Alabama is moving forward with plans to use oil spill settlement funds to build a 350-room hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park.

Gov. Robert Bentley hopes the beachfront facility, intended to handle meeting of up to 1,500 people, can open by 2018.  Bentley says many beachfront conferences now go to Florida because there is not a meeting place large enough on the Alabama coast.

Students at the University of Alabama renewed a list of demands related to diversity at the Tuscaloosa campus.

A rally was held outside of Gorgas Library where organizers repeated eleven requests including, a division of diversity, a safe space for students of color, and a diversity course for freshman.

Elliott Spillers is President of the Student Government association. He says a recent meeting with UA President Stuart Bell was encouraging, but there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done…

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Alabama congressman Artur Davis, who sought to run as a Democrat in a county election after he returned to the party from the GOP.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs dismissed Davis's case Wednesday. Davis is seeking to run for Montgomery County commissioner.

A lesbian mother in Alabama wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review an Alabama decision declaring adoptions invalid.

In 2007, the woman adopted her long-term partner’s three children. When the couple broke up, the former partner prevented the other from seeing the children. She asked Alabama’s Supreme Court to enforce her visitation rights, but instead the justices declared her adoption invalid.

Governor Robert Bentley is refusing Syrian refugees relocating to Alabama.

Bentley says in a news release on Sunday that, “After full consideration of this weekend's attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way."

There is a new development in the case of an Alabama boy who was taken from his mother thirteen years ago.  APR’s Taylor Swinney has the latest…

Bobby Hernandez is being held on $250,000 bond. Prosecutors claim he abducted his own son thirteen years ago from his home in Vestavia Hills. A preliminary trial that was scheduled for today in Cleveland, Ohio has been cancelled.

Hernandez faces tampering charges in Ohio.

A special election will be held next year to fill the east Alabama legislative seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Lesley Vance.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced the election schedule for the district yesterday that covers portions of Lee and Russell counties.

A primary election will be held Jan. 19 and the general election will be held April 12.

If a primary runoff is required, the general election will be pushed back until May.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says the National Fish and Wildlife   Foundation has approved spending more than $21 million on projects to restore areas of Alabama's Gulf Coast.

Bentley says the money will be used to launch five projects focused on natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Officials say the projects include fisheries and ecosystem monitoring, a project to bolster the state's artificial reef program and strategic land acquisition.

Three Tuscaloosa Police officers are on paid leave following a videotaped incident that went viral on the internet. APR’s Pat Duggins says Police Chief Steven Anderson admits even he was disturbed by it…

The graphic video shot from inside a Tuscaloosa apartment shows local police officers pushing their way inside, and pulling two University of Alabama students out.

Organizers say the National Peanut Festival fairgrounds have been closed because of expected rain in Alabama.

Officials with the festivals the fairgrounds of the 71st annual festival will be closed Sunday. The festival plans to open Monday for all scheduled events if the weather permits.

The festival runs through Nov. 15, honoring peanut growers and to celebrate the harvest season.

Hundreds of vendors have setup for the festival.

Dunn to run for president of Public Service Commission

Nov 8, 2015

Former Alabama Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn is seeking to return to the state board that regulates utilities.

Dunn filed papers Friday with the Alabama Republican Party to challenge incumbent commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh in the 2016 primary.

Dunn says his name on the ballot will give ratepayers a choice, and he believes the commission needs to do a better job of protecting consumers.

Dunn was elected to the commission in 2010. He was unseated by a Republican challenger Chip Beeker in 2014.

Young seeks rematch against Byrne in congressional race

Nov 8, 2015

Political firebrand Dean Young is seeking a rematch against Rep. Bradley Byrne for the south Alabama congressional seat.

Young  filed papers with the Alabama Republican Party Friday to run against Byrne in next year's GOP primary.

Bryne defeated Young in 2013 for the then open seat. The race drew national attention as an illustration of the internal GOP divide.

Byrne is a former state senator and two-year college chancellor. Young is perhaps best known as a former adviser to Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

A city-wide planning map is aiming to make Mobile more walkable.

The plan called "Map for Mobile" will go before the city council Tuesday for consideration. The plan outlines methods and approaches the city will follow starting in 2016 to implement zoning, land use, code and ordinance changes and capital improvement priorities.

The map would be the first for South Alabama's largest city in years.

It was approved by the city's planning commission Thursday following a round of mostly positive comments from people involved in the nine-month creation process.

The two Alabama Senate budget chairmen are swapping committees for the upcoming session.

Sen. Trip Pittman of Montrose will head the general fund budget committee. Sen Arthur Orr of Decatur will take over as Education Trust Fund budget chairman.

The Senate Committee on Assignments announced the change on Friday.

Orr says he believes it is healthy to have fresh eyes on the state budgets. Pittman says he is looking forward to a new challenge.

There is a "Free Lunch"

Nov 5, 2015

This story is a class assignment in JN 325, a class on writing across media (Radio, TV, Web,) taught by Dr. George Daniels and APR news director Pat Duggins. The students are coached by Duggins, APR assistant news director Stan Ingold, and Morning Edition host Alex AuBuchon.

JN 325 Wrap Script

American Lunch

Lauren Fuller

With the growing popularity of food trucks, you can find food nearly anywhere you go. APR’s Lauren Fuller has the story about a food truck based charity that is bringing a truly free lunch to those in need with their mobile soup kitchen.

A police officer in Birmingham, Alabama was stripped of a combat medal last night. APR’s Alex AuBuchon tells us why.

Birmingham police officer Daniel Aguirre received his department’s Combat Cross Medal in May after valorous action in a shooting last year. Officials honored him for shooting a robbery suspect who the officer claimed pointed a gun at him.

Alabama and Whiskey: 100 years in the making

Nov 4, 2015

Alabama is predominantly known by three things.  Barbecue, football, and history.  But one father and son duo are looking to add something else to that list.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates took a trip to the John Emerald Distillery in Opelika where history is being made, one barrel at a time.

It’s a quiet afternoon in the back room at the John Emerald Distillery.  There are several large tanks filled with ingredients to make alcohol.   Jimmy Sharp is making a batch of rum with a local flavor to it.

Another Republican Presidential hopeful is coming to Alabama today.

Ohio Governor John Kasich* is meeting supporters during a campaign rally right now at Wintzell’s Oyster Bar in Mobile. The GOP contender earned the endorsement of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. Still, Kasich is behind in the polls compared to competitors like Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Bob Omainsky** owns Wintzell’s. He says the Kasich campaign approached him about using the oyster bar as the venue for today’s event…

Alabama red snapper fishermen say they’re feeling caught between state and federal regulators.

New numbers from Washington for the amount of snapper caught this year differs from the total from the state. The Federal Marine Recreational Information Program says Alabama anglers caught just over two million pounds of red snapper. Alabama regulators put that number at just over a million pounds. 

A secret student society is under fire at the University of Alabama.

A group called "The Machine" has operated in Tuscaloosa for a century or more. Members don't publicly acknowledge its existence, yet the group historically controls campus politics.

But 19-year-old sophomore Alex Smith wrote a column in the campus newspaper this week identifying herself as a Machine member and publicly resigning from the group.

A former Auburn University lab technician accused of distributing a chemical similar to a date-rape drug has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Court documents say Stephen Howard's guilty plea to three counts of possessing and distributing a form of butanediol was accepted yesterday by U.S. District Judge Charles Coody.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the chemical known as BD is odorless and colorless and is used as a sedative.

A federal judge has shut down the state of Alabama’s effort to cut off Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood.

Attorneys are questioning potential jurors for the retrial of an Alabama police officer accused of badly injuring an Indian man during an encounter earlier this year.

About 70 would-be jurors answered questions both in open court and in the judge's chambers today in preparation for the second trial of 27-year-old Eric Parker.

The Madison police officer is charged with violating the civil rights of 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel during an encounter in a suburban neighborhood in February.

Rain is helping efforts to put out a nearly 2,000-acre wildfire that's been burning for more than a week in northwest Alabama.

The U.S. Forest Service says crews were monitoring a fire line in the Sipsey Wilderness today. Officials hope continuing rainfall will extinguish the blaze.

More than 1.5 inches of rain is forecast in an area where the Big Tree wildfire has burned about 1,938 acres since it was first reported on Oct. 16.

Brookwood Mining Layoffs, Bike Officers at State Capitol

Oct 14, 2015

About 130 people are losing their jobs at a coal mine west of Birmingham.

Walter Energy is laying off 129 workers at Jim Walters Resources in Brookwood.

Company spokesman Bill Stanhouse says the job cuts are a result of conditions in the coal market. The mine is operating at reduced production levels.

Walter Energy filed for bankruptcy in July and laid off nearly 200 people at a mine in Tuscaloosa County.

A legal group has filed a complaint against an Alabama Supreme Court justice over his public comments against same-sex marriage.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said Tuesday it has filed a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Commission against Justice Tom Parker.

The complaint cites comments Parker made on a Christian radio show.

The Alabama Ethics Commission have released an opinion on  the idea of public employees being paid by outside sources.

Commissioners say the arrangements are presumed to be in conflict with the underlying principles of state ethics law. Commissioners say they will only approve such arrangements on a case-by case basis made through formal opinion requests.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton says the opinion process will bring the arrangements into the open and allow public scrutiny.

The fallout continues from Alabama’s new general fund budget. APR student reporter Taylor Swinney reports the fiscal year has just begun and the impact is now being felt…

Alabama’s Law Enforcement Agency says there will be fewer State troopers on the road to help out with major events like Mardi Gras and races at Talladega. The department is facing a budget cut of eleven million dollars.

A judge has set a hearing on House Speaker Mike Hubbard's claims of prosecutorial misconduct and argument that the ethics law is unconstitutional.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker says the hearing is on October 26.  Walker says for Hubbard to prevail, he must prove misconduct that substantially impacted a grand jury's decision to indict Hubbard.

Hubbard faces 23 ethics charges accusing him of using his public offices to benefit his businesses.

Former Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley says she's "doing fine" days after her divorce from Gov. Robert Bentley.

Dianne Bentley filed for divorce from the governor in late August, citing an irretrievable breakdown.  A judge officially ended their 50-year marriage Tuesday.

The former first lady says God is helping her, and expressed thanks for prayers. She says she still wants to represent the state "as a lady" even though she isn't first lady anymore.