It is Friday, January 2, 2024, Groundhog Day!

Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania may get all the national attention on Groundhog Day but here in Alabama it is Sand Mountain Sam, a Possum, that does the spring weather predictions.

Birmingham Bill, a Groundhog, at the Birmingham Zoo used to make the prediction but he is no longer awaken from hibernation to look for his shadow. Animal rights people complained that waking him prematurely from hibernation is hazardous for his health. So, Bill was retired and in stepped Sand Mountain Sam, who is already awake.

It is a big deal in Sardis, a town that straddles the Etowah and Marshall County line. Every year they have "Sand Mountain Sam Day" with music, live radio and TV broadcasts, a lot of free food and of course Sam, a Marsupial only found in North America.

Sam's annual moment in the spotlight almost got cancelled by the state game warden in 2022. It is illegal to own a possum as a pet. But with a lot of wrangling, that got worked out and now Sam emerges, legally, from a whisky barrel every February 2nd to make his prognostication.

The prediction party began at 7:30 this morning at the Bama Bucks Restaurant as a big crowd turned out to see what James Spann's competitor had to say. At 9:300, with drums and bagpipes, the Sand Mountain Sam Queen and Court waiting, Sam emerged from his whisky barrel, looked around and declared that we will have an early spring. He has made that prediction 10 of the last 12 years.

Phil also predicted an early spring. Now the pressure is on James Spann.

The Forecast:

Today: Sunny, with a high near 68. Calm wind.

Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 42. Calm wind.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 67. Light east wind becoming southeast 5 to 10 mph in the morning.

Saturday Night: Showers likely, mainly after midnight. Cloudy, with a low around 46. East wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Sunday: Showers. High near 53. East wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Sunday Night: Showers. Low around 41. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 60.

Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 37.

Remainder of the New Work Week: Sunny days with highs in the mid to upper 60s. Overnights will be clear to partly could with lows in the upper 30s to lower 40s.

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Falsely reporting a crime or alleging imminent danger could soon be a felony in Alabama. State Senator April Weaver’s legislation will submit a bill in next week's legislative session cracking down on the proliferation of fake emergency calls. The senator who represents Bibb County and a portion of Hale County says if the bill passes, those convicted could spend anywhere from a year and a day to 10 years in jail.

The Carlee Russell kidnapping hoax sparked the bill's creation. But it would also apply to swatting calls where false attacks on public officials and facilities are reported.

A similar bill will be introduced in the house when the new session begins Tuesday.

Regions Bank is axing about 600 of its 20,000 employees. The bank issued a press release saying the layoffs are in certain divisions, including the mortgage division, where fewer customers are seeking refinancing or home loans due to higher interest rates. Regions says the layoffs are scattered throughout its multi-state service area and are not in any one place.

There are eight Regions branches in Tuscaloosa and Northport.

According to the latest figures from the Port of Mobile, the facility had an economic impact of $98 billion in Alabama in 2022, including 351,000 jobs. That is a $13 billion dollar increase over 2021. Much of the commerce that goes through the port comes down the Black Warrior River and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Accolades have gone out to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for their service to the county in 2023. Chief Deputy Loyd Baker has received the Exchange Club Outstanding Officer of the Year Award. Deputy Victor Broyles and Detention Deputy Joseph Garcia were presented the Lifesaving Award. Detention Deputies Amber Bloodworth and Iesha France received Merit Recognition. And Deputies Deonte Washington and Christopher Todd were recipients of the Medal of Valor for heroic actions last year.

A near $2-million grant Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II (ATRIP-II) will pay for aligning Bone Camp Road and Jackson Trace Road with Highway 171. The money will not include a local match.


Alabama Junior Republican U.S. Senator Katie Britt has told a senate education committee that she is the only female member of the upper chamber with school age children, and she wants to make sure parents have a choice of how to educate their kids. Britt claims liberals and teacher unions want to limit those choices to public schools only.

The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama has presented the Charles H. Land Member of the Year Award to philanthropist David Pass of the Sealy Companies.

Also, Jheovanny Gomez of Jalapenos Mexican Grill was handed the gavel to serve as the chamber’s chairman of the board.

In Sports:

Fired Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon got a 15-year show cause penalty from the NCAA as part of its punishment after he was linked to a sports bettor who wagered on an Alabama baseball game last spring. The NCAA announced its ruling Thursday. But it gets worse: Alabama's baseball program was placed on three years NCAA probation and the school has been fined $5,000 for something the athletic department knew nothing about.

From UA Athletics: The No. 6 Alabama gymnastics team will host the No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats tonight in Coleman Coliseum. The fourth-consecutive top-10 showdown, and third at home, for the Crimson Tide will begin at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be aired live on SEC Network.

The 22/24 ranked Bama Men's Basketball Team returns to Coleman tomorrow night for a key home game against Mississippi State. Tipoff is 7:30 on the Crimson Tide Sports Network on 100.9 The Tide and 95.3 The Bear. The game will also be televised on the SEC Network.

Bama edged the Bulldogs 82-74 in Starkville on January 13.

Have a great weekend and ROLL TIDE!!

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