News

Forecasters say storms moving toward Alabama could produce hail, damaging winds and tornadoes throughout the state.

Officials say there's a moderate chance for tornadoes and large hail in the Mobile area and throughout north and central Alabama, where meteorologists expect winds of up to 70 mph.

They say an elevated threat area covers Birmingham, Gadsden, Tuscaloosa and other parts of central and west Alabama.

Investigators from Washington say a leaking natural gas pipe likely caused a deadly explosion in Birmingham three years ago. The blast at the Charles P. Marks Village in Birmingham's Gate City neighborhood was caused by a large crack in a sixty two year old cast iron pipe. The explosion killed one man and injured several others. Investigators think leaking gas built up in an apartment until a pilot light set it off. The NTSB says soil around the cracked pipe absorbed the rotten egg smell that typically warns bystanders of a natural gas leak.

A top political aide to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is stepping down. Rebekah Mason’s departure follows an admission by Bentley that he made inappropriate remarks. The governor denies the two ever had an affair.

Mason announced her resignation in a statement sent by the governor's office. She says she would no longer be his senior political adviser and would no longer be paid by his campaign fund.

The family of a soldier killed in a 2010 Fort Rucker helicopter accident has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with two companies.

The Dothan Eagle reports Rolls-Royce Corporation, the company responsible for inspecting the helicopter, will pay $8 million to the family of 38-year-old Jeremy Clark. Clark was an instructor pilot who died in the Dec. 14, 2010 crash. A student pilot was also injured. Helicopter maintenance company L-3 Communications also agreed to pay $500,000.

The metro area of Huntsville led Alabama's population growth last year according to census data from July 2014 to July 2015.

The Rocket City added more than 4,000 people over a one-year span, the most in the state. That pushed the city to just under 445,000 residents.

According to the data, Baldwin County added almost as many new residents as Huntsville with 3,996. That marked a 2 percent growth in the one-year span, the fastest rate of growth in the state.

Hubbard ethics trial
AP

House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial has been postponed once again. APR’s student reporter Miranda Fulmore has more.

Hubbard’s trial was originally scheduled to begin next month, but has been postponed by Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker. Walker postponed the trial after the state’s lead prosecutor faced a knee injury and needs time to recover from surgery.

The Supreme Court is refusing to intervene in the case of an Alabama man who is facing execution for throwing four children off a bridge to their deaths.

The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting an appeal from Lam Luong. He argued that pretrial publicity prevented him from having a fair trial.

Alabama may see the creation of new jobs abroad in the future if the governor approves a recent joint resolution from the state legislature.

The bill would lift the embargo between Cuba and the state of Alabama. This would clear the way for companies like Cleber LLC. That’s an Alabama tractor company aiming to be first U.S. business to build a factory in Cuba since 1959.

Addie Bryant is the chief of staff at Engage Cuba. She says if the resolution is passed, Alabama can expect to see some definite economic benefits.

Four people were killed in a helicopter crash early this morning in southeast Alabama.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Robinson says a Haynes Life Flight ambulance helicopter crashed in Coffee County at approximately 12:17 a.m. this morning. Three crew members and a patient were aboard. Robinson says the downed helicopter was found after 7 a.m.

Tuscaloosa NAACP Protests for a New School

Mar 26, 2016

Citizens and education activists in Tuscaloosa aren't happy about a recent school board decision to renovate two existing elementary schools instead of replacing them with a new school.

The Tuscaloosa chapter of the NAACP has been protesting in front of the Tuscaloosa City Schools Central Office this week. Members say they want the school board to build a new elementary school in west Tuscaloosa that would replace the ailing Central and Oakdale elementary schools.

Alisha V (Alisha Vargas) [Flickr]

We like to share our holiday celebrations with our furry family members, but like so many other occasions this one poses serious risks for our pets.

  

justice.gov

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is facing another hurdle this week.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler has filed an ethics complaint against Bentley and Bentley’s senior political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.  A-L-dot-com reports Zeigler’s complaint is the about the possible misuse of state property by the Governor, and whether Mason should be considered a public official or a lobbyist.

An Alabama judge says there’s enough probable cause to let a grand jury review the case against a white police officer in Montgomery charged with fatally shooting a black man last month.

Officer Aaron Smith was arrested and charged with murder less than a week after police say he fatally shot 58-year-old Greg Gunn in February.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for much of south Alabama as storms move across the state.

The watch covers the Mobile area and the south central portion of Alabama until tonight at 7. The watch includes the western Florida Panhandle.

The weather service says severe weather will be possible from the Alabama-Tennessee line all the way to the Gulf Coast. Forecasters say winds up 70 mph and golf ball-sized hail will be possible with some of the storms.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is responding to allegations he had an affair. The Governor has admitted to making “inappropriate remarks” to a female aide two years ago. Bentley spoke to reporters after former law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier held a conference saying Bentley had an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer. Bentley apologized for the inappropriate comments, but says that is as far as it went…

“I am truly sorry and I accept full responsibility. I want everyone to know though, that I have never had a physical affair with Mrs. Mason.”

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is admitting that he made inappropriate remarks to a female staffer two years ago. But, the Governor says he never had a physical relationship with the woman.

Bentley spoke to reporters after the state's former top law enforcement official made a series of accusations.  Former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier, had been fired on Tuesday. Alabama’s top cop said during a news conference he believed the governor had an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley fired Spencer Collier from his position as the head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency last night.

The governor made his decision after an investigation by acting ALEA head Stan Stabler which found possible misuse of state funds under Collier’s watch. Stabler says the agency’s Integrity Unit found multiple areas of concern during an internal review, and those have been submitted to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s office for further action.

The acting head of Alabama’s top law enforcement agency went looking for internal problems, and he may have found one. Stan Stabler says an investigation is underway into the possible misuse of state funds. Stabler says the findings have been submitted to the Alabama attorney general's office for further action. Stabler ordered an internal review of the agency after stepping in for director Spencer Collier, who’s is on medical leave.

Alabama lawmakers are expected to give their final approval to the General Fund budget later today. That will set up an expected veto by Gov. Robert Bentley over what he calls inadequate Medicaid funding.

Governor Bentley says the spending plan in its current form is unacceptable and he plans to veto it. The budget is $85 million short of the amount Bentley and state Medicaid commissioner Stephanie Azar say is needed to adequately fund the state's Medicaid program.

European aircraft maker Airbus says the inaugural test flight of its first airplane made in the United States was a success.

The A321 passenger jet took off this morning from the company's new plant in Mobile.

The three-hour flight over the Gulf of Mexico included a series of maneuvers and tests of all the airplane's operating systems.

VORTEX
NOAA

Dozens of the country’s top meteorologists are gathering in north Alabama for a massive research project focused on severe storms and tornadoes.

It’s called the Verification of Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment, or VORTEX Southeast. The program hopes to allow researchers to better understand how the climate and environment in the Southeast affects how tornadoes form and how strong they get. Scientists also want to improve their ability to forecast these storms.

A career technical education program in southeast Alabama that simulates workplace environments in seven different industries has been selected as the model throughout the state.

Carroll High School's Career Center was recently selected as the model for 85 similar simulated workforce programs throughout the state. Workplace Coordinator Amanda Campbell says seven of the career center's 10 CTE programs have converted their classrooms into simulated businesses that reflect services offered within the community.

A northern Alabama manufacturer has developed two ambulances to help kids in need in south Florida.

Excellance, which was launched in Madison, Alabama, in 1975, has finished production on two custom rides for Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami. The emergency vehicles serve the area's only licensed specialty hospital for children with more than 650 physicians and 130 pediatric specialists.

Pollen Allergy in Pets

Mar 19, 2016
Tobias Klüpfel [Flickr]

When your pet scratches you might think it's just a flea.  But if you see a lot of scratching, or chewing the paws, check the skin for redness and inflammation.  Your furry friend just might be allergic to something!

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The first Airbus produced by the company’s U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile is set to take the skies for the first time next week.

The Alabama-built A321 plane will take off from the Mobile Airport at 9:15 Monday morning barring any weather or other pre-flight test factors. The future JetBlue Airbus’s test flight is a normal step in aircraft production and takes place before the company gets the plane. 

Following the flight, the aircraft will go through a few more weeks of final delivery preparations.

The Alabama Senate has passed a Constitutional amendment reinforcing Alabama's position as a so-called "right-to-work" state. APR’s Stan Ingold has more.

Senators passed the amendment 25 votes to 9. Alabama voters will now have the chance to approve the amendment at the ballot box in November.

Right-to-work states prohibit companies from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Alabama law already has the prohibition, but Republicans say adding the amendment to the state Constitution will give businesses additional assurances.

A judge is delaying the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard for two weeks until mid-April.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker rules that he will push back the trial until April 11 after the defense appeals some of his pre-trial decisions to the Alabama Supreme Court.

Hubbard was scheduled to go to trial March 28 on felony charges of using his office for personal financial gain.

Governor Robert Bentley’s plan to construct four new prisons is moving on through the state legislature, but not without a few red flags. APR’s MacKenzie Bates explains.

The Senate Budget Committee sent Governor’s Bentley’s prison building plan to the full Senate. The committee approved the bill yesterday in wake of two violent uprisings at a South Alabama prison. Governor Bentley blames the incidents on overcrowding.

Senator Cam Ward says those situations show that the state desperately needs new prisons.

A Montgomery judge says extra security is unnecessary in the case against a white police officer charged with fatally shooting a black man.

Officer Aaron Smith sat quietly between his two attorneys today as the court considered several motions.

Smith’s attorney Mickey McDermott filed a motion for extra security as a "necessary precaution" due to threats against Smith. But in court, the lawyer agreed with Judge Jimmy Pool that existing courthouse security was adequate.

The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a bare-bones General Fund budget that Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto over inadequate Medicaid funding.

Representatives approved the spending bill on a 65-35 vote yesterday after a five-hour filibuster by black lawmakers. Democrats harshly criticized the proposed spending plan, which comes up $85 million short of the amount Bentley says is needed to adequately fund Medicaid.

Montgomery Rep. John Knight says Medicaid provides medical care to 1 million vulnerable Alabamians and has few programs to trim.

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