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Filed 08/09/2006 Updated after 4PM for next day...
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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News 

  • Gadsden councilmen charged in corruption investigation
  • School report cards are in
  • Gadsden Councilmen to plead guilty
  • Naked Cowboy claims he was protesting the war in Iraq


Fire claims elderly Talladega County man 

An elderly Talladega county man was killed this morning in a fire at a home on woods ferry road north of Lincoln.  Officials said that the Lincoln fire department responded to the call this morning.  Sources indicate that the body of the man was found inside the home.  According to Talladega County Sheriff Jerry Studdard,  The state fire marshals office is investigating the cause of the fire.  The name of the victim has not been released pending notification of next of kin.



School report cards are in 

The State Board of Education released accountability results for all of Alabama’s 1,364 schools Monday.  All but two of the 33 schools in Calhoun county met 100 percent of their goals, required by state and federal standards under the No Child Left Behind Act.  Anniston City Schools made the biggest gains among schools in Calhoun County. Six of the cities seven schools achieved 100 percent of their goals, doubling last year’s total. Anniston Middle School met 94 percent of its goals this year. The Statewide Scores came from tests administered in March and April. Students in grades 3-8 took the Alabama Reading and Math Test and the Stanford Achievement Test. The state’s 11th-graders took the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. Schools also were graded on their daily attendance rates, how much students showed up for the tests and the high school graduation and dropout rates. If a school misses even one goal, it is considered to have missed its requirement to make Adequate Yearly Progress. Schools that come short of AYP for similar reasons two years in a row are forced into school improvement programs and must show the state detailed plans for improving results. Besides Anniston Middle School, Wellborn High School was the county’s only other school to fall short of AYP. Wellborn High missed the graduation rate goal this year. The state goal is 90 percent, and the school’s rate was 76 percent. Both of Jacksonville’s schools met 100 percent of their goals for the first time. Jacksonville High School jumped from 90 percent of goals met last year to 100 percent this year. The high school met goals in reading and math for special education students. Oxford also saw all its schools achieve the 100 percent category this year for the first time, with the middle school attaining proficiency goals in math and reading for special education students there as well. The law’s goal is to have 100 percent of students nationwide meeting proficiency standards by 2016. Three schools in the Gadsden city school system and two schools in the Etowah County system were among the 170 school programs in the state that failed to meet adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Law, according to reports released Monday by the state Department of Education.  Litchfield High, Gadsden High and Emma Sansom High were the three schools from the Gadsden city school system on the list. Those schools have now been consolidated into the Gadsden City High School, which opened Monday.

The Etowah County Alternative High School and Gaston High School were the Etowah County schools on the list.  Gaston High School failed to meet AYP because of its dropout rate, which the county system is attempting to address through programs like the Alternative High School program.  Even though Emma Sansom High School, Gadsden High School and Litchfield High School are listed as not making AYP for the 2005-2006 school year, the Gadsden school system issued a press release late Monday stating all schools, middle, high and elementary, have met AYP in the tested academic areas of reading and math.  The three high schools listed as failing AYP standards no longer exist because of the consolidation.   Overall, Alabama has 88 percent of its public schools measuring up to the federal standards, up from 53 percent a year ago. Out of Alabama's 1,364 public schools during the 2005-2006 school year, 1,194 showed adequate yearly progress for all different types of students. A year earlier, 725 of Alabama's 1,366 schools met the standard.  Other Northeast Alabama schools that the state Department of Education said failed to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Law were:
Blount County:
Appalachian School, Locust Fork High School, Susan Moore High School.
St. Clair County:
Moody High School, Springville High School.


Gadsden Councilmen to plead guilty 

Two Gadsden councilmen and a consultant are expected to enter guilty pleas in federal court Aug. 17 on conspiracy charges filed last week.  Criminal information documents filed Thursday against consultant Larry Thompson claim he paid District 3 Councilman Fred Huff, District 6 Councilman Jim Armstrong and two unnamed council members money disguised as campaign contributions for their support to give a zoning variance to Lafferty's Landing and additional tax incentives to the developer, Rainbow 1 LLC.  An order was issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler setting a plea hearing for 2 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse in Birmingham.  Arraignment originally was scheduled for Aug. 15, but has been changed to Aug. 17 prior to the plea hearing.  Thompson's attorney, Dani Bone, said he could not comment because of the ongoing investigation.  The documents were filed by the public integrity section of the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice. A criminal information is similar to an indictment except that a defendant is in agreement with the document and waives his right to have the information presented to a federal grand jury.  Armstrong amended his campaign disclosure form in February to show that he received $1,050 during 2005.  Huff reported in his form that he had no contributions.  The documents also refer to an unnamed employee of the Gadsden Commercial Development Authority who Thompson allegedly recruited to assist him in influencing council members to support the Lafferty's Landing project. The documents referred to the employee as "the official."  Thompson solicited more than $55,000 from a witness who cooperated with the FBI from August until Feb. 13, according to the documents filed Thursday. Armstrong apparently was paid $800 and Huff was paid $1,600, according to documents. 


Naked Cowboy claims he was protesting the war in Iraq 

A Hammondville man arrested last week for walking naked along a highway while waving an American flag said he did so to protest the war in Iraq.

52 year old Gerald Lynn Kelley, said he and his friends were watching a news broadcast about Iraq at his home and the conversation turned to the war.

Kelley, who said he's a Vietnam-era veteran, said that prompted a protest where he only wore a cowboy hat, boots and waved the American flag.

He said he hopes the incident encourages people to speak out against the war. He said he realizes he broke the law and does not encourage streaking.

Kelley said he only marched to the end of his driveway, but regrets a church event was occurring in a nearby park at the time. He said he marched in the opposite direction.  Kelly was charged with public lewdness and was released on a $1,500 bond.

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