State Senate approves 'upskirting' bill

MONTGOMERY — It would be illegal to secretly take video or photos under a person's clothes — a lewd practice sometimes known as "upskirting" — under a bill passed Thursday by the Alabama Senate.

State senators voted 27-0 for the legislation that now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Republican Sen. Clyde Chambliss, of Prattville, who sponsored the bill, said it has been difficult to prosecute offenders under existing law.

The bill would make it a crime to secretly photograph or record the "private, intimate body parts of another person, without that person's consent" in a setting where the person should be able to expect privacy.

Chambliss said the legislation was inspired by a case in Prattville where a man, while pretending to browse on a store's lower shelf, used his phone to secretly film up a woman's skirt. Chambliss said the man was arrested, but the case was dismissed because the law "does not specifically outlaw that."

Since introducing the bill, he said he has been contacted by a number of women who have been a victim of upskirting.

"It's a very emotional issue for them. They feel defiled, invaded of their privacy. ... They felt disenfranchised by the law. They didn't get the justice that they needed," Chambliss said.

Violations would be a felony. An amendment added to the bill would make it a misdemeanor for offenders age 16 and younger.

-- Kim Chandler, Associated Press

Most of Shoals in moderate drought

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor released today places practically the entire Shoals in a moderate drought.

The only exceptions were the very extreme portions of northwest Lauderdale County and southwest Colbert County.

The monitor also places most of northern and part of southeastern Franklin County under a moderate drought, with the remainder of the county abnormally dry.

-- Bernie Delinski

Author Michael Eric Dyson to speak

FLORENCE — Author Michael Eric Dyson will speak at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Mane Room as part of UNA's Black History Month celebration,

Dyson is a best-selling author whose most recent book is "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America."

Dyson, a Detroit native, is a former pastor and professor. He has won the American Book Awards and two NAACP Image Awards.

The event is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the UNA English department at 256-765-4238 or english@una.edu.

-- Jennifer Edwards

Tickets available for hospital fundraiser

SHEFFIELD — Tickets are available for the annual Helen Keller Hospital Foundation Mardi Gras fundraiser.

A New Orleans-style lunch and a fashion show will be Feb. 28 at Marriott Shoals Conference Center beginning with a market at 10 a.m., lunch at 12:15 p.m., and the fashion show after lunch.

Tickets are $40 each. For more information, call 256-386-4747.

-- Jennifer Edwards

Heritage area accepting grant applications

FLORENCE — The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area is accepting applications for 2018 community grants.

The application deadline is April 2.

Grants will be awarded to projects in the Heritage Area's six-county service region that are related to assessment, preservation, interpretation, archiving or training workshops related to the focus themes of the Heritage Area. Those themes are music, Native American culture and the Tennessee River.

Grant awards range from $1,000 to $10,000.

The application and guidelines are online at msnha.una.edu.

The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area awarded $61,982 in grants during the 2017 grant cycle.

-- Jennifer Edwards

Strummers to perform Feb. 16

FLORENCE — The Tennessee Valley Strummers will perform Feb. 16 at the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism and Visitor Center gallery from 2-4 p.m.

The free event is a monthly venue featuring dulcimer players under the direction of Jack Brewer. The folk music is played on the four-stringed dulcimer, developed in the 1700s in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

-- Lisa Singleton-Rickman

Lenten Fish Fry set for Feb. 23

FLORENCE — The Florence Knights of Columbus Council 3989 will host its annual Lenten Fish Fry from 4:15-6:45 p.m. Feb. 23 at the St. Joseph Regional Catholic School cafeteria.

Catfish fillet, hush puppies, coleslaw, french fries, baked potato, drink and dessert will be served. Tickets are available at the door, $10 for adults, $4 for children 4-6 years. Children younger than 4 eat free.

Carry-outs are available and cheese pizza is available for those who don't want fish. All proceeds go to the Council 3989 charity fund.

-- Lisa Singleton-Rickman

School board meets Monday

TUSCUMBIA — The city Board of Education meets at 5:15 p.m. Monday.

The meeting will be at the R.E. Thompson Intermediate School library, 829 Frankfort Road.

-- Bernie Delinski

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