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Federal Judge Sets Date for Voter ID Trial, W.C. Handy Festival Beginning in Florence

W.C. Handy Music Festival

A federal judge says a pending lawsuit over Alabama's voter identification law will go to trial in the fall of next year.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler has set the trial to begin Sept. 11, 2017, in Birmingham federal court. Greater Birmingham Ministries and the NAACP challenged the state’s existing voter ID law as an infringement on voting rights disproportionately affecting black and Latino voters.

The plaintiffs have asked Coogler to hold the trial in June to allow for a chance that the case could be decided before 2017's municipal elections.The state of Alabama has objected to that request, noting that the ID requirement was in place for two years before it was challenged.

Earlier this year, Judge Coogler refused to suspend the voter ID requirement for all 2016 elections.

Music lovers will be pouring into the Shoals this weekend.

The annual W.C. Handy festival is back, and it runs into August. The event was created to honor William Christopher Handy, who is known worldwide as Father of the Blues. The event features a 5K, family fun walk and, of course, plenty of music.

Tori Bailey is the festival chair. She says the W.C. Handy festival is the top tourism attraction for northwest Alabama.

“Last year, there were over three hundred events in ten different towns and cities in three different counties during the course of the W.C. Handy music fest. We’ve grown to be the largest tourism attraction held annually in northwest Alabama. We’re pretty proud of that. We’re so excited that people choose to come and hang out with us.”

Bailey says that there is something for everyone at the festival, and the projected numbers for attendance are over two hundred thousand.

Alabama’s peanut industry brings in a reported eighty million dollars a year. And that industry is taking center stage today in Florida.

The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation is gathering farmers all around the country to its eighteenth annual conference at Miramar Beach. The theme of this year’s event is called “Survivor – Managing the Challenge.” It will cover topics like survival in the marketplace, surviving production uncertainty and how peanut oil can be used as a fuel source.

Carl Sanders is the President of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. He says Alabama peanut growers are exporting more than ever.

“We do have the highest quality peanuts in the world. But we also are having success with peanut products as in peanut oil, possibly for jet fuel or hydraulic oil, and peanut meal as protein sources for human and animal feed.”

The conference will continue through Saturday.

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