Montgomery, AL – Governor Riley will sign Alabama's new open meetings law Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony at the Capitol. The Legislature gave final approval to the law Thursday. It will replace Alabama's 90-year-old open meetings law, which had been criticized for its vagueness. The new law spells out which government meetings should be open to the public and how the public should receive notice of those meetings. Riley did endorse the new open meetings legislation in his State of the State speech in February.
Montgomery, AL – The Senate Agriculture Committee will wrap up a series of public hearings Tuesday concerning legislation that would create the Center for Rural Alabama. The committee's hearings have taken it to Boaz, Winfield, Alexander City and Demopolis. Its final hearing is in Montgomery Tuesday morning. The legislation would create a center within state government to address problems in rural areas.
Oneonta, AL – Authorities are looking for a 14-year-old girl. They say she was taken from her home in Oneonta and is believed to be in danger. Amber Danielle Shelton was last seen wearing blue jeans with black and white tennis shoes. Both of her ears are pierced twice. The girl is believed to have been abducted by Michael John Humphrey, and the two are said to be traveling in a four-door, maroon 1995 Blazer. The vehicle does have an Alabama license plate, and it was last seen in the Dothan area.
Mobile, AL – Some Mobile-area soldiers are scheduled to return home this week. About 50 members of the Marine Corps Reserve's Third Force Reconnaissance Company will arrive in Mobile this week. The soldiers served in Iraq. Another 30 members of the company will remain overseas for several more days. They're expected to return to Mobile on March 31st. A spokesperson for the Alabama National Guard says about ten-thousand of nearly 14-thousand Guard members have been placed on active duty since September 2001.
Mobile, AL – This year's wildfire season could be a significant one. State foresters say until there's enough rainfall, the threat of wildfires is pretty good. Foresters also say they're concerned about hundreds of trees that were blown down by Hurricane Ivan. The trees have created an oversupply of fire fuel. There were dozens of wildfires in southwest Alabama over the weekend. There were more than 20 just in Mobile County.
Birmingham, AL – Wilson Chapel United Methodist Church near Birmingham now features a copy of a very famous painting. A small version of Michelangelo's work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel now covers an interior wall of Wilson Chapel. Former Birmingham physician Roberto Canas, says he was inspired by the work and wanted to reproduce some of it. Canas spent seven months painting the scenes on strips of canvas. Wilson Chapel United Methodist Church is open to the public, but an appointment to view the painting is required.
Tuscaloosa, AL – This week is Freedom of Information Week. In recognition of the efforts to make sure the government is open and accountable to the public, Butler Cain is producing a series of reports on F-O-I issues in Alabama. Today, he reports on a piece of legislation that would strengthen Alabama's open meetings law.