News

Alabama School Superintendent Michael Sentance has resigned.  Sentence had been battling state board of education members for months. Sentance tells AL.com his resignation will allow him to avoid a vote to fire him later this week.  

Governor Kay Ivey has received Sentence’s resignation this morning. Ivey says that as the president of the state board of education she will ask the board to accept his resignation.

Tuition is rapidly increasing at many colleges and universities across the country, but Birmingham-Southern College will now be moving the other direction.

University officials say they will reduce tuition and mandatory fees by more than 50 percent starting in fall 2018.

"The marketplace spoke, and we listened," BSC President Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith says. "We want to make sure that the best and brightest students have access to the kind of personalized, challenging, hands-on educational experience that BSC provides."

The nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center is teaming up with four U.S. Senators to unveil a detailed economic initiative for Appalachia. The goal is to help reverse struggles with poverty and isolation in the region. Appalachia spans thirteen states including Alabama, and has more than twenty five million people The senators are Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia and Republicans David Perdue of Georgia and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, says the White House is approving federal emergency aid for the state of Alabama ahead of the arrival of Irma. These dollars will supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency storm conditions in the area starting from last Friday. Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

The city of Greenville, south of Montgomery, is buying its local hospital from a Tennessee company. Tennessee based Quorum Health says it signed a definitive agreement to sell the seventy two bed L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital to a city health care authority. No price was disclosed. The sale is supposed to be finished before year's end. The company, spun off by Community Health Systems, has heavy debt and is losing money. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the year investigating rural health in the state.

The Alabama Department of Insurance is hitting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama with an eight million dollar penalty. The insurer is being fined for charging rates higher or lower than those approved by the state. The unauthorized rates were imposed between 2005 and 2013 and resulted in thirty three million dollars in over charges and one hundred and seven million in undercharges. Al.com reports the charges occurred in about 1,400 plans issued to small group employers and some insurance plans for former employees.

The National Weather Service put counties on the eastern side of Alabama under a tropical storm warning ahead of Irma. Communities in east Alabama, including Huntsville and Guntersville, could see tropical storm force winds with gusts up to seventy miles per hour. Governor Kay Ivey activated the Alabama National Guard and Alabama’s Emergency Response Center ahead of the storm. Georgia spent the day under a Hurricane warning after State troopers turned Interstate 16 into a one-way escape route for a few hours Saturday as evacuees packed cars and fled the Georgia coast ahead Irma.

Trusted Companions

Sep 9, 2017
jeici1 [Flickr]

Even at times when you don't have access to TV, you can always listen to Alabama Public Radio.  On the road, running errands, to and from work, even during a storm when the power is out, you can stay connected to what's interesting, what's important, what you need to know.

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ballotpedia.org

A former state representative in Birmingham has pled guilty to multiple charges in connection with an EPA Superfund site in the area.

 

Federal prosecutors are charging former Representative Oliver Robinson with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors say Robinson took a contract with a private law firm in exchange with using his position in the state legislature to fight the expansion of an EPA Superfund site in Birmingham. The Superfund site is heavily contaminated with lead, arsenic, and other chemicals.

 

Strange Hoping for Boost as Runoff Election Nears

Sep 8, 2017

As the Alabama Senate race heads into its final stretch, incumbent Luther Strange may need a lot of help from Washington to have a chance. Three polls show the senator trailing former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore by double digits. Two more show Strange behind, but within the margin of error. 

Alabama Braces for Irma Evacuees

Sep 8, 2017
NOAA

 Hurricane Irma is causing one of the largest mass evacuations in United States history, and the state of Alabama is prepping to help Floridians seek shelter.  

 A heavy influx of traffic is expected along Interstates 65 and 10 through coastal Alabama and into the rest of the state.  Alabama transportation officials will meet to discuss possible gridlock concerns, especially on Interstate 10 in downtown Mobile, which is already notorious for traffic backups.

 

Governor Kay Ivey Announces Official Gubernatorial Run

Sep 7, 2017

Alabama’s Governor has announced she will run to keep her office next year. Governor Kay Ivey has announced that she will enter the gubernatorial race in 2018. Ivey served as lieutenant governor before Robert Bentley resigned in April. Ivey says she has “steadied the ship” after the scandal that forced then Governor Bentley out of office.   

All year long, the Alabama Public Radio news team has been investigating rural healthcare in the state. Studies often list Alabama as having the worst infant mortality rate in the nation. One factor is the lack of maternity units in rural hospitals in Alabama. This can lead to premature births or delayed care, which are often blamed for early infant death. APR’s Pat Duggins has more on a hospital business model that could help, but possible changes to the Affordable Care Act might make matters worse…

Two Alabama death row inmates are asking the state Supreme Court to halt their executions scheduled for next month.  

 Lawyers on Wednesday asked the Alabama Supreme Court to stop the executions since the 11th Circuit Court ordered hearings in a separate lawsuit challenging the humaneness of the state's lethal injection procedure.

 Governor Kay Ivey has raised $1 million for her still unannounced gubernatorial campaign.     A campaign finance report showed that Ivey's gubernatorial campaign committee has gathered the donations for the 2018 race.   

 Ivey, a Republican, has not yet announced that she plans to run for governor in 2018. However, she has begun raising money and created a campaign committee and related nonprofit. Both are signs that she intends to run.

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker will have his own day in court after all.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins recently ruled against dismissing Justice Parker’s contention that certain state restrictions on judges' speech violate their First Amendment rights.

Beetles Threatening Alabama Timber

Sep 5, 2017

Alabama’s eleven billion dollar timber industry could be at risk due to a very small bug.

Southern Pine Beetle populations have reached epidemic levels in Montgomery County. The beetles are also found in the Oakmulgee district of the Talladega National Forest and an area including Marengo, Clarke, and Choctaw counties.

UAB Campus
UAB

Researchers at UAB are seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration regarding a new potential treatment for cancer.

Scientists say they’ve developed a way to genetically modify a cancer fighting immune system cell so that it survives chemotherapy. Project Director Dr. Lawrence Lamb says the so called Gamma Delta T-cells recognize cancer cells because of signals of stress the infected cells give off in the patient.

Hurricane Harvey

Sep 2, 2017
The National Guard

Texas National Guard members worked alongside other responders to rescue local citizens in flooded areas.  Soldiers, firefighters, paramedics and neighbors ensured several thousand people and hundreds of dogs and cats were evacuated to safety.

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit filed by four Alabama death-row inmates challenging the state's use of a controversial sedative at the start of lethal injections.  

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that a federal judge prematurely dismissed the inmates' claims. The judges ordered the lower court to hold an evidentiary hearing on whether midazolam will effectively render inmates unconscious during executions.

Sexual Assault Nurse Program Planned For Tuscaloosa

Aug 31, 2017
Katie Willem

A national news story may help to spark change in Tuscaloosa. Work is underway to offer a new service following the suicide of former University of Alabama student Megan Rondini. APR Student reporter Katie Willem has more on the program called SANE…

“Have you ever seen a SANE facility before? Let’s do that. Yeah, let’s do that.”

That’s Meg McGlamery. She’s the Executive Director at the Crisis Center in Birmingham. This includes what’s called a SANE facility. SANE is short for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. One of the first things you notice is the art on the walls.   

Alabama Power Releases "What If" Scenarios for Coal Ash Dams

Aug 30, 2017
blackwarriorriver.org

 Alabama Power recently released predictions on what would happen if coal ash dams were fail at their power plants. Coal ash is the waste left over from burning coal. It is mixed with water to form a liquid  

slurry which is then pumped into holding pits. Environmentalists suggest that lined land-fills would prevent the waste from seeping into groundwater. The cost of such a change would differ from plant to plant but would likely be significant. Nelson Brooke is the Black Warrior Riverkeeper. He explained the worst case scenario.

The High Cost of "Sugar"

Aug 30, 2017

Paying for college is a on-going problem in the U.S. The website studentloanhero.com says the average graduate ends up with $37,000 worth of debt along with their diploma. That’s almost one and a half trillion dollars overall -- more than what U.S. households owe on their credit cards.

APR student reporter Miranda Fulmore reports there’s a growing trend on college campuses to address this money crunch, and it’s raising eyebrows.

The deadline is looming for Alabama’s correctional officials to tell a federal judge how they plan to overhaul mental health care in state prisons.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has scheduled a status conference for September 7 to get an update on the mediation between the state of Alabama and lawyers representing Alabama inmates.

Whooping Cough on the Rise in Alabama

Aug 28, 2017

Pertussis, or "whooping cough" is on the rise across the country, and the state of Alabama has seen over 150 cases so far this year.

The highly contagious disease is preventable with vaccines. However, children and infants who have not received vaccinations for the disease are at high risk of infection.

Dr. Karen Landers is a medical consultant for Alabama's immunization program. She says whooping cough has been around for many years and is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis.

Last year was a record year for Alabama’s automotive industry.

Alabama Department of Commerce officials say exports of Alabama-made automobiles jumped 13 percent last year, climbing to $7.9 billion dollars. Total sales of state-made cars are estimated at around $20 billion.

Alabama-built cars were reportedly shipped to 86 countries last year. Germany was the largest export market, with more than $2.4 billion in shipments to there alone. Next on the list were China, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and India.

Associated Press

As cities across the country are tearing down and relocating Confederate monuments, a county in southern Alabama on Sunday unveiled a new one.

Several hundred people attended a dedication ceremony for the "Unknown

 Alabama Confederate Soldiers" at Confederate Veterans Memorial Park in Crenshaw County, Alabama, 55 miles south of Montgomery.

The memorial park's owner and developer, David Coggins, says the groups in attendance weren't white nationalists or racists, but were acknowledging their heritage and honoring Confederate soldiers everywhere.

 

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange made his case to state Republican party leaders on Saturday, urging them to vote for him in a GOP runoff next month because of his "conservative accomplishments" and the endorsement of President Donald Trump.

Former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who faces Strange in the runoff, lashed out at Strange's financial backing from the GOP establishment and said the "Washington crowd" was trying to buy the Senate seat from Alabama.

American Humane Association

 

The 2017 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs.

  

  

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Confederate monuments have been the topic of many discussions lately, mostly about them being torn down or covered up.

But a new Confederate monument is set to be unveiled this weekend in Crenshaw County. The monument is dedicated to “unknown Alabama Confederate soldiers.” David Coggins, the owner of Confederate Memorial Park where the monument will be located, says it is intended to honor Confederate soldiers who died in battle and never received a proper burial.

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