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1969 December 31 - 09:00 pm

NEWS BRIEFS

  • Son of Former Ala. College Director  Pleads Guilty

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The son of the former head of the Alabama Fire College has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud in connection with a bogus contract his father arranged with Gadsden State Community College.

Prosecutors at the hearing to accept William Langston Jr.’s guilty plea said he also received payments from Jefferson State Community College for work he did not do.

Langston admitted to U.S. District Court Judge U.W. Clemon that he received the Gadsden State payments from 2002 to 2004.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara Johnson said during the hearing that the Gadsden State contracts were similar to an arrangement the younger Langston had with Jefferson State.

Langston received $2,000 a month from Jefferson State in a contract his father helped arrange about two years before the Gadsden State contracts were set up. The Jefferson State payments were made for a year, Johnson said.

Langston agreed in April to plead guilty to the charges and repay $66,000 he received from the bogus Gadsden State contract. A sentencing date has not been set.

The elder Langston is awaiting trial on a 37-count criminal indictment. He is accused of bilking the state out of $1.5 million through fraudulent contracts, jobs for friends and money spent on himself and his family dating back to 1998. He has pleaded innocent.

The former deputy director of the fire college, Robert Nix, pleaded guilty in December and admitted to scheming with Langston to take more than $500,000 meant for the fire college. Nix was sentenced to a little more than 2 1/2 years in prison.

Former state Rep. Bryant Melton pleaded guilty in July 2006 to funneling $86,000 in state money to the Fire College Foundation to pay off gambling debts and his daughter’s education.

Melton, former director of the C.A. Fredd Campus at Shelton State, is still awaiting sentencing.

  • La. College System Offers Guarantee

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana Community and Technical College System will offer graduates for more than 100 training programs a guarantee sought by Gov. Bobby Jindal: If you can’t find a job in your training area, you’ll be retrained for free.

The system’s Board of Supervisors approved the new “Day 1 Guarantee’’ policy for an array of worker training programs at the state’s two-year colleges.

“This policy is the ultimate measure of accountability for our system, and we stand prepared to help transform Louisiana’s work force through the high-demand programs that we currently offer,’’ system President Joe May said in a statement.

If a graduate or an employer finds that the graduate is deficient within a set of specific curriculum standards, then the community or technical college will retrain the employee for free. The college system board devised a set list of standards with business leaders to serve as the list of specifications required for each training program.

College system leaders said the system will cover the costs of retraining within its budget. The new policy takes effective immediately.

Jindal proposed the “Day 1 Guarantee,’’ modeled on a similar system in other states, as a way to encourage businesses to expand in or relocate to Louisiana and to help train workers to fill an estimated 100,000 job vacancies in the state.

  • Okla. Voters Reject Tax Hike For Colleges

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Voters in Tulsa County have said no to a $76 million dollar bond issue and a 1.7 mill property tax increase to benefit Tulsa Community College.

The bonds would’ve been used for construction projects at the college’s four campuses and in Owasso. The property taxes would’ve been used for operations and expanding academic programs.

About 55 percent of voters voted against the plan.

College President Tom McKeon believes the loss is due to pessimism about the economy.

  • Wyo. Task Force Begins Study of Colleges

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The state doesn’t intend to micromanage Wyoming’s community colleges with a task force created to study the institutions, Gov. Dave Freudenthal said, but the newly formed group must look after the state’s best interests.

The Legislature created the Community College Task Force to review the seven community colleges and the future of the system. The group is charged with considering the state’s workforce development needs, a statewide college system and capital construction projects.

“We are charged with husbanding state dollars,’’ Freudenthal said, adding that state funds cover more than 60 percent of community college budgets. “We want to know what we’re getting for it.’’

The task force’s co-chairmen, Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, and Rep. Del McOmie, R-Lander, said the colleges are likely to raise concerns about maintaining local control.

Freudenthal said the state needs to define its interests and then let the colleges decide if and how to implement programs to meet those needs.

“It’s not our place to tell them how to run the institution in the broadest sense,’’ he said. “It is our position to tell them, ‘Here is what the state is willing to pay for.’ If they decide they don’t want to do it, they don’t have to take the money.’’

  • Beer, Cocaine Might Have Killed Student

MESA, Ariz (AP) —  A Phoenix-area college professor told emergency dispatchers that a female student had been drinking and doing cocaine in his apartment before she collapsed and died, police reports and dispatch recordings show.

Paradise Valley Community College psychology professor Michael Todd told the dispatcher that Andria Ziegler, 19, drank 17 beers in the hours before she died on April 20.

Ziegler was one of Todd’s students, and college district officials have told him he is being fired for having an inappropriate relationship with a student, a violation of the college’s policy. She was pronounced dead about an hour after Todd, 51, called for help.

Phoenix police are investigating the case as an unknown death and have not labeled it as criminal in nature.

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