By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
— Hope you’ll have a nice Thursday…
Weather: Just chillin’. We’ll start the day with a few scattered clouds, which will clear by afternoon. Highs today will be near 50, with lows tonight dipping to the middle 20s.
Worship leader charged with online sex charges. Gardendale Police have released information regarding last week’s arrest of Joel Kent Hodges, 31, of Fultondale. Hodges was charged with online solicitation of a child, as well as traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act. Hodges had served as the contemporary worship leader at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church, according to church members who asked not to be named; a church spokesperson would not comment. Hodges is free on $90,000 bond.
Teens perish in plane crash. Three teenage boys died when a small airplane crashed about a mile from the Walker County Airport near Jasper. Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Smith, and Brandon Ary were killed Wednesday morning. Montgomery and Smith were students at Meek High School, where Ary was graduated. There are conflicting reports as to whether the plane was taken, or whether one boy’s parents gave him the keys.
Al Gore to Al-Jazeera. The former vice president and partner Joel Hyatt have announced plans to sell the low-rated left-leaning cable news channel to Al-Jazeera, the Arab news organization based in Qatar. The station, which is not carried by any local cable systems, will fetch $500 million for its owners, with Gore getting $100 million of that. Immediately after the announcement, cable giant Time Warner announced it would drop the channel from its lineup at once. Al-Jazeera has been criticized as being too cozy with Arab extremists; Current TV was home to personalities such as the mercurial Keith Olbermann, the last stop on his tempestuous cable career.
Sports: It was all in the Cards. Louisville got into the BCS bowl picture by the skin of its teeth, on a tiebreaker to win the Big East championship. Florida, on the other hand, was one win away from going to the national championship game, and still ranked third. But the No. 22 Cardinals became the biggest giant-slayer since the Bowl Championship Series was cobbled together, as the two-touchdown underdog dominated the Sugar Bowl from the opening play — an interception by Terrell Floyd returned 38 yards for a touchdown — en route to a 33-23 victory. Tonight: No. 5 Kansas State takes on fifth-ranked Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. NFL: Ray Lewis, the Baltimore linebacker known as one of the most intense players the league has ever seen — and perhaps the best ever on defense — will retire once the Ravens complete their playoff run this year. Lewis will play for the first time in two months in the Ravens’ wild-card game against Indianapolis; he had suffered a tear in his triceps. Lewis has played 17 seasons.