Alex AuBuchon

News Host / Reporter

Alex AuBuchon is APR’s Morning Edition host and also writes news and feature stories. He got his start in nonprofit radio at the University of Tennessee’s venerable WUTK-FM.

AuBuchon started as a student DJ before quickly falling in with the news team. He spent a semester on the news staff and then a year as News Director, delivering live newscasts and teaching broadcast workshops to undergraduate journalism students.

AuBuchon then switched over to commercial radio, taking a job as Operations Manager and Assistant News Director for a group of four radio stations in his hometown of Paris, Tennessee. He scheduled traffic and automation breaks and did administrative work for four stations during the week, and delivered newscasts and maintained a popular news website on the weekends.

Alex crossed back over to public radio in January 2015, moving to Alabama to wake up early and give listeners the news they need to get ready for the day.

UA ROTC
University of Alabama

Several future military officers at the University of Alabama will be headed to West Point after winning an ROTC competition over the weekend.

The UA cadets competed in what’s called the Brigade Ranger Challenge – a regional tournament for the winners of similar competitions in five Southeastern states and in Puerto Rico. Events included a fitness test, timed weapon assembly, land navigation, a 6.2 mile march and more – all while wearing about 40 pounds of gear. Alabama’s team won five of the seven events involved.

Fort Rucker helicopters
U.S. Air Force

A new contract to provide helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker in southeast Alabama has been awarded to the same company that will begin fixed-wing flight training for the Army at the Dothan Regional Airport in a few weeks.

The Dothan Eagle reports CAE USA announced the full contract to provide rotary-wing flight training will be more than $50 million for the transition period and first year.

CAE built a 75,000-square-foot facility at Dothan Regional Airport for its contract there, but at Fort Rucker, the infrastructure is already in place.

Rick Burley
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

An old, defunct bowling alley in Montgomery will soon see new life as a call center.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports a $2 million renovation is already underway inside the Brunswick Woodmere Lanes bowling alley. The alley has been out of business for about five years, ever since Brunswick moved to Stratford Square in Montgomery.

The newspaper reports ASK owner Rick Burley plans to move his call center company there from its current, very cramped office building nearby. They plan to add about 300 employees once the new office is finished, nearly doubling their payroll.

Over his eight years in office, President Obama commuted the sentences of nearly 1400 federal prisoners, the most in history, and issued over 200 pardons.

But one of those pardons did not come for former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. The Department of Justice informed Siegelman’s attorneys yesterday that his application for clemency had been denied.

This week marks the beginning of a new political era – and the end of another.

Not just in Washington, either. A new administration also brings turnover at the state level. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance joins us today, on her final day as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. She announced her intent to retire last week, and spoke with us about her eight years serving as the head law enforcement official for Alabama's northern district.

Federal authorities say they're investigating threats made to Jewish centers both in Alabama and across the country.

A brief statement released by the FBI yesterday says they and the Justice Department's civil rights division are investigating "possible civil rights violations in connection with threats." The statement from the agency's Washington headquarters doesn't characterize the threats.

But the Anti-Defamation League also issued a statement yesterday citing "a series of bomb threats to Jewish community centers in at least 18 states."

stream pollution
Tom Henderson / AP

The state of Alabama has joined a lawsuit seeking to block new rules from the Obama administration that crack down on coal mining near waterways.

Thirteen states, led by Texas, filed that lawsuit in federal court yesterday. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the new “Stream Protection Rule” imposes what he calls “mandatory, one-size-fits-all” regulations that violate states’ rights.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says the new regulations will protect over 6,000 miles of America’s streams by preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby waterways.

Back Lot render
Core Hospitality Advisors

Developers constructing a new hotel in downtown Mobile area are also rolling out the red carpet for operators of food trucks.

Core Hospitality Advisors is building a Hilton Garden Inn across from Bienville Square in downtown Mobile. The developers say they wound up with some additional land upon beginning construction, and plan to add a food truck court to the property. The space will be called The Back Lot and will have parking and support for three food trucks at a time.

Adam Cowart of Core Hospitality Advisors explains the setup for the food trucks and the patrons.

Charles Todd Henderson
WBRC-TV

The incoming District Attorney for Jefferson County, Charles Todd Henderson, was scheduled to take office today. But he’s been automatically suspended due to a felony indictment.

According to the Alabama Political Reporter, Henderson was a surprise winner over incumbent District Attorney Brandon Falls. Late last week, Henderson was charged with a Class C felony for allegedly providing false information to a judge. Alabama state law dictates Henderson is suspended until the case is resolved.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church held a ceremony yesterday afternoon commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Loretta Lynch was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, delivering her final speech as the United States Attorney General.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon was at Sixteenth Street Baptist yesterday and offers this glimpse into the ceremony, with excerpts from Lynch’s speech as well as U.S. Representative Terri Sewell and U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.

Tutwiler Prison
Dave Martin / AP

The Alabama Department of Corrections has agreed to put new suicide prevention measures in place after an inmate killed himself days after testifying on alleged inadequate mental health care in state prisons.

Joyce White Vance
Wikimedia

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance has announced her intent to retire from the Department of Justice.

Vance, whose district includes the 31 northernmost counties of Alabama, announced yesterday that her last day as U.S. Attorney will be Jan. 19.

Vance has spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor and was one of the first five U.S. Attorneys nominated by President Barack Obama. The Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination in 2009.

Before that, Vance spent 18 years in the federal prosecutor's office, last serving as chief of its Appellate Division.

Conditions in Alabama’s state prisons are poor. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating possible constitutional violations, and the Alabama Department of Corrections is on trial for allegedly not providing adequate health care to inmates. It’s bad enough that the state is having trouble keeping correctional officers employed.

The number of correctional officers assigned to Alabama’s state prisons fell twenty percent this past year, from just over 2000 in September 2015 to 1627 last September, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will continue his confirmation hearing before his peers on the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning.

A group of black lawmakers is expected to speak out against Sessions as he attempts to become the next U.S. Attorney General. That group includes New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, taking the rare step of testifying against a current Senate colleague.

The University of Alabama has announced that police have a suspect in custody and all hostages appear to be OK after an active hostage situation at the main office of the Alabama Credit Union on Paul W. Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa, near the UA Law School.

Police and the FBI responded to the situation.

Alabama Credit Union CEO Steve Swofford has announced that all Alabama Credit Union employees are safe.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will face his peers on the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee today as he begins confirmation to become the next U.S. Attorney General.

Last night, members of the NAACP continued protests and prayer vigils outside Sessions’ Alabama offices. The organization has criticized Sessions' stance on civil rights, immigration, criminal justice reform and voting rights enforcement.

The Alabama state legislature reconvenes next month, and one bill that has been pre-filed would clamp down on public restrooms in Alabama.

The bill bears several similarities to the so-called “Bathroom Bill”, HB2, that passed in North Carolina last March, requiring individuals to use restrooms and changing facilities corresponding with their biological sex.

CAE training center
Jay Hare / Dothan Eagle

Construction is complete on a new Army flight training facility at the Dothan Regional Airport in southeast Alabama.

The Dothan Eagle reports the Army's new fixed-wing training contractor, CAE USA, recently finished construction on a 75,000 square foot training facility. CAE USA President and General Manager Ray Duquette says completing the facility ahead of schedule and less than nine months after groundbreaking is a major milestone, and they will soon welcome their first class of Army students.

Amtrak passengers between New Orleans and Atlanta will be affected by routine maintenance on the tracks next week, and will be put on buses instead.

The National Weather Service says get ready to bundle up today through the weekend.

Frigid temperatures are in the forecast with the possibility of up to three inches of snow across the central part of the state. Forecasters think the I-20 corridor from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham will see snow accumulations which could make driving hazardous.

Gary Goggins is a forecaster with the National Weather Service. He says Alabamians should make preparations regardless of the local forecast, because trying to predict where snow is going to fall is tough.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has approved a $5,000 reward to help find the person responsible for killing a mother and her daughter with cerebral palsy in a house fire in Selma last month.

Fire officials determined the blaze that killed 44-year-old Katrina Moore and her 20-year-old daughter Coleman Moore on December 8 was intentionally set after lab results tested positive for arson.

Five people were in the house when the blaze started. Coleman Moore was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire. Katrina Moore later died at a hospital.

Mobile sit-in
Benard Simelton via twitter

As Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions prepares for confirmation hearings next week to become the country’s next Attorney General, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is doing everything they can to prevent it.

Earlier this week, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and five others were arrested in Mobile while protesting Senator Sessions’ nomination.

Benard Simelton is the President of the Alabama State Chapter of the NAACP. He tells us about the events that took place around the state and in Mobile earlier this week.

Alabama's third-largest public school system is facing a state takeover.

Montgomery School Board Vice President Lesa Keith tells the Montgomery Advertiser that officials there have been told the state is taking control of the system. She says no details will be provided until after state superintendent Michael Sentance meets with local leaders.

State officials aren't commenting, but Sentance is scheduled to meet with the Montgomery County Board of Education, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, and the state board of education in the next week.

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks
NAACP

Several demonstrators including the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were arrested yesterday protesting the nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.

The NAACP members were staging a sit-in at Senator Sessions’ office in Mobile. Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP, said they would remain at Sessions' office until they were able to speak with the Senator or they were removed.

Rehobeth
Jay Hare / Dothan Eagle

Four people were killed in Alabama as severe storms moved through the region yesterday.

Kris Ware, a spokeswoman for the Dothan – Houston County Emergency Management Agency, says the deaths occurred in the Rehobeth area in southeast Alabama, a community of around 1500 people. A suspected tornado caused a tree and power lines to fall onto a mobile home, killing four people inside.

The Dothan Eagle reports another tornado apparently touched down in nearby Taylor, Alabama, downing trees and causing some property damage.

Albert Brewer
Alabama Department of Archives

Former Alabama Governor Albert Brewer has died at the age of 88.

Brewer was known for reshaping Alabama’s public education system during a fill-in term as governor after the death of Lurleen Wallace, then championing constitutional reform as an elder statesman of Alabama politics.

Current Alabama Governor Robert Bentley released a statement yesterday saying the state had lost a great leader.

Wayne Flynt, an expert in Southern history at Auburn University, calls Brewer “the only governor we had who ever came close to being a ‘New South’ governor.”

Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation say they have reached an agreement with Alabama after determining that black residents were disproportionately affected by the state's closure of rural driver's license offices.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the terms of the agreement yesterday. He says the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has agreed, among other things, to expand the hours that the rural offices are open.

Jeff Sessions
Ross D. Franklin / AP

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has finished another round of interviews for the U.S. Senate seat now held by attorney general-designee Jeff Sessions.

Bentley's office says he interviewed six more candidates, including state Attorney General Luther Strange, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby and U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer. The governor also interviewed businessman Tim James, state Sen. Greg Reed of Jasper and state Sen. Phil Williams of Rainbow City.

USS Gabrielle Giffords
Austal USA

Austal has delivered its latest Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Gabrielle Giffords, to the Navy.

The Australian-based shipbuilder and defense contractor announced the new warship was handed over to the Navy last week. It’s the fifth vessel of its kind built by Austal; seven more are currently under construction in Mobile.

The commander of the Littoral Combat Ship squadron, Captain Jordy Harrison, says the ship will join other LCS ships in San Diego next year to undergo testing and training for eventual deployment.

drought farmer
Kevin D. Liles / WSJ

Farmers in Alabama who have been affected by the extreme drought conditions gripping the Southeast are getting some good news from the federal government.

An unusual budget provision passed by Congress earlier this month means no one who qualifies for a government farm loan in the next four months will be denied.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is a Kansas Republican who chairs an agricultural appropriations panel. He says the provision allows the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency authority to meet the spike in loan demand by using future funding.

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