Alabama

Strong storms could be making their way across southern Alabama once again starting tonight.

The storms, which could produce isolated tornadoes will likely start late this afternoon and should dissipate by early Wednesday morning. Areas along the line between Camden and Mobile and later the I-65 corridor will likely be affected by the storms.

Joe Maniscalco is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mobile. He says the storms come from a combination of factors.

Huntsville city leaders have announced that Google is bringing high-speed fiber optic Internet and television service to the area.

Mayor Tommy Battle and Google representatives and others made the announcement today at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Battle expects faster Internet speeds to boost the local workforce and help provide more opportunities for residents to work from home.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Alabama native Harper Lee died this morning at the age 89.

Lee is best known for “To Kill A Mockingbird”, the story of a girl nicknamed Scout growing up in a Depression-era Southern town. It tells the story of about how a black man was wrongly accused of raping a white woman, and Scout's father, the resolute lawyer Atticus Finch, defends him despite threats and the scorn of many.

The National League of Women’s Voters launched a website that is a “one-stop-shop” for voting information ahead of Alabama’s presidential primary.  Vote 4-1-1-dot-org provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information.

Kathryn Berg is First Vice President of the league of women’s voters of Alabama. She says the website sorts out the differences between partisan primary votes and the general election for President…

Alabama: Jesse Owens' starting block

Feb 18, 2016

The movie “Race” debuts in theaters today across the United States.  The biopic depicts legendary Track and Field athlete Jesse Owens and his journey to winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates traveled to Owens’s hometown in Northern Alabama, where a park and museum keeps his memory alive

When you talk about the Olympics, names like swimmers Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz or gymnast Gabby Douglas may come to mind. But in 1936, Alabama Native Jesse Owens staked his claim as one of the greatest Olympians in American history.

Gov. Robert Bentley is placing the head of Alabama's state law enforcement agency on medical leave.

Bentley announced the decision today about Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier. The medical leave will last for as long as three months, allowing Collier time to recover from what the governor's office describes as an upcoming back surgery.

Bentley is appointing Stan Stabler as acting director during Collier's absence. Stabler is currently the chief of the dignitary protection unit at ALEA.

The Alabama House is debating on proposed legislation that would prevent cities from setting local minimum wages.

The Republican-backed bill is on the legislative fast track as the city of Birmingham seeks to expedite a minimum wage increase approved last year for all workers within the city limits.

Birmingham leaders sought to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 and planned to begin with an $8.25 minimum wage March 1.

Ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft are getting the green light to operate in the City of Huntsville.

The Huntsville City Council approved two ordinances last night to allow the companies to begin service in the Rocket City.  The first requires the businesses to seek council approval for a license.  The other sets the fees for the licenses.

Birmingham recently approved the use of ride-sharing companies.  Mobile and Montgomery also have Uber.   

Advocacy groups representing three states, including Alabama want changes to a national form regarding proof of Citizenship to register to vote.

The 30 groups want a federal elections official to throw out the rule in Alabama, Georgia and Kansas

The groups sent a letter to the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, arguing the impact would be particularly significant because 2016 is a presidential election year when people typically register in greater numbers.

The first case of the Zika virus in Alabama has been reported. APR student reporter Parker Branton has more on how this case fits into to the overall outbreak…

The Alabama Department of Public Health says a travel related case of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Morgan County in north Alabama.

The Birmingham City Council is increasing in the local minimum wage a little earlier than expected.  The council voted today to move the implementation date of the wage increase to March 1.

The council had the idea in August to establish an hourly minimum wage of $8.50 by July 2016; and $10.10 by July 2017, with increases afterward tied to inflation.

Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal minimum of $7.25.

A judge has rescheduled a hearing on indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard's request to dismiss ethics charges against him.  Circuit Judge Jacob Walker delayed the hearing until Feb. 16 because of a scheduling conflict.

Hubbard is alleging prosecutorial misconduct after a political consultant says he communicated often with the lead prosecutor and used the information to try to damage Hubbard politically.

NWS: Severe weather possible in Alabama on Tuesday

Jan 31, 2016

Forecasters say Alabama could be in for a round of severe weather this week.

The National Weather Service says northwestern Alabama faces an elevated risk of damaging winds and isolated twisters beginning Tuesday afternoon.

Forecast models show a lesser threat of severe weather extending south and east across the state on Tuesday evening.

Weather service meteorologist Jim Stefkovich says forecast can change before Tuesday. But he says the question right now is how far the severe weather extends eastward across the state.

Hubbard removes GOP foes from top committee assignments

Jan 30, 2016

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is removing two vocal Republican critics from prominent committee assignments as part of a larger reshuffling.

Rep. Phil Williams of Huntsville was removed as chairman of the technology and research committee. Rep. Ed Henry of Hartselle lost a seat on the education budget committee to become vice-chairman of the campaign and ethics committee.

Williams is challenging Hubbard for speaker, and both representatives have questioned if Hubbard should remain while awaiting trial on ethics charges.

Alabama public lakes reopening

Jan 30, 2016

Most of Alabama's public fishing lakes are preparing to reopen for the upcoming spring season.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says 20 of the state's 23 publicly owned fishing lakes resume operation on Monday.

The lakes are stocked with fish including bream and largemouth bass, and during cool months they're often better for fishing than larger lakes because the water warms up quicker.

District 80 of the Alabama House has a new representative.

Chris Blackshear won the special election after earning more than 1,650 votes in a special election over challengers James McGill and Tommy Pugh.

The Special Election was held earlier this month after the death Lesley Vance in November of last year.

Blackshear claims the seat due to no democratic candidate challenging him for the position.  He will be sworn in on April 13th in Montgomery.

Republicans in the Alabama House say a small business tax credit and a teacher pay raise are among their top priorities for the legislative session that begins Tuesday.

Republicans announced the platform, titled "Right for Alabama."

House Speaker Mike Hubbard says legislators will seek a teacher pay raise in the upcoming session, although they aren't yet specifying an amount.

Tuberculosis epidemic endures

Jan 28, 2016

A few weeks ago, the small town of Marion in Alabama’s black belt came down with a tuberculosis epidemic.  Officials with State Department of Public Health are still seeing people to treat the respiratory disease.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates went back to the Perry County town to check on the progress…

It’s a cold morning outside the Perry County Health Department.  People are walking inside and out of the building to either get screened or find out results of the test for tuberculosis.

A judge is refusing to delay the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, at least for now.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker declined Hubbard's request for a postponement after a hearing Tuesday in Opelika.

But the judge noted that the case could still be delayed for other reasons, like an appeal of any of his pretrial decisions.

Hubbard is now set to go on trial on March 28. He had sought a postponement until the fall after his lead attorney left the case earlier this month.

The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from lawyers representing Shelby County who tried to recover $2 million in attorney fees from the U.S. government in a case that nullified a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

The justices let stand a lower court ruling today that said the county's civil rights lawsuit did not advance the law's anti-discriminatory purposes and didn't qualify for fee recovery.

Some parts of Alabama can expect to see one-to-two-inches of snow tonight and into early Saturday morning.

The National Weather service has issued a winter weather advisory for parts of Alabama until six-am on Saturday.

Candy Sumlin is the emergency management officer for Huntsville-Madison County, Alabama. She says the worst weather is expected to hit later in the day…

The number of active tuberculosis cases is getting worse in a small town in West Alabama.  One new active case has been confirmed  27 people have now tested positive for the respiratory illness.

The current case rate for TB in the small Perry County town alone is 100 times higher than the 2014 state average.  Almost 36-hundred people live in Marion and fewer than a third have gotten tested.

Forecasters say a winter storm moving into Alabama is bringing sleet and other precipitation to counties in the far northern part of the state.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory today for five northern Alabama counties: Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Jackson and DeKalb.

The weather service says up to one-tenth of an inch of ice could accumulate in the extreme northeast corner of the state.

Two Alabama cities are hoping for the return of a pair of hometown Marines who are among the dozen people missing after two helicopters crashed off the coast of Hawaii.

Yellow ribbons are going up for Marine Sgt. William Josh Turner in his hometown of Florala near the Florida line. He’s a 2009 graduate of Florala High School, where workers remember him as a good student and baseball player.

Counselor Joea (JO uh) McNeil says Turner always wanted to be a Marine.

Forecasters say a wintry mix of weather is possible in northern Alabama.

The National Weather Service says a mix of freezing rain or sleet could fall Wednesday morning in parts of northern Alabama. 

Forecasters say a light glaze of ice is possible, especially in northwest Alabama but any ice will turn to rain by late morning or early afternoon on Wednesday.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says loans administered through the federal Small Business Administration are available to help victims of late December storms repair damage to their property.

Bentley says low-interest loan assistance has been approved for more than 20 counties -- including Jefferson, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa -- based on damage assessments after storms and floods.

Bentley says renters and homeowners can borrow up to $40,000 to replace property or up to $200,000 to replace or repair their home.

Alabama National Championship Team to be Honored

Jan 15, 2016

The Alabama football team will be honored for its College Football Playoff National Championship with a parade beginning at Denny Chimes and a program held on the north steps of Bryant-Denny Stadium at the Walk of Champions on Saturday, January 23.

 

The parade, which will feature head coach Nick Saban, the players and staff along with Director of Athletics Bill Battle and other dignitaries and special guests, will start at 10 a.m., on University Boulevard at Denny Chimes.

 

Alabama's Medicaid program says it will need an additional $157 million to maintain services next year. It's a request that caused lawmakers to lash out at expense of the healthcare program and its recipients.

Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar says the agency will have to cut services if it doesn't get close to that amount. She says the state might also have to abandon an ongoing switch to managed care without enough additional funds.

The final game of the season takes place tonight as the University of Alabama battles undefeated Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

But some citizens in the city of Pelham are having a tough time on who to cheer for.  Tigers coach Dabo Swinney grew up in the town just south of Birmingham.

Ricky Hayes has known Swinney all of his life.  He’ll be rooting for Dabo and he expects many in Pelham are having a tough time with this decision as well…

The Alabama Crimson Tide plays for its sixteenth National football Championship against undefeated Clemson tonight in Arizona.  But one Central Alabama town has more to cheer for than just the team from Tuscaloosa.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates traveled to Pelham, a town that’s divided on the outcome of tonight’s game…

It’s a busy time of day on Pelham Parkway.  The town is buzzing for tonight’s game between Alabama and Clemson for the College Football title

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