Alabama

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.

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.”

Alabama to issue new unemployment debit cards next year

Dec 15, 2016

Alabama residents receiving unemployment compensation will soon get new debit cards.

The state Department of Labor says the agency is switching service providers and will be mailing out new cards in January.  All of those receiving unemployment who currently use a debit card will receive a new one.

State officials say those who are receiving benefits by direct deposit to a personal bank account will not be affected by the change.

Moore appealing his suspension from the bench

Dec 14, 2016

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is appealing his suspension from the bench.

Moore's attorney says in a brief filed yesterday a judicial discipline panel exceeded its authority by suspending Moore for the remainder of his term. It requires a unanimous vote to remove a judge from office.

Moore argues the lengthy suspension is a "de facto removal" without the required unanimous vote.

The United Methodist Disaster Relief Warehouse in Decatur is expanding their efforts this year to victims of the recent tornadoes and wildfires in Alabama.

The warehouse primarily focuses on giving relief supplies and Christmas gifts to Haiti, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. This year they are focusing on supplying gifts for children that lost their homes and belongings in the recent local disasters. 

Bentley preparing to interview Senate candidates

Dec 13, 2016

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he is preparing to interview potential replacements for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions.

The governor says the interviews could begin as soon as this week. He has not decided how many candidates he will interview.

President-elect Donald Trump named Sessions as his attorney general. Sessions is expected to step down once he is confirmed.

Alabama hotel, built in 1837, at center of legal battle

Dec 13, 2016

A company that sought to redevelop a historic hotel overlooking the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma says that city leaders broke their contract for the hotel's sale.

The Janee Hotel Corp. made the allegations in a federal lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court.

The Illinois-based company says it offered to purchase the St. James Hotel hotel for $100,000 and commit $4.5 million to redevelop it. The company maintains that city councilors voted in August to accept the offer, but later backed out.

Group trying to save mansion at old Alabama hospital

Dec 11, 2016

Historic preservationists are trying to save a building located at a one-time mental hospital in southwestern Alabama.

The Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Society is raising money to restore a mansion at the old Searcy Hospital near Mobile.

The house was built in the late 1800s. It was the home of hospital superintendent E.L. McCafferty in the early 1900s.

The state closed Searcy in 2012. Many of the 19th-century buildings at the site are dilapidated, and the newer 20th-century buildings are dormant.

Craft beer breweries planned in Mobile

Dec 11, 2016

The port city of Mobile is getting into the craft beer boom.

WKRG-TV reports that two new breweries are scheduled to open next year in Mobile.

The former Crystal Ice Co. warehouse is being renovated to house Haint Blue Brewing. A few streets away, an old Goodyear Tire Center will transform into Serda Brewing Co.

Keith Sherill says he hopes to get Haint Blue Brewing open in early 2017, and the other company is expected to open in the summer.

The city's board of adjustment recently approved changes to get both breweries off the ground.

A "people's parade" is being planned on Dauphin Island for the upcoming Carnival season.

Though the Island Mystics Mardi Gras organization will no longer parade on Dauphin Island, town leaders say the good times will continue to roll during the upcoming Carnival season.

The Dauphin Island Town Council recently voted to sponsor and organize a parade to replace the Island Mystics parade on Feb. 4.

Council member Gene Fox says it will be "a people's parade" similar to the Joe Cain Day parade in Mobile.

Prison commissioner: No evidence inmate suffered

Dec 9, 2016

Alabama's prison commissioner says there were no visible signs that an inmate suffered during an execution last night.

Commissioner Jeff Dunn issued the statement Friday on the execution of inmate Ronald Bert Smith Jr.

Dunn says Smith coughed early in the execution Thursday night, "but at no time ...was there observational evidence that he suffered."

State: Alabama graduation rate not accurate

Dec 8, 2016

Alabama's 89 percent graduation rate is not accurate, but it may be months before the correct numbers are revealed.

A review of the state's graduation rates by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General shows the state misstated its rates by counting students who received Alabama Occupational Diplomas in its numbers.  They also did not properly oversee local school systems' awarding of class credits, resulting in some diplomas that weren't honestly earned.

Southern states still in drought's crosshairs

Dec 8, 2016

The recent rain across Alabama is providing some relief from the ongoing drought, but the dry conditions that have plagued the state are far from over.

The worst of the drought is in central Alabama, including Jefferson County and communities in the eastern part of the state.

John Christy is the Alabama state climatologist. He says the rain has helped but the drought far from over…

Report: LGBT students face discrimination at US schools

Dec 7, 2016

A report from an international human rights organization concludes many public schools are still hostile environments for LGBT students in Alabama and other states.

The lengthy report from Human Rights Watch was released today and offered suggestions of ways for states to make policy changes.

It was based on hundreds of interviews primarily with current and former high school students, parents, administrators and teachers in Alabama, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.

Alabama AG Strange seeks to replace Sessions in Senate

Dec 6, 2016

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says he will seek the U.S. Senate seat left open if incumbent Jeff Sessions is confirmed to be attorney general under president-elect Donald Trump.

Gov. Robert Bentley would appoint Sessions' interim replacement until there's an election to fill the rest of the term. That election would be held next year or in 2018.

Strange issued a statement Tuesday saying he will be a candidate for the position and already has filed the necessary paperwork with federal election officials.

Alabama opposing execution stay for condemned inmate

Dec 6, 2016

The state of Alabama is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the execution of an inmate scheduled for lethal injection on Thursday.

The attorney general's office asked the justices in court papers Tuesday to deny a stay requested by Ronald Bert Smith, convicted of killing Huntsville store clerk Casey Wilson in 1994.

The Alabama businessman who started a one-of-a-kind store selling the contents of unclaimed airline baggage has died.

A spokeswoman for the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro says founder Doyle Owens died Saturday night. He was 85.

Store spokeswoman Brenda Cantrell says relatives haven't released details on Owens' death, but services are planned for Saturday.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says the statewide burn ban which has been in effect since early November is being lifted.

Alabama Forestry Commission officials say the state has received enough rainfall over the last few days to reduce the threat of dangerous wildfires.

Bentley said the forestry commission now believes "the worst of the drought has ended."

An Alabama inmate is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his upcoming execution to consider whether a judge should have been able to give him a death sentence when the jury recommended life imprisonment.

Attorneys for Ronald Bert Smith filed the stay request today. Smith is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection next Thursday for the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

A jury recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote, but a judge sentenced Smith to the death penalty.

Hunters are clear to use an Alabama wildlife management area shut down by a major gasoline pipeline leak in September.

State officials say the William R. Ireland, Sr. Cahaba River Wildlife Management Area has been reopened between Brantleyville and Glen Carbon. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says cleanup and remediation efforts are complete, allowing big and small game hunters to return.

NWS Confirms Tornadoes in several Alabama counties

Nov 30, 2016

The National Weather service has confirmed that tornadoes touched down last night in Pickens and Winston counties. 

Meteorologists say there were at least two tornadoes overnight Tuesday. Emergency managers headed out at daybreak to survey the areas where the twisters are believed to have touched down.

There were reports of homes and businesses destroyed or damaged in Pickens and Winston counties. The National Weather Service office in Huntsville is also investigating possible tornado losses.

Experts: Rainfall didn't end drought in Alabama

Nov 29, 2016

Weather experts say storms that dumped as much as 5 inches of rain on Alabama didn't end the drought.

National Weather Service statistics show as much as 5 inches of rain fell near the geographic center of the state along the Shelby-Chilton county line.

Much of central Alabama got 2 inches of rain, and nearly the entire northern half of the state got at least 1 inch. The southern third of the state got less precipitation.

Dunn says uprisings, death show need for new prisons

Nov 29, 2016

The state prison commissioner says outbreaks of violence, including the stabbing death of a corrections officer last month, illustrate the need for new state prisons

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn made the remarks Tuesday as he briefed legislators on the governor's $800 million prison construction proposal. Dunn said the situation in state prisons has become urgent.

The proposal calls for the construction of three super-sized prisons for men and one for women. Most existing prisons would close.

Storms take aim at wildfires, but danger remains

Nov 28, 2016

Fire officials say a storm system moving across the South appears to be heading toward many of the largest ongoing wildfires and will help suppress them.

However, authorities say the rain moving across parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee likely won't end the fire threat and dangers posed by the blazes. Several of the largest fires are in Georgia and North Carolina.

Latest stats show nearly all of Alabama in severe drought

Nov 23, 2016

The latest federal estimate shows nearly the entire state of Alabama is in a severe drought.

An assessment released by the National Drought Mitigation Center today shows that about 98 percent of the state's land mass is now locked in a severe drought after weeks without rain.

The severity of the drought varies. About 82 percent of the state is in an extreme drought, and 35 percent is experiencing an exceptional drought. That's the worst of all the drought categories.

Hubbard appealing decision on juror misconduct

Nov 23, 2016

Ousted Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is appealing a judge's ruling on allegations of juror misconduct during his ethics trial.

Lawyers for the one-time Statehouse leader filed a notice of the challenge this week with the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

The defense is fighting the decision of a Lee County judge who dismissed Hubbard's claims that jury members made improper comments that were critical of Hubbard.

Airbus A321 will flyover Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa

Nov 22, 2016

The University of Alabama will welcome an Airbus A321 commercial airliner for a pregame flyover prior to the start of the Iron Bowl on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

This aircraft is the first A321 that is being produced for Delta Air Lines in the Airbus Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Ala. It will be the 15th Airbus A321 delivered from the facility, which opened in September of 2015.

Judge: Ex-astronaut charged in 2 traffic deaths can drive

Nov 22, 2016

An Alabama judge says a former astronaut charged in the traffic deaths of two girls can continue driving, but with restrictions.

A judge in Tuscaloosa ruled late Friday that former space shuttle commander  James Halsell Jr. can't consume any alcohol or illegal drugs.  He also cannot take medication unless he has a prescription.

Circuit Judge Bradley Almond also ruled the 60-year-old Halsell must have a special locking device installed on his car's ignition. And the Huntsville man must undergo twice-weekly testing.

The Alabama Department of Public Health says wedding food was probably behind a salmonella outbreak that sickened about 100 people in north Alabama.

Officials say Salmonella was found both in cooked chicken and green beans following the event in Colbert County.

About 150 people were at the wedding, which was held in Tuscumbia, and the department says at least 99 people got sick. Of those, 22 people were hospitalized. Four people remain hospitalized.

Crews fighting large fire in northeast Alabama

Nov 21, 2016

Crews in northeast Alabama are fighting one of the largest wildfires yet to strike the state this fall.

The Alabama Forestry Commission says a fire near Mentone has burned more than 1,000 acres on Lookout Mountain.

National Guard helicopters are dumping water on the flames because the fire is inaccessible to bulldozers and firefighters in places. Only a few structures are at risk.

Pages