September 14, 2012, Morning News



90.3 WBHM Forces are rallying on both sides in advance of next week’s statewide referendum. The constitutional amendment would allow the transfer of $437 million dollars from the Alabama Trust Fund to be used for Medicaid, prisons and other state services. Yesterday, about 50 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to urge a “no” vote. Marcia Chambliss is state director of Smart Girl Politics Alabama. She says balancing the state's General Fund budget by "raiding" the trust fund will not solve the state's financial problems. But State health officer Don Williamson says there is no obvious place to save money in Medicaid. If the referendum doesn’t pass, Medicaid’s projected shortfall in Alabama is $100 million. Supporters say passage of the amendment will not bankrupt the fund and that opponents are being misleading. Hear from both sides in Andrew Yeager's in-depth examination of the September 18th referendum.


A federal judge is refusing to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two couples challenging a Montgomery County policy they say denies marriage licenses to some immigrants. That policy requires immigrants produce a green card or social security card to get a marriage license. U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins ruled yesterday that the couples have suffered injury and can continue with their lawsuit. The case can now go to trial. Tuscaloosa has had a similar policy. Learn more about that here.


A second university professor with ties to Alabama is the new prime minister of Libya. Mustafa Abushagur was elected Wednesday. A spokesman at the University of Alabama in Huntsville says Abushagur taught engineering at the school for about 17 years before leaving around 2002. He takes over as prime minister from his longtime friend Abdurrahim el-Kein – who spent 20 years teaching electrical engineering at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.


The State Board of Education has a new president. The board voted unanimously yesterday to hire Shelton State Community College president Mark Heinrich to be the chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system. Board members said they were swayed by the way Heinrich got Shelton State back on sound ground after corruption problems in some of Alabama's two-year colleges. Heinrich replaces Freida Hill, who stepped down in March under pressure from some board members. The two-year college system has seen frequent turnovers in leadership in the last six years.


The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to add around 100 jobs at its Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in the next year. The Decatur Daily reports the plan, announced Wednesday, is part of an effort to improve performance and safety. TVA says it will probably start the hiring process in a couple of months.


The non-profit Goodwill Industries says it will add about 150 new jobs in Alabama and Georgia by next summer. Goodwill is adding five new retail stores and used merchandise donations centers. It will also add four new career service centers that offer clients and potential employers access to computers, tax filing help and job placement services; and one new training center.


A Georgia woman's mementos from her grandfather's days of teaching the Tuskegee Airman how to battle in the sky could end up in a Smithsonian museum. The items belonged to Alfred "Chief" Anderson, the chief flight instructor for the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Tuskegee Institute. They include pilot's licenses, photographs, letters written by the 99th Fighter Squadron during World War II, medals, documents, clothing and plaques. The Smithsonian’s military history curator traveled to Georgia this week to examine the items, which could eventually be displayed in a Smithsonian museum.


Four original Tuskegee Airmen from Dallas will return to Tuskegee for the first time since the 1940s today. When they arrive at Montgomery Regional Airport they’ll be greeted by cadets from Tuskegee University’s Air Force ROTC. Their trip is sponsored by the nonprofit organization Wish of a Lifetime and they’ll get a private tour of the Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site at Moton Field. Tomorrow, they’ll participate in a public seminar titled “An Evening with the Red Tails.”

Retired Staff Sgt. Homer Hogues was drafted into the military after he completed high school. After basic training, his orders were to go to Japan for clean-up duties. Upon the advice of a fellow airman and friend, his orders were changed and further testing resulted in Hogues’ assignment to the Tuskegee Airmen. At Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio, Hogues was assigned to the famous 99th Fighter Squadron 332nd Fighter Group. He was a mechanic on airplanes with pilots such as Daniel “Chappie” James, who helped win World War II.

Retired Flight Officer Robert Tennerson McDaniel entered the military in 1943 and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Training Program at Tuskegee Institute. He flew the TB-25J serving his country as a flight officer with the 477th Bombardier Group. McDaniel suffered an unjust court-martial and was put under house arrest because of his courageous resistance against racism and segregation. The charges were eventually cleared and he was honorably restored.

Retired Capt. Claude R. Platte served as a primary flight instructor, training over 300 blacks to solo and fly PT -13s, PT-17s and PT-19s. He was assigned to the 301st Fighter Squadron and the first black officer to be trained and commissioned in the newly reopened Air Force Pilot Training Program at Randolph Field Air Force Base, Texas the "West Point of the Air."

Retired Lt. Calvin Spann went into the Army Air Corps to start aviation cadet training in 1943. He was sent to Tuskegee, Ala. for training. Spann received his wings at Tuskegee. At the completion of training in 1944, Lt. Spann was sent to Italy and became a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron, a part of the 332nd Fighter Group under the command of Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Lt. Spann flew 26 combat missions before the end of the war in Europe.

Photo Credits: Tuskegee University,