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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News

  • Firefighters watching forest fire
  • Corts transferred money before he resigned
  • Storm death toll continues to rise

Firefighters watching forest fire 

Thursdays storms forced firefighters to abandon efforts to bring a wildfire under control in the Talladega National Forest near Piedmont.  Forest Service officials said that the storms helped to slow the flames and they continue to monitor the fire to insure there are no threats to homes and private property.  The fires is near Vigo which is located east, southeast of Piedmont.  Forest service officials say that at least 60 percent of the fire had been contained Thursday, however the fire had burned more than 425 acres of national forest land.  Fire crews will be returning to the area.  The cause of the fire is under investigation by forest service officials.



Corts transferred money before he resigned 

Interim two-year college Chancellor Thomas Corts sent nearly $26 million of the system's discretionary money to other agencies and economic development projects, including $17.6 million on the day he resigned, state officials said Thursday.

State school board members said they didn't know about the transfers and criticized them, arguing Corts should have spent the money on projects at community colleges and technical schools.

Agencies that received the money said it will be spent on work force training or projects that will benefit two-year colleges.

Corts discovered after he took over the two-year colleges in August that lawmakers had placed $57 million in discretionary money in the system's budget.

Board members said at the time that they were not aware of the money, and that fired Chancellor Roy Johnson never told them how the money would be used. Lawmakers had given Johnson, as chancellor, control of the money.

The $17.6 million that Corts transferred just before he resigned Wednesday went to the Alabama Industrial Development Training program. Much of that money will cover training for workers at new businesses in the state, including Honda.

Two-year college officials Thursday could not provide a full accounting of the $57 million in discretionary money.

Corts told board members in September that he was attempting to identify where the $57 million was supposed to go. Bell said Corts told her shortly after that meeting that Gov. Bob Riley had staked a claim on $30 million of the discretionary funds, mostly for economic development projects.  


Storm death toll continues to rise

March roared in like a lion Thursday bring severe storms and damaging winds to the state.  While much of East Central Alabama escaped with little if any storm damage, residents in several south Alabama communities were not as fortunate.  Tornadoes killed at least nine people in south Alabama on Thursday, including seven at Enterprise High School, where students were trapped as a hallway roof collapsed. According to Alabama Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Yasamie Richardson, One person died elsewhere in Enterprise, in Coffee County, and one man died in Wilcox County. At least 35 people from the Enterprise area were hospitalized with injuries. Richardson said said search and rescue efforts were continuing in Enterprise on Thursday night, and the number of dead could rise.

The damage at Enterprise High School was horrific, as rescue personnel scrambled to find trapped students or staff after the tornado hit around 1 p.m.

Enterprise officials searched for students or faculty believed trapped at the high school until 6 p.m

Gov. Bob Riley ordered about 100 National Guard members to the south Alabama city to help in recovery. Dothan sent a search and rescue team and the Alabama Department of Emergency Management also sent a team.

Sen. Richard Shelby, along with the entire Alabama congressional delegation, requested a disaster declaration for ravaged parts of the state.

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