Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

The Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation has received a one million dollar gift from an anonymous donor.

The Gadsden Times reports the gift received Monday will be used to develop a new agriculture center. The center will focus on giving students hands-on training to help them develop skills related to agriculture.

The center will be located on 20-plus acres behind the Helen Keller School.  

TVA is closing and capping 10 coal ash ponds at power plants in Tennessee and Alabama, against the urging of environmentalists who want the ash dug up and removed. TVA issued its decision on Friday, affirming plans to keep the coal ash at six fossil plants where the ash was dumped over the past half century. TVA says the best, fastest and cheapest method of cleaning up the ponds is to close them and put a cap on the wastes to prevent leakage.

A judge dismissed Alabama's lawsuit against the federal government over refugee placement. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Ott rejected Alabama's claim that federal officials are not consulting with states on refugee placement. The dismissal comes a month after a judge threw out a similar Texas lawsuit, ruling that states had no authority over resettlements that are handled by the federal government. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley filed the lawsuit in January. The state asked the judge to block any refugee settlement unless the state was given security and medical information on each refugee.

A judicial ethics panel wants Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore swiftly removed from office for urging the state's probate judges to defy the federal courts on gay marriage. The Judicial Inquiry Commission says that Moore's actions merit the highest possible sanction against a sitting judge, which is immediate removal from office. Moore told state probate judges in January that a state injunction against gay marriage was in "full force and effect" despite higher court rulings.

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Two campers from Alabama have been arrested in connection with a wildfire that has destroyed three homes and three buildings north of Nederland in Boulder County. 

Boulder sheriff's deputies said Sunday afternoon that 28 year old Jimmy Andrew Suggs, and 26 year old Zackary Ryan Kuykendall,  both of whom are from Vinemont, Alabama face felony arson charges because of the dangers the fire poses, the Denver Post reported The men were booked into the Boulder County Jail, the newspaper reported.

The construction of a new hangar and support facility could increase the workforce by as many as 200 employees.

Al.com reports that Yulista broke ground on a 60,000-square-foot aviation hangar and 20,000-square-foot support facility at the Huntsville Executive Airport on Friday. The expansion will bring the airport's aviation campus from 94,000 square feet to more than 165,000 square feet.  

The Yulista M5 Hangar is expected to be fully operational by 2017. The expansion took two years.

Customers at more than 120 Walmart locations across Alabama will be able to checkout using their smartphones.

Customers could start using Walmart Pay as early as Thursday. Company spokeswoman Molly Blakeman told Al.com the service also rolled out in three other southern states including Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

 

Walmart Pay is already available in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. It will soon be available nationwide.

Members of the Alabama Legislature will elect a new House speaker in February, possibly sooner if Governor Bentley calls a special session.  

Contenders for the job are beginning to emerge after former House Speaker Mike Hubbard was removed from office after being convicted on twelve ethics charges.

APR

Alabama Republican Mike Hubbard was once a man who moved political mountains. He’s credited with helping to stage the 2010 GOP takeover of the state legislature which gave the Republicans a supermajority. It also gave Hubbard the gavel as House Speaker. Now, his political career is in tatters as he faces up to 240 years in prison after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges.

APR

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard's conviction on ethics charges automatically removes him from office and could mean years in prison for the powerful Republican. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, or 240 years total. Sentencing is set for July 8. Jurors on Friday found the one-time GOP star guilty of 12 counts of public corruption for using the influence of his political office to benefit his companies and clients. He was acquitted of 11 other counts.

Lee County Sheriff's Office

A jury has convicted Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard on 12 charges of violating the state ethics law.

The jury returned the verdict Friday evening after deliberating for seven hours. Sentencing is set for next month.

 

Hubbard faced 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using political positions as House speaker and chairman of the state GOP to make money and investments from lobbyists and company owners.

Tennessee Valley Authority engineers say water temperature tests being performed on Wheeler Lake this week could improve efficiency at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and keep power rates from increasing. 

The Decatur Daily reports that a team of TVA engineers is collecting water temperature and velocity information from the lake to use in computer forecasting models, which can help run TVA's dams and nuclear plants more efficiently.

 State lawmakers ended the 2016 session with three big items of unfinished business: the oil spill settlement division; Medicaid funding and prison construction. 

Governor Robert Bentley recently said he's considering calling a special session later this year for another try.

The governor's $800 million prison construction plan was the centerpiece of his agenda, but didn't get approved by lawmakers.

slate.com

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended with pay from his office and faces removal from the bench. The action comes from his effort to block same-sex marriage from coming to Alabama despite the U.S. Supreme Court that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.   

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission on Friday filed ethics charges against Moore accusing him of abusing his authority and failing to respect the judiciary

Alabama A&M University fired a tenured professor after the school discovered sex tapes of him and two students on campus. The school filed court documents in federal court stating that the pornographic videos were found on a school laptop. The recordings allegedly showed twenty year veteran professor Edward Jones performing three sex acts, two of which involved male students. The school says all three instances occurred on the Alabama A&M campus. Jones had been placed on administrative leave from his duties in October due to concerns raised by the Alabama Department of Education.

An Alabama electrical cooperative is helping rural residents of Tennessee get high-speed internet. The developer of a private mountaintop community outside of Chattanooga teamed up with the North Alabama Electrical Cooperative to get high-speed Internet access for the neighborhood. Developer John Thornton tried and failed to get the Tennessee legislature to expand broadband in rural areas. The proposal would have allowed municipal utilities that offer broadband to provide ultra-fast Internet outside their service area.

 A north Alabama school superintendent says a state law regarding virtual schools needs to be clarified to allow state funding to follow the students.

The Decatur Daily reports that Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay says he believes virtual schools should receive funding if they are fully educating students. Two Morgan County superintendents say more time is needed to allow systems to get used to virtual school rules before any funding changes are made.

 

Alabama voters head to the polls next week to name their picks for presidential nominees.

Super Tuesday, with contests in 12 states, represents the biggest single-day delegate haul in the entire nomination process. This also marks what is known as the SEC Primary where several southern states brought their elections dates together to draw more interest from the candidates. Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ben Carson all plan stops in Alabama before Tuesday's election.

historymakers.com

Ozell Sutton, a longtime civil rights activist who was associated with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has died. He was 90. 

His daughter, Alta Sutton, told The Associated Press on Sunday her father died at Saint Joseph Hospital in Atlanta on Saturday. She said the family had celebrated his birthday nearly a week ago. Ozell Sutton marched for equal rights alongside King in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 and was present at the Memphis hotel where King was assassinated in 1968.

A push for casino gambling in Alabama has lost its highest profile advocate in the Alabama Legislature.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says he won't sponsor casino legislation in the upcoming session as he had originally planned.

Marsh says he did not think the votes were there for the casino legislation so he will move on in the upcoming session.

The Republican Senate leader said hoped that lawmakers would consider casinos because of the potential revenue for the state.

Alabama Crimson Tide
Mackenzie Bates / APR

The Alabama Crimson Tide won their 25th Southeastern Conference Championship Saturday, defeating the Florida Gators 29-15.

Heisman Trophy favorite Derrick Henry rushed for 189 bruising yards and the Tide sealed its spot in the College Football Playoff, beating #18 Florida with a dominating defensive performance.

The Crimson Tide (12-1, No. 2 CFP) held the Gators to a total of 3 yards in the second and third quarters. Florida (10-3, No. 18 CFP) only managed an 85-yard punt return from Antonio Callaway and a late touchdown that made little difference in the game.

tripadvisor.com

The life-size bronze sculpture of Rosa Parks has received a makeover.

With the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott on Tuesday, sculptor Erik Blome recently returned to touch up the sculpture 15 years after the statue was placed in the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery. The sculpture was touched up after wearing down and losing some color from constant touching and interaction.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Blome touched up the sculpture Nov. 19. The sculpture depicts Parks sitting on a bus seat, hands settled on a purse in her lap.

www.nasa.gov

 NASA has named an interim director to lead the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

NASA officials say that Todd May has been named to the post after the retirement of former director Patrick Scheuermann.

May has served as the space center's deputy director since August and had managed the Space Launch System Program since 2011. Officials say May started his career with NASA in 1991 at the Materials and Processes lab at Marshall.

 

The future looks bright for the tourism industry in Mobile.

City leaders are touting the return of Carnival Cruise Lines to the city next year, the new GulfQuest Maritime Museum just opened near the downtown cruise terminal, and the region's is economy looks good. Despite its rich history, antebellum architecture and emerging art and music scene, locals say Mobile has long been overlooked by tourists heading west to New Orleans or east to the Florida Panhandle.

 

A federal judge says the state of Alabama may not use a large dose of a sedative to execute five death row inmates.

U.S. District Judge William Keith Watkins issued an order Thursday denying the state's requests to dismiss lawsuits from five inmates who have challenged Alabama three-drug lethal injection procedure. The inmates were asked to present alternative means of execution and among other things suggested single doses of midazolam in amended complaints.

 

 Alabama is updating its science standards to require that students understand evolution and learn about climate change.

Educators say the new rules don't require that students in the Bible Belt state believe in evolution or accept the idea that climate is changing globally.

However, students will be required to understand the theory of evolution starting next year. Teachers will address climate change, which wasn't a focus in the state's previous, decade-old standards.

The state school board approved the new standards unanimously late last week.

 

Dr. Don Williamson is stepping down next month to take a job as president of the Alabama Hospital Association.

For more than two decades, Williamson has served as Alabama's state health officer.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Williamson said he's proud of the work the state has done to establish a statewide trauma system and to provide health insurance to children. The state's ALL Kids program provides subsidized insurance to more than 80,000 children and has won Alabama praise for reducing rates of un-insurance for children.

www.talladega.com

 

  Talladega's mayor says a recent assault outside a barbershop where he works part time won't derail the final push of his re-election campaign.

Talladega Mayor Larry Barton was attacked August eighth in Vestavia Hills, roughly 55 miles east of his city, where municipal elections are set for August twenty-fifth.

Police have said 71-year-old Benny Green has been charged with assault in the attack. Police have not released details on his motive.

The Alabama Legislature is honoring two Huntsville police officers for extraordinary courage in the line of duty.

 Lawmakers bestowed the annual Alabama Legislative Medal of Honor for Law Enforcement to officers Jason Moore and Reynard Robinson on Thursday.

   A domestic-violence suspect opened fire on the two officers with a shotgun and rifle last year. Moore was shot in the face, neck, and shoulder and still has dozens of birdshot pellets in his face and body. He stayed on the scene despite his injuries.

al.com

     

The last known surviving member of the German engineering team that came to the United States and designed the rocket that took astronauts to the moon has died.

   Oscar Carl Holderer died Tuesday at age 95 in Huntsville. His son Michael Holderer says his father suffered a stroke last week and didn't recover.

   The German-born Holderer came to the United States in 1945 with a group of rocket engineers led by Wernher von Braun.

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