Alabama

State: Alabama graduation rate not accurate

19 hours ago

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. A state...

Southern states still in drought's crosshairs

19 hours ago

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… “The soils are still below normal in terms of their moisture capacity and the creeks being low tells us there is...

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. The report...

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...

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. A judge imposed death after jurors recommended life without parole, which Smith contends conflicts with a Supreme Court decision released earlier this year from Florida. Both...

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. Using a $300 loan and a borrowed pickup truck, Owens bought his first load of unclaimed baggage in 1970 and sold the contents atop...

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." Interim State Forester Gary Cole said that if exceptionally dry conditions return, it may be necessary to issue new fire alerts or no-burn...

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...

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. But state officials say cleanup continues at a shooting range in the area....

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. Forecasters say additional rain and even isolated tornadoes are...

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...

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. Dave Martin of the U.S. Forest Service says high winds on the leading edge of the front could topple dead trees and put...

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. Only eastern Baldwin...

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. The judge ruled last month that Hubbard didn't prove any misconduct that...

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. Airbus now has over 370 employees at their facility in Mobile, where more than 85 percent of the...

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...

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. The department previously said it was...

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. Officials have banned outdoor fires because of the drought, but wildfires have still burned more than 12,600...

Alabama jobless rate jumps to 5.7 percent

Nov 18, 2016

Alabama's unemployment rate is on the rise, partly because more people are out looking for jobs. The state said Friday that Alabama's unemployment rate jumped to 5.7 percent in October. That's three-tenths of a percent higher than September. And while the state jobless rate is better than it was a year ago, Alabama still trails the nation. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in October. Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says Alabama unemployment rose partly because far more...

Trump's staff picks disappoint, alarm minority groups

Nov 18, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump's picks for staff positions in his administration are alarming civil rights leaders who say his choices could turn back the clock on social issues. Trump's picks include Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, alt-right architect Stephen Bannon as senior adviser and chief strategist, and former Army Lt. Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Minority groups say comments attributed to some of his picks could embolden everyday Americans to lash out at...

Drought spreading southward in Alabama

Nov 17, 2016

A new report shows that a choking drought is spreading southward across Alabama. Federal statistics show nearly 90 percent of the state is now in a severe drought. And the U.S. Drought Monitor shows 65 percent of the state is in an extreme or exceptional drought. Conditions are worst in the northern half of the state, where many areas haven't had measurable rainfall in two months. The rainless period is setting records, and some places are more than 15 inches below normal rainfall for the...

Bentley spokeswoman says Mason not returning to office

Nov 17, 2016

A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says the governor's former political adviser — whose relationship with the governor became part of an impeachment probe is not returning to the administration. Bentley spokeswoman Yasamie August issued the clarification today after Bentley became testy when a reporter asked if Rebekah Caldwell Mason was returning to the administration. Bentley became visibly irritated and asked why he would ask that question. Bentley added that he didn't think people...

Bentley approached by people seeking Senate appointment

Nov 16, 2016

A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley says the administration has already been approached by "several" people seeking appointment to U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions' Senate seat if he takes a position in the incoming Trump administration. Sessions has not taken a position with the President-Elect, but the mere possibility has set off a political chain reaction. Bentley, in a statement, says he will look for someone consistent with the agenda of President-elect Donald Trump. The governor says the...

Trump garners record vote count in Alabama

Nov 16, 2016

History was made last week in Alabama as more than 1.3 million votes were cast in the state for President-Elect Donald Trump. That is the highest amount any candidate for President has ever received in Alabama, according to Secretary of State John Merrill. Merrill attributes some of the high vote count for Trump to a surge in late registrations, after more than half a million people signed up to vote within the last year… “Our registrars worked endless hours in making sure that all of those...

Two of 1,100 Alabama wildfires under investigation

Nov 15, 2016

Alabama's fire marshal says state officers are investigating two of nearly 1,100 statewide wildfires as possible arson. Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen says a fire that burned 800 acres in DeKalb County is under investigation. So is a series of three blazes that burned 65 acres along Interstate 65 north of Birmingham last week. No arrests have been made. But Pilgreen says officers also issued a few misdemeanor citations to people who allegedly violated a statewide no-burn order during the drought...

Birmingham agency wins extension for Zika research

Nov 14, 2016

The Birmingham-based Southern Research is expanding its work on the Zika virus. The National Institutes of Health has awarded the non-profit organization a contract extension worth $650,000 to expand a screening effort to include testing of the virus. The goal of the work is to identify compounds that may serve as drug agents to combat Zika, which is transmitted by the bite of a tropical mosquito. Zika is so mild in people that most who get it don't even know they are sick. But it is believed...

Supreme Court clears way for Elba-Samson playoff game

Nov 14, 2016

Elba and Samson high schools will play in the 2A football playoffs after the Alabama Supreme Court cleared the way for the game to go forward. Justices ordered today that the Alabama High School Athletic Association's decision to disqualify Washington County High School from the playoffs should stand. The game between Elba and Samson will be played tonight at 7:30 p.m. The dispute landed before the state's high court after Washington County claimed it was wrongly removed and went to court to...

Owens Elementary to become virtual school headquarters

Nov 13, 2016

Sugar Creek Elementary School will absorb the elementary students of West Limestone High School and Owens Elementary School when it opens in August, but Owens is not going away. Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk says it will become the headquarters for the district's virtual school program as well as house some new and existing career tech programs. The Athens News Courier reports another addition will be the introduction of a bluegrass academy, providing Limestone County...

MöllerTech chooses Bibb County for $46.3 million plant

Nov 13, 2016

Officials say a central Alabama county landed a $46.3 million production plant deal for a German auto supplier. Al.com reports that MöllerTech chose Bibb County for the production plant. Officials said during a groundbreaking Tuesday that Bibb beat out more than 30 sites in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. MöllerTech plans to have the site in full production by the end of 2019. The 150,000-square-foot plant will employ 220 people and will be MöllerTech's flagship production...

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