News

Alabama’s first charter school has been cleared to open in Mobile.

The state’s Public Charter School Commission voted yesterday to allow the Accel Day and Evening Academy to begin operating. The school plans to serve students at least 16 years of age who have either dropped out of school or fallen behind academically. The Mobile Area Education Foundation plans to open the school starting next August.

Taking A Look At Poverty In Alabama

Sep 19, 2016
Alex Aubuchon

When people are encouraged to understand others, they’re often told to walk a mile in their shoes. Alabamians have the chance to do just that at poverty simulations put on by the group Alabama Possible. APR Student Reporter Allison Mollenkamp attended a simulation hosted by the United Way of Alabama. She takes this look back… 

Volunteers are at a Alabama Possible poverty simulation. The group gathers in a gymnasium. There’s nothing on the walls--just groups of chairs in the middle of the room. Each cluster represents a family in the fictional town of Realville.

Alabama leads the nation in prescription opioid painkiller use, and politics may be one reason. Manufacturers and their allies have hired an average of eighteen lobbyists in Alabama each year since 2006. A joint investigation by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found that the organizations spent $880 million and hired an annual average of 1,350 lobbyists in state capitals around the country from 2006 through 2015. The organizations' lobbying in Alabama ranked 33rd in the country when drug makers' lobbying hires are compared to all lobbying activity.

Colonial Pipeline says it will construct a temporary pipeline that will bypass a leaking section of its main gasoline pipeline in Shelby County. The company gave no timetable on when the project will be completed or what path the temporary bypass will take. Colonial admits the leak from its primary line leaked up to three sixty thousand gallons of gasoline near the town of Helena. The Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental officials had no initial comment on the possible impact of the spill on this rural region of Alabama.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn says an inmate serving twenty years for robbery will be prosecuted in connection with the stabbing at Holman Prison in Atmore. Authorities say corrections officer Kenneth Bettis died Friday after being stabbed on September first. The attack occurred at Holman prison, which has been the site of multiple outbreaks of sporadic violence. Critics blame acts of violence on Alabama’s prison jail overcrowding problem.

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.  I report on one state where prison reform appears to be working…

Public Radio Mutt

Sep 17, 2016
Skip Baumhower

For Ivy, genetic diversity made her a wonderful pet and furry friend.  For Alabama Public Radio, programming variety gives you a great menu of listening choices, and makes for a wonderful radio companion at home, in your car, on your computer or phone - wherever you happen to be!

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Fuel truck drivers may be working extra hours in the coming days. The governors of Alabama and Georgia have lifted restrictions on the number of hours these drivers can work. Robert Bentley and Nathan Deal hope to prevent gasoline shortages after the shutdown of a leaking pipeline in rural Alabama. Bentley's order remains in place for thirty days unless he cancels it. Governor Deal issued seven day order. Governors can suspend federal regulations during emergencies. Colonial Pipeline has said most of the leaked gasoline is contained in a retention pond near the city of Helena.

An Alabama judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s plans to build a beachfront hotel with BP settlement money stemming from the 2010 oil spill.

Yesterday, Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin ruled Jim Zeigler had no authority to bring the lawsuit against Governor Robert Bentley in Zeigler’s official capacity as State Auditor.

This year’s Alabama’s Coastal Cleanup event is set for this weekend.

Volunteers will be combing Alabama’s beaches and waterways tomorrow morning removing as much trash as possible. Event organizers say over the 28 years of Coastal Cleanup, Alabama volunteers have managed to clear over 1.5 million pounds of trash from the state’s coast and rivers during the one-day effort.

Angela Underwood is the State Coordinator for Alabama Coastal Cleanup. She explains why the annual event is so important.

Casey Wardynski is resigning from his post as Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools.

Wardynski announced the resignation at a press conference yesterday afternoon. It takes effect today, less than a month after two outspoken critics of his won seats on the Huntsville City School Board.

However, Wardynski says the primary reason he’s resigning is to avoid impropriety due to a relationship between him and Karen Lee, the CEO of Pinnacle Schools, an alternative placement school that handles disciplinary placement for the Huntsville system.

Larry M. Dunn
Cullman Heritage Funeral Home

After more than six decades, a Cullman native who went missing during the Korean War has finally been identified and brought home to Alabama for a full military burial.

The Cullman Times reports U.S. Army Cpl. Larry M. Dunn will be buried this weekend at a small cemetery in Cullman County. Dunn was 18 when he died while serving in North Korea in 1950.

The newspaper reports that recent developments in forensic research technology allowed the U.S. Department of Defense to match Dunn's identity with the unidentified remains of a fallen soldier recovered soon after the war.

Board approves community college merger

Sep 14, 2016

The state’s community college system trustees approved a merger of three south Alabama colleges.

The Alabama Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved the consolidation today.

Faulkner State Community College, Alabama Southern Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College will merge into a multi-campus institution known as Coastal Alabama Community College.

A firefighter from Auburn, Alabama is the frontrunner for the empty seat in the state House of Representatives vacated after former speaker Mike Hubbard was removed from office.

Unofficial returns from last night’s balloting show Joe Lovvorn led a field of four Republican primary candidates with 51 percent of the vote. WSFA-TV reports Lovvorn will move on to face Libertarian candidate Gage Fenwick in the general election in November. No Democrats are running for the House seat.

The state of Alabama has been selected to take part in a national project to help combat the opioid epidemic across the country.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced earlier this week that the state will participate in a National Governors Association learning lab to address the opioid issue. The project aims to reduce the number of overdoses and deaths related to heroin and prescription opiates like fentanyl. Current data shows 78 people nationwide die of an opiate overdose every day.

Judge hears arguments in Gulf State Park lawsuit

Sep 13, 2016

Lawyers for Alabama officials are pleading their case to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the use of oil spill settlement funds to build a beach hotel.  APR Student Reporter Parker Branton has more…

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin heard arguments Tuesday in the request to dismiss the case.

The state auditor and a legislator sued Gov. Robert Bentley.  They say the money is being allocated without legislative approval

VictoryLand Casino is expected to reopen today, more than three years after state authorities raided it and shut it down.

Owner Milton McGregor announced last month that VictoryLand would have a soft reopening on September 13. At that time, he said the bingo parlor would hire around 200 employees and would have around 500 electronic bingo machines for patrons. He says the casino plans to expand over the coming months.

Constitution Village in northeast Alabama will be getting a major facelift soon.

Supporters of the attraction in Huntsville are planning the extensive renovation project as the city prepares for Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration in 2019.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle referred to the project as a rare opportunity to celebrate Huntsville’s importance to the state of Alabama and to the nation.

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out. This week, I examine what the State of Alabama does when people are convicted of crimes they didn’t do. Critics say, not much…

Tick Season

Sep 10, 2016
localpups [Flickr]

Ticks cannot fly; they climb tall grasses and weeds, then climb aboard your dog or cat as it passes by.  Keeping the vegetation (including bushes) trimmed around your house and in your yard will limit the tick population and give ticks less opportunity to climb up and hitch a ride on your furry buddy.

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Law officers in Tuscaloosa County were able to rein in a wayward horse by corralling it in a gated softball field at Holt High School.

They're trying to find the horse's owners, which remained a mystery as of early Friday.

Sgt. Alex Miles tells the news site that deputies were sent to the area late Thursday night after people spotted the loose horse, which appeared to have an injured leg and hoof.

The Alabama Department of Transportation plans to hold a public meeting in Huntsville on its proposed statewide transportation plan.

The meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments.

The plan summarizes current conditions of the state's transportation system and Alabama's needs and priorities for the next 25 years.

Alabama Senators managed to find a compromise on how to spend an incoming BP settlement package from the 2010 oil spill, splitting it between state debts, Medicaid and coastal road projects.

WKRG-TV reports lawmakers in south Alabama say there isn’t enough money to fund all the projects that need completing, but the legislators have a plan.

Board approves $198,000 contract for new superintendent

Sep 8, 2016

A divided Alabama Board of Education has approved a contract for the state's new school superintendent, who has drawn both criticism and praise for his outsider status.

The board voted 7-2 today to approve the contract for education consultant and former Massachusetts education secretary Michael Sentance.

After the vote, Sentance told board members that his goal is to raise the achievement of students in Alabama public schools.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signs a compromise bill to use the state's oil spill settlement funds for debts, Medicaid and roads.

The Alabama Legislature gave final approval to the bill last night after lawmakers agreed to a compromise on how to use the money.

The plan sends $400 million to repay money borrowed during past budget shortfalls. It will also steer $120 million to the state's Medicaid program and $120 million to build roads in two coastal counties.

Hundreds of Alabama Miners Gather in DC

Sep 8, 2016
UMWA Protest
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Mine workers in Alabama are headed to Washington today.

They’ll be joining other members of the United Mine Workers of America in a rally. The demonstration is in support of legislation that would protect pensions and healthcare for retired miners. These benefits have been jeopardized by a downturn in the coal industry across the U.S. Alabama has been hit particularly hard due to the bankruptcy of Walter Energy.

Phil Smith is the Director of Government Affairs for the United Mine Workers. He says Alabama miners have the backing of their government representatives.

Alabama State House
AP

State lawmakers have decided how to spend Alabama’s incoming BP settlement money from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday, state Senators voted 22-8 for a compromise plan to use the money for a mixture of paying down state debts, funding Medicaid and building roads in coastal Alabama counties.

The bill now moves to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature. The plan, if signed into law by the governor, will steer $400 million to repay state debt, $120 million to road projects and $120 million to the state’s Medicaid program.

A civil rights group challenges Alabama's practice of electing appellate judges by statewide vote.  Officials with the NAACP’s Alabama Chapter say the practice has resulted in all-white courts in a state where one of every four people is African-American.

The chapter and four black voters sued the state in Montgomery federal court today.  They argue electing judges through at-large elections in Alabama violates the Voting Rights Act.

A legislative conference committee plans to make a last-ditch effort to break a deadlock on how to use Alabama's settlement money from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The committee will meet this morning to try and come up with an agreeable compromise between sharply divided lawmakers.

A meat processing plant in southeast Alabama has been fined more than $70,000 following an investigation after a worker lost his fingertip in an accident.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the Keystone Foods plant in Bakerhill, Alabama, is facing about $76,700 in proposed penalties following an investigation. The agency began looking into the plant after a 65-year-old employee lost the tip of his index finger while cleaning an overhead saw blade in early March.

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