News

Montgomery, AL – Thirty-five members of a Eufaula-based Alabama Army National Guard unit are coming home after almost a year on active duty.

Guard spokesman, Sgt. Martin Dyson, said the 1103rd Corp Support Battalion has been based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina since their deployment in October of last year. He said the unit's soldiers also served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and other overseas locations in support of the war on terrorism.

Montgomery, AL – State school Superintendent Ed Richardson says that if the financial picture of the education budget doesn't improve for next year, it may require fees for students to play sports and ride buses.

Richardson told legislators yesterday (Tuesday) -- quote -- "it's all on the table, all being discussed." He said it's too late to impose such fees this school year, which already is under way, but it may be necessary for the 2004-2005 school year if the budget crisis continues.

Birmingham, AL – A new kind of health insurance policy being sold by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama could help plug a gaping hole in state medical care.

According to the state Insurance Department, uninsured Alabamians can get private health insurance through the company if they sign up by November 30th. Coverage is guaranteed for Alabama residents under 65 years old, regardless of their health, although pre-existing conditions will not be covered for 12 months.

Montgomery, AL – Alabama tradition calls for new state budgets to be bigger than the ones they replace, but Republican Bob Riley is breaking that tradition -- and many others -- in his first year as governor.

Riley opened a special session of the Legislature yesterday by proposing cut-to-the-bone budgets that provide no money for textbooks, classroom computers or college aid and eliminate funding to scores of programs held dear by legislators.

Montgomery, AL – Legislators were cautious yesterday when asked about Governor Bob Riley's proposal to release an extra five-to-six-thousand nonviolent prisoners on parole as a way to cut spending and ease prison overcrowding.

House Majority Leader, state Representative Ken Guin of Carbon Hill, said the proposal scares him. He said the justification is that they are all eligible for parole. Guin said -- quote -- "so are Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, but that doesn't mean I want them on the street."

Birmingham, AL – Forty years have passed since a bomb killed
four black girls on a Sunday morning at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and a chapter was closed with the recent convictions of two one-time Ku Klux Klansmen long suspected in the crime.

But the tragedy remains painfully fresh in Birmingham. The church walls still bear cracks caused by the explosion on September 15th, 1963.

Montgomery, AL – A lightweight model of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument will go on tour. It will be the centerpiece of a "Save the Commandments Caravan" that will go from Montgomery to the steps of the U-S Supreme Court in Washington, D-C. It will leave Montgomery on September 28th.

Washington, DC – Since writing one of the toughest plans to deal with illegal aliens, Georgia Congressman Charlie Norwood has become public enemy Number One for those seeking a softer approach.

Critics of the Georgia Republican's Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act envision a nightmare scenario in which local police departments are strained and racial profiling runs rampant.

Tuscaloosa, AL – Shape Note singing has a long tradition in Alabama. The musical form dates from the 19th century and has taken divergent paths to its current incarnation. Alabama Public Radio's Lance Kinney brings us some of Shape Note singing's history in the state.

This feature report was written by Kathie Farnell and produced by Alabama Public Radio. It was supported by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuscaloosa, AL – Shape Note singing has a long tradition in Alabama. The musical form dates from the 19th century and has taken divergent paths to its current incarnation. Alabama Public Radio's Lance Kinney brings us some of Shape Note singing's history in the state.

This feature report was written by Kathie Farnell and produced by Alabama Public Radio. It was supported by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Montgomery, AL – Governor Bob Riley reacted to the overwhelming defeat of his tax plan by telling legislators Wednesday he's preparing to cut nuring home care, release nonviolent prisoners early, and eliminate state funding for non-state programs and private colleges.

Riley made no public statements, but legislators who attended the private meeting said the governor told them that his proposed state budgets will be based on:

Auburn, AL – Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet president who won the 1990 Nobel Prize for seeking reforms in the secretive communist government, will speak at Auburn University on October sixth.

The University Programs Council announced that Gorbachev will speak at 7 p.m. in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Ticket prices are eight-dollars for students, 12-dollars for faculty and 15-dollars for general admission.

Alabama – American flag displays, memorials and prayerful tributes across Alabama will mark today's second anniversary of the September 11th attacks - - a day for remembering fallen heroes and the innocents who died that terrible day.

Mobile, AL – The Mobile City Council has approved a budget that cuts 2-point-8-6 (M) million dollars -- including from travel and public transit departments, and eliminates dozens of positions.

Montgomery, AL – Many Alabama middle and junior high schools will have to eliminate their sports programs -- as Alabama's public schools are now facing deep budget cuts.

Dan Washburn, executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, predicts the first option for many local superintendents will be to reduce or eliminate sporting programs at middle schools, in an effort to save high school varsity programs.

Mongtomery, AL – A Ten Commandments display put together by Governor Bob Riley opened in an exhibit room at the Capitol. The plaque was praised by some church leaders who support displays of the commandments in government buildings.

Riley had the display built after supporters of a Ten Commandments monument that was removed from the state judicial building presented him with a plaque bearing the commandments last week.

Montgomery, AL – Governor Bob Riley's 1-point-2 billion dollar tax plan has been rejected overwhelmingly tonight.

Voters agreed with opponents who say Alabama needs spending controls rather than the largest tax increase in state history.

The Republican governor promoted the tax package -- the largest percentage tax boost proposed in any state -- as the way to get Alabama off the bottom of many national education rankings.

Montgomery, AL – Voters going to the polls for today's tax and accountability referendum will be asked for more than just their names when they line up to cast ballots.

Voters will also be asked for proof of their identity as Alabama's new voter identification law, approved by the Legislature in June, is implemented for the first time.

Voters will be asked to provide one of more than a dozen forms of acceptable identification, including a driver's license, a birth certificate, a hunting or fishing license and a utility bill.

Washington, DC – Thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve forces, including citizen soldiers from Alabama, are in for a longer stay in Iraq.

The Army is reportedly extending their tours of duty in Iraq and surrounding countries to a year, months longer than many troops had anticipated.

The Washington Post reports the new policy was issued Friday without a formal announcement. It means many Guard and Army Reserve troops could have their original year-long mobilizations extended by up to six months.

Montgomery, AL – Governor Riley's tax plan is trailing in early returns. Opponents are leading in every county reporting early returns.

Secretary of State Nancy Worley -- the state's chief election official -- says voter turnout was strong for a special election. She predicts the turnout will be 45 percent to 50 percent. The turnout for the lottery referendum four years ago was 45 percent.

Tuscaloosa, AL – "It felt like just coming out of the tunnel on the west end, just seeing all those fans reminded me of when I was a player and when I got under the tunnel here, I was kidding Coach Radar that was where I used to warm up with him."

That tunnel at Legion Field in Birmingham has seen generations of Alabama football players pass through. This time, the tunnel saw Mike Shula to his head coaching debut, and a come-from-behind victory.

Tuscaloosa, AL – Alabama's highest judicial official, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, says he has an obligation to uphold God's law above the laws of man. Chief Justice Moore is a Christian, and he believes the Biblical Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of America's legal heritage.

"The acknowledgement of Almighty God is the basis for our justice system. It is the source of our law. It is the foundation of our country."

Tuscaloosa, AL – Opinions were mixed today about the removal of the ten commandments monument from public view. Barry Lind, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says he is pleased with today's events.

"I think today marks a tremendous victory for the rule of law and respect for religious diversity in Alabama and around the country."

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