News

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has resigned after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of violating state campaign finance law. The attorney general's office announced the resignation with a plea deal. Bentley's voice began choking with emotion as he addressed reporters at the Alabama Capitol. He said he always tried to live up to the high expectations placed on the person who holds the esteemed office. He apologized for mistakes. Click here to listen to Governor Bentley's resignation address...

 Veteran Affairs health benefits have been extended to more than 142,000 veterans living in rural Alabama. 

Al.com reports that the extension of federal program was approved by Congress to allow vets living more than a certain distance from a VA facility to seek private medical care outside of the Department of Veteran Affairs. The program was voted to allow the program to last until the $1 billion within the program is used up.

Congress voted on the program's extension on Wednesday.

wikipedia

Israel's advanced missile defense system is being designed in northern Alabama.   

Al.com reports that the system named David's Sling was partially designed in Huntsville to help Israel's defense against regional enemies such as Iran, Palestine, Turkey, and other countries in the Middle East. The defense system is designed to intercept enemy drones, planes, medium- to long-range rockets, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The system is named after the David and Goliath Bible story.

Dog Bites

Apr 8, 2017
40Brown (Laurie Moy) [Flickr]

Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 9-15, 2017. Remember that any dog can bite if it is frightened or provoked enough.  Consider ways that you can keep your pet safe from any situation which could harm it or threaten it.  That's the best way to prevent dog bites!

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red flags
John David Mercer / AP / Press-Register

Dangerous surf conditions are causing lots of problems on the Alabama coast during spring break season.

Red flags are flying to warn people about hazardous rip currents that can quickly and easily pull swimmers out to sea. But in Gulf Shores, Ala., lifeguards have still had to rescue at least five people since Saturday. Beach safety director Scott Smothers tells WALA-TV one man had to be resuscitated but is now doing OK.

Lifeguard Jordan Russell says he had to help a 6-year-old boy and the boy's sister after both got pulled away from the beach on Tuesday.

A state ethics panel has ruled that there is probable cause that Governor Robert Bentley violated state ethics and campaign finance law. The decision follows a sex-tinged scandal that has engulfed the Tuscaloosa lawmaker for more than a year. The Alabama Ethics Commission voted to refer the matter to the district attorney's office for possible prosecution. Governor Bentley has struggled to shake off a scandal after recordings surfaced last year of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce.

An Alabama committee has passed a bill allowing death row inmates to be executed with nitrogen gas.    The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the measure 6-3 Wednesday.  

 Montrose Republican Senator Trip Pittman says his bill would make Alabama the second state in country behind Oklahoma to allow a person to be put to death with nitrogen.

City and County schools statewide will be closed to the threat of bad weather on Wednesday. For the most up-to-date information on your child's school, be sure to call your school's front office. Pat Duggins

Monroe County Public Schools--Closed

Conecuh County Schools--Closed

Boaz City Schools - closed

DeKalb County Schools – closed

Fort Payne City Schools - closed

Marshall County Schools – closed

Etowah County Schools

Talladega County Schools

Blount County Schools

Clay County Schools

Walker County Schools

      State lawmakers return from spring break Tuesday to a full plate of issues. State budgets, prison construction and action on the proposed impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley are among the matters set to be decided before the session ends in late May.   

   The State House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to end Alabama's practice that allows a judge to impose a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama is the last state to still allow a judge to override a jury's sentencing recommendation in capital murder cases. 

A bill in the Alabama Legislature would require women seeking abortions to get a sonogram two days ahead of the procedure and hear a detailed description of the embryo or fetus. 

The Senate Health Committee has scheduled a Wednesday public hearing on the bill by Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa. A federal appeals court in 2014 blocked a similar North Carolina ultrasound law.

Hero Dogs and APR

Apr 1, 2017
American Humane Association

Roselle, a guide dog, led her blind owner down almost 1,500 steps to escape Tower One of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  The fact that they both managed to make it out safely was a testament to her intelligence and ability  and to her owner's trust.  For her bravery, Roselle became the first Hero Dog of the Year for 2011, and set a great example for all the Hero Dogs to follow.

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The state of Alabama is trying to fix its infant mortality rate—one cardboard box at a time. The state is giving away sixty thousand so called baby boxes to expectant parents. Each box is filled with supplies like diapers and baby wipes. The empty box is also designed to be a baby bed. There’s also on-line information available to help parents take better care of a newborn. Alabama currently has just over eight infant deaths per one thousand births, which higher than the national average. The death rate for African American babies in Alabama is almost fourteen per thousand births.

A vote on whether lawmakers will impeach Alabama Governor Robert Bentley could come sooner than you think.

The top lawyer in a legislative investigation of Gov. Bentley has indicated that lawmakers are speeding to a decision on whether to impeach him over a sex scandal involving a former aide.

Special counsel Jack Sharman issued a memo to the governor's lawyers describing a tentative schedule that would decide Bentley's fate quickly. Sharman provided that memo to The Associated Press yesterday.

A new judge has been named to a high-profile Montgomery murder trial.

Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith's murder trial will now be overseen by Circuit Judge Roman Shaul.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports Circuit Judge James Anderson recused himself from Smith’s trial last week because the judge’s son works for a law firm defending Smith in a federal civil lawsuit brought by the victim’s family.

The president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of West Alabama has been charged with possession of child pornography.

The Tuscaloosa News reports 52-year-old Anthony Dellon Bush was arrested yesterday.

Authorities say pornographic images were found on the Tuscaloosa man's phone and work computer, but they were not of children who were involved in the Boys' & Girls' Club. Police found the images during an investigation of an incident earlier this month in which Bush was arrested and charged with assault.

dry river bed
weather.com

Those in central Alabama hurt by last year’s drought are running out of time to apply for help from the federal government.

The Small Business Administration says April 25 is the deadline for residents of seven Alabama counties to apply for disaster loans related to the drought. Assistance is available for those in Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, St. Clair, Shelby and Talladega Counties, which saw some of the worst conditions during Alabama’s dry spell.

Tales from one of Alabama’s most beloved storytellers will be brought to life today on a New York City stage.

Birmingham playwright Don Everett Garrett has written an adaptation of a book by legendary Alabama author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham. Garrett’s “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey: The Musical” will be read at the American Theater of Actors, John Cullum Theater, in New York City, by players from the Actors Equity Union.

Poison Prevention Week

Mar 25, 2017
rarvesen (Ralph Arvesen) [Flickr]

A pet investigates its world by smelling and tasting and picking things up with its mouth.  Safely storing foods and household items that could pose a danger, or putting plants out of reach, helps to make for a healthy pet (and a happy owner)!

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Police in Alabama's two largest beach towns say they've made more than 450 spring break-related arrests so far this year, and that's a big improvement from last year.

Police in both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are implementing some new tough policies this year to keep young vacationers under control. They say the change has resulted in far fewer problems.

Orange Beach police tell WALA-TV they made 287 arrests so far this spring, which is significantly fewer than last year when more than 750 were arrested.

youtube.com

 A board is seeking an investigation into the election of a new University of Alabama student government president who won with the open backing of a secretive campus society.  

The student government's election board asked for the Office of Student Conduct to review Jared Hunter's election earlier this month.

Hunter won after publicly acknowledging he was backed by a campus group called The Machine which is controlled by historically white fraternities and sororities. Hunter was the first black candidate to gain the group's support.

A lawyer for a white Montgomery police officer charged with murdering a black man is asking a judge to move the officer's trial out of the city.

Officer Aaron Cody Smith's lawyer will try to persuade a Montgomery County judge later today that Smith won't receive a fair trial in Montgomery because of the protests and intense media coverage related to the case.

Attorney Mickey McDermott says Smith has received death threats after last year’s fatal shooting of 58-year-old Greg Gunn. He filed a motion in December to change the location of the proceedings.

Hackers may have stolen the personal information of people who used a job search database in Alabama and nine other states.

The Alabama Department of Labor recently announced the breach of the America's JobLink, a multi-state web-based system linking jobseekers with employers. Alabamians who used the state's free, online jobs database joblink.alabama.gov may have had personal information exposed.

The site is developed and maintained by America's Job Link Alliance - Technical Support.

A Houston County judge says the killer of three people at a Dothan County should die by lethal injection. Judge Brad Mendheim sentenced Ryan Clark Petersen to death. His decision follows last week’s jury recommendation in favor of death. Prosecutors say Petersen opened fired after being told to leave a nightclub following a fight with an employee. Jurors rejected Petersen’s defense that he was drunk and mentally impaired. His defense team says there will be an appeal and a request for a new trial.

Alabama officials have confirmed bird flu in two poultry flocks, just one week after three commercial breeders had to kill their chickens across the state line in Tennessee.

Alabama’s state veterinarian recently announced that chickens are under quarantine after testing positive for the disease at a commercial breeding operation in Pickens County, near the Mississippi state line.

Dr. Tony Frazier's statement says the disease also was found in a backyard flock in Madison County, near the Tennessee line.

Infrastructure Report Gives Alabama a C+

Mar 21, 2017

The Trump administration has pledged to focus heavily on rebuilding U.S. infrastructure.

Here in Alabama, a new report shows there are plenty of areas of concern. The American Society of Civil Engineers issues a national infrastructure report once every four years. The most recent study gave America a grade of D+. Society members in Alabama issued a similar state report that gave Alabama a grade of C+.

Greg DiLoreto is the chairman of the society’s Committee for America’s Infrastructure. He says Alabama’s real problem is in its dams.

A hearing has been set for a lawsuit challenging Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's decision on an election to replace Senator Jeff Sessions. Dr. Bentley wants to wait until 2018 to hold the vote. State Auditor Jim Zeigler says a hearing for his suit against Bentley is set for April twelfth in Montgomery County. The injunction hearing will give lawyers a chance to update the county judge on their positions. Zeigler argues that Bentley violated state law by postponing the election date for Jeff Session's former U.S. Senate seat until 2018.

University trustees are set to vote on a new president of Auburn University today. Some say that selection process should be more transparent.

The trustees will hold a special meeting later today to name a new president.

The Opelika-Auburn News reports no candidates have been announced in the search to replace Auburn President Jay Gogue. That means there's been no chance for any prospective new administrators to meet with the university community.

Alabama lawmakers will vote next month on the state's "judicial override" law. That statute current allows a judge to impose a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama Public Radio covered this policy as part of its multi part series titled "...and justice for all." Alabama is the only state that allows a judge to do this.

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to legislation removing the holiday honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The "Natural State" observed the Lee holiday on the same day as slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The state House approved the proposal by a sixty six to eleven vote on Friday and sent it to Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson. He urged lawmakers to end the dual holiday. Once the bill is signed into law, Mississippi and Alabama will be the only states that honor Lee and King on the same day.

Routines

Mar 18, 2017
Army Medicine [Flickr]

Pets (and many people) are happier when they have a regular routine.  Sometimes, though, things happen that disrupt or adjust our routines, and it may take a little time to adapt to the change.

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