Locals prepare for holidays in tiny Alabama town that lost its only grocery store

Tommy Pounders greets his regulars by name, welcoming them out of the rainy December day into the warmth of JJ’s, a tiny diner on U.S. 72. It’s one of two restaurants in the Northwest Alabama town of Cherokee, population 1,000.

The lunch crowd fills nearly every table – guys on break from the chemical and paper manufacturing plants nearby; retired couples eating their usual; the former mayor and his wife chatting with neighbors; a pair of friends dressed head to toe in camouflage.

JJ’s is the kind of place where the waitress doesn’t bring menus to the table because everybody already knows what they want. It’s now owned by Pounders’ wife Janie, though there’s been a restaurant in that location since the highway was built in the 1960s.

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Child welfare, Health

Black babies die at 3x the rate of white babies in Alabama

An overall improvement in infant mortality rates in Alabama may appear as welcome news, but there are troubling findings within recent state health reports. The gap between infant mortality rates for black and white babies in Alabama is huge – and it’s growing. Black babies in Alabama died at three times the rate of white babies in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.

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Health, Maternal health, Uncategorized

Facing lack of birth choices, an Alabama nurse heads for the border

Jessica Thompson didn’t take her eyes off the glowing dashboard clock as her husband sped their minivan through the night, heading north on a deserted country highway somewhere in Lauderdale County. The contractions were two minutes apart now, on the dot.

She tried to focus on breathing. It was just after 4 a.m. on a mild April morning.