By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
— Good Thursday morning to you…
Weather: Nice. Sunny skies are forecast, with highs near 70. Lows tonight will fall to the lower 40s. Friday will also be sunny with highs in the middle 70s; rain returns after midnight.
Magnolia Festival expands. Gardendale’s popular annual festival will start a little earlier this year, as it encompasses the new Lima Foxtrot 5L road race. That event, which will benefit the Lakeshore Foundation and its work with severely injured athletes, will be held this Saturday morning. The main part of the festival will be held on May 3-4, located at and around the Civic Center.
Fuel barge explodes in Mobile. Three people were critically injured when the fuel barge they were cleaning at Mobile Bay exploded and burned. The barge was partially filled with gasoline and located on the east bank of the Mobile River when it blew up around 2 a.m. An area around the barge was evacuated, including the nearby Carnival Triumph cruise ship, which is docked in Mobile for repairs after its ill-fated cruise some months back.
Presidential library opens. The new Bush Presidential Center opens today at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The library and museum documents the life and the administration of George W. Bush, and focuses heavily on the events of September 11, 2001. The opening ceremony will host all living former presidents, including Bush’s father, as well as President Obama.
Sports: Kenseth hit hard by NASCAR. Matt Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing team were docked 50 points in the Sprint Cup standings, after his car failed a post-race inspection following his win at Kansas on Sunday. Kenseth is still declared the winner, but lost all the points from the victory. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff was suspended for six races, and Gibbs was also suspended for that period as an owner — a rare move by NASCAR. A connecting rod was to blame; it was too light by less than three grams, about the weight of a penny… Prep softball: The final Alabama Sports Writers Association top-10 poll of the season was released overnight, and there was a little bit of movement involving local teams. Hayden fell one spot to fifth in Class 5A despite defeating sixth-ranked Mortimer Jordan on Tuesday; they did lose to Corner on Saturday. In Class 4A, the Yellow Jackets moved up from sixth to fifth, despite losing two games on Tuesday — but both of those were to top-ranked teams in their respective classes, Scottsboro (5A) and Pisgah (3A)… Prep golf: Gardendale’s girls team won for the sixth time in seven outings on Wednesday, defeating three other teams at Castle Pines Golf Course. The Rockets shot a 29-over-par 137, finishing 36 strokes ahead of runner-up Shades Valley. Hueytown was third and Clay-Chalkville fourth.