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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 11-17-2023

Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley
Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley

Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.

Former longtime Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning has died. The sheriff’s office announced on social media that Dorning passed away Tuesday after a battle with cancer. AL.com reports he served four terms as sheriff and did not seek reelection in 2018. Dorning was elected sheriff in 2002. Kevin Turner was elected to succeed him in 2018. Blake Dorning was 61.

At last week’s meeting the Huntsville city council reapproved the construction of a 13-acre mixed-use development at the former Coca Cola bottling plant just north of the Von Braun Center. The project, currently named Front Row Huntsville, is based on a partnership between the city of Huntsville and New York City-based Rocket Development Partners LLC. The Huntsville Business Journal reports the development plan was amended to be completed in two phases rather than the originally agreed upon four. Following cleanup in December, phase one will begin in January 2024 with the construction of two buildings containing residential units, retail and restaurant space, office space, parking spaces, and a public plaza. Phase two of the development will include the construction of a conference-style hotel and parking garage.

Madison County educators, the National Children’s Advocacy Center and local first responders are all working together in a new way to help care for children in need. Madison City Schools is officially the first district in the state to launch the “Handle With Care” program. WAFF TV reports the program allows first responders to notify a child’s school if a child has been involved in a traumatic event. The school will receive a discreet and confidential “handle with care message”, alerting them that this student will need support. The goal of the program is to reduce disciplinary issues in schools while increasing student success and graduation rates.

Business supervisors across Alabama can now receive free training on recognizing and responding to mental health issues among their employees. The eight-hour session is provided by the University of Alabama’s VitAL partnership, which uses education and training to help improve mental health in the state. The training is held at the business or virtually. The Alabama News Center reports the program targets employers in the medical, transportation/logistics, information technology, construction and advanced manufacturing fields. VitAL works to help Alabamians with mental health, substance use and trauma-related challenges. More information is at vitalalabama.com.

Mercedes-Benz of North America has signed an agreement with Buc-ee’s to create electric vehicle charging stations at most of Buc-ee’s locations by the end of 2024. Business Alabama reports work on the charging hubs is already underway, with some to be open by year’s end. In Alabama, the convenience store has locations in Athens, Auburn, Leeds and Loxley.

Ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the Alabama Department of Transportation is asking drivers to plan for an increased number of vehicles on Alabama’s highways. To accommodate the expected increase in holiday traffic and for the safety of the traveling public and construction and maintenance crews, ALDOT will suspend lane closures on interstates from Wednesday, Nov. 22 at noon through Sunday, Nov. 26 at 11:59 p.m. You can find Alabama traffic and road condition information at ALGOtraffic.com or by downloading the ALGO Traffic app. ALDOT asks you to use ALGO Traffic responsibly. Drivers should never text, tweet, or use a mobile device while operating a vehicle.