News

Chamber board supports I-759 extension

The Chamber of Gadsden and Etowah County really wants I-759 to run to highways 431 and 278.

The chamber’s board has passed a resolution that requests the completion of this project.

Environmental issues have stalled it for now.

In a statement, chamber president Heather New says the group hopes the governor sees the “importance” of finishing I-759 and can “do all that he can to have the ‘no build’ option removed from the extension project.”

The resolution calls the extension “critical to creating a main thoroughfare for commerce” that would greatly help grow the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors.

It also calls this project critical to public safety, health, and livelihood of the people living and working in Gadsden.

The Gadsden Times reports the mayor, members of the city council, and statehouse Democrat Craig Ford all want the project to continue.


Jackson Co. in jail for child sex abuse

A man has gone to jail in Jackson County for child sex abuse.

Court records show a grand jury indictment against Charles Kirtland.

Kirtland remains held on bond of $120,000.


Wreck kills Gadsden man

State police say a crash killed a young man from Gadsden.

They say it happened Friday night on Route 179 six miles east of Walnut Grove.

The troopers claim 18-year-old William Freeman drove his car as it had a collision with another vehicle.

Freeman died at the scene. The other driver had no injuries.


Body found in pond

Authorities in Marshall County say they have recovered a body from a pond.

They say they have pulled it from a pond near Moon Road near Douglas.

The county coroner says the body has gone to someone else for an autopsy and identification.


Jury recommends life in prison for Garrard

Most of the Joyce Garrard jury has recommended against the death penalty.

Seven of the 12 on the panel have suggested a judge sentence her to life without parole following the death of her granddaughter.

The judge officially sentences Garrard May 11.

Authorities charged her with capital murder after nine-year-old Savannah Hardin collapsed and ultimately died three years ago.

They have accused the girl’s stepmother of doing nothing as Garrard forced the girl to run as punishment for lying about eating candy.


Big fishing tournament tomorrow

The Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series comes to the Coosa River in Gadsden tomorrow.

The tournament has attracted over 400 amateurs from the region, and it may generate a half-million-dollar economic impact for the immediate area.

Tomorrow’s event includes a $10,000 prize.

The competition begins at 7 o’clock in the morning. Weighing the fish starts at 3 o’clock in the afternoon at the Coosa Landing Boat Ramp.

Registration and briefing start at the 210 On The Tracks today at 5 o’clock.


Garrard jury today may begin deliberations in penalty phase

The Joyce Garrard jury today hears closing arguments in the penalty phase of her capital murder trial.

The jury has already convicted her of forcing her nine-year-old granddaughter to run until she collapsed and died.

It can recommend either the death penalty or life in prison without parole. However, the judge makes the final decision in this case.


Three Marshall Co. deputies arrested

A woman has accused three Marshall County deputies of criminal mischief.

Heath Thomas, Chris Bearden, and Jeremiah McCormack have all posted bond following their arrests.

A woman has accused them of damaging political signs during last year’s campaign.

Tonya Glassco from the Chuck Ellis for Sheriff campaign tells WAFF-TV that she waited this long because she did not want all this to appear politically motiviated.

All three deputies remain on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.


Koch to add more jobs

Gadsden’s city council says Koch Foods has decided to add 70 more jobs.

Lawmakers have approved tax abatements as Koch wants to invest $7.5 million in its chicken processing plant.

The company in October announced plans to add 80 positions. Including those brings its current job count to 585.


Unregistered sex offender wanted in Kentucky found in Fort Payne

An alleged sex offender from Kentucky has made his way to the DeKalb County Jail.

Authorities arrested 51-year-old Donald Ibenthal on Friday in Fort Payne.

Investigators had received a fugitive from justice warrant for Ibenthal’s arrest.

They learned authorities wanted him in Kentucky for violating parole. That followed multiple allegations of sexual offenses against minors, burglary, escape, and receiving stolen property.

Authorities here have charged Ibenthal to failing to register as a sex offender, as well as living within 2,000 feet of a school.

Once he makes bond here, he goes back to Kentucky.


Meth lab production dropping in North Alabama

Meth lab production in the region has dropped lately.

Jackson County chief deputy Rocky Harnen says meth started two decades ago with red phosphorous labs, and the last decade featured more “one pot” meth lab.

Authorities in Jackson County seized 72 met labs in 2011. In 2013, that number fell to 44.

Now, WAFF-TV reports last year’s number dwindled to eight.

A new state law restricting the ability to receive pseudoephedrine may have helped that trend.

Anyone buying anything containing this drug must show ID every time. The business records your name and how much you have bought.


More arrests in Club Status shooting death

Police have arrested two more people in a Gadsden shooting death, and another arrest may follow.

They have charged these two 18-year-olds from Anniston with murder: Montarious Hill and Darius Carter.

These two supplement the three people already in custody.

The arrests follow the death of Gadsden City High School student Anthony Hale, Jr. a week and a half ago.

Hale died following the shooting at Club Status on Broad Street.


Three arrested following Jackson Co. funeral home burglary

A funeral home burglary in Jackson County has produced three arrests and solved more burglaries.

The sheriff says Stevenson Police on Sunday morning reported a burglary at Valley Funeral Home.

Chairs, tables, televisions, and tools all disappeared.

The investigation led law enforcement to a home where they found many of these things, as well as items taken in other burglaries.

Authorities have identified the accused as Eddie Fulmer, Crystal Martin, and David Fulmer. They have all gone to the county jail.


Savannah Hardin's mother takes the stand

Heather Walker has testified in the penalty phase in the Joyce Garrard case.

A jury has convicted Garrard of capital murder in the death of Savannah Hardin. Now it can issue a recommendation as to whether she should receive the death penalty or life in prison.

Hardin’s mother says she relives the final moments of her daughter’s life every day.

On the stand, Walker claims she remembers checking her phone three years ago to see messages from Hardin’s father.

When she finally reached Robert Hardin, he said the girl’s brain had swelled after a seizure.

Also on the stand, Walker says when she arrived at the hospital, Garrard demanded that no one leave her alone with the girl in her room.

Additionally, Walker believes that Garrard should receive the death penalty.

Court does not resume until tomorrow morning. In order to recommend the death penalty, 10 of the 12 jurors must vote for it. The judge makes the final decision.


Aim for Excellence sounds off on Gadsden City School system

A local education group has criticized the Gadsden City School system.

The Gadsden Times reports the remarks from Aim for Excellence focus on minority hiring practices, poor college preparation, minority assignments to the alternative school, and lack of interaction with an advisory committee.


Boaz school board okays travel costs

Boaz’s school board has approved travel outside of Alabama.

A school band heads to Universal Studios in Orlando in a little over a month.

In May, the gifted class plans on going to the Atlanta Zoo.

Also going to Atlanta at the end of next month, the high school anatomy and health science internship classes visit the Bodies Exhibit.


Parents of wandering 2-year-old in jail

The sheriff’s office says a couple went to jail after their two-year-old child wandered in Swearengin on Saturday.

The toddler showed up at a home on Swearengin Road that afternoon, and its residents called 911.

Deputies three hours later contacted the child’s parents at their home.

They charged John and Sherry Owens with child endangerment.

DHR has the child in temporary custody.

How this all happened remains a mystery.


Closing arguments in Garrard trial today

The jury may begin deliberations today in the Joyce Garrard trial.

Closing arguments begin this morning.

Prosecutors say Garrard forced her granddaughter to run for hours while carrying wood. They call it punishment for lying about eating candy.

Seven-year-old Savannah Hardin ultimately collapsed and died.

The defense believes the state has made the wrong call about what caused Hardin to die. One of its experts claims medical records show overhydrating, not dehydration, caused low sodium and seizures.


Law enforcement nabs Stevenson woman for drugs

A Stevenson woman went to jail Wednesday following her arrest.

Authorities arrested 34-year-old Mary Johnson on a handful of drug charges.

Police and the sheriff’s office repsonded to a home on County Road 181 in Fackler and found marijuana, pills, and unprescribed medication.

They called DHR once they found children there.


Scottsboro High denies early graduate admission to prom

Scottsboro High School holds its prom tomorrow, but officials have turned away someone who graduated in December.

Belle Porter’s father has asked the school board why she cannot attend the dance.

He feels she has received an unjust punishment for doing well in school.

The school says when Porter graduated, it told her what she could and could not do.

Porter tells WAFF-TV that she continues working to lose weight in advance of her joining the military.