News

The Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation has received a one million dollar gift from an anonymous donor.

The Gadsden Times reports the gift received Monday will be used to develop a new agriculture center. The center will focus on giving students hands-on training to help them develop skills related to agriculture.

The center will be located on 20-plus acres behind the Helen Keller School.  

A hearing Monday will determine the course of the judicial ethics case against suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary is set to consider a request by judicial investigators to convict Moore of violating canons of conduct without a trial. That could result in Moore's immediate removal from office.

 

Moore opposes the request, and lawyers will present arguments during a hearing. The court says Moore's trial will begin September 28th if the case continues.

APR

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…

Stan Ingold

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

“This is one of the hardest hit areas, you see, it looks like land has been cleared, especially this area we’re fixing to go to over here.

Police Chief Merrell Potter and I drove around Phil Campbell to survey the damage…

It looks like, almost like pasture land that’s just been cleared off, you can tell there used to be houses there but the green grass is starting to grow up through the debris that has been cleared.”

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.

American Humane Association

 The 2016 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways.  Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories:  Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs. 

The Law Enforcement Dog category includes what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices. 

The Arson Dog category includes animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire.  Every year hundreds of lives (and billions of dollars in property) are lost as a result of fires that were set intentionally.  The dog works with a handler who is a law enforcement officer trained to investigate fire scenes.

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Blossom: Renaissance Pig

Aug 6, 2016
Parker Branton

It's festival season in Alabama, and a common face you will see isn’t what you would expect. APR student reporter Parker Branton traveled around the state, and not for the music, or the corn dogs. Here is the saga of Blossom the Painting Pig...

Festival goers look over the masterpieces painted by what more than a few of her fans refer to as a modern day “pigcasso.” Scott and Jackie McQueen are the owners of this talented swine. After years of begging for a pig, Jackie got more than she bargained for.

“Our little pig’s name is Blossom.”

2011 Tornadoes: A Forecaster's nightmare

Aug 6, 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.

Fairfield's fiscal future

Aug 6, 2016

It's been more than four months since the Wal-Mart store in Fairfield closed its doors, leaving many people to find goods and services elsewhere. City Leaders are scrambling to not only plug holes in the city's budget but create more economic opportunities to people that have lost their jobs.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates traveled to Fairfield to find out what’s next…

It’s a quiet morning on Gary Avenue in downtown Fairfield.  The Magic City Grille is open for breakfast and Beauty Land Cosmetics is opening its doors for business. 

Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment authorizing a state lottery would send proceeds from ticket sales to the state's general fund.

The proposal says any proceeds from the lottery after expenses and prizes would go to the general fund for "ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state."

Some have said the money should be directed specifically toward education.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s effort to have his ethics charges dismissed has been thrown out by a federal judge.

Yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton issued an order dismissing Moore’s lawsuit against the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission. Alabama’s chief justice is facing ethics charges that could result in his removal from office, and Judge Allbritton says that state process should continue without federal interference.

Embattled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was scheduled to appear in federal court today to try and have his ethics charges dismissed.

But U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton abruptly canceled the hearing yesterday afternoon, saying his eventual decision would be based solely on legal documents.

Stan Ingold

All year long on Alabama Public Radio we’re looking back on pivotal moments in the fight for civil rights. Many of the landmarks in the battle against segregation can voter discrimination are now tourist attractions. We have already looked at sites in Selma and Montgomery on Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail and now we head to Birmingham.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“For me, it was just a day of resolve and resolution, and I said ‘sign me up,” says James Stewart “Well, the first thing I tell them is that I went to jail, and they go ‘Oooh, Grandmama,” and I say well, let me explain…” recalled Eloise Gaffney. “It was just…you knew God was on your side,” says Washington Booker. “And we knew that it didn’t matter what we were facing. You knew if God was on your side, you’d overcome it.” Stewart, Gaffney, and Booker are all in their early sixties. They’re all from Birmingham. They’re all African American. And fifty years ago, they made national news.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“Let me know at the start of this conversation that I have never been a civil rights activist of any kind,” says former Birmingham radio disc jockey Shelley Stewart. “I want to make that perfectly clear.” The teenagers who took part in the 1963 children’s march see it differently They say they relied on signals and code words from Stewart’s radio show to know when the protest would begin. And even Shelley admits he knew firsthand what school kids, both black and white, could do in the race of racism. When he wasn’t on the air, Shelley the playboy played records at dance parties.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

Birmingham area disc jockey Shelley the Playboy may have signaled the start of the children’s march in 1963, but he didn’t organize it. The credit goes to a lieutenant of Dr. Martin Luther King, the reverend James Bevel. One of the teenagers he inspired was James Stewart… “He wore one of the blue jeans suits, and had badges from everybody, and pins all over, and he was baldheaded and wore this skull cap,” Stewart remembered, “And he’s the one who was the kids’ ‘pied piper,’ he talked to us about getting involved.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

"Jail was like hell. It was four days of really hell..."

James Stewart of Birmingham was just a teenager on April 2, 1963. He took part in the Children’s March, and he was one of the first to arrested and jailed…

Roy Moore
AP

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore was scheduled to appear in federal court this morning in an effort to have his judicial ethics charges dismissed.

But U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton canceled that hearing yesterday, saying his eventual decision would be based on legal documents alone.

Selma-- "This is something I'll tell my kids..."

Aug 4, 2016

This Sunday the city of Selma will remember the fiftieth anniversary of an event that became known as Bloody Sunday. Voting Rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 were attacked by state troopers and a sheriff’s posse. History like this may be fresh in the memories of our parents and grandparents. But a group of student journalists from the University of Alabama got to experience the story for themselves. Alabama Public Radio newsroom intern Sarah Sherill was among them, and she files this report…

The final living culprit behind the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was denied parole this morning.

The parole board briefly deliberated and denied 78-year-old Thomas Blanton early release.  Blanton was convicted and sentenced to four life sentences in 2001 for his role in the bombing that killed four girls and injured another. 

The Cuddle Party

Aug 3, 2016
Cuddleparty.com

We live in a time and society where touching someone is usually associated with one thing, and that’s sex. However there is a growing trend aimed at removing the stigma of physical contact. Alabama Public Radio’s Stan Ingold  did some research and has this report on an activity known as the “Cuddle Party.”

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.”

Advanced Band
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Say “the blues,” and Mississippi might come to mind. But Alabama has just as much heritage when it comes to this musical form, and for the past 20 years, the Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Blues Project has been working to preserve that heritage for future generations. Tomorrow, the nonprofit will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a concert in Tuscaloosa. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports some of the musicians are only as big as their guitars.

"Sounds of Selma"

Aug 3, 2016
APR

Thousands of people crowded the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma yesterday to remember what became known as “bloody Sunday.” Voting marchers in 1965 were attacked by State Troopers and a Sheriff’s posse armed with clubs and tear gas. The weekend observance was attended by President Obama and the children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. APR news director Pat Duggins and reporter Stan Ingold teamed up to bring us this audio postcard…

This weekend, the city of Selma will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the civil rights event known as “bloody Sunday.” In 1965, sheriff deputies and state troopers attacked African American protesters during a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. The violence is etched into world history, but it’s not the first time this city has seen bloodshed  nor was 1965 the city's first "march to freedom."

16th Street Baptist Church bombing
AP

Thomas Blanton was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences for the 1963 16th Street church bombing that killed four girls and injured another. He is eligible for parole today. APR student reporter Katie Willem has more.

At the age of 78, Blanton will have his first parole hearing after fifteen years in prison. While the attack happened in 1963, Blanton was not arrested until 2001. He was convicted for four counts of murder after the case was reopened.

Newly released documents show Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore urged fellow justices to action after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Court papers filed today show Moore asking the other justices to clarify the state's position in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

The documents show Moore cites Kentucky court clerk and gay-marriage opponent Kim Davis in claiming that Christians who oppose same-sex weddings could be forced to give up their public jobs.

Holman Correctional Facility
Sharon Steinmann / AP

Alabama Department of Corrections officials say a state prison was placed on lockdown yesterday after inmates set a fire inside a dorm.

A statement from the department says officers at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala. responded to a fight between inmates yesterday afternoon around 3 p.m. Other inmates then reportedly "became aggressive" toward the guards responding to the fight. The statement says officers secured the door of the dorm, and some inmates inside started a fire.

Gov. Robert Bentley's support of a referendum on a state lottery comes six years after he criticized gambling as a detriment to society.

The governor has consistently supported the people's right to vote on gambling. However, in his 2010 campaign, Bentley opposed all gambling because it preyed upon those who could least afford to lose money.

16th Street Baptist Church bombing
NPR

A former Ku Klux Klan member convicted in a church bombing that killed four black girls is up for parole in Alabama.

The state parole board has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday for 78-year-old Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. Blanton won't attend the hearing, but opponents of his release are expected to address the board.

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