Downtown Rescue Mission

The city of Huntsville is working to make the holiday season special for local families.

Every year the Downtown Rescue Mission helps the homeless and families in need during the Thanksgiving holidays. The Mission provides Thanksgiving boxes filled with items to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. The boxes include a frozen turkey, stuffing, yams, a fruit cocktail and rolls.

Tonia Beverly is the Director of Events and Business Partnership at the Downtown Rescue Mission. She says that these packages give families something to be thankful for during the holidays.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley came out to defend the state’s closure of dozens of driver’s license offices after Congresswoman Terri Sewell said she was pursuing a Department of Justice investigation.

Bentley sent a letter to U.S Representative Terri Sewell yesterday responding to Sewell's criticisms. She has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate since Alabama requires a photo ID to vote. She says the closures disproportionately impact poor and African-American populations.

Over 1200 high school students will be watching the Alabama Supreme Court firsthand today.

The state’s highest court will hear cases in Huntsville as part of an effort to take the justices on the road.

Mary Ena Heath is a Huntsville attorney and professor who helped coordinate the visit. She says many people are uninformed about how the Supreme Court does its job, so this is a good opportunity to see the court at work.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is giving an open-ended call for next week's special session.  He says lawmakers can address any measure that would provide revenue to the state's ailing general fund budget.

The governor announced the items up for consideration in the special session. The governor wants a cigarette tax increase, the end of a state income tax deduction Alabama allows for FICA taxes paid and other budgetary changes.

Eric Parker
Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

Additional witness testimony is expected today in the federal trial of a former Madison police officer accused of using excessive force during a police stop.

Former officer Eric Parker is facing charges of civil rights violations after he seriously injured an Indian grandfather. His trial is scheduled to continue today in Huntsville.

Alabama and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Aug 19, 2015

What do Kermit The Frog, Alabama Coach Nick Saban, and Lady Gaga all have in common? Each of these celebrities stepped up to take what’s called the A-L-S ice bucket challenge. By August of last year, the internet based fundraising campaign for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease was credited with generating over one hundred million dollars for research and care. APR’s MacKenzie Bates headed to Huntsville to see how getting ice cold water dumped on your head is helping people with the disease…

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.

People who sell alcohol and those who drink it are expected at two public hearings today.

The Alabama Alcohol Beverages Study Commission will convene today in Huntsville and Hoover.

A hometown company will design a massive bridge that's being planned across the Mobile River on Alabama's coast.

The state transportation agency says Thompson Engineering will develop plans for a new Interstate 10 bridge across the river. The existing bridge across Mobile Bay will also be widened.

Some work will begin almost immediately while details of the contract are being completed.

The project's goal is to ease traffic snarls that occur regularly in Mobile.

State lawmakers from Mobile and Baldwin Counties are drafting legislation to try and keep a large portion of the BP oil settlement money near Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

The proposed bill would request $500 million of the $1 billion currently destined for the state’s General Fund budget to instead be dedicated to the Gulf region. The projects that legislators would like to see funded in the area are primarily major road construction.

A Tuscaloosa abortion clinic is suing the state of Alabama over a regulation that could cause the facility to permanently close.

The West Alabama Women's Center filed the federal lawsuit against state health officials last week. The suit deals with a regulation requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, or a contract with a physician who does to handle patients with complications.

The Alabama Senate is headed to a budget vote as they wrap up a session marred by frustrations and disagreements over a hole-filled general fund.

Senators are expected to vote this after  on a budget that includes significant cuts to state agencies. Lawmakers failed to reach an agreement this session on revenue.

Democratic Senator Bobby Singleton says Republican legislators should be ashamed of the budget.

Football, Bowling and Rifle are coming back to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

President Doctor Ray Watts decided Monday morning to reverse the earlier decision after meetings with UAB supporters went through the weekend. 

Doctor Watts announced six months ago the University could not support the football, bowling and rifle programs due to financial reasons.  UAB commissioned a report saying it would cost $49 million over five years to field a competitive program.

The Alabama Senate will start debating some sweeping changes to the state's prison system today.

Republican Senator Cam Ward is bringing the bill to the Senate floor, which would change sentencing and probation standards to try and reduce prison overcrowding.

The proposed legislation is based on a year of study by the state prison reform task force. One of the main changes is the creation of a new Class D felony level, which will keep low-level, non-violent offenders out of prison entirely.

Alabama state agencies could see funding cuts of 11.5 percent or higher next fiscal year unless lawmakers find additional money.

Members of the legislative General Fund committees on Wednesday distributed copies of a rough draft of a budget without additional revenue.

House General Fund budget chairman Rep. Steve Clouse said the results were "bleak."

Yesterday was a busy day in the Alabama Senate. Two bills passed the Senate floor and are on their way to be heard in the House of Representatives.

The first is a bill that looks to change how Alabama recruits businesses and industry. The Alabama Jobs Act would create a pay-as-you-go model for incentives like tax breaks that the state uses to recruit companies.

Under the old model, the state would provide millions of dollars of funding up-front. This bill will allow Alabama to peg those incentives to the companies' performance.

Cal Tech

Freezing precipitation is causing more travel problems and delays in north Alabama.

Icy spots forced officials to close a number of roads in the Tennessee Valley early Monday. That includes Memorial Parkway in Huntsville.

Huntsville police removed barricades from the Parkway as temperatures warmed and conditions improved.

But more than two dozen school systems across the region delayed opening because of the threat of slippery roads, and at least two systems closed for the day.

Title: Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
Author: Hester Bass
Illustrator:  E. B. Lewis
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 28
Price: $16.99 (Hardcover)

Title:  The Cat's Pajamas
Author & Illustrator:  Daniel Wallace
Publisher: Inkshares: Crowdfunded Publishing
Pages: 28
Price: $18.00 (Hardcover)

  Records show Huntsville city schools paid a former FBI agent to oversee security measures that included monitoring students' social media accounts. reports documents it obtained from an open records request show 14 students were expelled in the last school as a result of security consultants watching their social media accounts. Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison said he's concerned that 12 of those expelled students were black.

A federal investigation found Army officials discriminated against a transgender employee who underwent a sex change while working at an Alabama installation.

The Office of Special Counsel says Tamara Lusardi of Huntsville suffered gender identity discrimination as she transitioned from male to female in 2010.

Lusardi was working as a civilian software quality assurance specialist at the Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at the time.

A member of the Wiccan faith says he was set to give the opening invocation at a Huntsville City Council meeting until he was asked about his faith, then told he was no longer invited to do so.

Huntsville City Attorney Peter Joffrion said that when the agenda for Thursday's meeting was made public earlier this week, council members received community concerns about a Wiccan being invited to speak.

Wikimedia Commons

Verizon Wireless is adding 400 jobs in Alabama, mostly in the Huntsville area.

Company officials joined the governor in Montgomery on Tuesday to announce that more than 300 customer service positions will be created in Verizon's state headquarters in Huntsville.

The other positions will be in retail, mostly in north Alabama and in Birmingham and Dothan.

The jobs will bring the company's total employment in the state to about 2,000 people.

A plan by Remington Outdoor Co. to open a plant in Huntsville that could employ thousands of workers has won the support of Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions. In a statement Sunday, Sessions said his office warmly welcomes the firearms manufacturer, and looks forward to the company's long-term success in the area. The company also makes ammunition and accessories. Sessions says the company's decision to open a plant in Huntsville "is great news and a further testament to the world class workforce" in the city. Although Remington officials haven't officially announced the deal, Gov.

Former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville is running for governor as a Democrat. Griffith turned in his qualifying papers at state party headquarters in Montgomery shortly before the deadline on Friday. Griffith served as a Democrat in the Alabama Senate and then was elected to Congress to represent part of north Alabama. After his election he switched to the Republican Party and lost a GOP primary bid to Mo Brooks, who now represents the 5th District. Griffith recently rejoined the Democratic Party.

Boeing Co.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is calling Boeing a significant community partner after the city lost its bid to build the company's new 777X jetliner.

Huntsville was among more than 50 sites in 22 states whose leaders tried to convince Boeing to open its $10 billion assembly plant in their communities. reports the manufacturing operation will support an estimated 8,500 jobs.

That manufacturing plant will be located in Everett, Wash.

Governor Robert Bentley says Alabama will be among the states submitting a proposal next week to land the assembly plant for Boeing's new 777X aircraft.

Bentley says he will meet Thursday with the state's chief industrial recruiter, Greg Canfield, to work on the proposal.

Bentley and other officials met with Boeing executives two weeks ago to try to get the company to develop the plant in the Huntsville area.

Bentley says Boeing has had operations in Huntsville for more than 50 years, and already owns a large tract of land at the Huntsville airport.