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.

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.

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.

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