Major Alabama Paper Thinks Obama Should Pardon Former Gov. Don Siegelman

The Anniston Star, one of Alabama’s largest newspapers has called for President Obama to free former Gov. Don Siegelman from federal prison.

Siegelman is currently serving a 78 month prison sentence for bribery, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice charges stemming from a controversial arrangement made during his term as governor in the early part of the century.

His case is a complicated one to be sure.

But for the sake of a summation, does a pretty good job:

Siegelman was convicted by a federal court in 2006, “after being accused of appointing former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a health planning board in return for a $500,000 donation to the governor’s campaign for a statewide lottery.”

Was it corruption or just politics?

Depending on which side of the political aisle you sat at the time would determine how you felt.

But with the Supreme Court overturning the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a somewhat similar case as Siegelman, some believe that Obama should take action for the sake of justice.

The Anniston Star is leading the charge.

In an editorial, the paper cited the oft whispered idea that Siegelman’s conviction was a politically driven witch hunt.

“There’s no undoing the years of legal harassment waged against Don Siegelman,” The Anniston Star wrote in their editorial last week. “This court ruling and its narrowed definition of public corruption are an opportunity for President Barack Obama to use his presidential powers to make the former Alabama governor a free man.”

A few years back, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Siegelman’s son Joe.

At the time, Joe Siegelman was a student at the University of Alabama School of Law and was all a father could ask for in a son.

He was steadfast in his father’s defense, taking little time to sip his Starbucks coffee as that would have taken away from his time to convince me.

Indeed, many in his family were willing to try to convince anyone, anywhere of their father’s innocence.

Imagine what that must be like.

Your family used to be on top of the state with nothing but promise ahead.

Then a combination of bad decisions, confusion and a broken justice system breaks your family apart, soiling your name.

We’ll probably never know if Don Siegelman is totally innocent of the crimes he has been convicted of.

But a few things are certain.

One is that the US Supreme Court doesn’t feel like those crimes are that important anymore. Just politics as usual they say.

And two, is that Don Siegelman has certainly lost enough of his life already.

He is currently in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison with another two and a half years to serve on his sentence.

Free him.


RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Mike D/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Guy Just Broke Down Why UA Students Have To Stop Buying Dogs They Can’t Take Care Of

Getting a pet in college sounds good in theory. But it rarely works out in practice.

College students just have too many things going on to fully commit to keeping anything alive.

Alabama students are particularly bad at this with scores of unwanted pets constantly being put up for adoption.

With the rise of social media, the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange on Facebook has become a go to place to try to sell an unwanted pet.

One guy finally had enough of seeing young people making stupid decisions.

So he started preaching:

“Friendly reminder that if you are gonna get a pet make sure you are ready for the long haul,” Alexander Panagopoulos said in a post. “The animal shelter in Tuscaloosa is a kill shelter, so every time someone gets a dog then quits a week later because they can’t party every night, then take it to the pound. You basically just killed that animal. So please make sure you are ready to give up a lot for that animal.”

His post got a huge response and rightfully so.

You shouldn’t get a pet if you can’t take care of it. This is something you should learn as a kid in grad school alongside lessons about brushing your teeth and not talking to strangers.

“Most students do not realize the life commitment of owning a pet,” Alisa Nesmith Cooper said in the comments. “The pet does not understand why you left them, or forgot to feed them, etc. Do yourself and the animal community a favor and don’t get a pet until you can take care of it and yourself!”

Another commenter made an even more poignant point.

“As somebody who actually worked at the Tuscaloosa Animal Shelter, they try to adopt out as many dogs as they can,” Jessica Michelle Boozer said on the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange Facebook page. “A large portion of the reason dogs get put down there is because they can’t pass the tests that they need to (ie food aggression test). The when a dog goes from the stray side to the adoptable side of the shelter, it only has a limited time. If the dog is ugly or older or if it has serious medical problem it will get put down and then out into the freezer until the freezer is full and the dogs and cats get thrown into a truck and dumped off at the dump. That is not fair to any animal, but when they are so overcrowded, what are you going to do?”

So in short UA students: don’t get a dog if you can’t take of it. And many college students can’t take of it. This is just common sense.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Uber And Lyft Will Finally Be Allowed In Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox signed into law today a piece of legislation that allows ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in the Druid City.

Aber operated in T-Town for a few weeks during the fall of 2014 but it was shut down after local officials deemed the service unsafe.

Uber told the AP that they will begin operating within 30 days in Tuscaloosa.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below:

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Uber/ Facebook

Report: Confirmed Case Of Zika Virus At University Of Alabama

A student at the University of Alabama who had recently returned from studying abroad has tested positive for the Zika virus.

“Federal privacy laws prevent us from commenting on the student’s condition; however, in the majority of Zika cases, individuals make a full recovery within a week,” University of Alabama spokesperson Chris Bryant said in an email to

It is not yet known which country the student contracted the disease in.

However Bryant told that students that are concerned about their health should visit the on campus student health service.

According to campus newspaper, the Crimson Whitestudents involved in study abroad programs in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America were informed about the situation in a email on June 10.

Stay with RISE NEWS as we update this developing story. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: coniferconifer/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

10 Meddling Questions With Local Weather Entrepreneur Spinks Megginson

Spinks Megginson has a rare mix of entrepreneurial spirit and love of weather. He also really can’t stand that weather app you have in your pocket right now and has little patience for national weather sources.

He has a bit of a radical idea- that people want to get good weather information and a sense of community while receiving it.

He launched RedZone Weather, a hyperlocal weather and information brand in early 2015. It has quickly grown into a sustainable business by serving the communities that dot Southwest Alabama and Northwest Florida. But he has dreams for bigger things as well.

Here’s 10 questions with Spinks Megginson:

1) RISE NEWS- Where did your whole fascination with weather come from?

Spinks Megginson: I’ve wanted to study weather and teach others about meteorology for as long as I can remember, and that’s no exaggeration. I am incredibly thankful for my family and their support even when I was quite young. I can remember when I was 3 or 4, they would ask me to point to the “red spot” on the television screen. That’s one of the reasons why my company is RedZone Weather.

Also when I was super young, I was learning states and geography by putting glass stick-on puzzles together on the back door. They bought me maps, atlases, and books.

We also went through Hurricane Opal in 1995 as a family, and that was a defining experience. Nine years later, I had a Gateway (remember that?) desktop computer and I was able to track Hurricane Ivan as a seventh grader.

I think there’s a natural interest there and there always has been. That, in combination with my family fostering the development of an interest, has been a real blessing.


Spinks showing his love for weather as a young boy. Photo Credit: Sandra Morris Clements/ Facebook

2) RISE- How did that development continue when you got to high school? Did you ever express your weather love in class?

Spinks Megginson: I can see #weatherlove trending!

I worked at WEBJ Radio in my hometown of Brewton, Alabama during high school. This allowed me to learn quite a bit not only about communication during severe weather events, but also about announcing news, daily weather, and sports. I also became a student member of the National Weather Association. That gave me some insight into the weather enterprise through their publications.

I didn’t ever really express how much I enjoyed meteorology to others in class during high school, but it definitely was a known fact that I was interested in the subject. People would often ask me about weather, even then.

3) RISE- What about your college experience? How did it help you on your path?

Spinks Megginson: College was an integral part of my growth, both personally and professionally. In addition to learning a tremendous amount about the broadcast communication industry, I connected with many different people across the nation. I am thrilled to maintain these connections even now, more than two years after graduating from The University of Alabama.

My professors at UA were truly spectacular. Dr. Chandra Clark and Dr. Jason Senkbeil are the two professors that really stand out. I learned a vast amount of knowledge and acquired “real world” experience just by taking their classes. Dr. Clark is a former television producer, while Dr. Senkbeil is a former television meteorologist.

I think the specific opportunity that helped me most was being able to work on staff at WVUA23-TV during and after college. It was an honor to be one of the only weather interns to ever be offered a job at WVUA. The staff at WVUA, particularly Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott, involved me in daily operations and also in multiple severe weather events. That enabled me to learn so much more than being in a class ever could. I also worked with WVUA-FM, furthering my radio résumé.

Megginson during a light moment on set of WVUA-TV.

Megginson during a light moment on set of WVUA-TV.

4) RISE- How long have you been thinking about something like RedZone Weather then? Because it seems like you had other career options coming out of school.

Spinks Megginson: It’s true that I’ve had several job offers to do TV weather, right after college and as recently as a few weeks ago. I’m grateful to have those opportunities and I’ll certainly consider each opportunity I’m given. I consider it an honor to even have the chance to work with some of the great people in television in Alabama and beyond. I still occasionally do fill-in work on the evening newscasts at WVUA. I like to “keep my feet wet” in the TV world. Moreover, I like to be reminded of just how wonderful my current schedule is outside of television.

RedZone Weather is a bit of a culmination of my life experiences and a grandiose opportunity that I couldn’t ignore. I’ve been thinking about the concept for years, and that’s not an exaggeration. No “old media (for now, anyway).” Simply “new media.” That’s the goal. Meet people where they are already. People aren’t watching 10 o’clock newscasts. For many reasons, but that’s a discussion for another day. People ARE, however, increasingly on their smartphones and tablets all the time. The initial thought was to build a company around that. My time at UA helped me form the initial thought process on how to successfully do something like this. Ten months after graduating college, I started the company.

I didn’t, and still don’t, have all the answers. It’s a day-by-day learning experience. I’m having a blast though. I’ve done so many presentations about RedZone over the past few weeks and months that I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve met. That’s been a highlight. It’s truly a wonderful company with hopefully a bright, sunny future.

Megginson with well known Alabama weatherman James Spann at a conference.

Megginson with well known Alabama weatherman James Spann at a conference.

5) RISE- What has been the hardest part of starting your own media business?

Spinks Megginson: I’m the “everything” for this company. That means I’m the weather guy, sometimes the producer, director, janitor, PR man, IT coordinator, CEO, editor, “you name it, I do it” individual. That fact has its perks at times, but overall, I wish there were more people involved. It’s a fine balance though because I’m not interested in having a massive company right now, either.

Bruce Thompson has been with me since the start… I told him about what I wanted to see with RedZone, and he helped me set up the company as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Bruce also has been active on severe weather days with the company. He and Leigh Margaret Bostic, who is one of my best friends, have been phenomenal at producing on-screen content during the severe weather events of the past few months. I’m thrilled to not only call both of them friends, but also have them involved in RedZone Group, LLC.

It’s certainly difficult being a “one man band” at times, but so far, thankfully it hasn’t been an insurmountable challenge.

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6) RISE- So you’ve been active with it for over a year now and things have seemed to go well. Have you been happy with the response from the community?

Spinks Megginson: For me to simply answer yes would be an understatement. I’ve had so many people from around the region rally around what I’m doing. I think it’s obvious, based on the comments that are publicly accessible on Facebook and Twitter and based on the large number of positive comments people have said to me in person, that this service is truly beneficial for our community and our region.

RedZone Weather is one of those things that people didn’t realize they needed until it benefited them directly. Like on February 15 and 23rd, when two EF3 tornadoes moved across our region. It’s a hyperlocal weather service designed with rural communities first in mind. This isn’t about putting profits at the forefront, like most radio and television stations have to do. This is about helping people. Communicating urgent weather information that has the potential to save a life. Being present in the community across the region and actually caring that people know what to do during severe weather. That’s what it’s about.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I don’t know who said that quote, and evidently the Internet doesn’t either based on my Google search, but it’s exactly what I want RedZone to be about. So far, I think we’re doing alright with that.

WATCH: RedZone Weather report on the start of Hurricane Season. 

7) RISE- How do you compete with the notion that some people have that apps do a fine job of giving local weather information?

Spinks Megginson: Great question. Why should weather guys like me still be a part of a person’s life on a regular basis when he or she could easily look at the free iPhone weather app that comes preloaded on every device?

That means I’m competing with the app in almost everyone’s pocket. Android has a weather app. I assume Windows/Blackberry phones do too. I assume even most feature/flip phones have some type of weather access. That’s a pretty daunting challenge.

The difference with what I’m doing versus the apps is huge.

What most people don’t realize is nearly every weather app (including the iPhone weather app, by the way) is a view of raw model output statistics. No specific model is always right. Not one. They all have individual flaws. I take a blend of individual models AND incorporate what I know about specific recurring model errors. Models can’t do that. I can. TV weather guys can. I then apply corrections and refinements and produce a forecast.

Don’t even get me started about how many times I’ve seen the stock iPhone weather app be dead wrong. I can communicate “a line of storms will move through around 6AM Tuesday, followed by cooler temperatures and clearing skies.” The iPhone app displays nothing but a lightning icon for days in advance. The same holds true for many other apps. This isn’t a far-fetched example… It happened recently!

The media for how we communicate weather information is changing — and always will be changing. What doesn’t change is the need for people to communicate weather patterns. Weather-related models, computers, and apps are getting better. Slowly, but surely. I’m convinced that there won’t be any time in our lifetimes, no matter if you’re 4 years old or 84, that we don’t need people to communicate weather info, especially in the high-risk, panic-prone moments of a tornado or a hurricane.

Megginson teaching a class at a school about weather in their area.

Megginson teaching a class at a school about weather in their area.

8) RISE- So in a way, you are trying to push back a bit against the blandness of automated information sources like apps and broad ones like the Weather Channel?

Spinks Megginson: I view the network you mentioned and others like it as entertainment/broad information sources. Certain large weather vendors seem to have lost the local connection and the targeted focus of their past. There are a few large weather vendors that do a nice job, but that’s also a discussion for another day.

Read More: This “Funny Map” Of Tuscaloosa According To An Alabama Student Is Hilarious And Sort Of Spot On

9) RISE- Right now you are entirely focused on a specific geographic area (Southwest Alabama and Northwest Florida). How do you keep up with everything happening in your region?

Spinks Megginson: It’s impossible to keep up with a massive number of events. I do try to keep up with as many events as I can. People seem to really like the hyperlocal forecasting for specific events, so I try to incorporate as much of that as feasibly possible.

Some events are regularly scheduled, like high school and college football games. I had many encouraging comments about providing specific forecasts for those last year, and I would imagine we will do some of those again.

I’ve had requests to do forecasts for other sports and miscellaneous events. There’s a balance, though, of keeping things generalized to cater to a wide audience from across our ten county dedicated coverage area as well.

10) RISE- Where is RedZone Weather going? What do you think the future of it will be?

Spinks Megginson: I have somewhat of a grand vision for RedZone Group, LLC. I think the next step is continuing the daily grind of building the company. What does that look like? I think visiting and being a part of our local communities — and not just my hometown. I think the exposure and brand recognition in my hometown (where RedZone started) has been fantastic. I am SO appreciative to everyone who supports us in Brewton, Alabama. I think there’s more to it than strictly Brewton, however.

Presentations, lectures, helping people with weather radios, seeking opportunities to help communities around the region and around the state.

This next step isn’t as “sexy” as other things we do. It’s not necessarily “in the spotlight” for everyone to see, but I think it’s a necessary step. Getting to know people takes time and letting them know how much you care takes time.

I can’t imagine ever retiring from something like this (says the 24 year old who probably doesn’t realize what he’s actually saying). I’m having a blast. Another ill-defined quote that I love… “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I truly love what I do. It’s sometimes not the most agreeable or pleasant job, but it’s always worth it. What an honor it is to be able to talk with people about something that affects literally ALL of our lives. 100% of us are directly and indirectly affected by… Weather.

You can follow the rise of Spinks Megginson’s weather revolution on Facebook and Twitter

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Spinks Megginson.

Hikes of Tuscaloosa: An Evening on the Riverwalk

By Caroline Vincent

People may think that Tuscaloosa is simply a college town where the only activity for Saturdays is going to football games.

As someone who is in town for the summer, I am here to prove that assumption wrong as I find adventures to go on throughout Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas.

I started off easy and decided to go on more of a stroll than a hike.

On a sunny evening, I could not think of a better place to go stretch my legs than Manderson Landing on the Black Warrior River.

The Black Warrior is a waterway that feeds the Tombigbee River and stretches 178 miles.

In Tuscaloosa, Manderson Landing Park can be found just steps from the University of Alabama campus, and is therefore a popular place for students to spend their free time.

It is also home to the University’s rowing team, where they can be seen practicing in the mornings and competing on the weekends.

Manderson Landing is home to the Alabama Rowing team. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

Manderson Landing is home to the Alabama Rowing team. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

With views that stretch down the river, ferries, tugboats and personal vessels can be seen on the water throughout the day.

In my short time there on this particular evening, I saw all three and also several people on paddleboards, an ideal activity for the fairly calm river.

A tugboat on the Black Warrior River. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

A tugboat on the Black Warrior River. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

There are several activities that take place on land as well.

As the sun was setting, there were families playing together, couples taking walks, and groups doing yoga.

The riverwalk is a runner's haven in Tuscaloosa. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

The riverwalk is a runner’s haven in Tuscaloosa. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

There were also many runners along the path, not an uncommon sight for the area. Most importantly, I saw a lot of dogs.

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The water is not the only beauty seen at the park.

Much of the path at Manderson Landing is shaded by full oak and pine trees that offer not only greenery, but also a significant temperature drop from the sunnier parts of the path.


Picnic spot Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

Picnic spot. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

The trees are also very popular among students for hammocking.

With plenty of trunks to spare and beautiful views of the river, young people can be found enjoying their days off relaxing along the path in their various colored ENOs.


A view of campus from Manderson Landing. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

Visitors also take advantage of the banks of the river for multiple activities, such as fishing and picnics.

Fishing happening down by the river. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

Fishing happening down by the river. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

By the water and under trees, I don’t know if there is a better place to picnic in all of Tuscaloosa.

As just a portion of the Riverwalk, Manderson Landing really goes above and beyond with all it has to offer.

Some fishing happening on a paddle boat. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

Some fishing happening on a small boat on the Black Warrior River. Photo Credit: Caroline Vincent

From beautiful views to countless opportunities for activities, students and locals alike can find many ways to spend Saturdays along the Black Warrior River.

Tell us your favorite places to visit during summer in Alabama in the comments below. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

This Guy On Craigslist Really Wants You To Come And Get His Haunted Bed

Sometimes you just got to get rid of your bed because it is haunted and trying to scare you to death.

At least that’s what one Craigslist user in Mentone, AL is claiming.

The unidentified person posted a listing in the “free stuff” section of the Birmingham Craigslist under the title of “Free (paranormal) bed”.

It only gets better from there.


The scary bed in question. Photo Credit: Craigslist user upload.

Here is the full listing:

“I’m giving away this bed to whoever wants to come pick it up. My home is over 200 years old and is believed to have originally had a servants’ wing, located to the right angle of my home which later converted to slave quarters. The structure still standing is said to have been housing for the slaves on the property. This bed still remains inside the original structure. I do not know the history of this bed but it has not been removed from the quarters. It moves and shakes violently on its own. There have been sounds of cries and singing from the actual bed. It often shifts positions and there is a strange uneasy feeling when I try to move it. I just want it off my property for good”

Yeah we are with you on that.


I can barely handle it if my memory foam is slightly forgetful from the night before. This shit would put me over the edge.

Read More: This “Funny Map” Of Tuscaloosa According To An Alabama Student Is Hilarious And Sort Of Spot On

Mentone is a small town of just over 300 people in the far northeastern corner of the state. It sits on the popular tourist trap known as Lookout Mountain. So I guess we won’t be going there anytime soon.

But if you do actually decide to take this person up on their offer, then please let us know how it goes for you. Or don’t. That’s cool too.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

This “Funny Map” Of Tuscaloosa According To An Alabama Student Is Hilarious And Sort Of Spot On

Tuscaloosa. What a place to live for four or five or six years (don’t ask) as a student at the University of Alabama.

But as students, we often don’t get a full picture of the really awesome community in which we live.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t form a mental picture of the place over time, even if that picture is totally wrong.

After consulting with numerous current and former UA students, we came up with this funny map of Tuscaloosa.

Take a look.

Does it remind you of your time in T-Town? What would you add to it? Tell us in the comments below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 10.33.26 AM

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: RISE NEWS

The University Of Alabama Needs To Have A Commencement Speaker Again

By Mike Smith

When I was a senior in high school, I only cared about one thing: giving the commencement speech at my graduation.

I had been on the speech team for four years and qualified to Nationals two years in a row. I thought I had the nomination in the bag.

I got so ahead of myself that I even wrote the speech itself three months in advance. But then something unpredicted happened.

I lost.

Got second place in my class behind a cross-country runner who was hit by a car.

Flustered but obviously unable to show it, I went to my graduation disheartened, angry, and downright disappointed. I held my head down during the ceremonies, ignoring both the pomp and the circumstance.

Yet, just when I was about to tune out, the graduation speaker stood up and tapped the microphone. I looked up and, out of jealousy, waited for him to make a mistake just so I could be hyper-critical. But he didn’t.

He started with a light joke about the accident, cutting some of the heavy tension in the room.

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He went on to detail the obstacles that came from his incident, the challenges he faced in returning to normal life, and, despite all of this, how he didn’t want our pity. At that moment, I realized how privileged I was.

I was in perfect health. I was moving on to the greatest university in the world (Roll Tide).

I was lucky enough to graduate.

I went in to that ceremony defiant and angry, but I left with a lesson. No one owes you anything. I tell this story not to rehash high school memories, but to emphasize the importance that a commencement address can bring to graduates.

Graduation speeches allow for a moment of reflection.

They act as a celebration of what you and your peers have accomplished and the support you have gotten along the way.

Graduation speeches also grant the opportunity for well-experienced members of society to give some parting advice for those moving on to bigger and better things.

Just this past year alone, Rutgers University heard President Obama recount his past fighting for justice, the University of Pennsylvania saw Lin Manuel Miranda explain the struggle of long-distance relationships, and Berkeley witnessed Sheryl Sandburg’s story of coping with the loss her husband.

The advice offered by these great speakers may not resonate with every single graduate, but it can mean a world of difference to those in similar situations.

The author on the University of Alabama campus. Photo Credit: Mike Smith.

The author on the University of Alabama campus. Photo Credit: Mike Smith.

Graduation speeches can humanize what might feel like a rather methodical ceremony.

This is why I am disappointed that the University of Alabama does not have commencement speakers at most of their graduation ceremonies.

Instead of being an inspirational function, these events treat students like products being churned out of the factory. Thus, the graduations are rather dry, dispassionate, and robotic.

Additionally, the administration has given no legitimate reason not to have them. There is no unique tradition of the Capstone that effectively “bans” commencement addresses, like sitting during football games or walking across The Mound.

In fact, the administration just recently got rid of them, most likely because a speaker in 2007 made some controversial comments about the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately, they canceled speeches for a single year, yet never changed it back.

All of this is why I, as a member of the Capstone Coalition (a student block of aligned independents), am introducing a resolution to the SGA Senate this fall to encourage the University to reinstate graduation speeches.

I urge you to contact your college’s SGA Senator and lobby them to support this proposal. The only way that the administration will change is if we collectively demand action.

Looking back, while it didn’t go as I imagined, my high school graduation was pretty remarkable.

I learned from one of my peers an important lesson that prepared me for my transition to college.

I hope that when I leave the Capstone, I can get one more piece of advice just like that.

Mike Smith is a student at the University of Alabama and a member of student government there. The University of Alabama is one of the few colleges that does not currently have a commencement speaker. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: The University of Alabama/ Facebook

Hey, Can Someone Come Claim This Box Of Human Ashes Already?

Police in one small Alabama town are perplexed.

And no, they weren’t asked to pick their favorite flavor of donut at the local Krispy Kreme.

They are confused because they have been unable to determine whose ashes were left on the side of a busy highway near the Florida line.

Yes that’s right. Human ashes.


Credit: Florala Police

According to the AP, the strange find was made by a power line crew in the small town of Florala, AL about a month ago.

“We took it out of the case to see if there was a name or business card or anything to go by, and of course there was nothing in it,” Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole chief told the AP.

Apparently at least four people have inquired with police about the box of human ashes but the case is still unsolved.


Credit: Florala Police

An folded American flag kept in a glass case was found near the box of ashes, causing some to believe a military connection.

Florala has less than 2,000 people living in it and is located on the far southern border of the state.

According to the AP, the remains were found close to U.S. 331, which is a busy road filled with people coming and going from the popular tourist destinations on the Florida Panhandle. So the remains could belong to someone who was just passing through the area.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Kristin Nador/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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