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Filed 04/08/2006 Updated after 4PM for next day...
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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News 

  • Residents of Jacksonville Subdivision want median break
  • Authorities say that Oxford Business is a Gambling Business
  • Bill passes to delay Talladega Judgeship
  • Attalla City Council Rescinds pay raises


Residents of Jacksonville Subdivision want median break 

Residents of the Stoneridge North Subdivision in Jacksonville say they are tired of having to drive north on Alabama highway 21 to head south on the highway.   77 people have signed a petition asking the state department of transportation to install a median crossover on highway 21 at the entrance to their subdivision.  Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith has sent the petition to the Alabama Department of Transportation for consideration but said he does not expect the department to install the crossover.  Smith said that the highway department is concerned with the fact that the entrance is right around the corner form a bad cure and that the median is too narrow to accommodate a vehicle waiting to turn left.  Although 77 people signed the petition, the subdivision has only a dozen single family dwellings.  Another subdivision is planned and they  would have to use the same exit onto Alabama 21 according to the cities building and planning office.  The petition was signed by a number of people who live outside the subdivision including people from Atlanta, Eastaboga, Knoxville and Louisville Kentucky.


Authorities say that Oxford Business is a Gambling Business 

Local law enforcement officials say that a business opened in Oxford late last month is operating a gambling business.  The owners of Hello Money said that they are operating  a sweepstakes which a Birmingham judge ruled as legal in a January attempt to close down a similar operation at the Birmingham race course.  Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson says he would disagree The legislature failed to act on a bill clarifying the issue on gambling which Sheriff Amerson says is the root of the problem.  Meanwhile Calhoun County District Attorney Joe Hubbard said he hopes to determine by Monday whether or not the oxford operation is within the law.



Bill passes to delay Talladega County Judgeship 

The house of representatives passed a bill Thursday that would delay the filling of a third circuit judgeship in Talladega County until 2009,  the measure would become law if signed by the governor.  State Senator Jim Pruitt introduced the bill based on concerns expressed by the circuit court clerk and district attorney.  District Attorney Steve Giddens said he did not oppose implementation, but said he did have staffing and funding concerns.  Circuit Clerk Clarence Haynes expressed similar concerns as well as concerns about storage space.  The Talladega county bar association earlier this week took a unanimous vote calling on the immediate filling of the judgeship by an election of county voters.  Pruett’s bill would have the position filled by a gubernatorial appointment until the next election in 2010.  The position was created in 1985 but subsequent bills delayed funding the project until this year.


Attalla City Council rescinds pay raises

Attalla council members on Thursday rolled back raises of more than 3 percent given by the mayor to department heads and administrative employees.
Council members decided to adjust those salaries, including 15 employees the council held a due process hearing for Tuesday, back to the pay rate of January 2005 and increase it by 6 percent for each employee effective today.
Mayor Charles O'Rear opposed the action that was approved by all five members of the City Council.
"I stand behind my decision to give these raises," he said after the meeting, while noting he respects the actions of the council. The council approved a 3 percent across-the-board raise with the 2005-2006 fiscal year budget and some members learned of the additional raises when reviewing a quarterly report on city finances.
O'Rear said contrary to rumors, the raises he approved did not put the employees' salaries in the "stratosphere." He said the pay increases brought workers in line with what other employees make in respective positions in other cities with the same demographics as Attalla. Along with adjusting salaries, the council decided to implement two other procedures that will aid in keeping council members better informed about city finances.
The council will review the current clothing allowance rates for employees and all policies in regard to accrual and selling of leave time, including vacation and comp time, holidays and personal days.
Additionally, council members agreed to have the finance committee of the City Council meet quarterly to review revenue and make salary adjustments to department heads and administrative staff based on those revenue figures. It was noted each employee would be reviewed separately and increases in salary would be based on job merits.
O'Rear questioned whether the new procedures were within the scope of the council in that they should be performed by the mayor in handling the day-to-day operations of the city.
City attorneys Richard Rhea and Gina Coggin, with the firm of Rhea, Boyd, Rhea and Coggin, were at the meeting. O'Rear was advised the council had the authority to implement the procedures. After handling the salary dispute with the three agreements, O'Rear and council members met in a closed session for about 15 minutes before opening the meeting to the public and voting on another salary-related issue.
The executive session with Rhea and Coggin allowed discussion of the legal ramifications of the council's actions considering an attorney representing 10 employees threatened Tuesday to sue Attalla if the City Council eliminated raises of more than 3 percent.
Council members decided to give Police Chief Joe Hereford, Deputy Police Chief Larry Howard, City Clerk Sharon Jones and Assistant City Clerk Dorothy Jelks four hours of court pay that police officers get. The hours will be paid at a rate of time and one half. The four employees were taking the time spent in court twice monthly as comp time.
O'Rear said the decision was based on a request proposed Wednesday by the employees' attorney. The request was among five other ones suggested to avoid litigation. 


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