News

Colonial Pipeline explosion kills one, injures others

Nov 1, 2016

A federal agency that regulates pipelines says contractors were working on repairs stemming from a September leak when gasoline ignited and spread fire to the Colonial pipeline in Alabama.

Colonial Pipeline executive Gerald Beck says a nine-man crew was using a track hoe to excavate the pipeline as part of preparation work so permanent repairs of the September leak could be made. Beck says the track hoe — a large piece of heavy equipment — struck the pipeline yesterday, causing the explosion.

Gas prices likely to increase due to pipeline explosion

Nov 1, 2016

Officials with the Colonial Pipeline say it has restarted one of its two main pipelines after an explosion in Alabama.  The Georgia-based company says that it restarted its Line 2, which transports diesel, jet fuel and other products around 11 this morning.

A Colonial Pipeline leak last month led to gas shortages and rising prices across the South.  Clay Ingram is the Public Relations manager for Triple A of Alabama.  He says the shutdown will likely affect prices at the pump…

pipeline explosion
Alabama EMA

One worker has been killed and six more were injured after a gasoline pipeline exploded yesterday afternoon near Helena, Alabama.

The explosion occurred near the site of a leak found last month that spilled at least 300,000 gallons of gasoline. Pipeline operator Colonial says a contract crew working on the pipeline “experienced an incident” when the trackhoe they were using hit the line.

The Supreme Court has denied an appeal from a death row inmate in Alabama.

The justices did not comment Monday in turning away the appeal from Bill Kuenzel, convicted of killing a convenience store clerk in 1987.  Kuenzel says evidence withheld by prosecutors entitled him to a new court hearing.

Kuenzel's case had gotten a boost from former Attorney General Edwin Meese, who said Kuenzel is "very likely actually innocent."

Record 3.3 million voters registered in Alabama

Oct 31, 2016

The secretary of state's office says a record 3.3 million voters are now registered in Alabama. Secretary of State John Merrill says more than 584,000 voters have been registered.

Merrill credits the record number of voters to a combination on online registration, a mail-in program and a partnership with the state law enforcement agency.

Alabama doesn't register voters by party, so it's impossible to say whether Republicans or Democrats gained the most potential voters.

Jefferson County and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for North and Central Alabama have come to a settlement on voting access for the disabled.

An investigation began nationwide earlier this year with combined efforts from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Joyce White Vance is the U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Alabama. She says they checked 36 polling sites in Jefferson County, and had a lot of work to do.

 State officials are looking at options for a planned bridge that would span the Mobile River and help eliminate traffic congestion along the Gulf Coast.

The state is currently accepting recommendations on how to best incorporate pedestrian and bicycle traffic into plans for the project, which would reroute Interstate 10 through Mobile.   

Alabama Power Company says water levels at its lakes are low because of the drought, and things might get worse.

The utility says it has reduced water releases for power generation, and it has suspended recreational water releases on Lake Jordan because of the drought.  

The company says water levels are falling at Weiss, Neely Henry and Logan Martin lakes on the Coosa River; Harris and Martin lakes on the Tallapoosa River; and Smith Lake on the Black Warrior River. Lake levels eventually could go below normal winter stages because of the lack of rain.

Alabamians in November will vote on a proposal aimed at protecting hundreds of local laws — from sales taxes to annexations to draft beer regulations — from being invalidated because of a legal dispute over legislative procedure.

Senator Cam Ward says hundreds of local laws are vulnerable to court challenges unless lawmakers approve Amendment 14.                                  

American Humane Association

The Emerging Hero category honors the partnership that often develops between human and dog. Some of these animals are trained in such areas as detection of diseases such as cancer,  others are just pets who, without any special training, instinctively assist their human companions, and some are overcomers who have triumphed over adversity in an extraordinary way.  "Overcomer" - that's Hooch!

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Wildfires ravaging Alabama

Oct 28, 2016

Officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission say more than 1,000 wildfires have destroyed 11,000 acres across the state.

Governor Robert Bentley is urging citizens to be aware of the seriousness of the situation.  Earlier this month, the governor signed a Drought Emergency Declaration into effect which prohibits all outdoor burning.

46 counties in northern and central Alabama remain under the burn ban.  That means no one can set fire to grass, woods, have campfires or burn trash that could set areas on fire.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is offering to meet privately with members of an impeachment committee to answer any questions they have for him.

Bentley sent letters to members of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday asking for a Nov. 10 meeting in his office. The governor wants to have an open discussion and would try to answer all questions posed to him.

The University of South Alabama and Spring Hill College, both in Mobile, have announced a new partnership allowing students to take courses between the two schools.

The new setup, called cross-registration, will take effect next January for the beginning of the Spring 2017 semester. Full-time undergraduate students at both universities will be allowed to enroll for full-credit courses at either university. The students will pay all tuition for those courses at their home school.

Wildfires burning around South as drought worsens

Oct 27, 2016

Wildfires are charring hundreds of acres daily in the South amid a worsening drought, and no rain is in sight.

Wildfires have burned more than 12,000 acres statewide in Alabama in the last 30 days.  Fires have burned acreage in communities around Birmingham.

Forestry officials say rain is the answer, but substantial storms aren't predicted in short-term forecasts.

Pool of judges selected for Moore appeal

Oct 27, 2016

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore walked out of the state courthouse after the acting chief justice refused to halt the lottery to pick the judges that will hear his appeal.

The names of 50 retired judges were drawn in a lottery today as potential members of the special Supreme Court for Moore's appeal. The first seven willing judges will hear the case.

Cuba Week at the University of Alabama

Oct 27, 2016

This week, the University of Alabama celebrates its third annual Cuba Week. APR student reporter Allison Mollenkamp has more…

UA’s Cuba Week offers an array of opportunities for the public to immerse themselves in Cuban history and culture. There will be presentations of artwork and performances with 25 Cubans from Havana, UA professors and student counterparts taking part.

A federal judge is considering the state of Alabama’s request to dismiss a lawsuit over a new law that blocked a minimum wage increase in Birmingham.

District Judge R. David Proctor held a hearing yesterday afternoon on the motions to dismiss. Last year, the Birmingham City Council voted to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10. Just before that law took effect, the Alabama Legislature quickly passed legislation requiring a uniform minimum wage throughout the state.

Impeachment committee wants Bentley to testify

Oct 26, 2016

An impeachment committee is demanding that Gov. Robert Bentley testify under oath.

The House Judiciary Committee sent a formal demand for the governor to provide deposition-like testimony to the committee's special counsel on Nov. 9.

Committee Chairman Mike Jones says the committee wants a, "clear, truthful record from the governor and his staff" and he looked forward to the governor's cooperation.

Robert Lightfoot
NASA

Space enthusiasts will have a chance to speak with some of the top figures in deep space exploration this week.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) is hosting the ninth annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium in Huntsville today through Friday on the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s campus.

Jim Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director of the AAS. He stresses the importance of the environment the symposium provides.

The University of West Alabama is planning to launch a program that would give future teachers scholarships and other assistance if they pledge to teach in a Black Belt community for at least three years.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that the first round of scholarships for the Black Belt Teaching Corps will be awarded in the upcoming spring semester.

Dean Jan Miller says the Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education at the University of West Alabama will award 10 scholarships each year to education majors.

Judges to be picked Thursday to hear Moore appeal

Oct 25, 2016

Judges will be named this week to hear suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's bid to return to the bench.

Alabama Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart says in a Tuesday order the judges for Moore's appeal will be randomly selected Thursday afternoon in a public proceeding at the Alabama Judicial Building.

A judicial panel last month suspended Moore for the remainder of his term after finding he urged state probate judges to defy the federal courts on gay marriage. Moore is appealing the decision.

Alabama could see record number of voters on election day

Oct 25, 2016

Alabama could see record number of voters at the polls on Election Day.

Secretary of State John Merrill says he anticipates between 2.2 million and 2.4 million state voters to cast ballots in the upcoming election. He says either number would be a record turnout.

Merrill believes high voter enthusiasm will drive turnout in the race that pits Republican Donald Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

ribbon cutting
Alex AuBuchon / APR

State lawmakers and education officials gathered in Tuscaloosa yesterday to celebrate the expansion of public preschool in Alabama.

The dignitaries cut the ribbon on two new preschool classrooms at Verner Elementary School in Tuscaloosa. Those are two of 155 new preschool classrooms opening this year throughout the state, serving 2800 more of Alabama’s four-year-olds than last year. That’s thanks to a $16 million increase in funding from the Alabama Legislature.

A panel of retired Alabama judges will be the ones to hear suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore's bid to return to the bench.

Yesterday, the current justices on the Alabama Supreme Court announced they will recuse themselves from hearing Moore's appeal because their impartiality might be questioned.

Alabama asks to let execution go forward

Oct 24, 2016

The state of Alabama is asking an appellate court to let the November execution of an inmate go forward.

The state attorney general's office on Friday asked the 11th U.S. circuit Court of Appeals to reject Tommy Arthur's request for a stay.

The state argues Arthur has used abusive litigation tactics to "escape" execution. Arthur had been scheduled for execution on six previous occasions, but was given court-issued reprieves.

The city of Elba is getting ready for a town hall meeting to decide how to distribute $2 million of FEMA flood mitigation funds.

The city is using the money to buy and tear down houses damaged during the 2015 Christmas flood. Coffee County Emergency Management Director Larry Walker says there isn't enough funding for everyone who's applied for the buyout, but he says homeowners with major damage will be guaranteed assistance.

$270K grant to help ASU buy cutting-edge research printer

Oct 23, 2016

Alabama State University has won a $271,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to purchase a state-of-the-art 3-D printer.

The printer will be used by students in ASU's College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics departments.

It will enable researchers to custom design and build tissue replacements.

Dr. Derrick Dean is the lead principle investigator.  He says the printer will be used by at least three graduate and undergraduate courses in biomedical engineering and biological sciences.

Study looks at tornadoes on Alabama's Sand Mountain

Oct 23, 2016

Researchers want to determine why the Sand Mountain area of northeast Alabama seems so prone to tornadoes.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville says scientists and students will spend the next year studying the role the region's mountains and valleys play in twister formation.

The work is being performed with a nearly $250,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A release from the school says the area was affected by 49 tornadoes in the last decade.

Elba to divide $2M in flood funds through drawing process

Oct 23, 2016

The city of Elba will host a town hall meeting to decide how to distribute $2 million of FEMA flood mitigation funds.

The city is using the money to buy and tear down houses damaged during the 2015 Christmas flood.

Coffee County Emergency Management Director Larry Walker says there isn't enough funding for everyone who's applied for the buyout.

He adds homeowners with major damage will be guaranteed assistance.

Walker says there are about 40 homes with minor damage and they're not sure if there's enough money to cover them all.

Perfect Dog Owner

Oct 22, 2016
Scott Feldstein [Flickr]

When we adopt a dog we think we're doing it a favor, giving it a home.  What do they give us in return?  It has been proven that pets can make us happier and healthier people.  They give us companionship and loyalty and acceptance.  What a bargain!

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