Birmingham

Birmingham Mayor William Bell has officially announced his bid for re-election.

Bell is seeking his second full four-year term as mayor of Birmingham.

Al.com reports Bell won his first bid for mayor in a special election in late 2009 to replace former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, following his federal conviction on bribery charges. Bell then won re-election to a two-year term in 2011. That term was abbreviated to synchronize the mayoral and city council elections.

Women's March in Birmingham Tomorrow

Jan 20, 2017
Trump protestors
Spencer Platt / Getty

A new civil rights march will be taking place at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham this weekend.

Activists from across Alabama will join together at Kelly Ingram Park to march in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday. There is also a group of Alabama women attending the national march in D.C. The marches are designed to be rallies for women across the country who want to “proactively preserve” their rights.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church held a ceremony yesterday afternoon commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Loretta Lynch was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, delivering her final speech as the United States Attorney General.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon was at Sixteenth Street Baptist yesterday and offers this glimpse into the ceremony, with excerpts from Lynch’s speech as well as U.S. Representative Terri Sewell and U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.

Alex AuBuchon / APR

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in her final speech as head of the Justice Department, said worries of difficult days ahead should be a call for action, not despair.

Lynch spoke at Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church where four girls were killed in a KKK bombing in 1963. In the speech for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lynch echoed King's words after the bombing to not give into despair.

Lynch praised the work of President Obama's administration to achieve justice for all citizens.

Amtrak passengers between New Orleans and Atlanta will be affected by routine maintenance on the tracks next week, and will be put on buses instead.

The National Weather Service says get ready to bundle up today through the weekend.

Frigid temperatures are in the forecast with the possibility of up to three inches of snow across the central part of the state. Forecasters think the I-20 corridor from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham will see snow accumulations which could make driving hazardous.

Gary Goggins is a forecaster with the National Weather Service. He says Alabamians should make preparations regardless of the local forecast, because trying to predict where snow is going to fall is tough.

More than $2 million dollars in federal funding is coming to Alabama and two other Southern states to restore and improve passenger rail service.

Yesterday, the Southern Rail Commission announced Federal Railroad Administration funding for eleven communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The communities will get money for station-area planning and construction projects to improve safety, access and convenience.

The Secret Life of Santas

Dec 7, 2016
Steve Pennington
Allison Mollenkamp / APR

Some things happen like clockwork this time of year. Trimming the Christmas tree, long lines at the shopping mall—and for parents of small children, there’s the traditional photo with the kids on Santa’s lap. There are plenty of children waiting to talk to Kris Kringle, and that means an annual recruiting drive for Santas to keep up with demand. APR student reporter Allison Mollenkamp takes this look into the secret life of Santas…

UAB Campus
UAB

A gathering in Birmingham is looking for more answers on how the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, impacts women.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for AIDS Research is hosting the 2016 Joint Symposium on HIV Research in Women. The conference will bring together junior and senior HIV investigators.

Presentations will be divided among three focus areas. The list includes vulnerable Populations, how HIV impacts women infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and what medical care these patients receive.

Pratt City tornado
Christopher Mardorf / FEMA

Officials in Birmingham, Alabama say three of five planned community storm shelters will be open before the spring tornado season next year.

That's nearly six years after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that devastated parts of Alabama, including the community of Pratt City. One tornado hit the northwest Birmingham community, killing one person and destroying the library, a fire station, numerous homes, apartment buildings, at least one church and several vehicles.

Birmingham agency wins extension for Zika research

Nov 14, 2016

The Birmingham-based Southern Research is expanding its work on the Zika virus.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded the non-profit organization a contract extension worth $650,000 to expand a screening effort to include testing of the virus.

The goal of the work is to identify compounds that may serve as drug agents to combat Zika, which is transmitted by the bite of a tropical mosquito.

Zika is so mild in people that most who get it don't even know they are sick.

Enjoying cooler and cleaner air in Birmingham could come down to planting more urban trees.

That’s according to a new study from the Nature Conservancy. The organization released a study last week analyzing nearly 250 of the world’s largest cities. They studied the impact trees have on mitigating heat and air pollution within the cities. The report finds planting more trees in cities like Birmingham could reduce temperatures by up to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in summer months. Additional trees could also cut down on air pollution from sources like car exhaust and power plants.

Company begins excavating pipeline after leak

Nov 3, 2016

A company says it is excavating the gasoline pipeline that exploded and erupted in flames in Alabama this week.

A statement from the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. today says "substantial progress" has been made since work began last night at the rural site southwest of Birmingham.

The company says the remaining small fire will be extinguished and draining operations will continue once preparations are finished.

Birmingham inching towards drought record

Nov 2, 2016

Summer-like heat and bone dry conditions continue to stick around Alabama this fall season.

Much of the state has broken records on high temperatures in the past couple of days. Forecasters are predicting a cold front to move in on Thursday that will bring a few storms and near average temperatures.

John De Block is a meteorologist for the national weather service in Birmingham.   He says that Birmingham is closing in on the record for the longest streak of days without significant rainfall…

Wildfires ravaging Alabama

Oct 28, 2016

Officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission say more than 1,000 wildfires have destroyed 11,000 acres across the state.

Governor Robert Bentley is urging citizens to be aware of the seriousness of the situation.  Earlier this month, the governor signed a Drought Emergency Declaration into effect which prohibits all outdoor burning.

46 counties in northern and central Alabama remain under the burn ban.  That means no one can set fire to grass, woods, have campfires or burn trash that could set areas on fire.

Wildfires burning around South as drought worsens

Oct 27, 2016

Wildfires are charring hundreds of acres daily in the South amid a worsening drought, and no rain is in sight.

Wildfires have burned more than 12,000 acres statewide in Alabama in the last 30 days.  Fires have burned acreage in communities around Birmingham.

Forestry officials say rain is the answer, but substantial storms aren't predicted in short-term forecasts.

A federal judge is considering the state of Alabama’s request to dismiss a lawsuit over a new law that blocked a minimum wage increase in Birmingham.

District Judge R. David Proctor held a hearing yesterday afternoon on the motions to dismiss. Last year, the Birmingham City Council voted to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10. Just before that law took effect, the Alabama Legislature quickly passed legislation requiring a uniform minimum wage throughout the state.

The Community Food Bank of Central Alabama has a new Executive Director as of this week.

Kathryn Strickland is taking over after previously serving at the head of North Alabama’s food bank. During her time in Huntsville, that community’s food bank collected eight million pounds of provisions for the needy each year.

Strickland explains that they have a lot of plans for the Central Alabama food bank such as promoting healthy food choices and working with area farmers.

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.

Lyric and Alabama Theaters
Joe de Sciose

The Alabama House of Representatives approved Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery last night by an extremely tight margin.

Representatives voted 64-35 for the bill late last night, barely clearing the 63 votes required to clear the 105-seat House. The vote came after 10 hours of back-and-forth debate and two vote attempts.

Lottery supporters cheered in the House as newly-elected Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced the bill's eventual success.

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.

Alabama Senators will be debating how to divvy up the state’s portion of oil spill settlement money amid a looming hole in the Medicaid budget.

The Alabama Senate is expected to take up the settlement bill today. A version of the legislation passed the House last week. Debate on the Senate floor could get contentious, though, as Senators can’t seem to agree on how much money should help Medicaid and how much should go toward road projects on the Alabama coast.

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.

Members of Alabama’s House of Representatives have elected Republican Representative Mac McCutcheon of Capshaw, Alabama as the new Speaker of the House.

McCutcheon received 68 votes during yesterday’s election. He promised to be fair to Representatives on both sides of the aisle, and says the days of “imperial speakership are over”.

McCutcheon replaces former House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Hubbard was removed from office after he was convicted of felony ethics violations.

The final living culprit behind the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was denied parole this morning.

The parole board briefly deliberated and denied 78-year-old Thomas Blanton early release.  Blanton was convicted and sentenced to four life sentences in 2001 for his role in the bombing that killed four girls and injured another. 

16th Street Baptist Church bombing
NPR

A former Ku Klux Klan member convicted in a church bombing that killed four black girls is up for parole in Alabama.

The state parole board has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday for 78-year-old Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. Blanton won't attend the hearing, but opponents of his release are expected to address the board.

The Salvation Army has broken ground on a $25 million new headquarters campus in Birmingham.

Al.com reports the headquarters broke ground on the 4.1-acre campus Thursday. The new facilities will house administrative offices plus emergency relief services including overnight accommodations for homeless men, women and children.

Officials say construction on the campus should be complete by September 2017. Two new buildings will be under construction soon in addition to an extensive renovation of a 50,000-square-foot school building.

A federal judge says a pending lawsuit over Alabama's voter identification law will go to trial in the fall of next year.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler has set the trial to begin Sept. 11, 2017, in Birmingham federal court. Greater Birmingham Ministries and the NAACP challenged the state’s existing voter ID law as an infringement on voting rights disproportionately affecting black and Latino voters.

Weather forecasters say conditions are going to be downright brutal for the next few days.  Central Alabama is expected to be under the influence of a subtropical ridge.  That could means temperatures approaching triple digits in some parts of the state starting today.

John DeBlock is with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He says those temperatures don’t even include the heat index, which is how humidity makes it feel outside…

Police in Mobile say they will strictly enforce the city's open-container alcohol ordinance in the downtown entertainment district.

That means consuming alcoholic beverages outside of entertainment venues in downtown Mobile is about to get harder for tourist and local residents.

Mobile police say the outside consumption of alcoholic beverages will still be permitted but will come with conditions.

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