Alabama

VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor says he will reopen his casino later this year despite losing a three-year legal battle over the legality of electronic bingo machines. McGregor hopes to have the casino open by early summer. McGregor criticized last week's Alabama Supreme Court ruling that electronic gambling machines that had been seized are illegal. The court ruled that the state could keep 1,615 gambling machines seized from VictoryLand in a 2013 raid. McGregor said he has agreements with...

The fight over gambling in Alabama has a new chapter. The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled against the Victoryland casino and in favor of the state in arguments over electronic bingo. A-P-R student reporter Allison Mollenkamp has more… The Alabama Supreme court says electronic bingo machines qualify as gambling. This overturned an earlier circuit court decision that placed the machines in the same category as in-person bingo games which are legal. The ruling is the latest step in a battle...

Forecasters say storms moving toward Alabama could produce hail, damaging winds and tornadoes throughout the state. Officials say there's a moderate chance for tornadoes and large hail in the Mobile area and throughout north and central Alabama, where meteorologists expect winds of up to 70 mph. They say an elevated threat area covers Birmingham, Gadsden, Tuscaloosa and other parts of central and west Alabama. The National Weather Service says storms in central Alabama are expected to...

A top political aide to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is stepping down. Rebekah Mason’s departure follows an admission by Bentley that he made inappropriate remarks. The governor denies the two ever had an affair. Mason announced her resignation in a statement sent by the governor's office. She says she would no longer be his senior political adviser and would no longer be paid by his campaign fund. The resignation comes after Republican lawmaker Ed Henry said he will carry articles of...

The metro area of Huntsville led Alabama's population growth last year according to census data from July 2014 to July 2015. The Rocket City added more than 4,000 people over a one-year span, the most in the state. That pushed the city to just under 445,000 residents. According to the data, Baldwin County added almost as many new residents as Huntsville with 3,996. That marked a 2 percent growth in the one-year span, the fastest rate of growth in the state. The data also reveals that about...

The Supreme Court is refusing to intervene in the case of an Alabama man who is facing execution for throwing four children off a bridge to their deaths. The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting an appeal from Lam Luong. He argued that pretrial publicity prevented him from having a fair trial. Luong was sentenced to death in 2009 for driving the four children to the Dauphin Island Bridge in Mobile County and throwing them into the Mississippi Sound about 100 feet below. Three of the...

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for much of south Alabama as storms move across the state. The watch covers the Mobile area and the south central portion of Alabama until tonight at 7. The watch includes the western Florida Panhandle. The weather service says severe weather will be possible from the Alabama-Tennessee line all the way to the Gulf Coast. Forecasters say winds up 70 mph and golf ball-sized hail will be possible with some of the storms. The chances of...

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is admitting that he made inappropriate remarks to a female staffer two years ago. But, the Governor says he never had a physical relationship with the woman. Bentley spoke to reporters after the state's former top law enforcement official made a series of accusations. Former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier, had been fired on Tuesday. Alabama’s top cop said during a news conference he believed the governor had an inappropriate relationship with a...

European aircraft maker Airbus says the inaugural test flight of its first airplane made in the United States was a success. The A321 passenger jet took off this morning from the company's new plant in Mobile. The three-hour flight over the Gulf of Mexico included a series of maneuvers and tests of all the airplane's operating systems. The aircraft will be delivered to purchaser JetBlue in a few weeks after final preparations. Airbus began constructing the $600 million plant in 2013 after...

A career technical education program in southeast Alabama that simulates workplace environments in seven different industries has been selected as the model throughout the state. Carroll High School's Career Center was recently selected as the model for 85 similar simulated workforce programs throughout the state. Workplace Coordinator Amanda Campbell says seven of the career center's 10 CTE programs have converted their classrooms into simulated businesses that reflect services offered...

A northern Alabama manufacturer has developed two ambulances to help kids in need in south Florida. Excellance, which was launched in Madison, Alabama, in 1975, has finished production on two custom rides for Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami. The emergency vehicles serve the area's only licensed specialty hospital for children with more than 650 physicians and 130 pediatric specialists. The bright blue ambulances have a heart and teddy bear graphics to match the hospital's medical...

The first Airbus produced by the company’s U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile is set to take the skies for the first time next week. The Alabama-built A321 plane will take off from the Mobile Airport at 9:15 Monday morning barring any weather or other pre-flight test factors. The future JetBlue Airbus’s test flight is a normal step in aircraft production and takes place before the company gets the plane. Following the flight, the aircraft will go through a few more weeks of final delivery...

A judge is delaying the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard for two weeks until mid-April. Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker rules that he will push back the trial until April 11 after the defense appeals some of his pre-trial decisions to the Alabama Supreme Court. Hubbard was scheduled to go to trial March 28 on felony charges of using his office for personal financial gain. Defense lawyer Bill Baxley argued that additional delays might be needed. Baxley says Hubbard's...

A Montgomery judge says extra security is unnecessary in the case against a white police officer charged with fatally shooting a black man. Officer Aaron Smith sat quietly between his two attorneys today as the court considered several motions. Smith’s attorney Mickey McDermott filed a motion for extra security as a "necessary precaution" due to threats against Smith. But in court, the lawyer agreed with Judge Jimmy Pool that existing courthouse security was adequate. Smith was arrested less...

The heat is on across Alabama and records are falling as unseasonably warm air blankets the region. The National Weather Service says Montgomery broke a 43-year-old record by reaching 89 degrees. Birmingham topped in at 88 degrees on Tuesday, breaking the 4-year-old record by four degrees. To the east, Anniston also set a new high temperature record at 84 degrees. The weather service says temperatures are again predicted in the mid- to upper 80s across the region on Wednesday before a gradual...

Alabama jobless rate unchanged, Black Belt Region tourism

Mar 14, 2016

Alabama's unemployment rate remains unchanged even though the state added more than 8,000 jobs. A statement from the governor's office released today says the state's unemployment rate for January was 6.2 percent, the same as the month before. Shelby County has Alabama's lowest jobless rate at 4.5 percent, and Clarke County is highest at 12.4 percent. The Department of Labor says total state employment rose by 8,178 jobs in January, but that wasn't enough to change the unemployment rate....

Fairfield city leaders have voted to dissolve the city's police department as leaders look to address financial hardships, but the mayor says city council has no authority to make that decision. The Fairfield City Council voted 4-0 to disband the police department during a meeting Friday. A resolution to disband the department failed in a 3-3 vote earlier this week. City Council President Darnell Gardner has said disbanding the department and asking the Jefferson County Sherriff's Office to...

Gov. Robert Bentley is hinting that lawmakers could be back in special session if they fail to pass a budget that he feels adequately funds Medicaid. Bentley says he would veto any budget without an additional $100 million for Medicaid. While lawmakers could override his veto, Bentley says that did not preclude a special session. Commissioner Stephanie Azar says Medicaid needs that amount to avoid cuts and continue a switch to managed care. The Alabama House of Representatives will vote...

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's prison construction proposal is facing its first legislative test. Bentley is asking lawmakers to approve an $800 million bond issue to build four new prisons and close most existing facilities. Some members of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee questioned aspects of the project during a public hearing Wednesday. Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn told lawmakers the new prisons will alleviate overcrowding and replace outdated facilities where it is...

Montgomery city officials are planning their own investigation of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports the decision was made after complaints from the officer's colleagues… Mayor Todd Strange told The Montgomery Advertiser that officers are unhappy, concerned and upset over the arrest of Officer Aaron Smith. Smith is charged with murder in the death of 58-year old Gregory Gunn. Gunn is black and Smith is white. Smith's attorney...

The U.S. Supreme Court says Alabama’s highest court overstepped its bounds when it invalidated a lesbian mother’s adoption. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously to throw out an Alabama Supreme Court decision denying a lesbian woman adoption rights she had previously been granted. The woman had adopted three children with a former partner. When she tried to ensure her visitation rights, the Alabama Supreme Court said her adoption was invalid. National Center for...

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is taking on a new position as chairman of Don Trump's advisory committee on national security. Trump named the Mobile Republican to the post yesterday. A release from the Trump campaign says he's honored to have Sessions as a member of his team. The announcement comes a week after Sessions endorsed the New York businessman for the GOP nomination for president. Sessions has served nearly two decades on the Armed Services Committee. He says he will recommend...

Selma will honor its history as a center for voting rights activism this weekend. The annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee marks the fifty-first anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Officials expect crowds will be down from the numbers that visited for the fiftieth anniversary and to see President Barack Obama speak. The weekend will include an education summit tomorrow, a hip-hop summit on Saturday, and the bridge crossing on Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Catrina Norris Carter is the National...

An EF-2 Tornado ripped through parts of Birmingham last night. APR student reporter Parker Branton has more… Two tornados ripped through parts of Jefferson County. The tornado was rated EF2 by a survey crew in Bessemer from the National Weather Service this morning. There was also EF1 damage near McAlla. Matt Grantham is a Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He described what path the tornado took. “Looks like it touched down close to McAdory High School just south...

Voter turnout in the state looks "extraordinarily high," pointing to a projected turnout as high as 60 to 70 percent in one county. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says there were a few minor hiccups around the state as polls opened this morning, but nothing that directly affected voting or voter participation. Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell sys his county is slightly unusual, as it is home to a large retiree population which doesn't have to worry about leaving work to get...

The state of Alabama is taking part in Super Tuesday and the SEC primary election today, and some of the ballots being counted this year are a little special. The Alabama Secretary of State’s office teamed up with America’s armed services to make Alabama the first state in the country to accept online votes from military members deployed overseas. Election officials tested the system out with Montgomery’s municipal election last year and they say it’s ready for Super Tuesday. Alabama...

Presidential hopefuls flooded the state of Alabama this weekend. APR student reporter Parker Branton has more… Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at Miles College in Birmingham while Florida Senator Marco Rubio made two stops at Samford University and the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. Businessman Donald Trump also made an appearance in Huntsville. Secretary Clinton praised Mayor William Bell of Birmingham for his work to raise the minimum working wage. “I believe in building...

The list of Presidential candidates coming to Alabama keeps growing. The Alabama Secretary of State’s office says Republican Doctor Ben Carson will be making a stop at Auburn University-Montgomery on Monday. The time of the event has not been confirmed yet. Carson is the fourth candidate for the White House to come to Alabama in the next few days. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton will be in Birmingham on Saturday. Republican candidate Marco Rubio will also be in the magic city....

Alabama’s governor has signed a bill that prevents cities from setting their own minimum wage. Governor Robert Bentley signed the bill in to law shortly after the State Senate approved it by more than 2-to-1 vote. The majority of the votes fell along party lines. Republican lawmakers supported the bill that will block the Birmingham City Council, which voted to increase their city’s minimum wage to $10.10. That minimum wage hike set to go in to effect on Monday. Mountain Brook Republican Rep....

A Senate committee is debating a proposal to have Alabama join multi-state lottery games like Mega-Millions and Powerball. The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Trip Pittman of Montrose wants the state join the multi-state games instead of creating its own lottery scheme. The bill is an alternative proposal to other lottery bills that have stalled because of a lack of consensus over the details. If approved by lawmakers, voters would have the final say on whether lottery ticket sales will be...

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