10 Alcoans called back for cleanup

Ten laid off employees of Alcoa's Rockdale Operations have been temporarily called back to work to clean out metal left in potlines when the smelter shut down last year.

Jim Hodson, Alcoa spokesman, said the 10 employees "have a few more weeks" of employment and will go back on layoff status once the maintenance task is complete.

"Some metal was left in the pots," he said. "The 10 we called back are removing it.

"This is part of routine maintenance and upkeep," Hodson said. "This is certainly not preparing for a re-start, or anything like that."

Hodson added that the cleanup task being performed this summer would not hinder a re-start in the future, should economic circumstances ever dictate.

Price of metal

And that doesn't look likely if you watch the price of aluminum on the London Metal Exchange.

That price bottomed out at $1,400 per metric ton and had recovered to $1,540 at the start of this week.

"When we shut down the first three potlines last spring the price was $3,200 per metric ton," he said.

80 employees

Hodson said Rockdale Operations continues to employ about 80 persons, hourly and salaried.

"That total includes the atomizer and a number of people in Building 80 (headquarters)," he said.

The total does not include reclamation work being done in the former Sandow mines. "That's a contracted job," Hodson said.

It now appears a 20-year-old Bryan man who pleaded guilty to one of two aggravated robberies in Rockdale, but was acquitted on the other, won't be getting his shoes back.

Prosecutor Kerry Spears told The Reporter she will not return Justin Tiger Thomas' tennis shoes which he had asked for as part of a plea bargain in connection with the Nov. 3, 2006 holdup of Gill's Shop-N-Go.

"We don't give evidence in cases back to defendants and these shoes are evidence in the Larry Johnson case," she said.

Johnson, 25, was one of two co-defendants with Thomas in the Gill's robbery and also the holdup of Rockdale's Sunny Food Mart three days later.

Thomas, 23-year-old Damion Jackson and Johnson were charged with both robberies. Jackson accepted a plea bargain, took a 15-year prison term and testified against the other two at their trials. Johnson was found guilty in a jury trial and received a 25-year sentence. Thomas was acquitted of the Sunny's robbery, a jury decision that did not sit well with Rockdale police.

Thomas then admitted his guilt in the Gill's holdup and drew five years deferred adjudication. Then he asked for his shoes back.

The shoes which Thomas was wearing during his arrest in the aftermath of a College Station auto accident one day after the Sunny's robbery, became a major point of contention in the trial.

Police and Prosecutor Lesley Whitten believed they had shown shoes worn by a suspect during the Sunny's robbery, and visible on surveillance video, were the same shoes worn by Thomas during his arrest.

"Probation is serious," Spears said. "All he has to do is violate it one time, like not reporting to his probation officer, and he can be sent to prison."

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