gulf shores

Sky-High Home Insurance Rates in Gulf Shores

Oct 23, 2017
Gulf Shores flood
Kinfay Moroti / AP

A new study shows Gulf Shores has some of the highest home insurance rates in the country.

The industry website Insurance.com reports Gulf Shores has the fourth highest insurance rate in the U.S. Homeowners living in the coastal community are reportedly paying over five hundred percent more than the national average. Towns along the coast typically have higher rates, due to an increased risk of natural disasters and flooding.

Zoning Issues Loom in Gulf Shores School Split

Oct 16, 2017

It’s been one week since the City of Gulf Shores voted to create its own city school system. Now the question is: What comes next?

Plans for the new independent school system are set to be finalized next spring and will go into effect the following fall. The first order of business will be to appoint a school board. Applications for the five-member board are now available as of today. Plans are for that board to be introduced at the Gulf Shores City Council meeting November 27.

Shrimp Fest Kicks Off Today in Gulf Shores

Oct 12, 2017

The National Shrimp Festival gets underway in Gulf Shores today, despite the effects of Hurricane Nate last weekend.

This year marks the 46th annual iteration of the festival. Attendance is projected to be around 250,000 people in what the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber says is Gulf Shores’ largest event in terms of both attendance and economic impact.

The festival features everything from arts and crafts to sports. Attendees can also hear live music from 4:00 to 11:00 each evening. But the biggest highlight will be the food.

The City of Gulf Shores has approved the formation of its own city-wide school system.

Last night, the Gulf Shores City Council voted unanimously in favor of the measure. Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft told those at the meeting that they did not come to the decision lightly, and “our kids deserve the best we can give them”.

Nate quickly weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall in Biloxi, Mississippi and tracking north into central Alabama, but parts of south Alabama are dealing with power outages and some flooding.

The latest forecasts estimate Hurricane Nate will make landfall on Alabama's gulf coast as a Category 2 storm, and some residents in Gulf Shores are being urged to evacuate.

The city of Gulf Shores is getting more serious about the potential of forming a separate citywide school system.

Last night, Gulf Shores City Council members approved conducting a feasibility study for the project. That comes after a citizens group presented city leaders with a petition supporting the formation of a city school system. The group also provided $12,000 to help fund a study on whether the town should leave the Baldwin County school system.

Gulf Coast visitors and Orange Beach residents are getting some welcome news from the Baldwin Beach Express toll bridge.

American Roads Incorporated, the company that operates the toll bridge and expressway, have announced a reduction in tolls from now until Labor Day. Rates will now be $2.75 for non-Baldwin County residents driving one way with a two-axle vehicle. The cost for each additional axle will be an extra dollar. Orange Beach residents will see even more substantial savings. Tolls for a one-way trip are dropping to $1 if paid electronically and $1.25 in cash.

Alabama Tourism Represents in New York City

Jun 16, 2017
Mardi Gras float
AL Tourism Dept

Alabama tourism is strutting its stuff in the Big Apple this week.

The state’s Tourism Commission is setting up a series of events and displays to promote Alabama in New York City. Today, the state will officially unveil an eight story tall billboard of Little River Canyon. The display will be located about half a block from Madison Square Garden.

Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell says the point is to get people talking about the state.

red flags
John David Mercer / AP / Press-Register

Dangerous surf conditions are causing lots of problems on the Alabama coast during spring break season.

Red flags are flying to warn people about hazardous rip currents that can quickly and easily pull swimmers out to sea. But in Gulf Shores, Ala., lifeguards have still had to rescue at least five people since Saturday. Beach safety director Scott Smothers tells WALA-TV one man had to be resuscitated but is now doing OK.

Lifeguard Jordan Russell says he had to help a 6-year-old boy and the boy's sister after both got pulled away from the beach on Tuesday.

Police in Alabama's two largest beach towns say they've made more than 450 spring break-related arrests so far this year, and that's a big improvement from last year.

Police in both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are implementing some new tough policies this year to keep young vacationers under control. They say the change has resulted in far fewer problems.

Orange Beach police tell WALA-TV they made 287 arrests so far this spring, which is significantly fewer than last year when more than 750 were arrested.

Authorities in Gulf Shores, Alabama, are trying to determine why an SUV driven by a 72-year-old man accelerated and hit members of a high school band at the start of a Mardi Gras parade.

Tuesday morning's accident injured 12 students. At a news conference, city spokesman Grant Brown said three were in critical but stable condition as of Tuesday afternoon. Police Chief Ed Delmore said investigators have obtained a search warrant for the vehicle. They hope to get electronic data from the 2008 Ford Expedition. Investigators also were looking at video of the accident.

The public beaches in Gulf Shores, Alabama will be alcohol-free once again next year for Spring Break.

The Gulf Shores City Council voted unanimously last night to reinstate a ban on alcohol on the city’s beaches from March 4 through April 16 of next year. The ban applies to everyone, and no alcohol will be allowed to be possessed or consumed on the beaches during that time period.

The town of Gulf Shores is looking at continuing its ban of alcohol on its beaches during spring break season for next year.

Some worry that the ban will affect local businesses and restaurants that are dependent on alcohol sales. Mayor Robert Craft explains that the decision to vote on the ban will also affect the city by decreasing the tax revenue during that time period. However, he says the city's decision is backed by confidence from broad community support to remain a family-friendly vacation area.

 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.