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Judge postpones hearing in Hubbard case, Mobile Mardi Gras

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A judge has rescheduled a hearing on indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard's request to dismiss ethics charges against him.  Circuit Judge Jacob Walker delayed the hearing until Feb. 16 because of a scheduling conflict.

Hubbard is alleging prosecutorial misconduct after a political consultant says he communicated often with the lead prosecutor and used the information to try to damage Hubbard politically.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Wikimedia

More than 800 Alabamians could face eviction from public housing under a new proposal that would cut off assistance for higher-earning individuals.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced a proposal aimed at reducing the number of "over-income" tenants who live in government-assisted homes. Currently, federal law requires people to meet income requirements when they move in to government-assisted housing. But they are not forced to leave if their income grows past the threshold.

Black residents in the city of Dothan have filed a civil rights complaint over a landfill. The Dothan Eagle reports the nine plaintiffs are being represented by Florida environmental attorney David Ludder. The residents claim the plan to expand the dump discriminates against black residents because African Americans comprise almost ninety percent of the population within a mile of the proposed expansion. That claim includes eighty percent of the population within a mile and a half.

Governor Robert Bentley is scheduled to visit rural west Alabama to discuss the state's response to storms that caused significant damage in several areas. Dr. Bentley will tour Pickens County Saturday and discuss the importance of storm shelters. The National Weather Service confirms two tornadoes touched down in Pickens County Tuesday night and two others also hit Lamar and Fayette counties. The Pickens County twister had peak wind speeds of up to 135mph, while Lamar County had a wind speed of 105mph, and the Fayette County storm was clocked at 90mph.

Governor Robert Bentley is authorized more than $200,000 in emergency funding to help public health officials continue responding to a tuberculosis outbreak in west central Alabama. Health officials say an outbreak of the airborne bacterial infection has killed three people since 2011, prompting aggressive screening efforts in Marion. That includes bribing local residents to get screened and follow up with necessary treatment. Two thousand people had been tested for tuberculosis in Marion as of Tuesday.

APR

Mardi Gras may not officially take place until next Tuesday—but that’s not keeping the doubloons and beads from flying over the weekend. Twelve parades are scheduled in Mobile and around the Gulf coast. Mobile prides itself as the originator of “Fat Tuesday” celebrations in the United States, in 1703, long before the revels on the day before the beginning of Lent was popularized in New Orleans. A taste of Mardi Gras comes to Tuscaloosa tonight. The Mystic Krewe of Druids is hosting its annual Bal Masque event at the Bama theater.

American Humane Association - Facebook

Being a responsible pet owner means making good choices for both you and your furry friend.    Animals need more than just a roof over their heads.  They need proper care and attention from us to make them happy, healthy companions!

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     Troy University will observe Black History Month with its 2016 Leadership Conference starting tonight. Actor, dancer and director Jasmine Guy will deliver a keynote speech during the event. Attendees will also hear from Juanita Jones Abernathy. She’s the widow of the Reverend Ralph Abernathy. City of Troy spokesman Isaiah Scott says the conference continues to improve each year with more speakers and activities.

APR's MacKenzie Bates updated NPR's mid-day news magazine "Here & Now" on the Tuberculosis outbreak in west central Alabama. The rate is 100X the normal case load, putting Alabama in a worse position than Kenya or Bangladesh. To hear MacKenzie's story, click below on the link marked "read more at..."

A tuberculosis outbreak is continuing in the small Alabama town of Marion.

Alabama Department of Public Health officials say two more people have tested positive for TB in Perry County. Division of tuberculosis control director Pam Barrett says one case of the infection was diagnosed in a child less than 15 years old.

Officials say the tuberculosis outbreak has killed three people since 2011, prompting more aggressive screening efforts in Marion. Those efforts included paying residents to get tested, attend follow-up appointments and complete necessary treatment.

A Muslim advocacy group is asking to meet with  Governor Robert Bentley about statements he made on a refugee resettlement program that they call insensitive.

During his State of the State address Tuesday, Bentley criticized the federal refugee resettlement program for not disclosing refugees' background information to officials in states they settle in.

Bentley mentioned terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and said one of the killers and some refugees in Alabama came from "terrorist nations."

Tornado Damage
NWS Birmingham

After completing their damage assessments yesterday, the National Weather Service says at least four tornadoes struck western Alabama earlier this week.

NWS officials say an EF2 tornado struck the McMullen community in Pickens County Tuesday evening, destroying 13 homes. 10 of the structures were mobile homes. EF2 tornadoes can have winds speeds between 113 and 157 mph and are known to cause considerable damage.

Stan Ingold

       

The National Weather Service is confirming that two tornadoes hit west central Alabama last night. An EF-2 storm struck parts of Pickens County, destroying thirteen homes. A second tornado was confirmed as an EF-1. That twister tore through Fayette County. No deaths are reported from either storm. Today’s damage report was made after assessment teams surveyed the area. Forecaster Jason Holmes says even the trees in this rural area can provide clues as to what happened…

Tornado
Scott Peake / Basehunters

The threat of flooding in parts of Alabama follows up a pair of tornadoes that hit west central Alabama last night.

Dozens of homes near Aliceville were reportedly damaged, but police report only minor injuries and no deaths. Damage assessment teams from National Weather Service will spend the morning examining the aftermath of two tornadoes that marched single file just west of Tuscaloosa.

Forecaster Jason Holmes says the clues those teams find today will establish what kind of storm hit specific areas.

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It will likely be Wednesday morning before complete damage reports can be made from rough weather that hit parts of west central Alabama. A pair of tornadoes and straight line winds reportedly damaged homes, tore down trees and power lines, and caused injuries.

Much of Alabama is under threat of severe weather this afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service is predicting damaging winds of up to 70 miles per hour this afternoon. The forecast also includes hail and the possibility of isolated tornadoes. Several school districts across north and central Alabama dismissed early or canceled after-school activities in anticipation of the storms. John de Block is the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He says the storm threat will continue well into the overnight hours.

These schools have announced early closings and/or the cancellation of afterschool activities. For the most up-to-date information, call the front office of your child's school. Pat Duggins

Hale County schools will dismiss at 11:15 a.m.

Haleyville City Schools will dismiss at 1 p.m.

Sumiton Christian will dismiss at 1 pm.

All Pickens County Schools and the Central office will dismiss Tuesday, Feb. 2 2016 at noon.All after-school activities for Tuesday will be canceled.

Tuscaloosa County Schools will dismiss at noon.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The next session for Alabama’s state legislature will convene at noon today.

State lawmakers are starting the 2016 session on Groundhog Day to some very familiar budget issues, but there will likely be some new debates as well.

Hail and strong winds are expected to hit parts of the state on Tuesday. Forecasters say it isn’t uncommon to see major storms this time of the year. The rise in temperature has caused some things to become unstable which can result in strong to severe storms. Chelly Amin is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville. She says high winds are expected and possibly more…

Alabama’s legislative session gets underway tomorrow and the focus, is expected to be on the budget.

The state’s two spending plans were center stage during last year’s session, and lawmakers are expecting another tight year this time around. Many General Fund agencies like the one that handles Medicaid are now asking for more money.

State House member Bill Poole says the General Fund budget will be a challenge for legislators, but he believes agreements will be reached.

Remington Outdoor has exceeded hiring and wage milestones at its new advanced manufacturing and research and development center.

A report from the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County shows the firearm maker had 324 employees as of Aug. 31.  They have an average hourly wage nearly $10 higher than stated in the development agreement between the company, City of Huntsville and state.

Remington was required to create at least 280 full-time positions by the close of the second project year ending Feb. 28.

NWS: Severe weather possible in Alabama on Tuesday

Jan 31, 2016

Forecasters say Alabama could be in for a round of severe weather this week.

The National Weather Service says northwestern Alabama faces an elevated risk of damaging winds and isolated twisters beginning Tuesday afternoon.

Forecast models show a lesser threat of severe weather extending south and east across the state on Tuesday evening.

Weather service meteorologist Jim Stefkovich says forecast can change before Tuesday. But he says the question right now is how far the severe weather extends eastward across the state.

Hubbard removes GOP foes from top committee assignments

Jan 30, 2016

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is removing two vocal Republican critics from prominent committee assignments as part of a larger reshuffling.

Rep. Phil Williams of Huntsville was removed as chairman of the technology and research committee. Rep. Ed Henry of Hartselle lost a seat on the education budget committee to become vice-chairman of the campaign and ethics committee.

Williams is challenging Hubbard for speaker, and both representatives have questioned if Hubbard should remain while awaiting trial on ethics charges.

Alabama public lakes reopening

Jan 30, 2016

Most of Alabama's public fishing lakes are preparing to reopen for the upcoming spring season.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says 20 of the state's 23 publicly owned fishing lakes resume operation on Monday.

The lakes are stocked with fish including bream and largemouth bass, and during cool months they're often better for fishing than larger lakes because the water warms up quicker.

Show Time!

Jan 30, 2016
Birmingham Feline Fanciers / Facebook

If you think all cats are pretty much alike except for the length and color of their fur, a visit  to a cat show just might change your mind!

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District 80 of the Alabama House has a new representative.

Chris Blackshear won the special election after earning more than 1,650 votes in a special election over challengers James McGill and Tommy Pugh.

The Special Election was held earlier this month after the death Lesley Vance in November of last year.

Blackshear claims the seat due to no democratic candidate challenging him for the position.  He will be sworn in on April 13th in Montgomery.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining an Alabama auto parts supplier over $170,000 for unsafe working conditions.

Daeil USA is based in Valley, Alabama and supplies parts to Hyundai and Kia. OSHA recently issued 17 citations against the company, 10 of which were classified as serious.

They’re accusing the employer of willful failure to develop procedures to prevent multiple machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing. OSHA says the unguarded machinery put workers in danger of amputations and other serious occupational hazards.

Republicans in the Alabama House say a small business tax credit and a teacher pay raise are among their top priorities for the legislative session that begins Tuesday.

Republicans announced the platform, titled "Right for Alabama."

House Speaker Mike Hubbard says legislators will seek a teacher pay raise in the upcoming session, although they aren't yet specifying an amount.

Tuberculosis epidemic endures

Jan 28, 2016

A few weeks ago, the small town of Marion in Alabama’s black belt came down with a tuberculosis epidemic.  Officials with State Department of Public Health are still seeing people to treat the respiratory disease.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates went back to the Perry County town to check on the progress…

It’s a cold morning outside the Perry County Health Department.  People are walking inside and out of the building to either get screened or find out results of the test for tuberculosis.

Tomorrow is the last day for residents in a small Perry County town to be tested for tuberculosis and get paid for it. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the latest on what officials are doing to eradicate the respiratory illness in Marion,

New numbers released by the Alabama Department of Health say 85 people have tested positive for the TB infection. Nine of those people have active cases. The Health Department is paying residents $20 for each screening and more money for follow-ups.

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