur High's shop program is giving the senior and about 60 classmates a chance to help others. At the same time, the students are learning by constructing wood storage buildings.

Each home that Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County builds has a storage building. Teacher Robert Slack said the individual who previously constructed the buildings died, and Habitat's board asked Decatur High to take the project.

Slack says the students do the project and learn. He says they also help someone in need.


Studies show more people have respiratory illnesses in the south

BIRMINGHAM Ala. (AP) _ If you are coughing and sneezing and you live in the Birmingham area, you are not alone.

The results of two recent studies show that respiratory diseases are worse in the south.

And one study shows that Birmingham is the third worst city in the country for respiratory illnesses. That study was conducted recently by Sperling's Best Places. It ranked the 50 worst cities in the nation for respiratory infections.

The Birmingham area ranked third behind Number one Greenville, South Carolina and Number two Nashville.

The study calculated that each year, nine point two percent of Birmingham area residents are affected by respiratory illnesses.


Alabama native returns with Kentucky Guard

CAVE CITY, Ky. (AP) _ Katy Phelps of Mount Olive, Alabama waited at a convention center for her son, 23-year-old Mark Phelps, to return home after spending a year in Iraq.

The members of the Kentucky National Guard's Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery, returned home yesterday on Christmas Eve.

Phelps says she felt relief when she saw her son get off the bus.

She says she cried more yesterday that she did during the year he was in Iraq.

One member of the unit was killed during the mobilization to Iraq.


Christmas Eve shooting marks Birmingham's 101st homicide

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ An early morning shooting on Christmas Eve was Birmingham's 101st homicide this year.

Jesus Toral Galicia's neighbors had planned a Christmas eve party outside their apartment complex that was to include food and piñatas.

Birmingham police said Toral was shot around 5:10 a-m at his apartment on Second Terrace North.

The victim's neighbor and cousin, Nancy Orduno, says three men kicked in Toral's door looking for money. Toral was shot twice and died at the scene.

A 19-year old man is being held by police, but has not been charged.


State's first black police officer dead at 82

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ Walter Perryman Jackson -- the first black police officer in Alabama -- has died. He was 82.

Candice Womack -- a family counselor at Johnson-Allen Mortuary -- says Jackson died Thursday of natural causes.

Jackson joined the Mobile Police Department in February 1954 and retired in 1994 when his beloved downtown walking beats were eliminated due to budget cuts.

Jackson was one of the original beat officers and patrolled Davis Avenue, now known as Martin Luther King Junior Avenue, as well as downtown Mobile and central events, such as Mardi Gras.

The U-S- Navy veteran continued to walk his beat even when the style of policing changed, and patrol cars became more routine.

Former Mobile police Chief Harold Johnson told the Mobile Register that Jackson was allowed to continue his walking beats because he had such a way with people.


Anonymous donor drops gold coin in Salvation Army kettle

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ Salvation Army officials found a golden surprise in one of their collection kettles this week.

Captain Kevin Strickland was counting the money in the kettle Thursday when he found a gold coin that someone had wrapped in a $100 bill.

The coin is worth at least 300 dollars.

The anonymous donor had written "Everything Helps" on the 100 dollar bill.

Gold coins have been dropped in the organization's kettles in the past, but local officials say this is the first time in recent memory that it's happened in Birmingham.

Anonymous donors in the past have dropped gold coins, rings and other valuables as their donations to the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign.

Strickland says the donor's message rings true and that every penny donated in support of the Salvation Army's programs goes to help those in critical need.

He said the money from the coin will go to help those in Shelby County.


Daphne-area man dies in single-car wreck

DAPHNE, Ala. (AP) _ State troopers say a 22-year-old man was killed in Daphne when his car slammed into a utility pole near Spanish Fort High School.

Officials released Ivan Henry Kenny's name Saturday after his family was notified of his death.

State Troopers Officer Tracy Harper says Kenny was killed around 3:30 Friday morning when the 1999 Chevrolet Malibu he was driving struck the pole on the driver's side.

She says the wreck occurred about one mile north of U-S- 31 on Alabama 181.

Kenny lived in the Daphne area and was apparently alone in the car at the time of the crash.

Investigators have not determined why the vehicle left the roadway.

Harper would not say whether there was evidence of alcohol or if speed played a role in the crash.

Kenny was not wearing his seat belt, but Baldwin County Coroner Huey Mack said that would not have mattered because the pole was in the car with him.

He said Kenny was pronounced dead on the scene and had to be extricated from the vehicle.

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