These are some stories from the 9/10/12 version of Tennessee Valley news update (633, 733, 833am, 304, 404, 504, 604pm) …
ATHENS, AL (Athens News Corrier) - The United States currently has about 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium it has committed to dispose of as part of a nuclear weapons proliferation agreement with Russia. One possible way of disposing of the nuclear agent is to irradiate it and use it as fuel in nuclear reactors, including Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens. The Athens News Courier reports that this proposal will bring officials from the U.S. Department of Energy to Limestone County to hear public comments from residents. A public meeting will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the conference room of Calhoun Community College’s Aerospace Training Center. Representatives with the Tennessee Valley Authority will also be present.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAAY) - A survivor of a shooting that killed three people at the University of Alabama in Huntsville says he tries not to think of the former colleague awaiting trial in the slayings. UAH professor Joseph Leahy spoke at a church fundraising dinner last night. Leahy was shot in the head but has returned to teaching, and he says life is getting back to normal. Leahy says he tries not to think of former UAH professor Amy Bishop, who is jailed awaiting trial in the shootings. WAAY-TV reports that Leahy says he has no doubt Bishop will get the death penalty. Bishop is set to go on trial Sept. 24. Her lawyers say she was suffering from mental problems at the time of the shooing in February 2010.
FLORENCE, AL (WLRH) - Motorists in northwest Alabama might have to find a new way to get around Florence for a few days. The Tennessee Valley Authority says it's closing the Alabama 133 bridge across Wilson Dam for maintenance work starting this morning. The bridge will be closed until Friday afternoon, or whenever the work is completed. TVA says closing the bridge allows for a crane to be set up for work on the spillway gate at Wilson Dam.
MORGAN CO. AL (WAAY) – The Morgan County Schools Foundation has begun a new program to transform their students into future leaders. The Schools Foundation is a new program designed to raise money for the schools system by serving as an academic booster club. Over the next three years they plan to raise and invest 500 thousand dollars in a program called The Leader in Me. It is an education solution designed to transform schools by teaching students habits of positive behavior and giving them ways to implement them in their daily life.
ANNISTON, AL (AP) – Some experts say budget cuts and layoffs at the Anniston Army Depot and other Alabama firms with military contracts will be felt throughout the state’s economy. Chairman of the department of marketing, industrial distribution and economics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say the budget woes will have a significant impact on Alabama’s economy. The Anniston Star reports that state officials say BAE Systems in Anniston began laying off 155 employees in December. BAE Systems is the world’s second-largest defense contractor and has two Anniston facilities that repair armored vehicles. BAE spokeswoman Shannon Booker said the reductions are a result of the economic climate and the sharp decline in defense spending. She said those factors led the company to adjust its workforce.
ATHENS, AL – One year ago Governor Robert Bentley signed legislation to get tough on drunk drivers. One of the stronger elements of the law that took effect at the first of this month requires many people convicted of DUI to install ignition locks on their vehicles that include a breathalyzer. WAAY reports the new law requires people convicted of drunk driving to install ignition locks on their vehicles. Before starting the car those drivers must exhale into a breathalyzer. If they’ve been drinking the lock will prevent the engine from starting. Offenders will have to pay 75 dollars a month for maintenance fees. According to the FBI in 2010 more than 13 thousand drivers in Alabama were charged with driving under the influence.
MONTGOMERY, AL (AP) - State officials say Alabama state troopers have issued 14 citations under the new state law banning texting and driving. The law went into effect on Aug. 1. Each offense costs a driver two points on his or her driving record, which could lead to a possible auto insurance hike. The texting ban is a primary stop statute, which means officers can pull a motorist over for texting without needing another reason.
MONTGOMERY, AL (AP) - Alabama voters will decide Sept. 18 whether to rewrite the state constitution to allow $437.4 million in special transfers from a trust fund to the state General Fund. Supporters of the amendment say the extra money would be a bridge to aid government spending as cost-cutting efforts continue over three years. Opponents say that the move would decrease the value of the Alabama Trust Fund, which now gives most of its income to the General Fund, and that state leaders, instead, should do more to make state agencies more efficient.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Tennessee prisoners serve some of the shortest terms in the nation, according to a new study. A report by the Pew Center on the States found that on average a Tennessee prison sentence lasts just under 2 years. That's about a year shorter than the national average. State Department of Corrections officials point out that while offenders are serving less time for property and drug crimes, prison time has increased by 41 percent for violent crimes.
MONTGOMERY, AL (AP) - The new president of the University of Alabama is receiving a salary and benefits package worth as much as $652,000 annually. Guy Bailey began work last week as president of the campus in Tuscaloosa. Responding to an open records request by The Associated Press, the university says Bailey's annual salary will be $535,000. Bailey isn't close to being the top-paid person on campus. That's football coach Nick Saban, whose contract is worth as much as $5.62 million annually.