Birmingham opens shelter during cold blast
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Another blast of cold air is headed to Alabama, and officials in Birmingham are taking steps to protect homeless people.
The city says it will open Boutwell Auditorium as a warming shelter nightly through Thursday. Temperatures are predicted to fall into the mid-to upper 20s each night until then.
Temperatures will be even colder in north Alabama, where the National Weather Service says temperatures will dip into the low 20s.
Milder temperatures are expected in south Alabama, but officials have issued a small craft advisory because of high winds and rough conditions in coastal waters.
MISSISSIPPI SHERIFF INDICTED
Sheriff Byrd pleads guilty to federal charges
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - The attorney for four-term Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal felony charge, says the two will talk this week about details of Byrd's anticipated resignation.
And the Harrison County Board of Supervisors - in anticipation of Byrd's resignation - are working on details of finding an interim sheriff until a special election can be held.
Mississippi state law does not allow a convicted felon to hold public office.
Byrd's attorney Joe Sam Owen told news organizations after Tuesday's hearing in federal court in Mobile, Ala., details are being worked out.
Byrd pleaded guilty to misleading conduct toward another person with intent to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer as part of a federal plea deal stemming from a 2012 arrest.
CHATTAHOOCHEE ZIP LINE
Zip line planned over Chattahoochee River
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) - A Georgia company plans to build a zip line across the Chattahoochee River in the Columbus area.
The Columbus City Council on Tuesday approved a land deal that would make way for the 1,200-foot zip line.
Whitewater Express Inc. owner Dan Gilbert tells The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer that the plans call for two parallel zip lines that would carry people across the river at speeds up to 40 mph.
Uptown Columbus Inc. President Richard Bishop said construction will begin next year, and the zip line could be operational before the end of October.
It is part of a larger project involving a whitewater rafting course that opened earlier this year on the river, which separates Columbus from Phenix City, Ala.
Alabama ethics director wins national award
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, Jim Sumner, has received the top award from a national ethics organization.
The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws presented its COGEL Award to Sumner during its meeting in Quebec City, Quebec. The meeting wraps up Wednesday.
Sumner has served as director of the Alabama Ethics Commission since 1997 and has overseen several major changes in the state ethics law. They include granting subpoena power to the Ethics Commission, prohibiting public officials from holding two or more taxpayer-funded jobs, and tightening expenditures by lobbyists.
Former Gov. Bob Riley wrote a letter of support, saying the changes would not have been possible without Sumner.
Ala. developer to plead guilty in wetlands case
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - A real estate developer set for trial on charges of wetlands and Clean Water Act violations in Hancock County has notified court officials he plans to plead guilty to a reduced charge.
Federal court records show William R. "Rusty" Miller, of Fairhope, Ala., plans to accept a plea agreement on a charge of filling wetlands without permission.
The Sun Herald reports his initial court appearance and plea hearing are set for Dec. 17. An 11-count indictment filed in November 2012 will be dismissed if the court accepts Miller's plea to one count from a bill of information.
The charge alleges Miller knowingly and illegally ordered the ditching, draining and filling of wetlands in 2007 on land owned by three businesses collectively known as Hancock County Land.
Ala. man admits shooting dolphin in Miss. Sound
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - A commercial boat captain from Bayou La Batre, Ala., has pleaded guilty to shooting a dolphin with a shotgun in the Mississippi Sound in the summer of 2012.
The Sun Herald reports Brent Buchanan faces maximum penalties of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine at his sentencing on Feb. 24.
Buchanan was charged with taking a marine mammal in a bill of information filed in federal court Thursday. He pleaded guilty Tuesday before Magistrate Judge John M. Roper. Roper allowed him to remain free on an unsecured $25,000 bond pending sentencing.
Online court records don't say why Buchanan shot the dolphin, if he killed it or whether it was hoisted aboard his vessel.
Columbus' ships to arrive in Biloxi
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Replicas of two of Christopher Columbus' ships - the Nina and the Pinta - are scheduled to dock Thursday for a three-week stay at the Schooner Pier Complex of the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi.
The ships will remain in Biloxi until Jan. 2.
Robin Krohn David, the museum's executive director, says both ships tour together as a new and enhanced sailing museum to educate the public and school children about Columbus' explorations.
The general public may visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission charges are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students ages 5 to 16. Children 4 and under are free.
The ships will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until their departure.
Boeing official talks with Wash. machinists
SEATTLE (AP) - The chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes has met in Washington state with union leaders of the Machinists who rejected the company's contract offer last month.
The Seattle Times reports that Tuesday's meeting between Boeing's Ray Conner and leaders of Machinists District 751 came on deadline day for states across the country to submit their bids to build Boeing's new 777X project.
The newspaper says the meeting is the first sign since the Nov. 13 rejection vote that a labor deal to produce the 777X in Washington state might still be possible.
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder confirms that Conner met with union representatives, but cautioned that, in Alder's words, "We are not in negotiations. These are conversations."
In a statement on their website, the Machinists said the meeting was "a chance for both sides to give feedback. No proposals were exchanged."
Alex Pietsch is director of Gov. Jay Inslee's aerospace office. Pietsch calls the talks "a positive sign."
After the Machinists rejected Boeing's contract proposal to build the new jet in Washington, the company asked for formal bids from other sites.
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