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School Days are Back!

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The summer vacation ended for Opelika school children yesterday as Opelika City schools began the 2017-2018 school year. The first day of classes for students at Lee County Schools is Monday. Students at Auburn City Schools and Lee-Scott Academy will start Wednesday. The 1st Auburn University Move-in day is this Monday.

Murder Charges

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Auburn police arrested a Cusseta man yesterday, Demetrious Andre Newell Jr. charging him w/murder. Newell is facing charges in connection with the death of 28-year-old Anthony Jamal Davis.  Detectives obtained a warrant for Newell’s arrest and he turned himself in at the Auburn Police Division yesterday afternoon. He is in the Lee County Jail, on a $150,000 bond. Newell has a criminal history including at least one prior felony, according to Lee Co. District Attorney Brandon Hughes. In 2015, Newell was one of 3 suspects indicted by a Chambers County grand jury in the November 2013 murder of Courtland Larae Harper.“Those charges were dismissed When a witness came forward and said it was a relative & not Newell.

Get Your Tickets for Oktoberfest

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Tickets for Auburn’s eighth annual Oktoberfest go on sale Aug. 1st.  Capacity for the event space is 1,500. Last year’s event was sold out a week prior to the event, and the same is expected this year. Oktoberfest is scheduled for Oct. 21st, from 4-9 p.m. at the Auburn University Hotel & conference Center.

Fugitive Captured

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Vantavious Quintez Hughley was arrested yesterday in connection with a shooting that happened earlier this month, ending a two-week search. Opelika police arrested 20 year old Hughley yesterday morning and charged him in the homicide of 23-year-old Opelika resident Shaquille O. Jones. Jones was shot on the evening of July 11th in the 500 block of North Antioch Circle after he and Hughley allegedly argued over personal property. officers arrested Hughley during a traffic stop when he got out of the vehicle and fled on foot before being taken into custody. Hughley was in the company of 19 year old Opelika resident Alexis Dunlap, a female acquaintance who was driving the vehicle. Dunlap was arrested and charged with first-degree hindering prosecution, attempting to elude law enforcement and resisting arrest. Hughley was arrested in July 2014 at the age of 17, in connection with the murder of 17-year-old Alizah Ellis in Opelika, but charges were dropped & the case never went to trial.

Governor Visits Auburn

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Gov. Kay Ivey visited Auburn yesterday as a part of her “Listen, Learn, Help, & Lead Tour,” an initiative designed to help her gain more insight about the needs of Alabama communities. The governor visited multiple academic facilities, including Ogletree Elementary School where she  spoke with approximately 150 public school teachers along w/Auburn Mayor Bill Ham, Superintendent Dr. Karen Delano and Tracie West, president of the Auburn City Schools Board of Education. Ivey also toured the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Auburn University’s Schools of Nursing and Pharmacy building, and the new, Auburn High School.

Parking Improvements-A Step Closer

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The city of Auburn is one step closer to a significant parking solution. Auburn City Manager Jim Buston says the city is in negotiations to purchase the Auburn Baptist Student Center property on College Street to build a 200 to 300 space parking deck. The project, however, will not require the Baptist Student center to leave the downtown Auburn. Instead, the center would be included into the first floor of the new deck with an entrance on Wright Street. The entrance to the parking deck for drivers will also be on Wright Street with a pedestrian entrance on College Street. While the city is optimistic about the plan, it is not final yet. Bustin cut 1 6040 The Baptist Student Center’s Board will meet next month to approve the plan. the plan then must be approved by the Alabama Baptist Convention in November. If approved, construction can begin as early as December. The city recently purchased the Carolyn apartments to create 90 parking spaces on E. Glen Ave. Auburn is also working on a partnership with Auburn Bank to provide parking for city employees & those who work downtown. In total the city could see an additional 500 to 600 parking spaces in the downtown area, essentially doubling current parking. The downtown parking plan also includes potentially raising the cost of metered parking from 25 cents to a dollar an hour. City officials say the goal of the increase is not to make money but rather to encourage turn over of parking spaces allowing more people to access local businesses. Auburn continues to partner with the University to look for other ways to improve parking.

Three in Four Days!

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For the third time in four days, Auburn has picked up a verbal commitment. Four-star Tucker, Ga., linebacker Michael Harris announced his pledge to Auburn on Twitter yesterday, giving the Tigers their 10th commitment in the Class of 2018. Harris went to a camp at Ohio State and had recently received offers from the Buckeyes, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia, among others, but chose Auburn over those schools. The 6-foot-2, 218 pound linebacker is the second linebacker to join Auburn’s class in recent days, joining Decatur’s Josh Marsh. He was at the Tigers’ cookout event over the weekend. 2019 Hoover wide receiver George Pickens also committed this past weekend.

Austin Wiley Injured

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Auburn center Austin Wiley has a stress fracture in his left leg and will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks, the school announced this morning. No surgery is required.

Wiley suffered the injury during a July 7th game against Germany during FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt last month. He double-doubled in that game with 19 points and 10 rebounds, then played two more over the next two days against Canada (13 points, 10 rebounds in 30 minutes) and Spain (8 points, 8 rebounds in 20 minutes).

The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Hoover native will travel with Auburn during the team’s trip to Italy in August, but will not play.

Man Dies from Lightening Strike

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Officials in Opelika say they believe a direct lightning strike killed a man.

Authorities later identified the man as Toby Burrow of Valley, Ala.

Lee County Coroner Bill Harris says that the 34-year-old Burrow and four other people were on a boat on Lake Harding when they were surprised by a storm on Friday evening.

Harris says they were trying to get to land when Burrow was hit and the boat also stopped operating.

Two people on the boat got into the water and pushed it to shore while the others performed CPR on Burrow.

Authorities, though, reported that he showed no signs of life when they arrived. Burrow was pronounced dead at a hospital Friday night. His death is still under investigation.

 

Three Former Auburn Tigers Compete in the Final Round of the Barbasol Championship

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PrintThe 2017 Barbasol Championship at Grand National Golf Course is in the books with 23-year-old Grayson Murray earning his first career PGA Tour win. The North Carolina native, who is in his first year on tour, shot 64 in both second and third rounds and ended at 21 under par for the tournament. Chad Collins claimed the runner-up position at 20 under.  (Click HERE for full results).

Making the PGA tournament more interesting for Auburn/Opelika residents and Auburn University supporters was the fact that five former or current Tiger golfers competed in the Barbasol Championship. Of the five, three made the cut and competed in the third and final rounds.

 

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Photo Credit: Dakota Sumpter/ Opelika-Auburn News

2012 Auburn graduate Blayne Barber was a three-time All-American during his collegiate career on the plains and earned full time status on the PGA Tour in 2014. Barber finished the Barbasol tournament -10 in a tie for 42nd  place and was pleased with his overall performance this week.

“That’s my first bogey-free round in a while,” Barber said following the final round.  “I had a couple of good saves and hit a ton of great shots. Putting is the thing that kept it from being really low.”

Barber and his wife, Morgan, along with their two children make Auburn their home so being able to compete in a PGA tournament in his own backyard was especially satisfying.

 “It’s a normal week, which is great, “Barber said. “I mowed my grass, grilled out one night and had family over, so it was a good chill week. Hopefully, this is something to build on going forward the last few events of the season.”

The finish also soared Barber 13 spots in the FedEx Cup points race from last week, just above the cut line in 119th place.

 

Photo Credit: Dakota Sumpter/ Opelika-Auburn News

Photo Credit: Dakota Sumpter/ Opelika-Auburn News

Matt Gilchrest finished up his Auburn golf career this past spring and graduated in May. Although he does not hold a PGA Tour card like Kizzire and Barber, he received a sponsor’s exemption which allowed him to compete in the Barbosol Championship.

“This is a dream come true to get to play in a PGA event”, Gilchrest said after shooting an impressive 65 in the final round leading to a tie for 42nd place. “To get to play as a pro and have a Sunday tee time is really cool. This is just so much fun.”

He said being able to play in his first PGA tournament near the town where he played as a college golfer was special.

“I got a bunch of ‘War Eagles’ today and had 10 or 15 people following me so that was really nice”, Gilchrest said.

 

Photo Credit: Todd Van Emst/ Opelika-Auburn News

Photo Credit: Todd Van Emst/ Opelika-Auburn News

Patton Kizzire, who graduated from Auburn in 2008, earned his PGA Tour card in 2016 after leading the Web.com Tour money list. Kizzire finished five under par at the Barbasol and finished in a tie for 64th. After the round, Kizzire said he enjoyed being able to come back to the Auburn area to compete professionally.

“It’s great coming back to Auburn whether it’s for a golf tournament or a football game or just to be with friends and family, Kizzire said. “Auburn’s got a special place in my heart.”

Kizzire is currently sitting in 92nd place in the FedEx Cup standings with 439 points. The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings will make it to the 2017 FedEx Cup playoffs in September.