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Gaming negotiations continue; Soccer trial run; Conversions coming and more in this week’s OTR

Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama

 

Time to show cards

After the Alabama Senate effectively uprooted the two-bill legislative package banked on by the Alabama House to advance the most comprehensive gambling legislation voted on by state lawmakers yet in the 21st century, not many state leaders are feeling lucky. After a full week back to business in Montgomery, it’s unclear if the czars of the gambling issue in the lower chamber are ready to deal the hand dealt by the Senate. They’ve gone to great lengths in internal discussions to find a workable starting point, but all agree the version they received back is unrecognizable from the product they agreed on in February. The question won’t be whether they non-concur, but rather, the extent to which they’ll press their luck with a Senate conference committee that doesn’t have a clear tell.

Conversions coming?

Those in the know are taking bets on which Huntsville-area apartments will be converted to condos first. City officials estimate more than 6,000 people are now moving to Huntsville annually. Condominium conversion converts rental apartments into condo units. Instead of leasing, occupants own the unit. Supporters say conversions increase affordable housing options in areas where single-family housing prices have sky-rocketed.

Soccer trial run

Saturday’s inaugural Rocket City Spring Shootout featuring Southeastern Conference rivals Alabama vs. Tennessee, preceded by a game of Gulf South Conference opponents Union and Trevecca Nazarene, will serve as a barometer to measure area fans’ temperature for women’s collegiate soccer. If the spring season doubleheader, which will be followed by a shortened scrimmage between Crimson Tide reserves against one of the GSC teams, comes off successful, then Huntsville leaders will look at chasing more games for the fall. Georgia has been mentioned as a potential exhibition team, perhaps in August before the fall championship schedule starts.

Bartlett takes the reins

She was named the interim executive director of U.S. Chess Federation in February and now Ranae Bartlett has the top job officially.  The Madison City Council president will be performing her director duties from North Alabama. Bartlett has played a large role in building up chess in the city and area schools. Many locals wishing for an eventual Bartlett for Mayor campaign (as current Mayor Paul Finley reportedly has his eyes on a state Senate seat) are hopeful her new duties won’t preclude a run. While she has remained mum on the subject, one observer is quick to note, “There’s not a more efficient multitasker than Ranae.”  

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