Woman killed in Monday crash identified as 19-year-old from Pelham

Leslie Burnett died at UAB Hospital.

police lights.jpg 

PELHAM, Alabama - Authorities have identified a young woman who died following a Monday afternoon crash along Helena Road.

Shelby County Coroner Diana New on Wednesday identified the victim as Leslie Burnett. Burnett, 19, was from Pelham.

The crash occurred about 2:50 p.m. Monday along Helena Road -- also known as Alabama 261 -- near Wooddale Drive. Police said Burnett pulled her car onto Helena Road in front of an oncoming pickup truck and the two vehicles collided.

Burnett was flown by helicopter to UAB Hospital. She died later that night.

The driver and passenger of the pickup truck also were injured and taken to Shelby Baptist Medical Center for treatment. The crash remains under investigation by Pelham police and the Shelby County Traffic Homicide Task Force.

Disaster recovery centers open statewide for Alabama April storm survivors

The center will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

CLANTON, Alabama - Federal and state authorities have opened disaster recovery centers in five counties statewide to help survivors of the April storms that ripped through Alabama.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency opened the centers in Baldwin, Etowah, Jefferson Lee and Limestone counties, according to a FEMA news release issued Wednesday. All of the locations are open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The locations are:

* Baldwin County: Elberta Town Hall, 10352 Main St., Elberta, 36530; Fairhope Civic Center (Delchamps Room), 161 North Section St., 36532

* Etowah County: Sardis City Hall, 1335 Sardis Drive, Boaz, 35956

* Jefferson County: Maurice C. West Community Center, 171 Second St. SW, Graysville, 35073; Kimberly Senior Center, 8013Warrior-Kimberly Rd., Kimberly, 35091.

* Lee County: Smith's Station Government Center, 2336 Lee County Road 430, Suite 101, Smith's Station, 36877.

* Limestone County: Ripley Woodmen of the World Hall-11281 Ripley Road, Athens, 35611.

Specialists from AEMA, FEMA and the Small Business Administration will be on hand to answer questions. Survivors will be able to:

* Discuss their individual disaster-related needs.

* Submit any additional documentation needed, such as phone bills or letters from insurance companies.

* Find out the status of an application.

* Obtain information about different types of state and federal assistance.

* Get help from SBA specialists in completing low-interest disaster loan applications for homeowners, renters and business owners.

* Receive referrals to the American Red Cross and other voluntary organizations to help with immediate needs.

Before going to a center, if possible, survivors should register with FEMA. Apply for assistance by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov, via smartphone at m.fema.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362. Survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability can call (TTY) 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available.

Disaster assistance may include money to help pay for temporary housing and essential home repairs. Low-interest SBA loans may also be available for losses not covered by insurance or other sources.

Alabama residents should register with FEMA even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but under-insured applicants may receive help after their insurance claims have been settled.

Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if the person has registered with another disaster-relief organization. FEMA registrants must use the name that appears on their Social Security card.

Applicants will be asked for the following information:

* Social Security number.

* Address of the damaged home or apartment.

* Description of the damage.

* Information about insurance coverage.

* A current contact telephone number.

* An address where they can receive mail.

* Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.

For more information on Alabama disaster recovery, click fema.gov/disaster/4176. Visit the Alabama Emergency Management Agency website at ema.alabama.gov/ or Facebook page at facebook.com/AlabamaEMA

Contracts with area hospitals step in right direction for Jefferson County; work remains, experts say

Representatives from area hospitals called the contracts a step in the right direction, but said a lot of work remains.

Princeton BaptistPrinceton Baptist Medical one of four hospitals with contracts to provide care for former Cooper Green Mercy Hospital patients. (Joe Songer/jsonger@al.com).

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The Jefferson County Commission today unanimously approved agreements with four Birmingham area hospitals to provide care for former Cooper Green Mercy Hospital patients.

The agreements cover in-patient, specialty and emergency services with Baptist Health System, University of Alabama at Birmingham, UAB West, and St. Vincent's Health System.

"This is a huge hurdle we have crossed," Commissioner Sandra Little Brown said. "My main concern is having the best care for our indigent patients. Having those contracts in place . . . is great for patients and great for their families."

Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said the contracts show the plan to downsize the hospital is working and will improve the quality of life for indigent patients.

The County Commission closed the emergency room and in-patient care unit at the Cooper Green in January, 2013 and began operating an urgent care center.

The closures led to a shaky transition as hospital advocates, medical providers, doctors groups and some elected officials expressed concern about operations at the Sixth Avenue South facility.

Even county officials began to point fingers as the wait for agreements with area hospitals dragged on for more than a year. 

Today, representatives from area hospitals called the contracts a step in the right direction, but said a lot of work remains.

"There are many more issues that need to be addressed for care of the patients at Cooper Green," said Dr. Will Ferniany, CEO of UAB Health System. " These contracts mainly address when they have to be hospitalized, but the outpatient system . . . many things need to be done there."

Ferniany and others said the county still needs to reduce the wait time for patients; attract more primary care doctors; establish a better process for when patients are referred and contract with other primary care providers such as Christ Health Center in Woodlawn.

Ross Mitchell, Vice President, External and Governmental Affairs Baptist Health System, said, "We remain committed to working with the county on a long-term solution to ensure patients are receiving care and health care providers are appropriately reimbursed."

Petelos said the next move is to hire a permanent director at Cooper Green Mercy Health Services. Last week, court appointed receiver Ronald Sims selected personnel board veteran Roger McCullough as interim director.

"We will be working with the interim director who is in place now, we will continue to meet with our partners, continue to meet with UAB trying to help us recruit more primary doctors to get our wait time down," County Manager Tony Petelos said.

The UAB contract runs through Sept. 30; Baptist Health through 2015; and St. Vincent through 2016. The contract for UAB is in the amount of $7 million; St. Vincent's $2 million; and Baptist Health System $2 million.

End of Watch: Birmingham police remember 51 killed in the line of duty

"When most people turn from danger, our officers run toward danger,'' said Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -  Hundreds of Birmingham police officers stood in silent tribute Tuesday to the 51 men and women who have died in the line of duty in the city dating back to 1900.

At a ceremony outside of Birmingham City Hall, officers, firefighters, and city officials honored the sacrifice of slain officers as part of National Police Week. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week.

Bagpipes played Amazing Grace, there was the symbolic Riderless Horse and a wreath-laying. Police officials read the names of those Birmingham police officers killed in service over the past 114 years.

"There are 51 names representing 51 families, their hopes and their dreams,'' said Birmingham police Chief A.C. Roper. "We gather today to remember and honor them."

"When most people turn from danger, our officers run toward danger,'' the chief said. "They are asked to confront it and battle it head on. To go into the darkness armed with a gun and a badge, but also with the belief that most people are good and that a safe and orderly city is worth fighting for and, yes, at times worth dying for."

Mayor William Bell read a proclamation for the slain officers and thanked all officers for their service. "Sometimes people take you for granted. But you know when you wake up in the morning, put on your uniform, walk out that door having kissed your loved ones, there is no guarantee that you will come back,'' Bell said. "We depend upon your training, we depend upon your insight, and we depend on your love for the job that you do that God will protect you and give you grace and peace as you carry out your responsibility. For those brothers and sisters who do fall, we lift them up and say thank you."

Bell referenced what was a busy, and tragic, week for Birmingham police and other officers throughout the county. On Saturday, off-duty Officer Keary Hollis was killed after a dispute with another man outside an Ensley convenience store. Also Saturday night, Officer Brandon Smith was struck by a car while working an accident on the interstate. He is in stable condition.

Earlier Saturday, a Birmingham police officer fatally shot a nightclub security guard after the security guard shot another security guard at the Foxx Trap lounge. On Friday night, a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy fatally shot a man who tried to run over him while the suspect was involved in a heroin deal. Earlier in the week, an off-duty Birmingham police officer was shot three times by the estranged husband of a woman who was at his house.

"This past weekend we were reminded of the evil that is alive and well,'' Bell said. "In order to have a civilization that would thrive and grow, we must have order. We depend on the men and women who wear the badge and uniform to help us maintain that order in our society."

June 17 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the last time a Birmingham police officer was killed in the line of duty. West Precinct Officers Carlos Owen, Robert Bennett and Harley Chisholm died in a hail of gunfire June 17, 2004, at an Ensley drug house. Officer Michael Collins, now a sergeant, was wounded, but survived the attack.

Kerry Spencer fired the shots that killed Owen, Bennett and Chisholm. He, along with co-defendant Nathaniel Woods, were convicted and sentenced to death. They remain on Death Row at Alabama's Holman Prison.

Nine Birmingham police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the past 30 years. "On this morning we rededicate ourselves to the service of our citizens and the fight for right,'' Roper said. "These officers who have gone before us, if they could speak they would admonish us to stay strong in the darkness and be a beacon of light pointing the way to a better life."

Roper said the force will continue to do just that as they go into the future protecting the life, the property, and the peace of Birmingham and the citizens. "As we move forward today, let us pledge to keep them in our hearts and live our lives with the same courage, the same commitment, and the same selflessness with which they lived theirs,'' he said. "As we move forward, let us build a city that is worthy of the oath of every Birmingham police officer so their sacrifice will never be in vain.

In 2013, 27 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide, according to the FBI. That is a 44 percent decrease over 2012, which saw 49 officers slain during service. By region, 15 officers were killed in the South, six in the West, four in the Midwest, and two in the Northeast.

"I think it's a great trend across the city and across the nation that officer line of duty deaths are down,'' Roper said. "We've had more focused training on it. Below 100 has been a national movement to try to get those deaths below 100 every year."

"We're not only having better tactics and training, we're also doing things like reminding officers to wear your seatbelt. Wear your bullet proof vest,'' he said. "Do the things you can to improve your safety because you never know when you may be faced with a deadly force situation and unfortunately the bad guy gets a vote."

Here is the list of Birmingham Fallen Officers. More information on them can be found here:

  1. J. Wafe Adams- EOW: 3/28/1900
  2. George W. Kirkley- EOW: 3/28/1900
  3. William P. Walton- EOW: 3/18/1902
  4. James H. Mullin- EOW: 9/27/1903
  5. James Whaley-EOW: 8/12/1904
  6. Samuel H. Hamilton-EOW: 5/12/1907
  7. Willis A. Smith-EOW: 3/10/1908
  8. John W. little-EOW: 11/7/1908
  9. George Clinton Eubank-EOW: 11/23/1909
  10. Loner Denson Camp-EOW: 6/19/1910
  11. W.C. Wallace-EOW: 11/8/1910
  12. Abner C. McGhee-EOW: 12/1/1910
  13. William Benjamin-EOW: 9/29/1913
  14. Hugh Tulley-EOW: 10/13/1913
  15. John Acquilla Moore-EOW: 12/5/1913
  16. George A. Sims-EOW: 1/22/1918
  17. John Dickerson Newby-EOW: 10/15/1919
  18. Sam P. Dobyns-EOW: 9/19/1920
  19. Walter C. Hollums-EOW: 8/18/1923
  20. Virgil Ray Payne-EOW: 2/12/1927
  21. Alexander A. Manley-EOW: 5/26/1927
  22. Elsie Turner Lewis-EOW: 3/3/1928
  23. Henry Francis Mills-EOW: 8/8/1930
  24. Lee Edward Buckalew-EOW: 5/23/1931
  25. William Ira Latham-EOW: 10/24/1932
  26. Dumas Froy Phillips-EOW: 4/23/1934
  27. Forest J. Harris-EOW: 2/8/1935
  28. James M. Early-EOW: 4/15/1935
  29. Homer Earnest Poore-EOW: 6/30/1936
  30. James Tillman Moser- EOW: 1/31/1939
  31. Newton Edward Wolff-EOW: 7/12/1941
  32. Fred R. Brockman- EOW: 11/3/1953
  33. Herbert C. Osborn- EOW: 7/24/1962
  34. Azell L. Harris- EOW: 5/4/1969
  35. Kenneth Lee Spencer-EOW: 7/13/1969
  36. Henry L. Thompson-EOW: 10/16/1972
  37. Felix Underwood-EOW: 10/7/1973
  38. William Stanley-EOW: 8/9/1975
  39. James Earl Rhodes-EOW: 3/11/1978
  40. Albert Eugene Ballard-EOW: 11/29/1979
  41. Edward K. Alley, Jr.-EOW: 12/25/1980
  42. Roberta D. Patterson-EOW:10/31/1982
  43. Sharon K. Robinson-EOW: 4/7/1984
  44. Marcus L. Reid-EOW: 4/7/1984
  45. Frank H. Dunn-EOW: 10/14/1986
  46. John Martin Huffman-EOW: 5/21/1992
  47. Sandy Sanderson-EOW: 1/29/1998
  48. Joseph Jerome Daniels-EOW: 11/18/2002
  49. C. Robert Bennett-EOW: 6/17/2004
  50. Harley Alfred Chisholm, III-EOW: 6/17/2004
  51. Carlos Winston Owens-EOW: 6/17/2004

1 dead after single-vehicle crash in Walker County

Troopers identified the victim as Jack Butler, 57.

Troopers.jpg 
JASPER, Alabama -A Jasper man died Monday night in a single-vehicle crash in Walker County, authorities said Tuesday.

Jack Butler, 57, was killed when the 1998 Chevy pickup he was driving left the roadway and struck a ditch, according to Alabama State Troopers. The crash happened at 9:05 p.m. on Old Birmingham Highway, about six miles north of Cordova.

Troopers said Butler wasn't wearing a seat belt. The crash remains under investigation

Birmingham City Council this morning set to vote on cash for vehicle, pedestrian overpass

The money would be used to relocate Trinity CME Church on Fred Shuttlesworth Drive, which is along the planned route. The spending was endorsed by the council's Budget and Finance and Economic Development Committees.

collegeville bridge.jpgThis is an early rendering of the Collegeville bridge which is funded and currently being planned.The bridge is planned near Hudson Elementary School. The structure is designed to give some some relief to residents boxed inside the neighborhood by tracks and trains that serve nearby heavy industries.  

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --The Birmingham City Council this morning is expected to vote on spending $500,000 toward a long-planned vehicle and pedestrian bridge in the Collegeville neighborhood.

The $10.13 million project, under the Alabama Department of Transportation's direction, will be paid with $8.1 million in a mix of state and federal money, and the city is providing $2.03 million in matching money, according to a state contract with the city.

The money would be used to relocate Trinity CME Church on Fred Shuttlesworth Drive, which is along the planned route. The spending was endorsed by the council's Budget and Finance and Economic Development Committees.

Construction was initially expected to begin earlier this year, but was delayed when planners had to redraw lines to work around property owned by the Birmingham Housing Authority

"The project is going to be slightly shifted over," said Councilman William Parker, whose district includes Collegeville. "It's in the best interest of everyone."

Parker said the new project start date is expected this summer.

Today's proposed spending represents part of the city's 20 percent overall commitment to the project that was agreed upon unanimously by the council in late. 2012.

"This will alleviate the problem of the school kids having to jump the railroad tracks as they go to school," Parker said. "That won't totally solve the problem, but this is a step toward the overall solution to solving the entire problem."

William Parker is continuing the project initiated by his mother, late Councilwoman Maxine Parker.

Residents, for years, have complained that the trains cut them off from the rest of the city and slow fire and ambulance service.

Pledges for funding were secured during a visit from then-Gov. Bob Riley, when Parker spoke to him about the trains and how they affected the students attending the nearby Hudson School.

Maxine Parker died in Nov. 2013 and William Parker was appointed to temporarily fill her seat.

Parker faces Norwood resident Mary Jean LaMay, former school board president Edward Maddox, former councilwoman Gwen Sykes in the June 3 special election.

Nobody hurt as apparently vacant house burns in Birmingham’s Ensley area

Crews found a house at the corner of Avenue K and 14th Street engulfed in flames, and were able to put the fire out.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Firefighters battled a blaze at an apparently abandoned house in the Ensley area of Birmingham Monday night.

Crews responding to another call in the area noticed smoke near Avenue K and 14th Street Ensley just before 8 p.m. Monday, Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service Battalion Chief Gene Coleman said.

Crews found a house at the corner of Avenue K and 14th Street engulfed in flames, and were able to put the fire out. There was some damage to a house next door.

Officials believe the house was vacant, and nobody was in the house at the time of the fire or injured, Coleman said.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.


Hoover school board to get mid-year budget review this afternoon

School board members are eager to hear how finances are shaping up, given the $17 million deficit budget they passed in September.

Hoover school board meeting 4-22-14.jpeg.jpgThe Hoover Board of Education meets on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (Jon Anderson/janderson@al.com)

HOOVER, Alabama - The Hoover school board is scheduled to get a mid-year financial update at its 4 p.m. work session today, board President Paulette Pearson said.

The update is to be provided by the school district's chief financial officer, Cathy Antee, Pearson said.

Board members have expressed eagerness at getting the update, particularly after passing a 2014 budget with a $17 million deficit in September. Both Superintendent Andy Craig and board members say budget cuts must be made because operating expenses are outpacing revenues regularly.

School officials had planned to start the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, with $94.5 million in the bank and end with about $77.5 million.

That may sound like a lot of money, but Superintendent Andy Craig said the school system needs to keep about three months' worth of operating expenses in the bank at all times to help weather economic downturns and deal with increasing enrollment. That amounts to about $36 million, Craig said.

While the Hoover school system has the money in the bank now, that bank account likely will continue to be drained as Hoover adds students and needs more classroom space, Craig said. Revenues are not keeping up with expenses, and the school system has roughly 3 1/2 years before the money hits that critical level, he said.

See more about the school system's 2014 budget here.

See more news from Hoover at www.al.com/hoover


Hoover school board to get mid-year budget review this afternoon

School board members are eager to hear how finances are shaping up, given the $17 million deficit budget they passed in September.

Hoover school board meeting 4-22-14.jpeg.jpgThe Hoover Board of Education meets on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (Jon Anderson/janderson@al.com)

HOOVER, Alabama - The Hoover school board is scheduled to get a mid-year financial update at its 4 p.m. work session today, board President Paulette Pearson said.

The update is to be provided by the school district's chief financial officer, Cathy Antee, Pearson said.

Board members have expressed eagerness at getting the update, particularly after passing a 2014 budget with a $17 million deficit in September. Both Superintendent Andy Craig and board members say budget cuts must be made because operating expenses are outpacing revenues regularly.

School officials had planned to start the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, with $94.5 million in the bank and end with about $77.5 million.

That may sound like a lot of money, but Superintendent Andy Craig said the school system needs to keep about three months' worth of operating expenses in the bank at all times to help weather economic downturns and deal with increasing enrollment. That amounts to about $36 million, Craig said.

While the Hoover school system has the money in the bank now, that bank account likely will continue to be drained as Hoover adds students and needs more classroom space, Craig said. Revenues are not keeping up with expenses, and the school system has roughly 3 1/2 years before the money hits that critical level, he said.

See more about the school system's 2014 budget here.

See more news from Hoover at www.al.com/hoover


Prayer returns to Hoover school board meetings tonight, albeit silent

The Hoover school board abandoned prayer at meetings in 2009, except for one meeting in May 2010.

Hoover school board moment of silence June 2010.jpgFormer Hoover school board President A.W. Bolt leads the board in a "moment of silence" at the beginning of the board's meeting on June 13, 2010.

HOOVER, Alabama - After four years of absence, prayer returns to Hoover school board meetings tonight, albeit silent prayer.

The U.S. Supreme Court a week ago ruled that a New York town's practice of opening meetings with predominantly Christian prayers does not violate the U.S. Constitution, prompting Hoover school board President Paulette Pearson to put silent prayer on the  agenda for tonight's meeting.

Former Hoover school board member Suzy Baker, when she was president of the board in early 2009, stopped the practice of prayer before board meetings and switched instead to a moment of silence. School board attorney Donald Sweeney recommended the change, citing case law and a desire to be sensitive to Hoover's diverse population.

School board member Donna Frazier brought prayer back in her last meeting as president in May 2010, but a group called Americans United for Separation of Church of State filed a complaint. The next board president, A.W. Bolt, switched back to a moment of silence, and the board eventually abandoned the moment of silence as well.

Paulette Pearson March 2010.jpeg.JPGHoover school board member Paulette Pearson (Mark Almond/malmond@al.com)

Pearson said last week's ruling allows the current board to bring prayer back.

"Donna has been pushing for that for years and trying very hard to get that to happen," Pearson said. "We all wanted it back. Every one of us have wanted it back."

Pearson said she consulted with Sweeney before getting silent prayer added to tonight's agenda.

"People in this community want prayer," Pearson said. "It doesn't say a 'moment of silence.' It's to pray. We will bow our heads, and we will pray ... If anybody needs prayer, it's us."

However, Pearson said she decided to keep the prayer silent for now.

"We do have several members who are concerned about there being different religions within our group," Pearson said. "We do have such a diverse group in Hoover. We decided that it would be good to give people an opportunity to pray as they want to pray. Not all people are Christians, which is hard for some of us to grasp. We sometimes forget that."

And if anyone doesn't want to pray, "you don't have to," Pearson said.

The silent nature of the prayer could change in the future, but "for right now, that's what we decided would be the prudent thing to do," she said.

Donna Frazier Nov 2011.jpgHoover school board member Donna Frazier

The Hoover school board tonight is expected to elect new officers for the coming year, and Pearson said Frazier, the current vice president, likely will be nominated to become president again. This will be the last year of Frazier's second five-year term, and the school board typically elects people to serve as president in their final year.

Derrick Murphy likely will be nominated to be vice president because he has two years left, Pearson said.

Frazier said today she is very pleased to see prayer back on the agenda and said the board does have some options to consider for the future.

In some years past, board members have taken turns leading in spoken prayer, and at times, ministers from various churches have led in prayer to start the meeting, she said.

The Hoover City Council consistently has prayer before its meetings, frequently led by the city clerk.

Bluff Park resident and parent Robin Schultz was among those eager to see prayer brought back to school board meetings. Immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling a week ago, Schultz sent an email to Hoover school board members, asking that they reinstitute what had been a longstanding tradition in Hoover City Schools prior to 2009.

U.S. Supreme Court Building 01.JPGThe U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In the New York case considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, two women in the town of Greece, N.Y., complained that prayers in the town council meetings were overtly Christian, and they sought to limit the town of Greece to "inclusive and ecumenical" prayers that referred only to a "generic God."

In the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with a district court ruling that prayers do not have to be nonsectarian. The Christian identity of most of the prayer givers reflected the predominantly Christian character of the town's congregations and was not an official policy or practice of discriminating against minority faiths, the court ruled.

"Legislative prayer, while religious in nature, has long been understood as compatible with the Establishment Clause," the Supreme Court wrote. "To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures sponsoring prayers and the courts deciding these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech, thus involving government in religious matters to a far greater degree than is the case under the town's current practice of neither editing nor approving prayers in advance nor criticizing their content after the fact."

Furthermore, "it is doubtful that consensus could be reached as to what qualifies as a generic or nonsectarian prayer," the court wrote. "It would also be unwise to conclude that only those religious words acceptable to the majority are permissible, for the First Amendment is not a majority rule and government may not seek to define permissible categories of religious speech."

The Supreme Court found that prayers at the Greece town council were not antagonistic toward other faiths.

"They may have invoked, e.g., the name of Jesus, but they also invoked universal themes, e.g., by calling for a 'spirit of cooperation,'" the court wrote. "Absent a pattern of prayers that over time denigrate, proselytize, or betray an impermissible government purpose, a challenge based solely on the content of a particular prayer will not likely establish a constitutional violation."

The town of Greece's prayers also, while perhaps offensive to some, were not coercive in nature and "bear no resemblance to the coercive state establishments that existed at the founding, which exercised government power in order to exact financial support of the church, compel religious observance, or control religious doctrine," the court said.

See the complete U.S. Supreme Court ruling here.

The Hoover school board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. today for an informal work session that will include a mid-year financial review and at 5:30 p.m. for an action meeting. Here is the agenda for the action meeting.

See more news from Hoover at www.al.com/hoover