ALABAMA COUNTY MYSTERY
Ala county could be out $400, or millions
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama county faces a financial mystery.
The criminal charge against former Marshall County Revenue Commissioner Joey Masters is serious, but hardly jaw-dropping. He's accused on a misdemeanor count of taking a few hundred dollars from a petty cash fund.
But a civil lawsuit contends the allegations are but a pin prick in a scandal that cost the county nearly as much as its annual budget of nearly $23 million.
Masters' lawyer denies the lawsuit's claims, and the county commission chairman says the allegations are far-fetched. He says Marshall County is in good shape financially.
A state audit released last year does say there were some $17 million in assessment errors in Marshall County, and all the money wasn't made up.
The criminal charge and civil lawsuit are still pending.
Ala. city uses 1 camera to issue 784 traffic fines
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - The city of Tuscaloosa has used a traffic monitoring camera to issue more than 780 citations in the past three months.
The Tuscaloosa News reports 784 citations were issued between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 to drivers who ran a red light at the intersection of 15th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Drivers are fined $110. City Hall keeps $70 of each fine and $30 is given to Gatso USA Inc., the company hired to install and monitor the camera. The remaining $10 is given to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.
City Engineer David Griffin has said revenue from the citations is being held in an escrow account in case a lawsuit arises challenging the system.
City officials expect cameras to eventually be installed at five other intersections.
Bessemer jail reopening for Birmingham inmates
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Jefferson County sheriff's officials say a county jail in Bessemer is set to reopen Dec. 16 with nearly 200 inmates transferring from a facility in Birmingham.
Sheriff's spokesman Randy Christian told AL.com work to prepare the facility began in October. The 410-bed jail in Bessemer closed because of budget cuts in 2009.
The county commission earmarked $2.4 million in the fiscal year 2014 budget to hire more than 40 people to work at the facility. An additional $276,000 has been allocated to upgrade the jail's security system.
County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown has said three to four men have been known to sleep in cells meant for two in the Birmingham jail. She called the conditions there inhumane.
Alabama mail man uses boat on delivery route
MAGNOLIA SPINGS, Ala. (AP) - U.S. Postal Service officials say a postman in south Alabama is working the only water delivery mail route in the country.
Mark Lipscomb has delivered mail to residents in the Weeks Bay area for nine years and says his mode of transportation isn't a white truck or van, but a 15-foot Alumacraft boat.
Lipscomb tells the Montgomery Advertiser he has a unique job that provides a lot of challenges.
Postal Service spokeswoman Debbie Fetterly says the route began in 1915 and serves about 180 homes in a 31-mile area.
Lipscomb says his route takes about four hours to complete, and that he's gotten used to seeing alligators and other wildlife on the job.
House armed forces lawmaker touring Ala. base
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A high-ranking lawmaker on the House Armed Forces Committee will soon tour Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.
Rep. Mac Thornberry is making his first visit Monday. The Republican from Texas is coming at the invitation of Reps. Mike Rogers of Michigan and Martha Roby of Alabama.
Thornberry told WSFA-TV that he's looking forward to the trip and learning about the missions at the base.
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