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Alabama News: Record Crop Yields; Hazing case; Birmingham Tornado

By: AP
By: AP

ALABAMA CROPS
GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) -- State agriculture officials say Alabama's record yields in cotton, soybean and peanut crops in 2012 helped to offset lower than average corn yields.
The Gadsden Times reports that soybean and cotton yields in northeast Alabama also likely set records this year.
David Derrick, regional extension agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, says this year has been one of the best ever for row crop farmers.
Officials say farmers benefited from higher than average prices for corn and soybeans.
Bill Weaver, director of the Alabama office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistic Service, said drought conditions in the Midwest helped push soybean and corn prices higher.
Alabama's projected soybean yield is 44 bushels an acre, which would break the record of 40 set in 2009.

FRATERNITY HAZING-ARRESTS
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- Authorities say more arrests have been made in the investigation of an alleged hazing incident at Jacksonville State University.
The Anniston Star reports that the new arrests bring the total to 13 in the investigation involving a Jacksonville State fraternity.
Some suspects face charges of first-degree assault, which is a felony, and misdemeanor hazing. Others face only hazing charges.
Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh announced in October that a grand jury had issued indictments stemming from a Nov. 26, 2011, incident involving a JSU fraternity and that more indictments were expected.
The fraternity, JSU's chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, has since been dismissed from campus. A university official has said that the incident was one of the worst hazing cases the school has seen.

LAW ENFORCEMENT CUTS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A state task force report will recommend ways to cut Alabama's law enforcement spending, most likely by combining some of the state's 22 law enforcement agencies.
The Anniston Star reports that members of the Integrated State Law Enforcement Task Force aren't yet giving specifics of what would be cut under the proposal. The report is to be delivered to Gov. Robert Bentley this weekend.
Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said the recommendations should bring Alabama in line with neighboring states.
Smith is on one of two task forces appointed by the governor this summer to look at ways to cut duplication in the state's law enforcement agencies.

TEEN FATALLY STRUCK
POTTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- A man with a previous conviction in a fatal crash allegedly struck and killed a Pennsylvania teen then conspired with his girlfriend to cover up who was driving.
Police say 43-year-old Robert Norman Sitler Jr. was behind the wheel of a truck that fatally struck 16-year-old Timothy Paciello Jr. last month in Lower Pottsgrove Township.
Sitler and 42-year-old Denise Dinnocenti allegedly lied about who was driving and told Dinnocenti's children, ages 11 and 13, to say Dinnocenti was behind the wheel.
Investigators say the Collegeville couple admitted they lied because Sitler, previously of Florida, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a 2004 crash that killed an Alabama county commissioner.
Sitler was jailed Monday on $1 million bail while Dinnocenti was released. A phone listing for her couldn't be located.

BP OIL SPILL
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- A council that's supposed to develop a plan to restore the environment and economy after the BP oil spill is holding its first public meeting.
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council meets Tuesday afternoon in Mobile. The council includes federal officials and state officials from the five Gulf Coast states. A spokesman for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said he plans to attend the meeting.
The council plans to work with states and towns to identify projects and programs that will restore natural resources, help businesses, and create jobs. The council is planning public hearings later in each of the Gulf Coast states.
The council was established by the federal Restore Act.

ALABAMA STORMS
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The National Weather Service has confirmed that storm damage in Birmingham was caused by a tornado with maximum winds estimated at 90 mph.
The National Weather Service says the tornado hit at about 4:45 a.m. Monday in the area around Finley Avenue near the Birmingham farmer's market. Birmingham Mayor William Bell says there are no reports of injuries from severe weather that damaged roofs and broke windows. He says the city provided tarps to residents whose roofs were damaged.
Homeowner Clint Thornton told WBRC-TV that he was about to leave for work when he saw a funnel cloud. Thornton says he took cover in a closet with his wife and started praying. The Thorntons are fine, but nearly all the windows in their home are broken.


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