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.

Judge lifts driver license suspension of former astronaut

Sep 22, 2016

A judge in Tuscaloosa has delayed the driver license suspension of a former astronaut charged in the traffic deaths of two girls.

Records show the court delayed the state's move to take James Halsell's driver's license. An order issued earlier this month says the one-time space shuttle commander can keep his license until his case is resolved.

Alabama’s first charter school has been cleared to open in Mobile.

The state’s Public Charter School Commission voted yesterday to allow the Accel Day and Evening Academy to begin operating. The school plans to serve students at least 16 years of age who have either dropped out of school or fallen behind academically. The Mobile Area Education Foundation plans to open the school starting next August.

Casey Wardynski is resigning from his post as Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools.

Wardynski announced the resignation at a press conference yesterday afternoon. It takes effect today, less than a month after two outspoken critics of his won seats on the Huntsville City School Board.

However, Wardynski says the primary reason he’s resigning is to avoid impropriety due to a relationship between him and Karen Lee, the CEO of Pinnacle Schools, an alternative placement school that handles disciplinary placement for the Huntsville system.

Constitution Village in northeast Alabama will be getting a major facelift soon.

Supporters of the attraction in Huntsville are planning the extensive renovation project as the city prepares for Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration in 2019.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle referred to the project as a rare opportunity to celebrate Huntsville’s importance to the state of Alabama and to the nation.

The Alabama Department of Transportation plans to hold a public meeting in Huntsville on its proposed statewide transportation plan.

The meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments.

The plan summarizes current conditions of the state's transportation system and Alabama's needs and priorities for the next 25 years.

The Alabama State Department of Education continues their community engagement tour across Alabama today with a stop in Huntsville.

The tour is focused on talking with community members about the Every Student Succeeds Act that was approved by Congress in December of last year.

The plan, known as ESSA, replaces No Child Left Behind. It provides Alabama schools with more flexibility when innovating and creating new plans for education.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

A lottery bill is heading to a critical vote in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Today’s vote could determine whether a proposed state lottery goes before Alabama voters later this year or if the bill dies in the special session.

House members will debate Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery. Bentley is seeking the first statewide referendum on the establishment of a lottery since voters rejected the idea in 1999.

Alex AuBuchon / APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking back at the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. The storms impacted homeowners and businesses, and you’ve heard from many of them during our coverage.

Now we’ll look ahead. For the past two months, dozens of scientists have been conducting groundbreaking research on tornadoes and severe weather right here in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the impact that research could have on meteorologists' understanding of severe weather and forecasters’ ability to predict it.

Embattled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was scheduled to appear in federal court today to try and have his ethics charges dismissed.

But U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton abruptly canceled the hearing yesterday afternoon, saying his eventual decision would be based solely on legal documents.

Newly released documents show Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore urged fellow justices to action after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Court papers filed today show Moore asking the other justices to clarify the state's position in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

The documents show Moore cites Kentucky court clerk and gay-marriage opponent Kim Davis in claiming that Christians who oppose same-sex weddings could be forced to give up their public jobs.

NASA is building a new satellite to study air pollution and scientists are gathering in Huntsville to learn how to use it.

A workshop for new air quality monitoring technology is being held at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The air sniffing satellite is called TEMPO and its set for launch around 2020. A conference is a way for scientists on the TEMPO project to answer questions that general users may have about the data and workings of the satellite.

TEMPO data

NASA is inviting scientists to use data from a satellite set for launch around 2020.

The program is called Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, or TEMPO. It’s designed to look for pollution in the upper atmosphere. NASA is teaming with the University of Alabama in Huntsville for a workshop on how scientists can get data from the TEMPO satellite for their research.

Professor Michael Newchurch came up with the idea of having the application workshop at the university. He says he only expected twenty to thirty people to attend.

Alabama’s latest unemployment numbers remain unchanged from this time last year. APR’s student reporter, Katie Willem, has more…

The newest jobless figures from the Alabama Department of Labor are for May. The State’s unemployment rate stands at 6.1 percent, which is unchanged compared to the month before, or May of 2015. 

The state is less than twenty-five thousand jobs away from having two million people at work around the state.  This is the highest number the state economy has supported in the last twenty years. 

Advocates for people infected with the virus that causes AIDS are meeting in Huntsville starting today. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the group wants to stop laws making the spread of HIV a crime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the southern U.S. ground zero for the highest number of patients with HIV or full-blown AIDS.

Organizers of the “HIV Is Not a Crime” conference say that’s why brought their event to Alabama. They want to fight state laws like the one that Alabama almost passed last year.

Lawyers for an Alabama death row inmate are asking a federal court to stop his execution next week, saying he is incompetent because of mental illness, strokes and dementia.

Attorneys for 65-year-old Vernon Madison filed the emergency stay request Wednesday in federal court in Mobile.

Madison is scheduled to get a lethal injection May 12. He was convicted in the 1985 slaying of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte.

Lawmakers have left Montgomery after the Legislative Session ended Thursday morning.  The House and Senate could not agree on a wide range of issues like how to use the BP Settlement Money and the Prison Construction Bill.

Craig Ford is the Alabama House Minority Leader.  The Gadsden Democrat says a plan to fully fund Medicaid by allowing Alabamians to vote on a gaming bill should have been approved…

Alabama State House

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction bill failed to pass on the final night of the legislative session yesterday.

Lawmakers ended the session at midnight last night before a scaled-back version of the bill received a vote in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers attempted to craft a last-minute compromise in their effort to clear the bill through both chambers of the legislature yesterday.

UTC engine
United Technologies Corporation

Today is the last day of the 2016 legislative session, and the last chance for lawmakers to decide the fate of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction proposal.

A conference committee will meet later today to try and reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Bentley is seeking to borrow $800 million to build three new prisons for men — housing up to 4,000 inmates each — and one new women's prison. Most existing state prison facilities would close.

Lawmakers are continuing to disagree over how much of the state's oil spill settlement funds should go to road projects and how much to the Gulf coast.

The roadblock threatened to doom legislation doling out the settlement dollars.

A Senate budget committee was scheduled to vote today on legislation to use $191 million for coastal road projects and $450 million for state debt repayment.

Officials with the Alabama Department of Corrections say two of the state’s prisons are on lockdown after inmates began refusing to complete assigned jobs.

A statement from the department says inmates at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore and the Elmore Correctional Facility first refused to help staff prepare breakfast on Sunday, then failed to report to assigned jobs on Monday.

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 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.

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.


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.

The Alabama Senate has passed a Constitutional amendment reinforcing Alabama's position as a so-called "right-to-work" state. APR’s Stan Ingold has more.

Senators passed the amendment 25 votes to 9. Alabama voters will now have the chance to approve the amendment at the ballot box in November.

Right-to-work states prohibit companies from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Alabama law already has the prohibition, but Republicans say adding the amendment to the state Constitution will give businesses additional assurances.

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.

The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a bare-bones General Fund budget that Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto over inadequate Medicaid funding.

Representatives approved the spending bill on a 65-35 vote yesterday after a five-hour filibuster by black lawmakers. Democrats harshly criticized the proposed spending plan, which comes up $85 million short of the amount Bentley says is needed to adequately fund Medicaid.

Montgomery Rep. John Knight says Medicaid provides medical care to 1 million vulnerable Alabamians and has few programs to trim.

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.

Federal labor officials are suing an international automotive supplier and managers of the company’s plant in Selma. They claim the company retaliated against employees who raised concerns over dangerous working conditions and inadequate benefits.

According to a complaint filed late last week, three employees at Lear Corporation's Renosol Seating plant in Selma complained to federal labor officials two years ago that they'd been exposed to a chemical that caused health problems and were treated unfairly when they were transferred to another facility.