Opelika Mayor Fuller Addresses Increase in Gun Violence

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This report is from Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller.

Violent crime, particularly gun violence in the United States is at epidemic levels. In Opelika, we have seen a sharp increase in violent crime with three homicides over the past 14 days. While law enforcement is crucial, the solution to the problem is far more complex. Our Police Department has been working to build relationships and partnerships with the community. Community policing has been identified as an effective and workable investment but simply hiring more police officers will not solve the problem. Cities, like Opelika, cannot arrest their way out of this situation. Our plans must be built around intervention, prevention, community organizations along with law enforcement.

I get emails and phone calls, as do members of the City Council, from people fed up with crime. If we’re going to change this, and we will, our residents must be part of the solution. Every person in every part of our City deserves to live in a safe neighborhood. I challenge all citizens to join us as we do the work necessary to ensure that everyone can reach their full human potential.

The Opelika Police Department cannot pinpoint exactly what may have caused the recent rise in violent crime, but most crimes are drug-related and involve people who engage in other high-risk behaviors. Most homicides result from conflicts among individuals with each other. I wish people had a better way to resolve their conflicts. It is a sad fact that a tiny percentage of the City’s population is responsible for the majority of violent crimes.

In some neighborhoods, too many children are without parents, relatives, teachers, coaches or clergymen to teach them right from wrong, give them loving and consistent discipline, show them the moral value of hard work and study and bring them to cherish the self-respect that comes only from respecting life, liberty and the property of others. Think about how many children grow up where parents neglect and abuse them, where other adults and teenagers harass and harm them and where drug dealers exploit them. Not surprisingly, some of these children kill, rape, maim and steal without remorse. This is a vicious cycle that often results in young people making mistakes that change the course of their lives while deeply hurting their community in the process. Most violent crimes involve a perpetrator and victim of the same race. That is certainly the case in Opelika.

The real problem we face is a disconnect of teenagers and young adults and a culture of violence among them. In many urban neighborhoods, the street or thug culture is real. Many teenagers and young adults are school drop-outs and are chronically out of work. With few skills, they subsist through the underground economy or of illicit drug trading and crime.

An important step our community can take is to begin the process of rebuilding the nuclear family which is the basic social unit consisting of parents and their children living in one household. This will provide emotional and financial stability to our children and their parents. It will provide incentives for parents to achieve and set a good example for their children to follow. It will require parents to take personal responsibility for themselves and their children. We cannot legislate good parenting, but we can work on strategies and programs to strengthen the family.

Like all of you, I am disheartened by the recent spike in violence in the City we love. I have begun the process of appointing a Commission on Crime and Violence in Opelika. This Commission will include our top political, church, business, law enforcement and community leaders. In my opinion, we need a collaborative effort to reduce homicides and shootings in our neighborhoods by targeting individuals and families who are at greater risk of becoming perpetrators or becoming victims of this type of violence. Potential strategies may include connecting with high-risk youth and families, family stability, career development and a gun violence intervention program. The goal should be to strengthen the capacity of residents in high-risk neighborhoods to develop community initiatives that prevent violence from occurring. We need to educate our residents about available resources, reinforce the notion that violence is not acceptable and help community leaders improve neighborhood surroundings to create more peaceful environments.

As we work to turn trends around, our City’s recent violent confrontations have involved gun violence, drug trafficking and domestic violence that often turns deadly. We are providing the resources to address the unsolved homicides. Be assured that the City Council and I are open-minded to finding solutions on what can be a deterrent to violent crime.

I want to thank Chief John McEachern and our police officers who are on the front lines fighting and investigating crime every day. We’ve been running proactive patrols in high crime areas for several months and we’ll continue to do that. Our police officers have a tough job, and they do it with efficiency, courage, and compassion. I am proud of our OPD Officers who are out there every day connecting with our youth, senior citizens and neighborhood groups.

We’re all in this together. I’m asking you to do your part to help us be “more than expected and nothing less than genuine.” I’m praying about this every day knowing that God is in charge. Your prayers will be most appreciated.

Auburn University President Appears on News Talk WANI

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Auburn University President Steven Leath joined Auburn Opelika This Morning on News Talk WANI.


He joined Zac Blackerby on Friday to discuss the growth of Auburn University and how pleased he has been with Auburn University Alumni. He shared what Auburn University’s role in the community and the state is and how it continues to help fund more jobs.

Thank you President Leath for stopping by the Auburn Network Studios!

Check out the audio of the interview here:

Auburn advancing to the Super Regionals…

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for just the second time in program history and first time since 1999!

Senior first baseman Josh Anthony finished the weekend 9-for-13 and was named the Raleigh Regional Most Outstanding Player. Anthony was joined on the all-tournament team by Casey MizeEdouard JulienBrendan VenterSteven Williams and Jay Estes.

Auburn put the leadoff man on base in the first 5 innings and scored each time. Auburn got the leadoff batter on in eight of nine innings. Freshman reliever Cody Greenhill (5-2, 2.11) earned the win after backing up Andrew Mitchell’s start with 4.& 1/3 innings of relief, while Davis Daniel recorded the final four outs of the game.

Mitchell allowed just one baserunner in his first 3.0 innings but issued a leadoff walk that later came around to score on a ground-rule double in the 4th. He was relieved by Greenhill after allowing a 1-out single, & both inherited runners came in to score on an RBI triple to cut the lead to 7-3. The Wolfpack threatened to cut into the 5 run lead as the home team loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But, Greenhill went right after First Team All-ACC performer Brett Kinneman and froze the #2 hitter with a fastball to end the inning. Josh Anthony’s five RBIs tied the Auburn record for most in an NCAA Tournament game. Edouard Julien’s 17th homer of the season pushed his RBI total to 68, which ties Auburn great and National Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas for the most by a freshman in program history. Auburn now moves on to The Super Regionals which start this Friday.  

Lee Co. Experiences Flooding

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Rainfall in the southeastern portion of Lee County caused flooding, road closures and collapsed bridges in the early morning hours Wednesday. Over the last 24 hours, between 4 and 6 inches have fallen in areas of Lee co. In the last three days, that number is near 8 inches.  Workers cleared debris from roadways throughout Smiths Station yesterday after severe floods damaged bridges, shutting down traffic and closing multiple roads. Some residents said the water was ‘Up to their cars door handles’. A section of Lee Road 246 was also among the closed areas. 

Auburn High School Baseball in State Championship Tonight

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For the third straight year, the Auburn High Tigers are heading to the Class 7A state championship. Auburn plays the first game of the AHSAA Class 7A State Championship at 6 p.m. tonight at Paterson Field in Montgomery with Scott Bagwell & Riley Hubbard bringing you the play-by-play. Pre-game starts at 5:30 on sister station ESPN 106.7.

Opelika Main St. Director Resigns

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Tiffany Denson has resigned her position as Opelika Main St. Director. She has been Director since February of this year.

Denson said the decision was made based on “quality of life”. Dana Gafford will serve as interim dir. Denson will remain on the job until the first week in June.

Auburn Baseball Heads Into Last Weekend of Regular Season

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In a game that lasted more than 4 and a half hours, No. 22 Auburn ran out of steam in the end as the Tigers dropped its midweek finale at Troy, 9-5, last night in Troy. Auburn trailed 5-4 coming out of a 33-minute rain delay and tied the game in the top of the seventh inning as Edouard Julien drew a bases-loaded walk. The two teams then went into a lightning delay that lasted 57 minutes, and the Tigers left the bases loaded coming out of the stop in play. From there, Troy (36-17) scored four runs on a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh and a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win. After starting pitcher Jack Owen stranded four runners in the first two innings, Troy got to the freshman and tied the game on a two-out RBI single in the top of the third. Auburn answered in its next at-bat as the first four batters reached and the Tigers reclaimed the lead on a bases-loaded walk from Jay Estes. With the bases loaded and one out, freshman left fielder Judd Ward beat out a potential double play ball and a pair of runs came in to score as Brendan Venter scored to make it 4-1 Auburn. But, with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the sixth inning, Troy started a rally and eventually took a 5-4 lead on a bases-clearing double.

Auburn left the bases loaded and went down in order for the final seven outs while Troy received a pair of big hits that proved to be the difference.

Auburn returns home to finish out the regular season scheduled with a three-game series against LSU (32-21, 14-13 SEC). First pitch in the series opener is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.

International Quality of Life Awards

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Auburn University will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the International Quality of Life Awards on Dec. 3 at the United Nations in New York by honoring legendary musical artist Lionel Richie and pioneering broadcast journalist and women’s advocate Judy Woodruff. Auburn’s College of Human Sciences launched the International Quality of Life Awards in 1994 to recognize people and partnerships representing all sectors of society that have made significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world. Richie also is known for his work to support causes related to breast cancer research, HIV/AIDS, human rights, famine and poverty, and is a generous supporter of the United Negro College Fund. Judy Woodruff, the 2018 IQLA Laureate, is the anchor and managing editor of the “PBS NewsHour.” An award-winning journalist and trailblazer for women in broadcast news, Woodruff began her career in 1970 as a reporter for CBS-affiliate WAGA-TV in Atlanta.


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Alabama health officials say they’ve identified an Auburn University student with a case of pulmonary tuberculosis.

The state Department of Public Health says they notified the school this week of plans to investigate and ensure that students and employees will be screened quickly to see if they were infected.

On Wednesday, the state and university began identifying students enrolled in classes, as well as faculty and staff, who might have been in close contact with the student. Symptoms can include chest pain, chronic coughing, coughing with blood, chills, fever and loss of appetite. Testing will begin Thursday 5/17.