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.

Statistics show about 16 percent of low-income Alabama preschoolers are obese, and the problem is getting worse.

A report based on 2014 statistics from the Women, Infants and Children feeding program shows that 16.3 percent of children ages 2 to 4 in the program were obese.   

That's an increase from about 14 percent of children in 2000, when Alabama was ranked 18th nationally in the obesity statistics.

The state is now ranked 10th nationally, and statistics show the problem is getting worse. Nationally, the obesity rate about 2- to 4-year-olds is on the decline.

A sharp increase in syphilis cases has led the Alabama Department of Public Health to issue a health advisory for north Alabama.  

The ADPH says there's been a 90 percent increase in reported cases over 2015 in Madison County. The department announced Friday that 54 cases have been reported in Madison County in 2016.

Health officials say infection can occur after a person has direct contact with a syphilis sore during sex. Syphilis can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby.

A federal agency is providing $325,000 in funding for operation of a special court that deals with drug-related cases in Birmingham.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is providing the money to Birmingham's municipal drug court. The funding will be spread out over three years.  

Birmingham's court is the only program in Alabama to receive the money, but it's only one of more than 40 programs nationwide to receive funding.

APR--Pat Duggins

Alabama Quarterback Jalen Hurts broke loose for a twenty one yard touchdown run to break a scoreless tie early in the fourth quarter against LSU. Number one ranked Alabama's defense thoroughly stifled Leonard Fournette and the Tigers in a 10-0 victory in Baton Rogue. Freshman Hurts established himself as one of the most dynamic, explosive players in college football, was the game's leading rusher with one hundred and fourteen yards on twenty 20 carries.

 State officials are looking at options for a planned bridge that would span the Mobile River and help eliminate traffic congestion along the Gulf Coast.

The state is currently accepting recommendations on how to best incorporate pedestrian and bicycle traffic into plans for the project, which would reroute Interstate 10 through Mobile.   

Alabama Power Company says water levels at its lakes are low because of the drought, and things might get worse.

The utility says it has reduced water releases for power generation, and it has suspended recreational water releases on Lake Jordan because of the drought.  

The company says water levels are falling at Weiss, Neely Henry and Logan Martin lakes on the Coosa River; Harris and Martin lakes on the Tallapoosa River; and Smith Lake on the Black Warrior River. Lake levels eventually could go below normal winter stages because of the lack of rain.

Alabamians in November will vote on a proposal aimed at protecting hundreds of local laws — from sales taxes to annexations to draft beer regulations — from being invalidated because of a legal dispute over legislative procedure.

Senator Cam Ward says hundreds of local laws are vulnerable to court challenges unless lawmakers approve Amendment 14.                                  

A study by Alabama researchers is looking at a potential method for reducing the number of gun suicides in the United States.

A report published by the American Association of Suicidology suggests that many patients at risk for killing themselves would voluntarily place their names on a list of people who can't purchase firearms.   

That could be important since guns account for about half of all suicides, and suicide was the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2013.

Encyclopedia of Alabama

 The first black person to attend the University of Alabama, Autherine Lucy Foster, is among four people who are being honored as the newest members of the university's Alabama Educator Hall of Fame.

The group was honored at a ceremony Saturday night at NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa.  

Foster became the first black person to attend Alabama in 1956. Campus riots broke out and the university removed her. Foster's expulsion was reversed in 1988, and she graduated from Alabama with a master's degree in elementary education in 1992.

Alabama voters on Election Day will have their say on 14 proposed statewide amendments. One of those is aimed at protecting money for the Yellowhammer State's twenty one state parks.

Amendment 2 would prohibit money generated at state parks— as well as tax dollars earmarked for park maintenance — from being transferred to other government functions. It would also allow more private entities to run hotels, golf courses and restaurants at the parks.

Alabama's first female lieutenant governor, Democrat Lucy Baxley, has died.

A statement released by Baxley's family says she died Friday at home. She was 78. Baxley was elected lieutenant governor and presided over the Senate during a four-year term that began in 2003.

She was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2006 but lost to Republican Bob Riley. Baxley served as state treasurer before becoming lieutenant governor and she was elected president of the Alabama Public Service Commission in 2008 despite having suffered a serious stroke after her gubernatorial bid.

No  more "A's," or "F's," for Alabama schools, at least for now. The Alabama Board of Education is postponing plans to assign schools letter grades. Board members tabled a vote on rules pertaining to the proposed new report cards. The vote came after several board members raised skepticism over the plans and suggested additional conversations with lawmakers and new education Superintendent Michael Sentance.  Alabama lawmakers in 2012 approved legislation requiring the development of the A-F report cards. The first report cards were scheduled for December.

Moody's Investor Services has raised its outlook on Mobile from negative to stable. It's a move that Mayor Sandy Stimpson says will help ongoing efforts to put the city on a more solid financial footing. Mobile remains at an Aa2 credit rating, but Stimpson says the change in outlook will have real benefits. The Mayor says the city is getting ready to go back into the market to refinance some existing debt and the timing of the Moody report was perfect.

apr

Wildfires are burning across Alabama as drought conditions worsen. Forecasters say there isn't enough rain in the forecast to lessen the threat anytime soon. The Alabama Forestry Commission reported that about 70 blazes burned around 730 acres of land on Sunday alone. The situation is worse in north Alabama, where drought conditions are most severe. The state issued a fire danger warning for 46 of Alabama's 67 counties last week, and officials said it will continue until rain returns to the state.

Fuel truck drivers may be working extra hours in the coming days. The governors of Alabama and Georgia have lifted restrictions on the number of hours these drivers can work. Robert Bentley and Nathan Deal hope to prevent gasoline shortages after the shutdown of a leaking pipeline in rural Alabama. Bentley's order remains in place for thirty days unless he cancels it. Governor Deal issued seven day order. Governors can suspend federal regulations during emergencies. Colonial Pipeline has said most of the leaked gasoline is contained in a retention pond near the city of Helena.

 Dabney Montgomery, who served with the all-black Tuskegee Airmen in World War II and marched with Martin Luther King Jr., has died. He was 93.

His wife, Amelia Montgomery, said he died of natural causes Saturday morning at a Manhattan hospice care facility. He had lived in Harlem until he entered the facility August 25th.

Montgomery was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.         

 Alabama's attempt to rebuild its beachfront state park using oil spill money is again embroiled in controversy. 

Businessman Tom Schlinkert says officials are shutting down his zip line adventure ride at Gulf State Park in Gulf  Shores and refusing him $40,000 in compensation as construction continues on a new coastal hotel. That project is being funded in part with BP money, even though a hurricane destroyed the old lodge years before the oil spill.

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.

kwgn.com

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.

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