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The Florala News
Florala , Alabama
June 15, 2011     The Florala News
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June 15, 2011

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~;i EI_~ i~ i i~ ; ~ !;~!i:~ :_=i: ESTABLISHED ! 900 Location Of One Hundred ONE HUNDRED TENTH YEAR PRINTED ON 100% RECYCLED PAPER Forty Consecutive WEDNESDAY JUNE ! 5, 201 I Annual Masonic Celebrations NUMBER ! 3.8 PAGES 50 PER ISSUE cs^,Es TAX INCLUDED} or issues rn $500 fine ff caught burning. As of Thursday morning, Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) officials were cautiously optimistic that a wildfire that has consumed over 2,943 acres in Jefferson County, while not extinguished, is partially "contained," meaning that the line around the fire is holding. Since Saturday af- ternoon, AFC wildland firefighters from 14 counties have been working with wildland fire suppression bulldozers to bring this raging wildfire under control near the sinall Adger community north of Hueytown, with the assistance of several volunteer fire departments and Other local stake- holders. Burning in timber that was downed by the April torna- dos, this fire not only behaved erratically but also proved extremely difficult to contain. Although firefighters worked hard to catch all the "jumps" in the fire line as quickly as possible, the flame escaped the line a couple times, causing alarm and endangering homes and property in its path. AFC law enforcement officers have arrested Kevin Keef, a 25-year-old man from Adger, in connection with starting this fire. He was charged withviolating Alabama fire law 9-13-11, (b(3)), for his failure to adequately clear the area around a debris pile he was burning. If convicted, he may face a fine up to $3,000 and/or up to six months in jail. Meanwhile, a second large wildfire has been burning in the Seminole area of Baldwin County near the Florida state line. For the last five days, AFC wildland firefighting crews have been battling the 1,300-acre blaze, the result of a lightning strike, with the aid of volunteer fire depart- ments. Smoke from the wildfire created visibility problems for motorists in both Alabama and Florida for several days. As of Thursday morning, Alabama Forestry Commission officials reported that although it continues to burn and will be monitored carefully, the wildfire has finally been contained. The extreme w, eather conditions are taking a toll on the health and safety of the firefighters as well. One AFC wildland firefighter was airlifted to a Pensacola hospital on Sunday night where he was treated and released for heat exhaustion and carbon monoxide inhalation. He is now re- ported in good condition but has not yet returned to duty. The combination of current drought conditions, unsea- sonably high temperatures, low relative humidity, and reduced availability of fire suppression resources, com- pounded by the large amount of timber and debris on the ground from the April tornados, has created an atmosphere where the probability of catastrophic fire activity is high. In the last 30 days, 365 wildfires have burned across approxi- mately 10,472 acres of land in'Alabama. As a result, Ala- bama Governor Robert Bentley issued a formal Declaration of Emergency Drought Condition on Tuesday, June 7 at the request of State Forester Linda Casey. All 67 counties in the state of Alabama were placed under the Drought Emer- gency, often referred to as a "No Burn Order," which prohib- its all outdoor burning. The only exemptions to this order are the tornado-related debris disposal sites approved by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) or the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA). Under the Drought Emergency rule, it is illegal for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes; to build a campfire or bonfire; or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass, or woods fire. If convicted, the penalty for violating the No Burn Order is a fine of up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail. This No Burn Order will remain in effect until conditions change sufficiently to reduce the occurrence and frequency of wild- fires. The limited amount of rain that fell in scattered areas of the state this week is not expected to relieve the situa- tion significantly. The Alabama Forestry Commission is committed to pro- tecting the state's invaluable forest assets, as well as serv- ing the citizens and landowners across Alabama. For more information on the wildfire situation in the state, visit the agency's website at aspx. by Lisa Windham The Florala Utilities Board received an update on the wire- less meter read system at their regular meeting on Monday. Board approval to enter into a financial agreement for this project with Regions Bank was given at the May meeting. Total cost for this project is estimated to be $500-$550K. The automated meter reading system will entail the re- placement of existing water and gas meters with wireless read ones. The system has approximately 1,100 water me- ters and 600 gas meters. Currently it takes approximately 160 man hours per month for all meters to be read for bill- ing. With the new system it will take one person approxi- mately 4-6 hours to obtain the readings. According to Secretary Lynn Hughes a lot of man hours have been put into researching the various aspects of the wireless meter read system to find the best and most eco- nomical one for Florala Utilities. Four different companies have made presentations to the board and the pros and cons have been weighed on each. Cities with similar systems have also been contacted to inquire about their experience with the equipment, etc. in order to narrow the choices. Benefits of such a system includes years of maintenance free operation, the virtual elimination of tampering and vandalism, customer leak alerts, backflow theft alerts and a more accurate measure of customer usage. Mayor Robert Williamson. reported that the State of Ala- bama will soon let bids on the repaying of Highway 331 through downtown Florala. One stipulation of the repaving project was that the sewer pipes located underneath the roadway be relocated to the right-of-way. That project has recently been completed. In other business the board: * approved accounts payable * set the next meeting date for July 11 at 11 a.m. RULES: The treasure will not be hidden at the following locations: L&N Depot, Florala Public Library, Post Office, Club House (next to the fire station). Will be lo- cated on city property only. Clues will be posted in The Florala News, 24th of June Fa- cebook page, Huddle House, and WKWL. CLUES: Wednesday, June 1st - I will be wrapped tight in a light gray tape Thursday, June 2nd - Look far and near but I will be close to the center of life Friday, June 3rd - All those cracks hurt my back as I look for the treasure pack Monday, June 6th - Monday and Bundy ..... I'm not close to the Lundy's Tuesday, June 7th -I smell the water but I'm not near the border Wednesday, June 8th - Blue, Green and Red is all around Thursday, June 9th - I lost it by the week; I got it by the minute Friday, June 10th - I can be found nearby where I'm bound by the hound Monday, June 13th- Over the past I have brought both joy and sadness Tuesday, June 14th - I stand strong and tall Wednesday, June 15th - I, SREMUNCMAYCN- LYGP I' I I The combination of re- People should drink pressure, nervousness or de- ne alert to the warnings that cord-breaking heat and hu- plenty of water, stay in air- pression. The public should may signal help is needed. midity presently affecting conditioned areas and keep also check on the elderly and Heat stroke, sometimes Alabama can be deadly. Now out of the sun. Individuals ensure pets have plenty of called sunstroke, is the most that the National Weatherwith heart problems, poorwater to drink and a shady serious heat-related illness. Service has informed the circulation, diabetes, a pre- place to cool off. It occurs when the body be- public about high heat index vious stroke or obesity are Heat-related illnessescomes unable to control its values, the Alabama De- at greater risk of becoming occur when the body's tem- temperature. The body's partment of Public Healthsick in hot weather. Heat- perature control system temperature rises rapidly, advises citizens to be alert related illnesses may in-is overloaded. The Ala- the sweating mechanism to the warning signals ofcrease among people usingbama Department of Publicfails and the body is unable heat illnesses, medications for high blood Health cautions everyone to to cool down. Body temper- I I I For Peace Corps Romania's 20th / 5Oth anniversary celebration, Habitat for Humanity volunteers created a road sign to their home town in the U.S. The signs were then installed permanently on the job site as a token of gratitude for their hard work. Shown is Mrs. Libby Gitenstein, wife of Romanian Ambassador Mark Gitenstein, holding the sign she made for her husband at a Habitat for Humanity build in Western Romania. Mark is the son of long-time Florala resident, the late Seymour Gitenstein.