News

The Mobile area will be awash in orange during the Reese’s Senior Bowl next month, but not in Fairhope. The city on the Eastern Shore says it won't be hosting a Senior Bowl practice next month. City Council members earlier this month had questioned whether it was worth paying $35,000 to the Senior Bowl to host a practice ahead of the annual game. Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson told AL.com that it's now too late to arrange to host a practice ahead of this year's Game. However, she said city officials are looking at possibly resuming the practice for the next year.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is offering help for people who want to quit smoking in the New Year. The agency has a telephone service called the Alabama Tobacco Quitline that operates daily, and help is also available through the website quitnowalabama.com. The phone number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The Quitline offers coaching and an eight-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy patches, and all services are free for people who are eligible.

Some of Alabama's largest cities are getting federal help for projects that involve upgrading their train stations or developing new ones. Al.com reports that Birmingham, Mobile, Anniston and Tuscaloosa are each getting a share of $728,957 in grants for Alabama. Also receiving grants are Baton Rouge, Gonzales and St. John Parish in Louisiana, and Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula in Mississippi. All told, the three states are getting $2.5 million in federal money for train station-related projects.

SELMA

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

MONDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

TUESDAY...CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

Tuscaloosa

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

MONDAY NIGHT...CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

TUESDAY...CLOUDY WITH A 40 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE MID 60S.

Mobile

Pat Duggins

SELMA

CHRISTMAS DAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

Tuscaloosa

CHRISTMAS DAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

Mobile

CHRISTMAS DAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. AREAS OF FOG IN THE MORNING. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

A group in the south Alabama city of Monroeville hopes to develop new attractions and draw more tourists to the hometown of the late "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee. One project is a museum in the 1909 bank building that housed the office of Lee's father A.C. Lee. He served as the model for attorney Atticus Finch in "Mockingbird" and Lee's 2015 book "Go Set a Watchman." Other attractions could be added later, including reproductions of places mentioned in the books.

frankieleon [Flickr]

Christmas is a time for caring and sharing - especially with our family and friends.  And it all began over two thousand years ago!

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The Alabama Supreme Court has reversed a lower court and says the state can seize more than 800 electronic bingo machines from a west Alabama gambling hall. The unanimous decision released Friday involves the Greenetrack gambling facility, located in Greene County southwest of Birmingham. The justices say that eight hundred and twenty five machines confiscated from Greenetrack amount to illegal slot machines under state law. The justices rejected arguments that the machines are legal under laws that regulate bingo games.

Alabama officials say a tree cut down in a city park and used as a prop at President-elect Donald Trump's recent rally will be used to build cat scratching posts and bird houses. Colby Cooper of the Mobile mayor's office apologized for his role in having the large cedar tree cut down and decorated for Christmas. Cooper said he was "overzealous" in trying to meet expectations of Trump's team for the president-elect's "thank you" rally one week ago. City officials says Thursday the tree branches will be given to Girl Scouts so they can create cat scratching posts for animal shelters.

Priority Mail
USPS

If your neighborhood postal truck looks fuller than usual today, there’s a good reason. 

The U.S. Postal Service says today will be the busiest delivery day of the year around the country as well as here in Alabama. An estimated three quarters of a billion packages will find their way to mailboxes and doorsteps over the holiday season.

Debra Fetterly is the U.S. Postal Service’s regional spokeswoman in Alabama. She says this extra holiday business means a twelve percent increase over holiday parcel deliveries last year.

Fayette Animal Shelter
WIAT-TV

The director of the Fayette Animal Shelter has resigned amid a controversy over dog euthanasia.

Media reports indicate former director Misti Bellar posted a video to Facebook earlier this week saying all 22 dogs at the shelter would be euthanized on Christmas Eve if they were not adopted. In response, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and other groups traveled to Fayette to take the animals to other shelters.

Governor Robert Bentley's office says he has interviewed suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and 10 other people for the U.S. Senate seat now held by attorney general-designee Jeff Sessions.

Bentley spokeswoman Yasamie August says Moore was interviewed at the recommendation of the Alabama Republican Party. Moore is fighting what amounts to a permanent ouster after being convicted of violating judicial ethics rules over his opposition to gay-marriage.

Shannon Arledge / CDP

A facility in Anniston, Alabama that trains first responders is suspending its use of chemical and biological substances after it mistakenly used lethal ricin during training exercises.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's halting use of the chemicals through January at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston.

The agency made the announcement earlier this week on a website set up to provide updates on the center, where thousands of firefighters, paramedics and others have trained.

An Alabama inmate who complained about poor mental health care in state prisons has been found dead in an apparent suicide.

24-year-old Jamie Wallace suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He told jurors in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections he wasn’t asked about his mental health status upon entering prison. Wallace attempted suicide multiple times, and said a prison guard once gave him a razor to use to kill himself.

A failed voting-fraud prosecution from more than 30 years ago is likely to re-emerge as a contentious issue during Senator Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing for attorney general.    He was dogged by his handling of the case as U.S. attorney during his 1986 confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship.  

                                                                                                                                                             

More than $2 million dollars in federal funding is coming to Alabama and two other Southern states to restore and improve passenger rail service.

Yesterday, the Southern Rail Commission announced Federal Railroad Administration funding for eleven communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The communities will get money for station-area planning and construction projects to improve safety, access and convenience.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is planning to call a special legislative session on prisons in the New Year.

Bentley says the special session will be isolated within next year’s regular legislative session as a way to compel lawmakers to focus on building new prisons.

The governor discussed his plans for the special session yesterday, but did not release any details on the package of bills he wants lawmakers to discuss.

Alabama's prisons are badly overcrowded. Bentley asked legislators to fund the construction of new prisons this year, but the legislation failed.

Trump tree
Evan Vucci / AP

The chief of staff to Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is apologizing for his role in having a cedar tree cut down at a public park and used as a prop for President-elect Donald Trump’s rally last weekend.

Colby Cooper, who has served as Stimpson’s chief of staff since 2013, says he became “overzealous” in making sure every detail was covered for the weekend’s rally.

Former Alabama State University President Gwendolyn Boyd says she wishes her alma mater the best despite being fired by the institution.

Alabama State's Board of Trustees voted 8-6 late last week to terminate Boyd’s contract, citing her "failure to maintain the confidence of the board."

Boyd told WSFA-TV she felt her administration was moving in the right direction. Hired in 2013, Boyd was suspended at a Nov. 4 meeting originally called to discuss the school’s budget.

Alabama members of the Electoral College are gathering to cast their votes for Donald Trump.

Electoral College members will meet at state capitals across the country to cast their votes for president. Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said the state's electors are "rock solid 100 percent" behind Trump.             

Trump won Alabama with more than 62 percent of the vote. All of Alabama's nine electors told The Associated Press that they intend to stick with Trump. 

Alabama state troopers are increasing patrols during the busy holiday traveling season.

Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler urged motorists to be cautious and "to help us make our roadways safer for everyone."

The holiday travel season typically brings an increase in traffic fatalities. Stabler said troopers investigated 14 traffic fatalities during the five-day Thanksgiving travel period. Last year, troopers investigated 26 traffic deaths during travel period around Christmas and New Year's Day.     

President-elect Donald Trump is coming to Alabama this weekend as part of his post-election victory tour. Trump will hold a rally in Mobile at 3 p.m. Saturday.  

The event will be held at the 40,000-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The stadium was the site of one of Trump's first large rallies of the presidential campaign. The Trump campaign says the visit is a way to say thank you to voters. Alabama overwhelmingly supported Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election.

Steve Jurvetson [Flickr]

A few weeks after Christmas every year, pets who were surprise gifts end up in animal shelters, already in need of another new home.  It's traumatic enough for an animal to be in a shelter the first time, but doubly so to end up there again so soon.  If you want a new pet, make a commitment to take home a pet you love, and to love (for its lifetime) the pet you take home.

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Alabama's unemployment rate rose slightly last month. The state says the number of Alabamians without work jumped to 5.9 percent in November. That's up from 5.7 percent in October. Alabama's jobless rate is still better than it was a year ago, but the state still trails the nation. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in November. The state says there are positive signs about Alabama’s economy with more workers on the job than at any other time in 2016. Shelby County has the best jobless rate at Shelby County at four point one percent.

The city of Mobile is the next stop for Donald Trump’s victory lap tour. The President elect will address supporters at Ladd-Peebles Stadium tomorrow at 3 pm. The Alabama visit is a departure for Trump, who’s spent most of his post-election visits in swing states. His last campaign rally in Mobile attracted an estimated twenty thousand people, which was seen as a symbolic turning point for Trump. One of his early cabinet picks was Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. He was turned down for a federal judgeship in 1986 over allegations of making racist remarks.

Camellia Bowl
Central Alabama Sports Commission

While many college football fans will be leaving Alabama to follow the Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers to Georgia and Louisiana for their respective bowl games, there’s a lot more going on inside the state.

Alabama is hosting three bowl games in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham. The games are expected to increase tourism in the state for the month, which will bring lots of revenue to the three host cities.

Brian Jones is a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Tourism. He says the exposure the Alabama cities will get from these games is of great value.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently turned over lots of documents to a committee investigating the possibility of his impeachment. But he says those documents will not be made available to the public.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Governor said the materials "will not be made public at this time." Several news organizations had requested copies of the documents given to the Alabama House Judiciary Committee.

UACCS puts on gift drive

Dec 15, 2016

As the holiday season rolls along, groups in Tuscaloosa are working to make things a little bit easier on veterans. The University of Alabama’s College of Continuing Studies is partnering with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama for a gift drive for the patients at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.

Leroy Hurt is the associate dean for community engagement at the College of Continuing Studies. He says they’re taking typical household items on their visit…

Alabama to issue new unemployment debit cards next year

Dec 15, 2016

Alabama residents receiving unemployment compensation will soon get new debit cards.

The state Department of Labor says the agency is switching service providers and will be mailing out new cards in January.  All of those receiving unemployment who currently use a debit card will receive a new one.

State officials say those who are receiving benefits by direct deposit to a personal bank account will not be affected by the change.

Ivan Lopez
Mobile Police Department

A police officer in south Alabama has been fired after authorities say he improperly followed a suspect into a neighboring jurisdiction and fired his gun into a moving car without justification.

Mobile Police Chief James Barber announced yesterday that new officer Ivan Lopez was terminated for policy violations committed last weekend.

Barber says Lopez was on a DUI patrol when he followed a driver seen swerving across the center line into the city of Prichard — outside Mobile police's jurisdiction.

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