Alabama Department of Mental Health

The state of Alabama has been selected to take part in a national project to help combat the opioid epidemic across the country.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced earlier this week that the state will participate in a National Governors Association learning lab to address the opioid issue. The project aims to reduce the number of overdoses and deaths related to heroin and prescription opiates like fentanyl. Current data shows 78 people nationwide die of an opiate overdose every day.

A University of Alabama official confirms that a man who killed three law enforcement officers this past weekend was a student at the Tuscaloosa Campus.

UA Spokesman Chris Bryant says Baton Rouge gunman Gavin Eugene Long attended the University of Alabama for one semester in the spring of 2012.

The 29-year-old Long was a former Marine from Kansas City, Missouri.  He opened fire killing three police officers and wounded three others.  Long was killed at the scene.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Four Republican hopefuls are running for former House Speaker Mike Hubbard's legislative seat.

The Alabama Republican Party announced late last week that Jay Conner, Joe Lovvorn, Brett Smith and Sandy Toomer have all qualified to run for the Lee County House seat. No Democrats are running for the legislative district.

Hubbard was removed from office last month after a jury convicted him of 12 felony ethics charges. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison. Hubbard is appealing his conviction.

The primary election for the vacant seat will be held Sep. 13.

Supporters and critics of legalized gambling and an Alabama state lottery are scheduled to meet in Montgomery today.

If approved by voters, the measure would allow casino gambling at four state dog tracks along with lotto drawings. Critics of lotteries claim they’re a tax on the poor and a study by the non-partisan John Locke Foundation in North Carolina appears to support that idea.

Foundation spokesman Mitch Kokai says they examined who bought tickets during the first year of North Carolina’s lottery in 2007.

mh.alabama.gov / Alabama Department of Mental Health

Alabama Department of Mental Health officials say Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon is expected to close on Oct. 31 and admissions to the south Alabama facility will cease on Sept. 17.

Plans to close Searcy were announced in April. But Mental Health Commissioner Jim Reddoch told hospital employees the closing date Tuesday.

Department officials said the closing is part of a nationwide trend to provide community-based mental health treatment.