News

It was on this date five years ago when a super tornado outbreak hit parts of west and west-central Alabama in 2011.

Over fifty people were killed in the city of Tuscaloosa and twelve percent of the town was destroyed. 

Tuscaloosa’s Acting Planning Director Phillip O’Leary spent the first hours after the tornado in his office. When he finally visited the damage zone, one thing stuck with him…

A state ban on a commonly used abortion procedure is a step closer to reality. The Alabama Senate voted thirty to two to ban what’s known as dilation and evacuation. Critics call the procedure “heinous" and "barbaric." The bill would allow the procedure in the event of a "serious health risk to the mother." Mississippi Governor. Phil Bryant signed a similar bill into law earlier this month. Similar bans in Kansas and Oklahoma have been struck down by state courts.

On this day five years ago, 62 tornadoes struck the state of Alabama as part of the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded. More than 250 Alabamians were killed and over 2000 were injured. One of those tornadoes was an EF-4 that barreled straight through Tuscaloosa, destroying 12% of the city and leaving thousands homeless and unemployed. Since then, the city of Tuscaloosa has largely bounced back, but some areas have fared better than others. Parts of the city have returned to business as usual, while others are still deeply scarred from the storm.

A bill to prohibit a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure has advanced in the Alabama Legislature.

The Senate voted 30-2 today for Republican Sen. Phil Williams' bill. A companion bill in the House has passed out of committee.

The legislation would prohibit a procedure called dilation and evacuation, or "D&E." The bill would allow the procedure in the event of a "serious health risk to the mother."

The bill's supporters describe the procedure as "heinous" and "barbaric."

Lawmakers will reconvene in Montgomery today for the final five days of the current legislative session, with a lot of work left to do.

Dozens of high-profile bills will be considered this week. One issue still in the air is Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s $800 million bond issue that would close most of the existing state prison facilities in favor of four new large prisons. The bill has cleared the Senate but still faces a floor vote in the House.

A state tax break that some say sparked a renaissance in downtown Birmingham and elsewhere will end unless Alabama senators agree to extend the program.

A bill to extend the tax credits for seven years has stalled amid opposition from Senate leaders. Sen. Trip Pittman says that he did not anticipate any action on the legislation this year.

The three-year program, approved in 2013, gave up to $20 million in tax credits each year for historic building renovation.

confederate memorial
Carol Highsmith / Library of Congress

Many folks in Alabama will be remembering the fifth anniversary of the 2011 tornado outbreak. The twister killed 64 people and injured more than 1500 in the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham area.

WVUA-TV Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott was on the air forecasting the storms as an EF-4 Tornado destroyed 12 percent of Tuscaloosa. Scott says he still does not know how he kept his cool despite a deadly tornado heading in his direction.

A bill in the Alabama Legislature that would have effectively banned abortion in the state has failed to make it to a vote during the current legislative session.

Bill sponsor Representative Ed Henry (R) says the bill is "essentially dead". House Democrats mounted an effective filibuster earlier this week, and the House of Representatives adjourned before voting on the bill.

The Dog's Nose Knows

Apr 23, 2016
Alberto .... [Flickr]

If dogs have a superpower, it's their nose.  Things that have no odor to us will have a unique scent your dog can detect.  Plus, the pattern on a dog's nose is as unique as a human's fingerprint and can be used for identification!

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Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is not responding to the state auditor's order to testify before him.

Bentley issued the statement today, a day after State Auditor Jim Zeigler ordered Bentley to appear before him to answer questions about the use of state funds and his relationship with a former staffer.

Bentley says the appropriate legal process was through the Alabama Ethics Commission where Zeigler has already filed a complaint.  The governor said he is cooperating fully with the commission.

Alabama is getting ready to observe the fifth anniversary of the 2011 tornado outbreak. And, for the past two months, weather researchers from across the country have converged on Alabama to study tornadoes.

It’s all part of VORTEX-SE, a massive federally-funded research project digging into the nuances of how severe weather behaves in the South. Meteorologists suspect there are differences in how tornadoes form and possibly how they behave compared to other parts of the country.

As Alabama's 2016 legislative session quickly nears its end, a state senator is making a final push for a lottery.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee voted today for a bare-bones constitutional amendment that would allow Alabamians to vote on the issue but provides few other details.

Several senators say they voted in favor of the amendment with the understanding Republican Sen. Jim McClendon would rework his bill with more details before bringing it to a vote on the Senate floor.

SWIRLL
Alex AuBuchon / APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking back at the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. The storms impacted homeowners and businesses, and you’ve heard from many of them during our coverage.

Now we’ll look ahead. For the past two months, dozens of scientists have been conducting groundbreaking research on tornadoes and severe weather right here in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the impact that research could have on meteorologists' understanding of severe weather and forecasters’ ability to predict it.

Stan Ingold

All week long on Alabama Public Radio we’re looking at the progress of people and areas five years after the devastating April 27th 2011 tornadoes.  Tuscaloosa got a lot of the attention during the disaster. But, it wasn’t the only community hit hard.  A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has gone back to the small town of Phil Campbell to see if time has healed some of the wounds…

An E-F-5 tornado ripped through the small northwest Alabama community leveling much of the town.  

Committees in Alabama’s House of Representatives passed two notable bills yesterday. One would prevent abortion clinics from being located near public schools, and another would take the state of Alabama out of the marriage process entirely.

Legislators say the abortion bill is aimed at protecting students from the chaos of protestors outside abortion clinics. It would close an existing abortion facility in Huntsville, which was forced to move to its current location near a public school after the state mandated new facility requirements in 2013.

Tuscaloosa officials are seeking money to replace the city's old passenger train station.

A City Council committee voted Tuesday to select an architect to design the new station and to apply for a grant through the Southern Rail Commission.

Mayor Walt Maddox tells The Tuscaloosa News he fears the city will lose Amtrak service unless it invests in a new station.

2011 Tornadoes: A Forecaster's nightmare

Apr 20, 2016

The April 2011 tornado outbreak caused widespread destruction, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage.  Local TV weathercasters helped spread the word on where tornadoes were and where they’re going. But what happens when the weatherman becomes a victim of the severe weather while he’s on the air? APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the story of one forecaster where on April 27th, 2011, the saying the story hits close to home takes on a whole new meaning.

Ask anyone in the TV news business, and they’ll tell you people tune in mostly for the weather.

2011 Tornadoes: A Young Person's Perspective

Apr 20, 2016

Five years ago a series of devastating tornadoes ripped through west-central Alabama. This week on Alabama Public Radio we’re looking at the impact of these storms five years later. A-P-R student reporter Josh Hoppenstein spoke with University of Alabama students past and present to get their take on the storms.

“This is a large, violent tornado coming up on downtown Tuscaloosa, be in a safe place right now.”

On April 27, 2011, TV weatherman James Spann’s jacket was off and his sleeves were rolled up. Local viewers in tornado prone Alabama knew that meant trouble.

Former Alabama law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier is suing Governor Robert Bentley for wrongful termination and defamation.

Collier was fired for allegedly misusing state funds, according to Gov. Bentley and interim Alabama Law Enforcement Agency head Stan Stabler. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is currently reviewing that accusation. Collier had been placed on medical leave by the governor about a month prior for what was described as an upcoming back surgery.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's former law enforcement secretary is suing his former boss, claiming he was wrongly fired.

Spencer Collier, who the day after his firing accused Bentley of having an affair with an adviser, filed the lawsuit today in Montgomery.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include the governor and the former adviser, Rebekah Mason.

Stan Ingold

 

It has been nearly five years since a massive EF-4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa Alabama. Twelve percent of the city was destroyed and seven thousand people became unemployed. Here is a look at what recovery has been like for those who decided to come back and those who did not…

 

UAB Hospital
UAB

Alabama lawmakers plan to hold hearings on the state's Medicaid program tomorrow.

The House and Senate general fund budget committees have scheduled a joint meeting tomorrow to discuss funding options for the government health care program that covers approximately a million Alabamians.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard says lawmakers plan to question Medicaid officials about the agency's finances and costs.

Next week marks five years since Alabama's super tornado outbreak of 2011. The National Weather Service recalls 154 tornado warnings across the state that day. The Alabama Public Radio news team will be checking back with many of the people our listeners heard from in the hours following the killer storms. APR's Pat Duggins put together this audio remembrance from that day.

All this week on Alabama Public Radio, we’re looking back on the tornadoes that hit Alabama on April 27, 2011. In Tuscaloosa, twelve percent of the city was destroyed and fifty four people were killed. The home of the University of Alabama wasn’t the only community hit with a life altering storm that year. And, how Tuscaloosa went about the process of rebuilding was considered controversial. Five years later, here's  a report card in this "tale of two cities…"

“At that point, we understood this was going to be something like we’ve never seen in the history of our city.”

APR Wins Top Regional Murrow

Apr 18, 2016

Alabama Public Radio has been honored with a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). APR competed in the Southeast Regionals - small market radio - among stations from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. All regional winners will compete for a national award in October 2016.

APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’re looking back on the tornadoes that hit the state five years ago on April 27, 2011. Twelve percent of Tuscaloosa was destroyed, over fifty people were killed, and countless lives were changed forever. The very first victim of the tornado APR met face to face was Steve Miller. Now, five years later, I checked in to see how Miller is doing…

The owner of the Cleveland Browns NFL team is trying to avoid testifying in an Alabama court case. Jimmy Haslam and his brother, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, are accused of cheating customers at the Pilot Flying-J truck-stop chain the two co-own. Mobile based Wright Transportation is one of several companies suing the Haslam’s and their Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J. The brothers and their company are accused of trying to cheat customers out of promised discounts and rebates. The Tennessean newspaper reports Jimmy Haslam filed a motion after an Alabama judge ordered his deposition.

An estimated 76,000 Crimson Tide football fans crowded Bryant-Denny stadium at the University of Alabama for the annual “A-Day” game. The team split into “Crimson” and “White” squads and played each other in a game that left some sports commentators yawning. The Tide defense dominated, only allowing seven points for the White team, and three for the Crimson. For all the talk among fans and pundits about Cooper Bateman as the leading contender for quarterback, Freshman Jalen Hurts scored the only the touchdown of the day with a pass to Derek Kief late in the game. The A-Day crowd was ten thousand more than last year’s attendance, but twenty thousand short of 2011’s audience. That was the year the University of Alabama unveiled head coach Nick Saban’s statue at the stadium’s “walk of champions.” Click the second "Youtube" link at the bottom for a video with highlights of the game.

doug_wertman [Flickr]

While you cannot claim your pet as a dependent on your income tax return, there are some legal pet-related deductions you can take - if you do it right and keep good records!

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The Alabama Department of Mental Health has decertified the owner of nine group homes in northern Alabama. The Decatur Daily reports that state officials delivered the notice Thursday to K&D Group Home executive director Katie M. Smith that the state was immediately revoking her license. Smith was licensed to operate group homes in Decatur that serve patients with intellectual disabilities. Mental Health Commissioner James V.

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