Alabama

Disease and suicide are claiming inmates on Alabama's death row faster than the executioner.

With Alabama's capital punishment mechanism on hold for more than two years because of legal challenges and a shortage of drugs for lethal injections, five of the state's death row inmates have died without ever seeing the inside of the execution chamber.

Prison officials say three inmates have died of natural causes since the state's last execution on July 25, 2013. Two others committed suicide by hanging themselves.

Samford University announces record-setting enrollment

Aug 30, 2015

Samford University has set records with the fall enrollment this year for students across undergraduate and graduate programs.

University officials announced Friday that there was an enrollment of 5,206. This is Samford's seventh consecutive record for fall enrollment, exceeding last year's mark of 4,933.

Samford President Andrew Westmoreland shared his excitement last week with employees about the start of the fall semester.

The school's fall enrollment figures include a record 826 first-year fulltime students.

Bentley's to divorce, Birmingham Sidewalk Film Festival

Aug 28, 2015

The first couple of Alabama is calling it quits.  First Lady Dianne Bentley has filed papers for divorce.  APR’s Pat Duggins has the details…

Governor Robert Bentley and his wife appeared together at the capitol today shortly before the news broke that Dianne Bentley filed papers to dissolve their marriage.

Mrs. Bentley says, in court documents, that there is a complete incompatibility of temperament that makes it impossible for the two to continue living together.

UPDATE: Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley has filed for divorce from Governor Robert Bentley, saying their 50-year marriage has suffered an "irretrievable breakdown." The complaint, filed Friday, says that attempts at reconciliation are futile and that the couple has been living apart since January. A lawyer for Dianne Bentley wrote that her client says "there is such a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together." The complaint says the couple's personalities conflict. The Bentleys have been married since 1965 and have four adult sons.

Officials say closures of state parks are among the potential impacts of proposed budget cuts to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Department leaders and others met at Oak Mountain State Park today.  State Parks Director Greg Lein says additional cuts could be devastating and officials want lawmakers to preserve the department's funding. Lein says the parks system's emergency and reserve funds are depleted.

Voters in Athens have defeated a school tax proposal by a wide margin.

Residents rejected a 12-mill tax increase yesterday by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. They also turned down a proposed bond issue for school construction.

The new property tax would have funded capital projects worth more than $70 million for Athens city schools.

Superintendent Trey Holladay says the system now must find a different way to move ahead with school renovations and new buildings.

Federal judges want lawyers for black lawmakers to come up with their own map for redrawing Alabama's legislative districts.

The request came Tuesday in Montgomery during a hearing over the new voting lines.

Lawyers for black legislators contend Republicans illegally sorted voters by race when they drew new district lines.

The three-judge panel put tough questions to both sides during two hours of arguments.

More GOP Candidates visting Alabama, Voter Registration

Aug 24, 2015

The latest Alabama inmate seeking freedom from death row says the state is wrongly ignoring his claims of innocence while his health fails.

 Donnis Musgrove maintains the state is arguing about technicalities rather addressing legitimate concerns about his 1988 conviction and death sentence.

Musgrove was sentenced to die for the killing of Coy Eugene Barron in 1986. His attorneys maintain the prosecution falsified evidence.

During the next week nearly a third of the Republicans who want to be President will be in Alabama. 

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley endorsed Ohio’s Governor John Kasich earlier this week. Tonight the G-O-P front runner, businessman Donald Trump will be in Mobile where he is expected to draw a crowd of nearly thirty thousand.

Terry Lathan is the Chairwoman of the Alabama G-O-P. She says Alabama is a key to the South…

Six Hundred and fifty new jobs are coming to Tuscaloosa County.

Governor Robert Bentley announced that Samvardhana Motherson Group plans to build a new $150 million automotive supplier plant in the area.

The new 700,000 square foott facility in Tuscaloosa will produce painted bumpers, rocker panels, spoilers, interior door panels and other parts. This plant will supply Mercedes Benz U.S. International plant in Vance.

Alabama and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Aug 19, 2015

What do Kermit The Frog, Alabama Coach Nick Saban, and Lady Gaga all have in common? Each of these celebrities stepped up to take what’s called the A-L-S ice bucket challenge. By August of last year, the internet based fundraising campaign for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease was credited with generating over one hundred million dollars for research and care. APR’s MacKenzie Bates headed to Huntsville to see how getting ice cold water dumped on your head is helping people with the disease…

Leesburg Mayor Dies, Alabama DOC Job Fair

Aug 13, 2015

Cherokee County officials say Leesburg Mayor Edward Mackey has died after a bulldozer accident.

Coroner Jeremy Deaton says Edward Mackey died around 10:30 this morning at his home in Leesburg. Deaton says Mackey was working near his shop repairing a bulldozer when the equipment engaged and trapped him underneath.

Mackey is a Leesburg native and in his third term as mayor.

The Alabama Department of Corrections is looking to fill more than two hundred jobs.

Alabama lawmakers ended a special session without a budget.

Lawmakers are leaving Montgomery after the special session hit a 30-day time limit without agreeing on taxes or cuts to address a budget shortfall.

The House voted down Senate-passed budget cuts yesterday by an overwhelming 92-2 vote.

Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to call lawmakers back for a second special session.

U.S. Coast Guard officials say they have suspended the search for a 30-year-old man in the waters near Dauphin Island.

Officials with Coast Guard say the search ended late last night.  Daniel Sewell had been missing from Fort Gaines since Wednesday afternoon.

Friends have said Sewell told them he planned to go swimming.

The search covered more than 480 square miles during 22 hours of continuous searching.

World War II veterans will have the chance to reunite tomorrow.

Cigarette Tax fails to pass committee, BP Money fund

Aug 4, 2015

A legislative committee has voted down a proposed hike in Alabama's cigarette tax.  The votes kills a major proposal for filling a shortfall in the state's operating budget.

The Ways and Means General Fund Committee narrowly rejected the cigarette tax increase by an 8-7 today.

The bill would have boosted cigarette taxes by 25 cents per pack.

The increase would raise $66 million in revenue. The state general fund is facing a shortfall of $200 million for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Alabama's rural hospitals in critical condition

Aug 2, 2015

Eight rural hospitals have closed in Alabama over the last 15 years and more closures are possible as rural hospitals struggle to stay open.

Voters in Randolph County will go to the polls Tuesday on a proposed one-cent sales tax to try to keep the doors of Wedowee Hospital open. The money will be used to support a bond issue to build a new facility that administrators hope will attract more patients.

A historic marker has been placed at the Alabama house where singer Nat "King" Cole was born.

Local media report the marker was unveiled Friday at the Montgomery home where Cole was born in 1919. It was placed by Alabama State University officials and the Nat King Cole Society.

The home has been moved from its original location and is now located on the Alabama State campus.

Protest marchers in Alabama on Sunday embarked on the second day of their planned 860-mile trek to Washington, D.C., as part of "America's Journey for Justice."

Sponsored by the NAACP, "America's Journey for Justice" is scheduled to cross through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia before reaching Washington, D.C., in mid-September.

The marchers are expected to cross into Georgia around Friday.

Lawyers for a death row inmate say Alabama should be forced to disclose more information about lethal injection procedures. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports, they’re concerned about the drugs used in the procedure.

Attorneys for inmate Tommy Arthur in a court filing say the state needs to disclose information including how the drugs are delivered, how inmate consciousness is monitored and the expiration dates of drugs in hand.

Governor Robert Bentley has released his tax and budget proposals ahead of next week's special session on a budget shortfall.

Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis says the state is at a critical point, and must either make cuts to state services or find new revenue.

The governor is seeking a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. He is also seeking to raise the business privilege tax on larger businesses while giving smaller ones a tax cut.

A federal judge says he will rule by Friday on a female prisoner's request for an abortion.

U.S. District Abdul Kallon made the comment after hearing arguments yesterday in a lawsuit filed by the woman.

The unnamed prisoner filed suit against Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton seeking a court order that would let her leave jail to travel to Huntsville for the procedure.

Governor Robert Bentley is in West Virginia today.  He’s highlighting the Gulf State Park Project as an innovative strategy for tourism and economic development at the Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association.

Governor Bentley is the vice-chair of NGA’s Economic Development and Commerce Committee.

Bentley presented Alabama’s plans for the Gulf State Park Project and highlighted its benefits for the state’s tourism industry.

Two more counties issuing Same-Sex Licenses

Jul 22, 2015

Two more Alabama counties say they will issue wedding licenses following the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

Both Houston and Henry counties have refused to issue any licenses because of gay marriage.

But the Dothan Eagle reports that probate judges in both counties say they will now issue marriage licenses to anyone.

The change came at the end of a 25-day window in which the U.S. Supreme Court could have reconsidered its decision.

The Chairman of Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee says a drunken driving charge shouldn’t cost him his job.

State Senator Cam Ward says drinking alcohol and driving was a Huge mistake on his part.

The Alabaster Republican doesn’t believe he should quit either his senate seat or his industrial job with the city.  The reason is, Ward says he wasn’t working when he was stopped by police.

A Senate leader said earlier that he doesn't plan to strip Ward of the committee chairmanship.

The city of Anniston may be the latest community to remove the Confederate battle flag.

The City Council is set to vote on whether the stars and bars should be banned from all city owned property. After a work session last week, some council members felt banning the controversial battle flag would have a positive effect on the city.

Councilman *Seyram Selase says banning the Confederate flag shouldn’t be a debate of heritage or hate.

Alabama Unemployment steady, Harpersville Tomato Festive

Jul 17, 2015

Alabama's unemployment is remaining steady. But, it’s still above the national average.

State officials on Friday announced that the June jobless rate was 6.1 percent. That’s the same as it was in May. By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate in June was 5.3 percent.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has promised not to accept his salary until the state's unemployment rate drops to 5.2 percent.

Alabama wants to move forward with executions using lethal injection. The move comes following the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the use of a drug that Alabama plans to begin using in capitol punishment.

The state attorney general's office asked a federal judge in U.S. District Court Monday to dismiss a death row inmate's lawsuit. Tommy Arthur claims the sedative midazolam is ineffective.

Uber Staying in Mobile, Heat Advisory

Jul 14, 2015

Uber is staying in Mobile. 

The City Council voted unanimously to keep the vehicles for hire business at a meeting yesterday.  After almost one month of debating, Mobile’s City Council decided Uber can operate inside the city limits. The company has carried paying passengers inside the Port City since mid-June.

The Cab companies were not happy when Uber arrived. That’s because the car for hire service didn’t have to meet all city regulations that taxis do. 

Alabama Special Session begins, Pluto Stamp

Jul 13, 2015

Gov. Robert Bentley says lawmakers need to "step up and be leaders" as they begin a special session on the general fund budget.

The special session begins this afternoon. Bentley is asking lawmakers to approve $310 million in revenue to level fund state agencies to avoid deep cuts in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The Mobile City Council is removing the Confederate flag and other banners from the official seal of city government.

The current Mobile city seal displays flags from six nations that have governed Mobile since 1702: the Confederacy, France, Great Britain, Spain, the Republic of Alabama and the United States.  The council vote today means only the U.S. flag will remain on the seal.

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