News

Tuskegee Airmen receive Congressional Gold Medal

Nov 11, 2016

Two members of the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen receive Congressional Gold Medals at a Veterans Day ceremony at the National Warplane Museum.

Congressman Chris Collins presented the replicas to Airmen Wallace Higgins and Herbert Thorpe, who also accepted one on behalf of his late brother, Richard.

Relatives of three other recipients accepted medals on their behalf during Friday's ceremony in New York.

Governor Robert Bentley has awarded $1.6 million in grants to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities in Alabama.

The funds will be used to build or expand twelve trails across the state along with new equipment for trail maintenance and materials for trail safety education.

Jim Plott is a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. He says the trails have a significant impact on the state economy and people all over the southeastern United States.

A federal judge may allow Alabama to change its lethal injection method for an inmate's execution scheduled for next month.

Al.com reports U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins gave Ronald Bert Smith's attorneys until noon on Nov. 16 to submit, in writing, why the state should not execute Smith using "a large initial dose of midazolam, followed by continuous infusion" of the sedative.

Alabama is not the only state dealing with a drought.

Federal authorities say warmer-than-average temperatures and no rainfall are deepening a drought that's sparking forest fires across the Southeastern U.S., forcing people to evacuate dozens of homes.

Thursday's national drought report shows 41.6 million people in parts of 15 southern states now live in drought conditions. The worst is in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, but extreme drought also is spreading into western North and South Carolina.

Student test scores show improvement, continued struggles

Nov 10, 2016

Alabama students showed improvement on standardized test scores, but also show more than half aren't meeting reading standards.

The Alabama Department of Education on Thursday released scores from the ACT Aspire test taken last spring by public school students.

Thirty-seven percent of third-graders statewide scored ready or exceeding reading standards. Forty-five percent of eighth graders were at that level in reading.

Test scores also show a downward decline in math skills as students get older.

Alabama U.S. Representative Martha Roby won her bid for re-election Tuesday.

But a closer look at the vote totals in that race reveals Roby failed to carry a majority of Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. The Montgomery Advertiser reports Roby received around 48 percent of the vote, Democratic challenger Nathan Mathis received just over 40 percent, and a full 11 percent of votes cast were for write-in candidates.

Could Alabama be looking for a new U.S. Senator? President Elect Donald Trump acknowledged Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions during his victory speech in New York City. There’s already speculation Sessions could be the Defense Secretary in the new administration or even a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Terry Lathan chairs the Alabama Republican party. She says there are a number of things Senator Sessions is qualified to do…

The American people have a good idea of what Donald Trump is like on the campaign trail. But, what he’ll do as Commander-In-Chief appears less certain. Mr. Trump’s campaign drew large support from groups who feel economically disadvantaged by globalization. Speculation on a Trump administration includes Dr. Allen Linken. He’s an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama. Linken says one of Mr. Trump’s first actions will likely be regarding the media.

Enjoying cooler and cleaner air in Birmingham could come down to planting more urban trees.

That’s according to a new study from the Nature Conservancy. The organization released a study last week analyzing nearly 250 of the world’s largest cities. They studied the impact trees have on mitigating heat and air pollution within the cities. The report finds planting more trees in cities like Birmingham could reduce temperatures by up to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in summer months. Additional trees could also cut down on air pollution from sources like car exhaust and power plants.

In Alabama, voters approved a constitutional amendment designed to protect funding for state parks.

Yesterday, voters passed the proposed Amendment 2 to the Alabama Constitution. The measure will prevent any money generated at state parks, as well as any tax dollars designated for park maintenance, from being transferred to other government functions. It will also allow private entities to run hotels, golf courses and restaurants at the parks.

Trump wins Presidency

Nov 9, 2016

Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States.

The Republican nominee won  after capturing Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes, putting him over the 270 threshold.

Voters eager to shake up the nation's political establishment picked the celebrity businessman to become the nation's 45th president.

Trump rode an astonishing wave of support from voters seeking change and willing to accept a candidate loose with facts and accused of sexual misconduct.

He upset Democrat Hillary Clinton, who would have become the first woman to serve in the Oval Office.

Shelby wins U.S. Senate Race

Nov 8, 2016

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby will spend a sixth term in Washington.

Shelby easily defeated Democratic challenger Ron Crumpton. Crumpton is best known in the state as an advocate for legalizing medicinal marijuana.

The 82-year-old senator was first elected as Democrat in 1986, but switched to the GOP in 1994. He faced no significant opposition in 2004 and 2006, as right-leaning scorecards ranked him as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate.

Donald Trump wins Alabama

Nov 8, 2016

Donald Trump has won Alabama's presidential election, continuing the Republican streak in the Deep South state.

Trump easily defeated Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

Trump was long the favorite in the deeply red state, considered one of the safest for Republicans. Alabama hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Trump and Clinton both visited the state several times during the hard-fought primary battles.

'No Burn' order expanded to all Alabama counties

Nov 7, 2016

Gov. Robert Bentley has extended a "no burn order" to all Alabama counties because of wildfires fueled by dry conditions.

Bentley placed all 67 counties under a drought declaration today that prohibits outdoor burning. Previously, 46 counties were covered by the order.

The Alabama Forestry Commission says 1,421 wildfires have occurred in Alabama since the first of October. The fires have destroyed around 15,409 acres.

      

           Alabama was a popular destination for those seeking the presidency this year. Republicans and Democrats made it a point to visit the Yellowhammer State to try and keep it red or turn it blue. This of course means news coverage, which in turn, brings out cartoonists. If you follow sites like Al-dot-com you’ll see the work of one man in particular…

            “Never dreamed I’d get a job drawing editorial cartoons, political, I’m not really that political by nature, I just make fun of everything.”

Future of State Parks at stake with Amendment 2

Nov 7, 2016

Voters in Alabama and the rest of the country head to the polls tomorrow to help determine the next President of the United States.  But that won’t be the only issue citizens in the Yellowhammer State have on the ballot.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates has more on the issue known as “Amendment 2”…

Alabama’s State Parks, like many services in the state in recent years have seen its fair share of funding cuts.  Over the past five years, more than $30 million from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources budget has been slashed.

pipeline explosion
Brynn Anderson / AP

The company that owns the gasoline pipeline that exploded and erupted into flames last week says the line is back in service.

Colonial Pipeline executives say service was restarted at around 5:45 yesterday morning. The pipeline transports gasoline from the Gulf Coast to New York City.

The line exploded last Monday at a site about 25 miles southwest of Birmingham while a crew was making repairs related to a leak in September that spilled over three hundred thousand gallons of gasoline.

APR--Pat Duggins

Alabama Quarterback Jalen Hurts broke loose for a twenty one yard touchdown run to break a scoreless tie early in the fourth quarter against LSU. Number one ranked Alabama's defense thoroughly stifled Leonard Fournette and the Tigers in a 10-0 victory in Baton Rogue. Freshman Hurts established himself as one of the most dynamic, explosive players in college football, was the game's leading rusher with one hundred and fourteen yards on twenty 20 carries.

The GulfQuest Maritime Museum is closing to the public on Monday. The attraction is being shuttered a little over a year after celebrating its opening in Mobile. The Mayor's Office says the city has reached a deal to take on the museum's financial woes after attendance figures were far lower than expected. Going forward, GulfQuest will only open on a limited basis, specifically for private and special events like field trips, including those already scheduled. The general public will not be able to purchase a ticket to the museum after Sunday.

Adopt a Senior Pet

Nov 5, 2016
Nick29m [Flickr]

Senior pets in animal shelters have a tough time finding homes.  Just being in a shelter may be traumatic if they are accustomed to a home and a caring owner.  Consider sharing your home with one of these "experienced" pets!

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Blast-damaged gasoline line should reopen Sunday

Nov 4, 2016

The company that owns the gasoline pipeline that exploded and erupted in flames in Alabama this week says it expects to restore service to the line on Sunday.

Officials with the Colonial Pipeline Co. say it is constantly reassessing the timeline for a restart but that its current projection is Sunday afternoon.

The large pipeline, which transports gasoline from the Gulf Coast to New York City, exploded Monday while a crew was making repairs related to a September gas spill.

Wildfire
Brynn Anderson / AP

Firefighters in Alabama may soon be equipped with both a fire hose and a smartphone while on duty.

The Alabama Association of Fire Chiefs is developing an app that will allow firefighters to give reports on fires faster and more easily. Firefighters would use the app to upload a picture and answer questions to provide information such as the location, amount of damage and cause of the fire.

The association applied for a grant to raise funds to further develop and distribute the app.

Supreme Court
Equal Justice Initiative

Alabama death row inmate Tommy Arthur is still alive this morning, thanks to a last-minute stay of execution from the United States Supreme Court.

Arthur was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection yesterday evening. The court initially ordered his execution delayed while they reviewed his case. Then late last night, the Supreme Court stopped Arthur’s execution altogether as the justices consider whether to take up his appeals. Justices say Arthur’s execution stay will expire if they decide not to hear his case.

Governor's gambling council votes to open to public

Nov 3, 2016

A panel that will recommend changes to Alabama's gambling laws has opened its meeting to the public, after the governor's office initially said it would be closed.

The governor's advisory council on gaming voted to open the meeting.

Gov. Robert Bentley created the advisory council to make recommendations ahead of the 2017 legislative session.

Company begins excavating pipeline after leak

Nov 3, 2016

A company says it is excavating the gasoline pipeline that exploded and erupted in flames in Alabama this week.

A statement from the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. today says "substantial progress" has been made since work began last night at the rural site southwest of Birmingham.

The company says the remaining small fire will be extinguished and draining operations will continue once preparations are finished.

Feet to Faith: Alabama Students Help With Louisiana Flood Recovery

Nov 3, 2016
Katie Willem

The Louisiana floods didn’t completely destroy Katherine’s Ray home. But it came close.  Students from the University of Alabama and Troy University are using hammers to tear down what’s left.

“I would say by the time we arrived on the scene, things had leveled off quite a bit.” 

Brandon Sinanan is one of them. He says it’s the resilience of the people that he’s encountered here that will stick with him…

The state of Alabama is preparing to execute a death row inmate who was convicted in the 1982 killing of a man in a murder-for-hire arrangement.

Tommy Arthur is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. this evening.

Arthur, now 74, was convicted of murdering Troy Wicker in 1982 as the man slept inside his Muscle Shoals home. Investigators said Arthur was having an affair with Wicker's wife. She later testified that she promised him $10,000 to kill her husband.

Birmingham inching towards drought record

Nov 2, 2016

Summer-like heat and bone dry conditions continue to stick around Alabama this fall season.

Much of the state has broken records on high temperatures in the past couple of days. Forecasters are predicting a cold front to move in on Thursday that will bring a few storms and near average temperatures.

John De Block is a meteorologist for the national weather service in Birmingham.   He says that Birmingham is closing in on the record for the longest streak of days without significant rainfall…

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is offering a blunt assessment of the state's education system: It "sucks."

Bentley's remarks came during an appearance in Montgomery before the Alabama Association of Regional Councils.

Video aired Wednesday by WSFA-TV shows Bentley saying: "Our education system in this state sucks." Some in the audience laugh; others applaud. Bentley calls the situation intolerable and vows to make improvements.

picture of dry river bed
taigasylvan / Flickr.com

The Alabama Office of Water Resources has placed 18 more counties under a drought emergency.

Al.com reports yesterday’s declaration means that 46 of the state's 67 counties — more than two-thirds of Alabama — have been designated at emergency level, the most severe drought designation.

The latest counties to be added to the list are in west and east-central Alabama and include Montgomery County and Tuscaloosa County. Most of the northern half of the state had been previously classified at that level.

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