Wildfires burning around South as drought worsens

1 minute ago

Wildfires are charring hundreds of acres daily in the South amid a worsening drought, and no rain is in sight.

Wildfires have burned more than 12,000 acres statewide in Alabama in the last 30 days.  Fires have burned acreage in communities around Birmingham.

Forestry officials say rain is the answer, but substantial storms aren't predicted in short-term forecasts.

Pool of judges selected for Moore appeal

2 minutes ago

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore walked out of the state courthouse after the acting chief justice refused to halt the lottery to pick the judges that will hear his appeal.

The names of 50 retired judges were drawn in a lottery today as potential members of the special Supreme Court for Moore's appeal. The first seven willing judges will hear the case.

Cuba Week at the University of Alabama

7 hours ago

This week, the University of Alabama celebrates its third annual Cuba Week. APR student reporter Allison Mollenkamp has more…

UA’s Cuba Week offers an array of opportunities for the public to immerse themselves in Cuban history and culture. There will be presentations of artwork and performances with 25 Cubans from Havana, UA professors and student counterparts taking part.

A federal judge is considering the state of Alabama’s request to dismiss a lawsuit over a new law that blocked a minimum wage increase in Birmingham.

District Judge R. David Proctor held a hearing yesterday afternoon on the motions to dismiss. Last year, the Birmingham City Council voted to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10. Just before that law took effect, the Alabama Legislature quickly passed legislation requiring a uniform minimum wage throughout the state.

Impeachment committee wants Bentley to testify

Oct 26, 2016

An impeachment committee is demanding that Gov. Robert Bentley testify under oath.

The House Judiciary Committee sent a formal demand for the governor to provide deposition-like testimony to the committee's special counsel on Nov. 9.

Committee Chairman Mike Jones says the committee wants a, "clear, truthful record from the governor and his staff" and he looked forward to the governor's cooperation.

Robert Lightfoot

Space enthusiasts will have a chance to speak with some of the top figures in deep space exploration this week.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) is hosting the ninth annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium in Huntsville today through Friday on the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s campus.

Jim Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director of the AAS. He stresses the importance of the environment the symposium provides.

The University of West Alabama is planning to launch a program that would give future teachers scholarships and other assistance if they pledge to teach in a Black Belt community for at least three years.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that the first round of scholarships for the Black Belt Teaching Corps will be awarded in the upcoming spring semester.

Dean Jan Miller says the Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education at the University of West Alabama will award 10 scholarships each year to education majors.

Judges to be picked Thursday to hear Moore appeal

Oct 25, 2016

Judges will be named this week to hear suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's bid to return to the bench.

Alabama Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart says in a Tuesday order the judges for Moore's appeal will be randomly selected Thursday afternoon in a public proceeding at the Alabama Judicial Building.

A judicial panel last month suspended Moore for the remainder of his term after finding he urged state probate judges to defy the federal courts on gay marriage. Moore is appealing the decision.

Alabama could see record number of voters on election day

Oct 25, 2016

Alabama could see record number of voters at the polls on Election Day.

Secretary of State John Merrill says he anticipates between 2.2 million and 2.4 million state voters to cast ballots in the upcoming election. He says either number would be a record turnout.

Merrill believes high voter enthusiasm will drive turnout in the race that pits Republican Donald Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

ribbon cutting
Alex AuBuchon / APR

State lawmakers and education officials gathered in Tuscaloosa yesterday to celebrate the expansion of public preschool in Alabama.

The dignitaries cut the ribbon on two new preschool classrooms at Verner Elementary School in Tuscaloosa. Those are two of 155 new preschool classrooms opening this year throughout the state, serving 2800 more of Alabama’s four-year-olds than last year. That’s thanks to a $16 million increase in funding from the Alabama Legislature.

A panel of retired Alabama judges will be the ones to hear suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore's bid to return to the bench.

Yesterday, the current justices on the Alabama Supreme Court announced they will recuse themselves from hearing Moore's appeal because their impartiality might be questioned.

Alabama asks to let execution go forward

Oct 24, 2016

The state of Alabama is asking an appellate court to let the November execution of an inmate go forward.

The state attorney general's office on Friday asked the 11th U.S. circuit Court of Appeals to reject Tommy Arthur's request for a stay.

The state argues Arthur has used abusive litigation tactics to "escape" execution. Arthur had been scheduled for execution on six previous occasions, but was given court-issued reprieves.

The city of Elba is getting ready for a town hall meeting to decide how to distribute $2 million of FEMA flood mitigation funds.

The city is using the money to buy and tear down houses damaged during the 2015 Christmas flood. Coffee County Emergency Management Director Larry Walker says there isn't enough funding for everyone who's applied for the buyout, but he says homeowners with major damage will be guaranteed assistance.

$270K grant to help ASU buy cutting-edge research printer

Oct 23, 2016

Alabama State University has won a $271,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to purchase a state-of-the-art 3-D printer.

The printer will be used by students in ASU's College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics departments.

It will enable researchers to custom design and build tissue replacements.

Dr. Derrick Dean is the lead principle investigator.  He says the printer will be used by at least three graduate and undergraduate courses in biomedical engineering and biological sciences.

Study looks at tornadoes on Alabama's Sand Mountain

Oct 23, 2016

Researchers want to determine why the Sand Mountain area of northeast Alabama seems so prone to tornadoes.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville says scientists and students will spend the next year studying the role the region's mountains and valleys play in twister formation.

The work is being performed with a nearly $250,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A release from the school says the area was affected by 49 tornadoes in the last decade.

Elba to divide $2M in flood funds through drawing process

Oct 23, 2016

The city of Elba will host a town hall meeting to decide how to distribute $2 million of FEMA flood mitigation funds.

The city is using the money to buy and tear down houses damaged during the 2015 Christmas flood.

Coffee County Emergency Management Director Larry Walker says there isn't enough funding for everyone who's applied for the buyout.

He adds homeowners with major damage will be guaranteed assistance.

Walker says there are about 40 homes with minor damage and they're not sure if there's enough money to cover them all.

Perfect Dog Owner

Oct 22, 2016
Scott Feldstein [Flickr]

When we adopt a dog we think we're doing it a favor, giving it a home.  What do they give us in return?  It has been proven that pets can make us happier and healthier people.  They give us companionship and loyalty and acceptance.  What a bargain!


Ethics panel dismisses complaint against Tom Parker

Oct 21, 2016

A judicial ethics panel dismisses a complaint against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker over comments he made about the court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Parker's attorney announced today that the complaint had been dismissed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission. Attorney Mat Staver called it a victory for free speech.

Parker, in a 2015 interview on a Christian-themed radio show, said the U.S. Supreme Court decision jumped outside of legal precedents to "impose their will on this country."

Alabama jobless rate unchanged

Oct 21, 2016

Alabama's unemployment rate for September is unchanged at 5.4 percent.

A statement released by the governor's office today says the jobless rate represents a total of 117,125 unemployed people in the state. Just over 2 million people were employed at the same time.

The state's unemployment rate remains above the national rate, but the gap is closing. The U.S. unemployment rate inched up to 5 percent in September, compared to 4.9 percent in August.

The annual Druid City Pride festival is taking place this weekend in Tuscaloosa. 

This is the second year for the Pride event, with a lot more activities than last year’s. The theme is One Love, which festival organizers say could not come at a better time.

The events begin this evening at5:30 p.m. with a Happy Hour Kickoff Party at the Lookout rooftop bar at Hotel Indigo in downtown Tuscaloosa. Tomorrow, there will be a tailgate with PRIDE on the University of Alabama quad for the Alabama vs Texas A&M football game, with pride members from both schools in attendance.

Holman Correctional Facility
Sharon Steinmann / AP

Yet another correctional officer has been assaulted at a troubled state prison in south Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says a lieutenant at Holman prison in Atmore was attempting to control an inmate when the man assaulted the officer with a makeshift weapon yesterday.

The officer was treated for a cut above his eye, and 27-year-old inmate Robert Washington has been charged with assault. He is currently serving 20 years for a robbery conviction in Montgomery.

The Alabama Association of School Boards is seeking public input, including parents and employees, on what they want to see in the Huntsville City Schools district's next superintendent.

WAAY-TV reports the association has held at least two sessions to gather the information and planed Thursday to hold at least two more. The association also has opened an online survey that can be taken anonymously through Friday.

Attorney general's office clears Collier

Oct 20, 2016

A grand jury clears former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier of wrongdoing.

The attorney general's office announced today that a grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by Collier and is closing the investigation requested by Gov. Robert Bentley's administration.

Bentley fired Collier in March saying a review found possible misuse of funds. The findings were sent to the attorney general's office.

Race fans headed to Talladega Superspeedway this week may need to leave their lighters at home.

Talladega Superspeedway issued a burn ban for the race week that ends on October 24th. That comes on top of bans from Governor Robert Bentley and the State Forestry Commission.

The ban includes campfires, pit fires, bonfires, and the use of fireworks on Talladega grounds.

Grant Lynch is the chairman of Talladega Superspeedway. He says this isn’t the first time weather conditions have made for a change in plans.

In the wake of severe drought conditions affecting much of the state, Birmingham’s water utility is taking extra steps to conserve water.

The Birmingham Water Works says it plans to implement Stage Three of its drought management plan. That includes a surcharge of 200 percent for both residential and non-residential customers for excess water use. Those surcharges are expected to go into effect November 19.

Moore won't remove items from courthouse office

Oct 19, 2016

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has not cleared out his courthouse office despite a request by the acting chief justice to remove his personal items.

Moore is appealing his suspension from the bench. He says he has several large paintings, a grandfather clock and other items that cannot be quickly removed.

Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart asked Moore to clear out his office by Tuesday evening. Moore's lawyers have asked the Alabama Supreme Court to overrule Stuart.

Ford: Alabama Democratic Party on 'life support'

Oct 19, 2016

The leader of Democrats in the House of Representatives says the state of the Alabama Democratic Party is on "life support."

House Minority Leader Craig Ford called for Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice-Chairman Joe Reed to step down today.

Democrats currently hold no statewide office in Alabama. Ford says voters will see few competitive races on Election Day.

A Look at the Traditions of the University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band

Oct 19, 2016
Million Dollar Band
Pat Duggins

When it comes to Alabama’s Million Dollar Band, each week fans get a chance to see the music and marching come together at halftime. Here’s what you don’t see. Football fans take a break during the week after each game. Alabama’s marching band doesn’t.

Twenty-eight Alabama counties have been placed under a drought emergency.

The Alabama Drought Declaration issued yesterday comes after conditions across the state continue to degrade due to little rainfall and higher-than-normal temperatures.

The counties now under emergency status are mostly in the northern and eastern half of the state. The Shoals region, Huntsville and the Birmingham metro area are all affected.

All counties currently under emergency status are: