News

Ted Kerwin [Flickr]

Every year the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards includes a category for Military Dogs.  They truly are heroes.  Log on to the Hero Dog Awards website to read about this year's finalists and cast your vote for the one you think should be Military Hero Dog of the year.

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The Alabama Supreme Court is voiding its earlier decision not to recognize a lesbian couple's adoption that was carried out in another state.

The opinion announced today falls into line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in March.  It says the Alabama court erred in declaring the adoption held in Georgia invalid.

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A Florence attorney and an 83-year-old man are each facing multiple charges of human trafficking.

State Medicaid officials say they opposed Medicaid language temporarily inserted in the 2013 budget that could have benefited a client of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar testified today that Medicaid officials were caught off guard by language added in the House.  It would have set requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager the state might hire.

The former state law enforcement chief who accused Governor Robert Bentley of having an affair with an adviser has been questioned by federal investigators about the governor's administration.

Kenny Mendelsohn, an attorney representing former state law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier, revealed yesterday that the questioning occurred. But he refused to elaborate on what questions investigators asked.

Hubbard trial continues, Alabama Voting App rolls out

May 25, 2016

The former chief of staff for the Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has testified in the ethics trial of his former boss.

Josh Blades testified today that he was upset and concerned about "legal implications" after learning that language added to a 2013 budget bill could have benefited one of Hubbard's clients.

Blades said he learned later that a group that would get the work was paying Hubbard through a consulting contract. The language was stripped in conference committee.

hubbard trial
Brynn Anderson / AP

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are presenting very different views of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard as he stands trial on felony ethics charges.

Prosecutors told jurors in opening statements yesterday that Hubbard made around $2.3 million illegally off his elected office and past chairmanship of Alabama’s Republican Party. But the defense argues Hubbard was scrupulously honest, even asking for an ethics opinion before accepting money as a consultant.

A workshop today in Tuscaloosa was expected to help Alabama communities that lost coal mining jobs.

The Appalachian Regional Authority spoke about how colleges and governments can apply for part of sixty five million dollars in federal aid. The money is meant to help put out of work coal miners back on the payroll.

Co-Chairman Earl Gohl** says some coal towns have used grant money to beef up their manufacturing sectors, while West Virginia took another path…

The jury in the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard will show up to hear evidence today. Hubbard faces twenty three counts of misusing his public office for personal gain. Prosecutors say Hubbard used both his office and past position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to solicit business for himself and his companies. Conviction on even one would result in his ouster as speaker of the state House.

This year marks the fifty fifth anniversary of civil rights event by a group known as the Freedom Riders. The Alabama Historical Commission gathered legislators, politicians and noted civil rights figures over the weekend to commemorate the occasion. In 1961, student activists aimed to end desegregation in transport by riding trains, planes and buses into the South. A bi-racial group of those activists was assaulted by a mob as they departed a bus in Montgomery in May 1961.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley files a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier.

Bentley's attorneys say in the motion filed today that claims Collier makes in his complaint are vague and should be dismissed or clarified.

Bentley fired Collier in March and said an internal review found possible misuse of state funds within the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Myron Thompson
Alex AuBuchon / APR

A Mobile city councilman is in stable condition today after he was shot during a robbery in South Africa this weekend.

City Councilman C.J. Small owns and operates Small’s Mortuary and Cremation Services in Mobile. He was in Johannesburg attending the South African Funeral Director and Morticians Association Convention. At around noon Johannesburg time, the tour bus Small was riding was ambushed and several patrons were robbed. Small was shot in the face during the incident, and some other passengers were injured.

Al.com

The speaker of Alabama's House goes on trial later this week facing a barrage of ethics charges.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges stemming from accusations that he used his posts as speaker and state GOP party chairman to steer business to his companies.

Hubbard has maintained his innocence. 

Opening statements are expected Tuesday in what's become a season of scandal in Alabama.

An Alabama teenager set a Florida state record for catching the biggest flathead catfish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says 13-year-old Charles Patchen of Gordon, Alabama, caught a nearly sixty four pound flathead. Patchen pulled in the enormous catfish from the Chattahoochee River in Jackson County. It took Patchen nearly two hours to land the big fish. The fish needed to be rolled into the boat because it was too large for the net. The previous certified state record flathead catfish weighed just over fifty five pounds and was caught on the Yellow River in 2011.

ASPCA

When  Henry Bergh founded the ASPCA on April 10, 1866, I wonder if he ever could have envisioned the effective force it has become for animal welfare not just in its home base of New York City but all across the country!

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Alabama's unemployment rate is down slightly to 6.1 percent.

Wage and salary employment increased by 16,500 jobs in April, with the largest number of jobs coming in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. The professional and business services sector added another 3,500 jobs.

The state's jobless rate remains well above the national rate of 5 percent, however.

Alabama unemployment is worst in Wilcox County at 12.8 percent. Shelby County has the state's lowest job rate at 4 percent.

Freedom Rides bus
National Civil Rights Museum

The Alabama Historical Commission is commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Freedom Rides today in Montgomery.

In 1961, a group of largely black students pledged to ride interstate buses through the Southeast to protest the lack of enforcement of bus desegregation laws.

The Alabama Department of Education has restored funding to a reading program that educators feared was in danger at many public schools.

Earlier this week, superintendents were scrambling for funding to replace a $7.5 million cut to the Alabama Reading Initiative, which allows for reading coaches in public schools. The cuts were performance-based, and many schools with above-average reading scores were in danger of cutting out their Reading Initiative programs entirely.

hubbard trial
Brynn Anderson / AP

A jury has been chosen, and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial will begin next week.

Hubbard is facing nearly two dozen felony ethics charges accusing him of using his position as Speaker and past position as chairman of Alabama’s Republican Party for personal gain for himself and his businesses. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty and maintains he didn’t do anything illegal.

Lawyers have picked a jury for House Speaker Mike Hubbard's ethics trial scheduled to start next week. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

The panel of 12 jurors and four alternates is made up of five black men, four white men, four black women and three white women.

The Montgomery Advertiser and al.com reports that Lee County Judge Jacob Walker instructed the panel not to discuss the high-profile case.

The Alabama Education Association is taking public school teachers’ insurance provider to court.

The group says the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan, or PEEHIP, violated Alabama’s open meetings law. Late last month, the PEEHIP board approved massive premium and rate hikes which teachers say will wipe out their first pay increase in nine years. AEA says the rate hikes were decided during a secret board meeting, which violates state law.

Sheila Remington is the President of the AEA and the plaintiff in the lawsuit. She explains her position.

City of Spanish Fort

             

The Alabama Department of Transportation is getting ready for the beginning of hurricane season on June first. Drivers in South Alabama will be seeing more workers along Interstate 65 tomorrow. 

Josh Phillips is a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation. He says they will be conducting a drill to practice reversing the traffic flow between Mobile and Montgomery.

Advocates for people infected with the virus that causes AIDS are meeting in Huntsville starting today. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the group wants to stop laws making the spread of HIV a crime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the southern U.S. ground zero for the highest number of patients with HIV or full-blown AIDS.

Organizers of the “HIV Is Not a Crime” conference say that’s why brought their event to Alabama. They want to fight state laws like the one that Alabama almost passed last year.

Jury selection is ongoing in the trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

About 100 of the 140 Lee County residents were on hand as the selection process began in Opelika. 

Republican Speaker Mike Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges of using his political position for personal gain back in October 2014. Hubbard has maintained his innocence throughout the indictments. 

Hubbard faces removal from office if he’s convicted.

MARTE
Alabama Astrobiotics

Alabama’s state preschool program has been named the best in the country for ten years running.

The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks pre-kindergarten programs across the country each year based on quality. For the tenth year in a row, the institute named Alabama’s state-funded First Class Pre-K program the nation’s best. Alabama met or exceeded all of the institute’s quality benchmarks examining things like student-to-teacher ratios and educator qualifications.

Meet MARTE 3.0

May 15, 2016

A team of University of Alabama engineering students is defending its national championship, not in football, but in a NASA space mining robot competition. MARTE 3.0 will compete against close to fifty other entries from universities. The robot that digs the most simulated moon dirt wins. Click on the second "YouTube" link...

A Montgomery man was killed in a crash Saturday night at the Selma Motorsports Park, according to local officials.

33-year-old Darren Dwayne Bryant of Montgomery was driving a pickup truck on the track Saturday night at approximately 8 p.m. when the truck was rear-ended by another vehicle. The truck veered into another lane and then overturned. Bryant died as he was being transported to a local hospital.

Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson says the Dallas County Sheriff's Department is treating the event as an accident.

Mergers for seven of Alabama's community colleges originally planned for this summer are on hold until 2017.

Three east Alabama community colleges were expected to form one regional institution upon final approval by the Alabama Community College System board of trustees this July. Those colleges are Southern Union State Community College in Opelika, Wadley and Valley; Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City, Childersburg and Talladega; and Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is criticizing the Obama administration's directive to let transgender students in public schools use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released a joint statement Friday saying both federal agencies plan to ensure all students, including transgender students, can enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment. Both federal agencies plan to treat students' gender identity as the students' sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX regulations.

mosquito
Wikimedia

Mosquito season is approaching, and public health officials in Alabama are working to get a better understanding of what resources are available for mosquito control efforts amid rising concerns over the Zika virus.

Alabama Department of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Director Andy Mullins says his office is awaiting the results of an assessment to determine what kinds of mosquito control resources are available at the city and county level throughout the state.

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