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Filed 08/24/2006 Updated after 4PM for next day...
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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News 

  • Anniston City Council addresses education issues
  • Municipal Election results
  • Sex offender kills sister and brother in law before killing himself
  • Anniston bus manufacturer buys rival company


 Anniston City Council addresses school issues 

Education issues highlighted Tuesday nights meeting of the Anniston Mayor and City Council as the council agreed to seek Attorney General opinions on two issues affecting the city schools. Click for Mike Mitchell's Audio Report...  


Municipal Election results 


Voters in the City of Jacksonville went to the polls Tuesday in the cities municipal elections.  Voters only had one race to decide on this years municipal ballot. incumbent Jacksonville City Board of Education member Phillip Pearson defeated challenger Caroline Ross, 407-280.   Pearson said he was pleased to see his experience and record won in the end.  Jacksonville school board members serve four-year terms.  


Gadsden voters returned three incumbents to office, elected a former councilman again and decided who would be in the runoff races for two districts during Tuesday's election and elected a new Mayor.  J.R. Countryman, Bob Echols and Bill Stewart, the District 2, 4 and 5 councilmen all won their races, while former Councilman Robert Avery won the two-man District 3 race.  Stewart, who narrowly won his two-man race getting 51.2 percent of the vote, said he felt the investigation into corruption at Gadsden City Hall in which two former councilmen have pleaded guilty in federal court played a role in the election.  Word came last week that Stewart was no longer a target of the federal conspiracy investigation.  Current Councilman Walt Higgins claimed 41.2 percent of the vote in the four-person District 1 race and will face Katherine "Tap" Hood, who got 35.2 percent, in a runoff election Sept. 12.  A runoff also will be necessary to decide who will represent District 6. Johnny Cannon led the three-man field with 49.2 percent. Jack Anderson III, who got 29 percent of the vote, will face Cannon in the runoff.
There are seven council seats, but District 7 Councilman Ben Reed was unopposed and his race was not on the ballot. Reed will begin serving his third term in October.  Incumbent mayor Steve Means was defeated, Sherman Guyton was the top vote getter in the three man race with Means coming in second some 2,400 votes behind Guyton.




Sex Offender kills sister and brother in law before killing himself 

A convicted sex offender shot and killed his brother-in-law and sister and then apparently held three children hostage before killing himself during a standoff that started Monday and ended Tuesday morning, according to Etowah County sheriff's deputies.  Officials with the Etowah County Sheriff's Department identified the man as Johnny Ray Holderfield, a convicted sex offender registered in Marshall County.  Authorities have identified the shooting victims as 45 year old Jane C. Stokes,  and her 34 year old  husband, Brian Keith Stokes, of Attalla.  According to authorities, Holderfield shot and killed his sister, Jane C. Stokes, at a trailer in rural Etowah County north of Attalla and then waited for three children to get off the school bus Monday.   Deputies said Holderfield told the children they were to stay with him.  He then took the children, a 15-year-old boy and girl and a 14-year-old girl, to a travel trailer behind the home, where he bound them.  Holderfield apparently shot and killed Brian Keith Stokes when he came home from work.  Later that night, Holderfield moved the children to an empty trailer in the yard and allegedly sexually assaulted at least one of the girls.  Early Tuesday morning, the 15-year-old boy freed himself and went to the home of a relative, who called the sheriff's department at about 5:30 a.m.  When deputies arrived on the scene, Holderfield was in a different trailer than the one in which the children were being held. He killed himself as law enforcement officers arrived at the scene, deputies said. 


Anniston bus manufacturer buys rival company 

North American Bus, the Anniston-based maker of municipal transit vehicles, said it has acquired rival Optima Bus Corp. to expand its product line.  Terms weren't disclosed. Optima, which employs 200 people, will continue production at its Wichita plant.   The transaction adds production of Optima's 30-foot and 35-foot buses. North American's Anniston plant specializes in two-piece 60-foot buses that are connected by a swiveling joint.  It's the first acquisition for North American under new owners Cerberus Capital Management, which bought the Anniston plant from Hungarian operators in January for $2 million cash and $81 million of assumed debt.  Cerberus, a hedge fund which has $16 billion in investor assets at its disposal, specializes in reforming troubled companies. It's amassed stakes in recent years in Air Canada, Mervyn's department stores and National Car Rental.   The company, the third-largest U.S. maker of city transit buses, employed 400 people in January. It has employed as many as 800 workers in the past five years, and as few as 200. Optima supplies 180 transit systems in the United States with everyday low-floor buses and more stylized designs that evoke old-time trolley cars.   North America's Anniston plant has a colorful history. Buses and other vehicles have been made there off and on since the 1940s.

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