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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News

  • Drug sentencing ends major trafficking operation
  • Oxford council questions mayors action
  • Decision on tree cutting may take time
  • EPA to clean up old Gadsden steel mill


Drug sentencing ends major trafficking operation

Officials with the Calhoun Cleburne County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force say that a major drug trafficking operation ended Wednesday with the sentencing of two people arrested by the task force.  33 year old Nathan Waits of Eastaboga, whom authorities say was the leader of the ring, was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison and five years of supervised release while 22 year old Rachel Boiling of Pell City was sentenced to 33 months plus three years of supervised release.  The sentences were handed down Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hopkins.  The sentences concluded an 18 month investigation by the task force and the drug enforcement administration.  Investigators said that Waits operated a methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana distribution operation out of their homes in Eastaboga and in the Golden Springs community in Anniston.  Investigators said Waites was responsible for distributing hundreds of pounds of meth, multiple kilograms of cocaine and thousands of pounds of marijuana to individuals in Calhoun, Talladega, St. Clair and Jefferson Counties.  Waits was charged with two counts of distributing over fifty grams of meth and one count of conspiracy to distribute meth.  He plead guilty in march to multiple federal indictments.  Boiling plead guilty to conspiring with waits and a separate charged of distribution of over five grams or more of meth.  Investigators said the buys took place in Eastaboga and Oxford. 



Oxford council questions Mayors action 

Oxford City Council members were still shaking their heads Wednesday and said that  they are looking into whether Mayor Leon Smith can create salaried city positions without council approval. The Mayor surprised the council Tuesday night announcing that he had appointed police Chief Stanley Merrill to a newly created position of public safety director and had promoted police Capt. Bill Partridge to police chief. Council President Mike Henderson said Councilman Boice Turner, an attorney, was looking into the matter. City Attorney John Phillips said Wednesday that he was not involved in the appointment procedure and the first he’d heard of it also was at the council meeting. According to the Code of Alabama, in the council-president form of government the council has all legislative powers, the power to establish and organize the police force and the management and control of finances. Under state law, a mayor has the authority to appoint some positions, but the choice to fund them is part of the budget, which is controlled by the city council. The council could decide not to fund a position created by the mayor.


Decision on tree cutting may take time 

The Alabama Public Service Commission could decide within the next month whether a retired Jacksonville school teacher will be able to keep the three pecan trees in her yard. David Rountree, an assistant to Commission President Jim Sullivan, said a legal ruling could come in the next 30 days in the case of Barbara Wilson, who filed a complaint July 16 challenging the right of Alabama Power to cut the trees to the stump. The 60-foot trees in front of Wilson's house, on Church Street, date back to the 1920s, and they extend between cable and power lines.  Alabama Power officials say the trees need to be cut for safety reasons and to keep limbs from interfering with power lines.  Rountree said Wednesday that "After the commissions legal division has reviewed the complaint, then they'll make a recommendation to the board, and we'll have to go forward from there.  Last week, Wilson, several friends and relatives sat in chairs chained to the trees to keep them from being cut down. After filing her complaint, her trees were spared, but cutting continued in the area. Buddy Eiland, an Alabama Power spokesman, said the company is working with the commission to resolve the matter.  Wilson's complaint may not be the only one with the commission. Roger Williams of Pell City said Alabama Power wants to cut down three of the five Bradford Pear trees on his property near Skyline Trail. He wrote the commission this week hoping to stop it.  Williams said the trees are being targeted for cutting even though their limbs are several feet away from power lines, and the limbs are too small to support the weight of any child who might want to climb them.


EPA to clean up old Gadsden steel mill 

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management announced Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to spend about $3 million to clean up a portion of the former Gulf States Steel property in Gadsden. The plant closed in 2000. A portion of the site and equipment were sold at auction in 2002 to Casey Equipment of Pittsburgh, which sold the plate mill and hot strip mill overseas.
About 400 acres of the property Casey bought is being operated as Gadsden Industrial Park.  The EPA will remove drums, abate leaking storage tanks and properly dispose of waste liquid. Crews will remove drums and "source material" left in the old coke plant area and that there are plans to cleanup the lagoon area.  The work is expected to take a year to 14 months. ADEM will continue to work with the EPA to resolve environmental issues at the site. Ultimately, the EPA will decide whether to propose the site for the National Priorities List.
The listing would require Alabama to provide 10 percent of future remediation costs to address all environmental issues, including subsurface soils and groundwater.

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