September 13 News

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A new U.S. Census report shows the poverty rate in Alabama is mostly unchanged but has gone down some over the last year. The poverty rate dropped from 17.2 percent to 15.49 percent. The median income has gone up. The report released yesterday shows Alabama is 42nd in the nation for median household income. Alabama’s median household income is $42,590 compared to the national median of just over $50,000.

Governor Bentley is pressuring Washington for more money for tornado recovery in Tuscaloosa. He met with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development yesterday to talk about HUD’s formula for figuring recovery assistance. Bentley says HUD’s formula counts rental properties only if they are located in a census tract where more than half of the owner-occupied homes were damaged. He says that policy caused more than 440 damaged rental units in Alberta to be excluded from recovery aid. Bentley says HUD promised to consider the issue.

Meanwhile, a University of Alabama professor will be honored at the White House on Friday for her efforts after last year’s April tornadoes. Suzanne Horsley is one of nine people being recognized as “Champions of Change” for the time and effort they’ve devoted to the American Red Cross. Horsley is a long-time volunteer and spent many days working at a Red Cross shelter in Tuscaloosa after the tornado, even though her own home was damaged. She and her public relations students launched a fundraising effort for Red Cross disaster relief.

A Birmingham woman who’s trying to reopen Alabama’s oldest licensed abortion clinic is facing another setback. A state hearing officer has ruled against Kelley Rain-Water in her appeal of the state health department’s denial of her application to reopen the New Woman All Women Health Care in Birmingham. The health department forced the clinic to close in May, but said the old operator, Diane Derzis, could lease it to a new operator that ran it independently of her. The department denied Rain-Water’s application based on her lease requiring all the profit go to Derzis’ company. A hearing officer agreed the association was too close. Rain-Water says she plans to get a different lease and reapply.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Birmingham is sponsoring a daylong meeting on civil rights and hate crimes today. The symposium will focus on legal protections that are available as the nation nears the 50th anniversary of the demonstrations led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Sessions will focus on hate crime laws, anti-bullying laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The symposium is open to the public and Alabama historian Wayne Flynt is the keynote speaker. The Justice Department recently placed the state’s first federal civil rights unit in Birmingham.

Gadsden’s Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant will temporarily scale back production this month. A company spokeswoman tells the Gadsden Times a two-week reduction will start September 29 and run through October 14. She didn’t elaborate on the amount of the cutback. Employees not scheduled to work will have the option of taking vacation time, if available, or may be eligible for unemployment benefits. The spokeswoman says Goodyear has adjusted production at all of its North American tire plants this year as a result of lower demand.

Troy University has a new athletic director. Troy says it’s hired John Hartwell from the University of Mississippi. He’ll be introduced in a news conference tomorrow. The Mobile native has spent the past nine years at Ole Miss, where he rose to senior executive associate athletic director.