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Dateline 09/13/2006 Updated after 4PM for next day...
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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News 

  • Anniston Councilmen battle for community centers
  • Gadsden police say officer acted properly in traffic stop death
  • Calhoun murder trial getting underway
  • Jacksonville approves budget


Anniston Councilmen battle for community centers 

Two Anniston city councilmen are claiming that a plan by City Manger George Monk and Mayor Chip Howell to Close two community centers is racist.  Councilmen Herbert Palmore and Ben Little, met with over 80 people Monday night at the Wiggins Community Center.  Both Councilmen are fighting to prevent the closure of the Glenn Addie and Wiggins community centers.  Ward 2 also contains the Carver Community Center and Ward 3 has the South Highland Community Center. City Manager George Monk said funds saved from closing Glen Addie and Wiggins would allow the city to renovate the Carver and South Highland buildings into learning centers equipped with computer labs.  Monk is basing the cuts on a 2001 report that says the city’s Parks and Rec-reation Department is over budgeted.  Little and Palmore have said they think the city has spent too much on the Youth Sports Complex at McClellan. Children in their wards cannot take advantage of what PARD offers at McClellan because there is no reliable public transportation to get them there, they said. Little said all options were available for keeping the centers open, implying he would consider legal action. Little says he want’s monk’s position abolished.  A motion to change Anniston’s city manager form of government is on tonight’s City Council meeting agenda, at Little’s request. The council meets at 7 tonight, following a budget hearing at 5 p.m.  



Gadsden police say officer acted properly in traffic stop death 

A spokesman for the Gadsden Police Department said an officer acted properly during an Aug. 30 traffic stop of an unlicensed driver who fell during the encounter and later died.  30 year old Jose Ramirez,  of Kilpatrick died in Gadsden Regional Medical Center on Sept. 2. His family raised questions because they said Ramirez was healthy and showed no signs of illness before the traffic stop. An autopsy was performed at the family's request but results have not been released.   Robert Potter, an attorney hired by the Ramirez family, declined comment on the new information released by police. Gadsden police Capt. Jeff Wright said police did not release their account of what happened until Monday because of uncertainty about Ramirez' identity. He said an officer using radar stopped Ramirez for speeding on West Meighan Boulevard about 8:50 a.m. Aug. 30.   Ramirez had no driver license or proof of insurance.  Wright said Ramirez gave the officer a card with the name Zenon Ramirez, but later said his name was Juan Manuel Vasquez.   Wright said the officer ordered Ramirez out of the car, patted him down for weapons and was writing him a ticket when Ramirez fell back, striking his head on the pavement. Wright said the officer, working alone, rolled Ramirez onto his stomach and cuffed his hands behind his back. Wright said the officer called a supervisor and medics at 9:13 a.m., and the medics arrived five minutes later. Ramirez left the scene in an ambulance at 9:37 a.m. Wright said the police account comes from the officer and other witnesses to the incident, which took place in front of Wayne's Burgers on West Meighan. Wright said that they were well satisfied with all the actions of the officer. Ramirez came to the U.S. from Mexico about 13 years ago, Potter said. He is survived by his wife and two children.


Calhoun murder trial getting underway 

A trial begins this week for 28 year old Ellis Louis Mashburn Jr. of Jacksonville accused of murdering his 80-year-old grandmother and her 85-year-old husband.

Mashburn is accused of murdering Clara Eva Birmingham and Henry Owen Birmingham in their Alexandria home on Oct. 29, 2002. Jury selection began yesterday and Calhoun County Circuit Judge Sam Monk said he hopes the trial will begin late today. Authorities say the Birminghams were victims of a robbery gone bad and died as a result of stab wounds and blunt-force trauma.  If convicted, Mashburn could face the death penalty or a life term in prison.  The case is just now moving into court because of delays with state forensic labs.  Two co-defendants in the case, 19 year old Tony Nicholas Brooks, of Anniston, and 24 year old Jeremy Lee Butler, of Oxford, still are awaiting trial. The men were arrested days after the slayings and were indicted by a grand jury in March of 2003.  


Jacksonville approves budget 

The Jacksonville City Council has approved  a $10.5 million budget for 2007, which includes  a 2-percent raise for employees and  $270,000 for the Jacksonville city school system. The budget represents a 6-percent increase over 2006 and will require dipping into the city’s reserves to make up a projected $187,000 shortfall in revenue according to Mayor Johnny Smith. Representatives from SPAR Inc. have asked council members to consider a 10-year property-tax abatement on the purchase of new machinery for the company’s West Francis Street plant in Jacksonville.  The new equipment is expected to cost $831,000 and help the company hire 14 new workers over a two-year period.

Mayor Johnny Smith said that, if approved, the tax abatement would not include money allocated for education, and would cost the city approximately $8,310 over 10 years.

The council is also Considering an ordinance that would require alcohol-serving business which generate less than half their income from food sales to be 500 feet away from the nearest other such business, as well as an ordinance to regulate outdoor storage of non-operating vehicles. The council will vote on both proposed ordinances at its Sept. 25 meeting.

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