Regional News: Ala Jobs; Boy Falls from Balcony; Frozen Hydrants; Free Sheep

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LANETT, Ala. (AP) -- A manufacturing firm is reopening one of the nation's largest insulation plants in an eastern Alabama town.
Knauf Insulation had closed its plant in Lanett, just across the Georgia state line, in 2010 due to the economic downtown. reports that when the economy began to improve, Knauf looked at its options for expansion, which included coming back to Alabama. Company officials say Alabama's job training programs were a factor in the decision to reopen the plant.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement that Knauf Insulation manufactures building materials and construction systems. Knauf has more than 5,000 employees in more than 35 countries and more than 30 manufacturing sites.
Lanett is about 80 miles northeast of Montgomery and just across the Chattahoochee River from West Point, Ga.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Authorities say a 7-year-old boy who fell from a fifth-floor balcony in Birmingham is in stable condition.
Birmingham police Sgt. Johnny Williams said the child was taken to Children's of Alabama Hospital falling from the balcony in the Regency Crown Condominiums on Friday.
Harold Stewart, a board member with Regency Crown Management, said the boy was discovered by an employee after falling from his family's condo around 10:30 a.m. Friday. The child's name wasn't released.
Birmingham police are investigating.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- More than 1,700 Floridians who lost their homes to foreclosure will receive small payments as part of a national settlement with five major banks.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Friday that payments of $1,480 would be paid next week. A total of $2.5 million will be distributed.
The state had previously announced that payments of $1,480 were paid to approximately 73,000 former homeowners who qualified for assistance under the settlement.
Five lenders negotiated a $25 billion settlement in 2012 to end an investigation into foreclosure abuses.
Florida -- which has been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis and the collapse of the housing market -- negotiated one of the largest shares in the settlement agreement with Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

MIAMI (AP) -- Those hoping to teach in Florida schools will face a tougher road to the classroom come March. That's when a decision by the State Board of Education this week to significantly increase passing certification scores goes into effect. Florida's deputy education commissioner says the change comes as part of a 2010 promise Florida made to toughen its certification standards.

MIAMI (AP) -- A South Florida inline skater who traded his wheels for ice skates is headed to the Sochi Olympics.
Eddy Alvarez skated along South Beach as a kid. Next month, he will show off his skills on a much larger stage, competing in the sport of short track speedskating.
The 23-year-old Alvarez is the second Cuban-American from Miami to make the U.S. Winter Olympic team. Two-time bronze medalist and four-time Olympian speedskater Jennifer Rodriguez used to train at the same ice arena.
Alvarez says he nearly gave up his quest to reach the Olympics two years ago due to the pain of damaged knee tendons. He underwent surgery and spent weeks nearly immobile on the family couch.
The Winter Olympics take place Feb. 7 through Feb. 23 in southern Russia.

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves have closed on land to build a new stadium in the city's northwest suburbs and expect to soon name the ballpark's designer and architect. Atlanta Braves executive Mike Plant said yesterday the organization completed the purchase of a 57-acre parcel in Cobb County for the new $672 million stadium.

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) -- Authorities say an Alabama motorist who died in Columbus was caused by cardiac arrest.
Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said John L. Johnson of Phenix City was pronounced dead at 5:30 p.m. Friday, after he went into cardiac arrest while driving on J.R. Allen Parkway at Gateway Road.
Bryan said two witnesses said they were stopped at a red light when they saw Johnson's truck start rolling before the vehicle went down an embankment and no brake lights ever came on.
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that Columbus police are investigating the wreck. Bryan said that Johnson died of natural causes and the wreck didn't cause his death.

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- Frozen hydrants hindered firefighters trying to put out a blaze in northern Hall County. Fire Marshal Scott Cagle says that two hydrants were frozen and didn't work early yesterday morning when firefighters arrived at the burning home. It was 13 degrees outside at the time. Cagle said the problem slowed firefighters, but it probably did not affect the outcome since the home was already engulfed when crews arrived.

Perry High School gets donated sheep
PERRY, Ga. (AP) -- Nine donated sheep are now living at Perry High School after they did not work out as weed eaters for a local company.
WMAZ-TV reports that Guardian Centers bought goats and sheep to eat weeds and grass on its 375-acre property.
The pygmy goats worked well. But not the sheep. Company official Tim Maloney said the sheep got in the way of disaster training exercises and left waste where it did not belong.
The firm eventually donated the sheep to Perry High School. Agriculture teacher Phil Gentry said the animals will be a learning opportunity for students.