Florence

Three city council members who voted against new tax increase measures in Florence say they want to examine the city’s spending before considering any higher taxes.

A plan to increase the sales tax in Florence by one penny and to increase lodging taxes by 3 percent failed last week on a 3 to 3 vote. Florence Mayor Steve Holt tells the Florence Times-Daily he thought the plan, which would have increased city revenue by nearly $10 million a year, was going to pass.

Supporters are pushing for new historic markers to recognize two pioneering black Congressmen from north Alabama.

The TimesDaily reports the proposed markers in Florence would honor James Rapier and Oscar De Priest. Rapier was born a free man in 1837, educated in Canada, and returned to Alabama shortly after the Civil War. He served one term in U.S. Congress from Alabama as a Republican during Reconstruction.

The Alabama Board of Education recently terminated its contract with ACT Aspire for standardized testing, and it looks like the board has found a replacement.

Al.com reports that at a board meeting last night, Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance announced school districts throughout the state can expect to use Scantron assessments for standardized testing in third through eighth grade beginning in the upcoming school year.

Authorities say a University of North Alabama police officer is currently on administrative leave after shooting a woman during a traffic stop.

 

The confrontation occurred at around 3 a.m. Sunday in Florence, Ala., according to the TimesDaily of Florence.

 

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency released a statement saying the driver in the traffic stop allegedly tried to run over the campus officer, forcing the officer to fire multiple shots striking the vehicle. The driver then fled the scene. Photos show a red car crashed into a utility pole.

 

SantaCon
David A. Smith / DSmithScenes

Dozens of Santas took to the streets of Tuscaloosa this weekend for an event known as SantaCon.

The Santas followed a winding route to hit many of the city’s bars and microbreweries. But the main focus of the evening was on charity. The group donated hundreds of toys to Turning Point of West Alabama, an organization serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children. They also received donations of toiletries for the mothers at Turning Point.

Advanced Band
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Say “the blues,” and Mississippi might come to mind. But Alabama has just as much heritage when it comes to this musical form, and for the past 20 years, the Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Blues Project has been working to preserve that heritage for future generations. Tomorrow, the nonprofit will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a concert in Tuscaloosa. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports some of the musicians are only as big as their guitars.

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.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab will benefit from a multi-million dollar settlement with a Norwegian shipping company.

DSD Shipping Company was found guilty of dumping thousands of gallons of harmful bilge into the Gulf of Mexico.

Helene Hassell is the Executive Director for the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. She says the money from the settlement will be put to good use…

A new LGBT organization in Tuscaloosa is looking to expand. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more.

Druid City Pride held a fundraiser this past weekend to help shape the future of the organization.

The group formed late last year to organize the city’s annual Pride festival. But thanks to community interest and recent events, they’ve taken on advocacy efforts as well. The first step is becoming an official nonprofit.

“It costs a little chunk of change to become a non-profit, which is funny.”

Kairos Center

New poverty statistics paint a sobering picture for the state of Alabama.

The nonprofit organization Alabama Possible recently released their 2016 State Poverty Data Sheet. It reveals more than 900 thousand Alabamians currently live in poverty. Though it’s an issue across the state, conditions are especially grim in Alabama’s Black Belt. In Perry County, for example, nearly half the county’s residents live below the poverty line.

An Alabama man has been sentenced to three years in prison after being accused of assaulting two men. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports they were arguing over hot dogs.

Florence police Detective Justin Wright tells the TimesDaily, 66-year-old George Weakley "Old School" Rhodes Jr. was drinking alcohol with two men in June when one of them refused to share hot dogs with the others.

Classes are cancelled today in Headland, Alabama after storms dropped more than 5 inches over the area yesterday.

Henry County Superintendent Lesa Knowles said high winds and strong storms passed through the area early Sunday morning and peeled the roof off the Headland High School auditorium. The storms also caused leaks at Headland’s elementary school, and power outages throughout town due to felled trees. School was cancelled today, and the school board has called an emergency meeting for later today.

The mayor of Huntsville turned down local firefighters' request for a pay raise.

Mayor Tommy Battle says he won't seek higher pay for firefighters in next year's budget after an audit presented at last night’s city council meeting found the current wages are fair.

The Huntsville Firefighters Association has been pushing for a raise since February. It says starting salaries of city firefighters and police officers should at least be equal. Currently rookie police officers make about $2,200 a year more.

Mobile County’s probate court will hear arguments today on whether or not same sex couples can adopt children.

Several Alabama counties have already started approving adoptions for gay couples.

Susan Watson is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama. She says if adoptions are approved, it will be one step closer to gaining equality for same sex couples.

National Weather Service forecasters say thunderstorms this evening and tomorrow morning could bring large hail and heavy winds to parts of Alabama, and may spawn small tornadoes.

The latest forecasts and models from the NWS show that the highest potential for severe weather in the state will be in the northwest corner of Alabama, in and around the Florence area.

Forecasters say these storms hold the potential for what they describe as "brief, spin-up" tornadoes.