The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

December 28, 2011

Top Local News Stories of 2011: Tornadoes, immigration, snow


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4. Woman murdered at abandoned school

A man walking through the park at the abandoned Trinity school site on March 14 found a woman’s coat, purse and, possibly, shoes on the ball field and called police. Athens Police officers found evidence of a struggle outside, searched the buildings in the area, and found the body of an Athens woman. Authorities say the victim, 26-year-old Wendy Defoe Bond, was killed by blunt force trauma, probably on March 13. Her former boyfriend, Lamar Anderson, 45, of Athens, was charged in the killing. He had been charged in the past with beating Bond and he was legally barred from seeing her. Bond had been taking steps to break her ties with Anderson by attending a domestic violence program.

5. Two apartment buildings burn

Separate fires destroyed two Athens apartment complexes in 2011, leaving dozens to find different homes.

Fire sparked by a grease fire on a stove initially destroyed one apartment and smoked out seven others before noon Jan. 5 at Athens Village Apartments. No one was injured. However, the young newlywed s whose apartment burned lost all they owned. Thirteen hours later, the fire rekindled and destroyed the remaining units in the building, leaving the rest of the occupants to find housing.

A March 5 fire at Sandpiper I Apartments on Clinton Street displaced 22 tenants. The fire, reported at 2:30 a.m., destroyed five units of the building. Some of the tenants were able to move back into the building and others were placed elsewhere. Investigators believe the fire was accidental but were uncertain of its precise origin. Victims from both fires, most of whom were uninsured, received assistance from The Red Cross and from clothing and donations from the community.

6. Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in limelight

The overall safety of the nation’s nuclear plants was called into question following the March earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated Japan and destroyed a nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

Officials with TVA said the Japanese disaster was the result of unprecedented events natural events, though they conceded it did serve as a learning tool.

The April 27 tornadoes that passed near Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant ripped down transmission lines, cutting power to the plant’s three boiling water reactors and nearly all of Limestone County customers. Backup diesel generators were used until full power could be restored to the plant.

A “red” finding issued in May by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission led to increased oversight at the plant. The finding, the most severe issued by the NRC, was appealed by TVA but the finding was confirmed in August.

The plant was then subjected to 95003 inspections, which are the most intensive offered by the NRC. Those inspections will last through the early part of 2012.

The red finding was issued after a coolant valve in the plant’s backup fire mitigation system failed to open. An investigation revealed that a disc inside the valve had malfunctioned.

TVA officials said the malfunctioning valve posed no risk to the plant or to the general public.

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Tornado Outbreak 2011


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