July 25, 2012 Morning Edition News




90.3 WBHM Birmingham schools will start on time in August, but with fewer employees. The Birmingham Board of Education deadlocked on a cost-cutting plan Tuesday, but state Superintendent Tommy Bice overruled the board and put the plan in place. It calls for about 200 employees to be laid off or demoted due to declining enrollment and financial problems. Bice had expected to delay the scheduled Aug. 20 start of Birmingham schools when the state Department of Education took over recently. But he says hard work by principals and other school officials will allow Birmingham's schools to start on time.


The chief operating officer of Alabama Public Television has written a letter to Governor Robert Bentley expressing concern that the controversy surrounding the firing of two top officials at Alabama Public Television could lead to the demise of the network in Alabama. C-O-O Charles Grantham says at least one member of the oversight commission that fired the executives wants to drop popular PBS programs like “Sesame Street" and "Antique Roadshow." That has sparked outrage on Facebook and Twitter among fans of the programs. Governor Bentley’s press secretary says the governor is aware of the letter and is committed to providing the best educational television for Alabama residents.


The annual Kids Count data book is out and it carries mixed news about Alabama’s youngest residents. Overall, the state ranked 45th for child well-being. 28 percent of kids were living in poverty in 2010 and 37 percent of kids lived in houses where no parent had full-time year round employment. There were improvements on some education indicators. The number of 4th graders who weren’t proficient in reading dropped from 78 percent to 69 percent. Still, the number of 8th graders who aren’t proficient in math is 80 percent.


A consortium set up after the 2010 BP spill to develop methods for containing deep-sea spills is conducting a test of its state-of-the-art equipment with federal regulators looking on. The drill began yesterday. The Houston-based Marine Well Containment Company is moving a capping stack it has developed to a test wellhead that sits about 7,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Once in place, regulators say the system will be pressurized to see how it works in conditions it would be called upon in the event of a real oil spill.


A mortgage company owner from Trussville says he did not file federal income tax returns on nearly $840,000 in income. Don Walter Williams Jr. pleaded guilty yesterday to five counts of failure to file income tax returns. His company – Covenant Mortgage Company – is no longer in business. U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance says Williams' plea agreement calls for him to pay nearly $197,000 in taxes owed, plus penalties and interest. He also faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $125,000.


Troy University's athletic director is resigning. Steve Dennis took over the program in 2005, but said in a statement yesterday that it's the right time "to explore other opportunities." His resignation is effective Sept. 30. During his tenure, the Trojans have won five Sun Belt Conference football titles. They’ve also upgraded several facilities, including the new $31 million Trojan Arena which will open for the upcoming basketball season and house a Troy University Sports Hall of Fame.


A soldier from Birmingham has been killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of Defense says 21-year-old PFC Julian L. Colvin died July 22 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was killed alongside another soldier from Arizona when a roadside bomb exploded.


92-year old Viola Thomas is the new Ms. Alabama Nursing Home. She was crowned at a pageant at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover this week. As the winner, she will travel around the state sharing her experiences at nursing homes and community events. Thomas is vice president of her nursing home’s resident council and a member of the Red Hat Society and the welcoming committee.