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.

Priority Mail
USPS

If your neighborhood postal truck looks fuller than usual today, there’s a good reason. 

The U.S. Postal Service says today will be the busiest delivery day of the year around the country as well as here in Alabama. An estimated three quarters of a billion packages will find their way to mailboxes and doorsteps over the holiday season.

Debra Fetterly is the U.S. Postal Service’s regional spokeswoman in Alabama. She says this extra holiday business means a twelve percent increase over holiday parcel deliveries last year.

Fayette Animal Shelter
WIAT-TV

The director of the Fayette Animal Shelter has resigned amid a controversy over dog euthanasia.

Media reports indicate former director Misti Bellar posted a video to Facebook earlier this week saying all 22 dogs at the shelter would be euthanized on Christmas Eve if they were not adopted. In response, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and other groups traveled to Fayette to take the animals to other shelters.

Shannon Arledge / CDP

A facility in Anniston, Alabama that trains first responders is suspending its use of chemical and biological substances after it mistakenly used lethal ricin during training exercises.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's halting use of the chemicals through January at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston.

The agency made the announcement earlier this week on a website set up to provide updates on the center, where thousands of firefighters, paramedics and others have trained.

An Alabama inmate who complained about poor mental health care in state prisons has been found dead in an apparent suicide.

24-year-old Jamie Wallace suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He told jurors in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections he wasn’t asked about his mental health status upon entering prison. Wallace attempted suicide multiple times, and said a prison guard once gave him a razor to use to kill himself.

More than $2 million dollars in federal funding is coming to Alabama and two other Southern states to restore and improve passenger rail service.

Yesterday, the Southern Rail Commission announced Federal Railroad Administration funding for eleven communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The communities will get money for station-area planning and construction projects to improve safety, access and convenience.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is planning to call a special legislative session on prisons in the New Year.

Bentley says the special session will be isolated within next year’s regular legislative session as a way to compel lawmakers to focus on building new prisons.

The governor discussed his plans for the special session yesterday, but did not release any details on the package of bills he wants lawmakers to discuss.

Alabama's prisons are badly overcrowded. Bentley asked legislators to fund the construction of new prisons this year, but the legislation failed.

Trump tree
Evan Vucci / AP

The chief of staff to Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is apologizing for his role in having a cedar tree cut down at a public park and used as a prop for President-elect Donald Trump’s rally last weekend.

Colby Cooper, who has served as Stimpson’s chief of staff since 2013, says he became “overzealous” in making sure every detail was covered for the weekend’s rally.

Former Alabama State University President Gwendolyn Boyd says she wishes her alma mater the best despite being fired by the institution.

Alabama State's Board of Trustees voted 8-6 late last week to terminate Boyd’s contract, citing her "failure to maintain the confidence of the board."

Boyd told WSFA-TV she felt her administration was moving in the right direction. Hired in 2013, Boyd was suspended at a Nov. 4 meeting originally called to discuss the school’s budget.

Camellia Bowl
Central Alabama Sports Commission

While many college football fans will be leaving Alabama to follow the Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers to Georgia and Louisiana for their respective bowl games, there’s a lot more going on inside the state.

Alabama is hosting three bowl games in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham. The games are expected to increase tourism in the state for the month, which will bring lots of revenue to the three host cities.

Brian Jones is a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Tourism. He says the exposure the Alabama cities will get from these games is of great value.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently turned over lots of documents to a committee investigating the possibility of his impeachment. But he says those documents will not be made available to the public.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Governor said the materials "will not be made public at this time." Several news organizations had requested copies of the documents given to the Alabama House Judiciary Committee.

Ivan Lopez
Mobile Police Department

A police officer in south Alabama has been fired after authorities say he improperly followed a suspect into a neighboring jurisdiction and fired his gun into a moving car without justification.

Mobile Police Chief James Barber announced yesterday that new officer Ivan Lopez was terminated for policy violations committed last weekend.

Barber says Lopez was on a DUI patrol when he followed a driver seen swerving across the center line into the city of Prichard — outside Mobile police's jurisdiction.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham is getting some shiny new radar equipment.

After well over 20 years of continuous operation, the Doppler radar at the National Weather Service – Birmingham office in Calera, Alabama is getting a service life extension upgrade of most of its electronic and mechanical components. The radar will be offline until the upgrades are completed.

Selma Police Chief John Brock has announced his plans to retire.

Brock says the city's new mayor, former state representative Darrio Melton, has decided to move in a different direction and asked Brock to step down.

Brock has spent 31 years with the department and was promoted to chief in September 2015. He called his time spent with the department "a great ride."

The city reportedly issued a news release earlier this week saying Brock's leadership would be missed.

Dr. Kathryn Burns
Tom Dodge / Columbus Dispatch

The chief psychiatrist for Ohio’s state prison system says Alabama fails to spot mental illness in many of its inmates and lacks the mental health staff to effectively treat those who are diagnosed.

Al.com reports Dr. Kathryn Burns testified yesterday as an expert witness on behalf of inmates suing Alabama's correctional system.

Burns says the percentage of inmates identified as mentally ill in Alabama — about 14 percent — is about half that seen in other states. She says that suggests many mentally ill prisoners aren’t being counted.

SantaCon
David A. Smith / DSmithScenes

Dozens of Santas took to the streets of Tuscaloosa this weekend for an event known as SantaCon.

The Santas followed a winding route to hit many of the city’s bars and microbreweries. But the main focus of the evening was on charity. The group donated hundreds of toys to Turning Point of West Alabama, an organization serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children. They also received donations of toiletries for the mothers at Turning Point.

An internationally renowned biotechnology company in Huntsville is planning to expand.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology says it's starting work on a new, 100,000-square-foot building that will provide extra work space. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow.

The HudsonAlpha campus already has three buildings where more than 700 people are employed.

A company associated with HudsonAlpha, Conversant Bio, will be one of the first occupants of the new building. It provides human tissue and viable cell samples to researchers.

Alabama death row inmate Ronald Bert Smith was executed last night for the 1994 killing of a Huntsville man.

But the way he died may lend additional support to those attempting to outlaw the use of the sedative midazolam in a three-drug lethal injection cocktail. During the 34-minute execution last night at Holman Correctional Facility, Smith reportedly coughed and heaved for nearly 15 minutes.

The Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding residents to pay attention to possible fire hazards in the home now that the holiday season is in full swing,

Scott Pilgreen is the Alabama Fire Marshal. He says one hazard people don’t usually think about during the holiday season is burning candles.

Alabama’s teachers are getting some good news about their retirement savings.

Al.com reports investments by the Alabama Teachers’ Retirement System, managed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama earned 10.4% during the most recent fiscal year ending September 30. That’s up from just 1.04% the year before. As Alabama state treasurer Young Boozer puts it, “What happened was we moved the decimal point one place to the right.”

UAB Campus
UAB

A gathering in Birmingham is looking for more answers on how the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, impacts women.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for AIDS Research is hosting the 2016 Joint Symposium on HIV Research in Women. The conference will bring together junior and senior HIV investigators.

Presentations will be divided among three focus areas. The list includes vulnerable Populations, how HIV impacts women infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and what medical care these patients receive.

pipeline explosion
Alabama EMA

Officials with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration say a second worker who was injured in the Colonial Pipeline explosion in late October has died.

OSHA says the worker died on Nov. 22 from injuries received during the explosion in Shelby County.

The federal agency says the worker's employer, Heflin-based L.E. Bell Construction, did contact OSHA to inform the administration of the death.

OSHA did not identify the worker.

Colonial officials say eight people on the nine-member crew that was working on the pipeline were employees of L.E Bell.

An attorney representing a white Alabama police officer charged with the fatal shooting of a black man is hoping for a new venue for the trial.

The lawyer for Montgomery police officer Aaron Smith filed a motion last week seeking to move the upcoming trial. He argues the publicity of the case and protests over the shooting death of 58-year-old Montgomery man Greg Gunn would make a fair trial difficult to obtain in the state capital.

Testimony is set to begin today in a massive lawsuit alleging inmates in Alabama’s prisons aren’t receiving the minimum level of health care guaranteed by the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson is set to begin hearing the non-jury, class-action lawsuit later today. It was originally filed by a group of inmates against the Alabama Department of Corrections back in 2014.

Starting next year, visitors to Fort Conde in Mobile will have to pay to get in.

The tourist attraction, operated by Activation Management, will continue to be free until sometime next year.

Manager Scott Tindle tells WKRG-TV it's an exciting opportunity for the fort, which will begin to be changed quarterly to reflect its diverse heritage. He says admission charges will begin once some new changes to Fort Conde are implemented. Tindle says the new additions to the museum will include technology and live action characters appropriate for the fort.

trail repair
SORBA Huntsville

After the Tennessee Valley region was hit hard by strong wind and heavy rain earlier this week, members of an area mountain biking organization took to area trails with tools instead of bikes.

Dozens of members of the Southern Off Road Bicycling Organization (SORBA) headed to Monte Sano State Park, where several hiking and mountain biking trails were damaged by the storms. WHNT-TV reports the North Plateau trail at Monte Sano was completely impassable, and some other trails were hardly recognizable due to storm debris.

Alabama's secretary of state says an error that forced nearly three million ballots to be reprinted cost the state over $450,000.

Secretary of State John Merrill announced the final cost for the reprint yesterday. He says the exact cost was $459,690.80.

Merrill says an employee made a transcription error in a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at protecting funding for Alabama's state park system.

SPLC

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Violence, inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have all pointed out plenty of problems.

The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.

An Alabama inmate set to be executed next week is asking the governor to intervene because a judge imposed his death sentence over a jury's recommendation of life imprisonment.

Attorneys for Ronald Bert Smith wrote in a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley that the judge overrode the jury's will. The jury voted 7-5 in his case for life in prison.

Smith is currently scheduled to be executed Dec. 8 for the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

Pratt City tornado
Christopher Mardorf / FEMA

Officials in Birmingham, Alabama say three of five planned community storm shelters will be open before the spring tornado season next year.

That's nearly six years after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that devastated parts of Alabama, including the community of Pratt City. One tornado hit the northwest Birmingham community, killing one person and destroying the library, a fire station, numerous homes, apartment buildings, at least one church and several vehicles.

At least three people were killed and many more were injured after powerful storms and tornadoes swept through Alabama last night.

The Jackson County coroner’s office has confirmed that three people are dead and several more are injured in the community of Rosalie, Alabama, north of Fort Payne. County officials say the three killed were victims of a possible tornado and were all in a mobile home.

In DeKalb County, a 24-hour daycare was completely destroyed near the town of Ider. Four children were injured and are in critical condition.

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