Alabama

Judge hears arguments in Gulf State Park lawsuit

Sep 13, 2016

Lawyers for Alabama officials are pleading their case to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the use of oil spill settlement funds to build a beach hotel.  APR Student Reporter Parker Branton has more…

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin heard arguments Tuesday in the request to dismiss the case.

The state auditor and a legislator sued Gov. Robert Bentley.  They say the money is being allocated without legislative approval

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signs a compromise bill to use the state's oil spill settlement funds for debts, Medicaid and roads.

The Alabama Legislature gave final approval to the bill last night after lawmakers agreed to a compromise on how to use the money.

The plan sends $400 million to repay money borrowed during past budget shortfalls. It will also steer $120 million to the state's Medicaid program and $120 million to build roads in two coastal counties.

A civil rights group challenges Alabama's practice of electing appellate judges by statewide vote.  Officials with the NAACP’s Alabama Chapter say the practice has resulted in all-white courts in a state where one of every four people is African-American.

The chapter and four black voters sued the state in Montgomery federal court today.  They argue electing judges through at-large elections in Alabama violates the Voting Rights Act.

The federal government will take comments at a public meeting tomorrow in Mobile regarding the environmental impacts of two oil-lease sales scheduled for 2018.  APR Student Reporter Parker Branton has more…

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced back in August that it would hold what are known as scoping meetings. The gatherings will establish of criteria and possible alternatives to the two oil leases in question.

A house in Southern Alabama that was the site where authorities say five people were killed by a Mississippi man has mysteriously burned down.

Sheriff's officials say they received a tip that the home in Citronelle, would be burned - and then it went up in flames Sunday morning.

Citronelle Mayor John McDonald says no one knows how the blaze started. He says it's unclear whether it was arson.

Small earthquake reported near Aliceville

Sep 5, 2016

A small earthquake rattled the ground near the Alabama-Mississippi border.

A report from the U.S. Geological Survey says 2.6 magnitude earthquake occurred shortly after 3 a.m. Monday morning.

The quake was centered about 12 miles south of Aliceville. No damage was reported.

The quake occurred west of another area where a cluster of earthquakes has occurred since late 2014 in Greene County.

An east Alabama hospital is collecting items for Louisiana flood victims.

The East Alabama Medical Center is holding a flood relief drive for hospital employees affected by the floods in Louisiana last month.

Clothing donations won't be collected by the center. Instead, The center will be collecting cash, household items, toiletries, cleaning and school supplies, pet food, cases of water and other items.

An estimated 150,000 homes across south Louisiana were ravaged by the floodwaters.

Judge refuses investigation of speaker's ethics trial

Sep 2, 2016

A judge is refusing a request by former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard to have a sheriff investigate whether there was juror misconduct at his ethics trial.

But Judge Jacob Walker says he is open to taking testimony from a juror who says another juror made biased remarks.

Hubbard wants a new trial after being convicted on 12 felony ethics charges and removed from office. His lawyers submitted an affidavit from a juror who says another made biased remarks.

Physical and mental health is the subject of a town hall tomorrow at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.

A representative from the Veterans Benefits Administration will be on hand to teach veterans how to file claims for illnesses or injuries while they were on active duty.

Damon Stevenson is the Public Affairs Officer for the Tuscaloosa VA. He says learning how to file claims can help veterans take care of their health.

Man accused of south Alabama massacre pleads not guilty

Aug 31, 2016

A Mississippi man accused of killing five people in a south Alabama home with blows from an ax and gunshots has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities say 27-year-old Derrick Dearman of Leakesville, Mississippi, attacked the three men and two women as they slept on Aug. 20. He then allegedly kidnapped his estranged girlfriend, who had sought shelter in the house to get away from a violent relationship with him.

Bentley appeals refugee lawsuit dismissal

Aug 30, 2016

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is appealing the dismissal of the state's lawsuit against the federal government over refugee placement.

Officials with the governor's office filed the appeal today with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Bentley asked a federal judge in January to block refugees from coming to the state unless federal officials provided a full background check and medical information on each refugee.

Tennessee Valley Authority operations chief retiring

Aug 29, 2016

The Tennessee Valley Authority says its chief operating officer will retire at the end of the year.

Chip Pardee joined TVA in April 2013.

Pardee's contributions include improvements to the power generation fleet and the operations team. The utility says those improvements are helping it cut pollution from its plants and keep rates low while also providing reliable energy to customers.

Little impact expected in Alabama from Gulf system

Aug 29, 2016

Forecasters say a tropical weather system in the Gulf of Mexico probably won't have much of an effect on Alabama.

The National Weather Service says a tropical depression located southwest of Key West, Florida, will mean bigger waves and increase the risk of rip currents on Alabama's beaches.

But the system is expected to make a turn to the northeast eventually. That means it will likely head toward the western coast of Florida rather than Alabama and the rest of the northern Gulf Coast.

Lottery bill dies in Alabama Senate

Aug 26, 2016

Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery has failed in the Alabama Senate.

Senators voted 23-7 to reject changes the House of Representatives made to the bill today. Sen. Jim McClendon, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is "dead" for the session.

Senate support for the bill crumbled after Democrats said they could no longer support it. Democrats objected to House language that prohibited electronic lottery terminals, arguing that guaranteed the Poarch Band of Creek Indians a monopoly on gambling machines.

Alabama coal communities receive money through grant

Aug 26, 2016

New funding is set to help Alabama coal communities. APR Student Reporter Allison Mollenkamp has more…

The Southern Research Institute and the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center are teaming up to fund an entrepreneurship program and a business development plan.

A total of one hundred twenty thousand dollars will be split between the programs. It will target the Appalachian region of Alabama with an aim at spurring small business in the area.

Federal aviation investigators say a pilot told air traffic controllers that fuel pumps aboard the plane were failing before it plunged to the ground and caught fire near Tuscaloosa, killing six people from Mississippi.

A preliminary report on the crash released this morning by the National Transportation Safety Board says the pilot reported one fuel pump failure.  After that, when he was a few miles from Tuscaloosa's airport, reported that the plane lost "the other fuel pump."

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says he believes a November lottery referendum is no longer possible, but is seeking an opinion from the attorney general's office.

Merrill believes the law is clear that today is the deadline for Alabama Lawmakers to approve a constitutional amendment and addit on the November ballot.  They missed that deadline.

Governor Robert Bentley is sending assistance to protect the U.S. Border. APR Student reporter Parker Branton reports…

Governor Robert Bentley approved a notion that will send Alabama National Guard helicopter and pilot to Marana, Arizona to assist with protecting the U.S. border with Mexico.

This is the second time this year that Alabama National Guard has sent assistance to the Southwest Border Team.

Alabama's unemployment rate is on the decline.

A statement issued Friday by the governor's office says Alabama's July unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, down three-tenths of a percent from June. It's also below the jobless rate of a year ago.

State unemployment is still well above the U.S. rate of 4.9 percent. But the Labor Department says the July rate represents the fewest number of unemployed people in Alabama since 2008.

The state has added almost 28,000 jobs in the last year.

The Alabama Senate has begun debate on a revamped lottery bill that would allow electronic gambling machines in more locations.  Senators expect to vote sometime this evening.

The bill was altered to allow electronic lottery terminals, which can resemble slot machines and video poker games, in Lowndes and Houston counties, in addition to four state dog tracks.

A Senate committee approves dueling lottery bills as lawmakers try to strike a compromise on gambling.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee pushed the bills through this afternoon. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says the bills were a work in progress and he wanted a vehicle for negotiations on the Senate floor.

Alabama lawmakers head into special session today.

The main topic of discussion will be Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment creating a state lottery. If the House and Senate agree, then voters would get the final say in November. Bentley wants lotto revenue to go to the general fund with an eye on funding Medicaid.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says it’s a last-ditch effort by the governor to raise money…

Alabama is joining eleven other states today to ask a federal judge to block the implementation of a federal directive on bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas is considering a preliminary injunction that would keep the new directive from being enforced. That means schools across the country wouldn’t have to worry about complying for now.

The Alabama Board of Education has named the state’s new superintendent.  APR Student Reporter Jalen Drummond has the details…

Michael Sentance of Massachusetts will be the Alabama Public School’s top official.  Sentance won the position by a narrow margin with five votes after board members voted on candidates for several rounds. 

With all of the wet weather along the Gulf Coast, The National Weather service is issuing a Flash Flood Watch in that area for the next few days. 

The flood watch is effect for some areas until Saturday morning.  It stretches along the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The NWS says periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected through Friday across portions of coastal southwest Alabama.

Latest on Moore hearing, Hubbard seeks new trial

Aug 9, 2016

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is still up in the air. APR’s Alex AuBuchon was in Montgomery for yesterday’s hearing. He files this report.

The dozens of Roy Moore supporters that packed the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building yesterday will be pleased to learn the Chief Justice hasn’t been thrown out of office -- just yet.

The fate of Alabama’s embattled Chief Justice now rests with the Court of the Judiciary. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has the latest from Montgomery.

Supporters of Chief Justice Roy Moore and gay rights advocates packed the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building this afternoon.

The state Court of the Judiciary heard oral arguments this afternoon in a case that could result in Moore’s removal from office.

2011 Tornadoes: A Forecaster's nightmare

Aug 6, 2016

The April 2011 tornado outbreak caused widespread destruction, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage.  Local TV weathercasters helped spread the word on where tornadoes were and where they’re going. But what happens when the weatherman becomes a victim of the severe weather while he’s on the air? APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the story of one forecaster where on April 27th, 2011, the saying the story hits close to home takes on a whole new meaning.

Ask anyone in the TV news business, and they’ll tell you people tune in mostly for the weather.

Fairfield's fiscal future

Aug 6, 2016

It's been more than four months since the Wal-Mart store in Fairfield closed its doors, leaving many people to find goods and services elsewhere. City Leaders are scrambling to not only plug holes in the city's budget but create more economic opportunities to people that have lost their jobs.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates traveled to Fairfield to find out what’s next…

It’s a quiet morning on Gary Avenue in downtown Fairfield.  The Magic City Grille is open for breakfast and Beauty Land Cosmetics is opening its doors for business. 

Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed constitutional amendment authorizing a state lottery would send proceeds from ticket sales to the state's general fund.

The proposal says any proceeds from the lottery after expenses and prizes would go to the general fund for "ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state."

Some have said the money should be directed specifically toward education.

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