September 5 Morning News

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September 5, 2012, Morning News

Residents in western and southern Alabama are digging out after two days of rains caused extensive flooding. Forecasters say the remnants of Hurricane Isaac dumped 10 inches of rain on Selma on Monday and Tuesday. Other areas received nearly 7 inches. In downtown Selma, swirling water lapped at the doors of businesses and at last 20 cars filled with quick-rising water at an automotive dealership before workers could move them. In the small town of Gordo, about two dozens houses were flooded, two bridges were washed out and several families had to be rescued. And in Brent, a commisary that provides food for thousands of elderly people in western Alabama filled with about a foot of water.

Despite all the rain, must of the state remains in a drought, and federal officials now say disaster loans are available to small businesses and other affected organizations in five Alabama counties. The U.S. Small Business Administration says low interest disaster loans of up to $2 million are available for certain businesses and most non-profit organizations in Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, DeKalb and Etowah counties.

Friday is the deadline to register to vote in Alabama’s constitutional amendment referendum on September 18. Residents can register at their local board of registrars or they can fill out forms at driver’s license bureaus or state and county offices that provide public assistance, such as the State Department of Human Resources. The referendum is for a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow state officials to take $437 million out of a state trust fund over three years to help finance the state General Fund budget.

The University of Alabama’s new president is now a work. Guy Bailey (a two-time Alabama graduate) began work yesterday. He replaces Robert Witt, who is now chancellor of the three-campus system. Bailey will spend his first few days meeting students and faculty and determining priorities. Bailey says one of his priorities is expanding the university’s research capabilities and funding. He’s also looking forward to building a relationship with football coach Nick Saban.

Saban’s team is the new No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll, moving past Southern California after a resounding victory against Michigan. The Crimson Tide swayed more than enough voters with its 41-14 win Saturday night. It’s the 47th time Alabama has been No. 1, the 16th time under Saban.

The trial of an Alabama football fan arrested after a video surfaced of him allegedly sexually battering an unconscious LSU fan will now be held early next month. 33-year-old Brian Downing’s trial was scheduled to start in New Orleans this month, but Hurricane Isaac forced the closure of the defense attorney’s offices because of power failures.

The man accused of opening fire at an Auburn pool party, killing two former Auburn football players and another man, is now charged with capital murder. 22-year-old Desmonte Leonard does not yet have a trial date. He allegedly used a .40-caliber pistol in the June 9 shooting that made national headlines.

The state is moving along with plans to promote archery through a string of community parks. The east Alabama city of Heflin is the sixth town to open a recreational facility dedicated to archery. It’s near Cleburne County High School and has ranges to fit both adults and youth. Other, similar parks are located in Athens, Cullman, Decatur, Dempolois and Dothan. Three more are being built in Lincoln, Ozark and Tuscaloosa.