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Innocence Commission Bill Passes Senate, Agriculture Clinic for State Teachers

Dick Brewbaker

Alabama senators have approved establishing an innocence commission to review some of the state’s capital convictions.

Senators voted 20-6 in favor of the bill yesterday, sending it to the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would create a panel to review new evidence in death row cases that hadn't previously been heard by a court.

Bill sponsor, Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker, says he supports the death penalty in Alabama, but he thinks the state should work harder to make sure people are guilty before executing them.

The legislation was inspired by the case of death row inmate Bill Kuenzel, convicted of the 1987 murder of a Sylacauga convenience store clerk. Kuenzel's lawyers say they have new evidence raising massive doubts about his guilt, but they have been unable to enter it in court because of a missed deadline.

Alabama teachers will learn to bring a little bit of the farm into their classrooms at an upcoming workshop.

The Alabama Farmers’ Federation is hosting the Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute this June for teachers of kindergarten through 6th grade. Teachers will be exposed to the workings of local farms and given strategies and lesson plans to bring this information into their classrooms.

Mary Johnson is the Director of News Services for the Alabama Farmer’s Federation. She says teaching about farms can fulfill curriculum requirements and inform students about viable career options.

“The earlier that children get introduced to agriculture and what farming really is, the more likely they may be to really think about going into a career that’s related to farming or agriculture.”

Applications for the free institute are due April 15.

The eighth annual Waterfest is happening this weekend on Lake Tuscaloosa.

Waterfest is an event that invites the community to help remove trash and debris from their local lakes. Last year, volunteers removed around 7,000 pounds of trash from Lake Tuscaloosa.

Steven Daily is the Deputy Director of the Water and Sewer Department for the City of Tuscaloosa. He says this event also gives local students the chance to learn about their water supply.

“They coupled it with an educational component and it was tied to their science standard, and they would have little learning stations where the children could come by and try to get an awareness of children of the impacts of urban living around the lake, which is our drinking water reservoir. In hopes that they would go home, you know, talk to their parents and kind of educate the community as a whole.”

Waterfest will be held today and tomorrow at the Rock Quarry and Highway 43 Binion Creek boat landings from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

National Weather Service storm surveys show seven tornadoes touched down across central Alabama late Wednesday and early Thursday.

The weather service says the strongest tornado was an EF-2 that hit Bullock County with 120 mph winds just before midnight Wednesday night. It started near Midway and created a path of damage that was nearly 8 miles long and 250 yards wide at the largest.

The other six twisters all had winds of 85 mph or less and were rated at EF-0. They affected Barbour, Lee, Montgomery and Bullock counties.

No one was seriously hurt and most of the twisters were weak, causing only scattered damage. But the storms serve as a reminder of the possibility of severe weather in the state during the springtime.