gulf shores

 Alabama's attempt to rebuild its beachfront state park using oil spill money is again embroiled in controversy. 

Businessman Tom Schlinkert says officials are shutting down his zip line adventure ride at Gulf State Park in Gulf  Shores and refusing him $40,000 in compensation as construction continues on a new coastal hotel. That project is being funded in part with BP money, even though a hurricane destroyed the old lodge years before the oil spill.

Myron Thompson
Alex AuBuchon / APR

A Mobile city councilman is in stable condition today after he was shot during a robbery in South Africa this weekend.

City Councilman C.J. Small owns and operates Small’s Mortuary and Cremation Services in Mobile. He was in Johannesburg attending the South African Funeral Director and Morticians Association Convention. At around noon Johannesburg time, the tour bus Small was riding was ambushed and several patrons were robbed. Small was shot in the face during the incident, and some other passengers were injured.

Freedom Rides bus
National Civil Rights Museum

The Alabama Historical Commission is commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Freedom Rides today in Montgomery.

In 1961, a group of largely black students pledged to ride interstate buses through the Southeast to protest the lack of enforcement of bus desegregation laws.

Corrections officials are reporting more violence in Alabama’s prisons.

Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton says two inmates were stabbed at Draper Correctional Facility in Elmore earlier this week. Three inmates started fighting in a prison dorm, and one used a makeshift knife to stab the others. The inmate accused of the stabbing was transported to another prison.

justice.gov

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is facing another hurdle this week.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler has filed an ethics complaint against Bentley and Bentley’s senior political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.  A-L-dot-com reports Zeigler’s complaint is the about the possible misuse of state property by the Governor, and whether Mason should be considered a public official or a lobbyist.

VORTEX
NOAA

Dozens of the country’s top meteorologists are gathering in north Alabama for a massive research project focused on severe storms and tornadoes.

It’s called the Verification of Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment, or VORTEX Southeast. The program hopes to allow researchers to better understand how the climate and environment in the Southeast affects how tornadoes form and how strong they get. Scientists also want to improve their ability to forecast these storms.

Governor Robert Bentley’s plan to construct four new prisons is moving on through the state legislature, but not without a few red flags. APR’s MacKenzie Bates explains.

The Senate Budget Committee sent Governor’s Bentley’s prison building plan to the full Senate. The committee approved the bill yesterday in wake of two violent uprisings at a South Alabama prison. Governor Bentley blames the incidents on overcrowding.

Senator Cam Ward says those situations show that the state desperately needs new prisons.

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.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has its own wish list for the current legislative session.

The SPLC’s 2016 Legislative Guide focuses on issues like education, economics and equal rights. The guide doesn't just outline problems; it also offers possible solutions.

Rhonda Brownstein is the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. She says more state money needs to be allocated to education, not jails.

Elmore County Courthouse
courthouselover / Flickr

A probate judge in Alabama is asking the state's Supreme Court for a way out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen filed a petition earlier this week saying the federal government should issue same-sex marriage licenses, not state or county offices. Enslen says the federal government is responsible for upholding and enforcing other laws created at the federal level.

A 12-year-old boy from Bay Minette, Alabama, recently discovered a rare fossil in Greene County.

The University of Alabama says Aiden Taylor was on a week-long trip with the university's Museum Expedition when he found a fossil of a reptile that roamed the planet millions of years ago.

Alabama’s general fund budget is slowly starting to take shape after some action in the state house.

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee has approved a budget that makes deep cuts to state agencies. The budget would cut Medicaid, mental health and state prisons corrections by five percent. Other state agencies would be cut by nine percent.

This proposal would impact the general fund budget. Alabama’s schools are funded by a separate spending plan.

Selma-based Hyundai supplier Lear Corporation is disputing allegations that it fired a whistleblower in a federal safety investigation.

Lear said on Friday that allegations of employees being exposed to the hazardous chemical TDI are false. The company says the air in the plant has been tested by multiple independent parties.

However, NBC recently reported that a Yale University medical clinic tested blood samples from nearly twenty workers, and five showed exposure to the chemical.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's cornerstone economic development bill is headed to a conference committee.

House members want more time to review Senate changes to legislation that would change the way Alabama recruits companies to the state.

The Senate added multiple amendments before passing the bill on Tuesday. One of those added an $850 million cap on annual incentives.

AP Photo/Jay Reeves / Associated Press

The gulf is churning large waves and white foam on Alabama's coast and the wind from Isaac is still whistling around buildings. But beachfront walkways and other structures along the shore appear intact.

Lights are still on Wednesday morning in Orange Beach and a few cars are traveling the beach road. Louisiana took the brunt of Isaac after the hurricane shifted west and gave Alabama only a glancing blow.

APR

The approach of Isaac put much of the northern Gulf coast on alert. Here in Alabama, the major concern was tropical storm force winds, the threat of spin up tornadoes, and flooding from storm surge. Homeowners in flood prone areas along Mobile Bay were placed under a voluntary evacuation order. But, not all residents with beach front property were able to move. Some were dug in…literally.