Montgomery County

Beetles Threatening Alabama Timber

Sep 5, 2017

Alabama’s eleven billion dollar timber industry could be at risk due to a very small bug.

Southern Pine Beetle populations have reached epidemic levels in Montgomery County. The beetles are also found in the Oakmulgee district of the Talladega National Forest and an area including Marengo, Clarke, and Choctaw counties.

A new report says travelers spent more than $13 billion in the state of Alabama last year.

The study was conducted for the state tourism agency by an economist at Auburn University in Montgomery. It says more than 25 million travelers spent a total of $13.4 billion in the state in 2016 on hotels, shopping, transportation and restaurants.

That represents an increase of 5.4 percent from 2015. Tourism Director Lee Sentell says travel spending has doubled in the state over the last 14 years.

A lawyer for a white Montgomery police officer charged with murdering a black man is asking a judge to move the officer's trial out of the city.

Officer Aaron Cody Smith's lawyer will try to persuade a Montgomery County judge later today that Smith won't receive a fair trial in Montgomery because of the protests and intense media coverage related to the case.

Attorney Mickey McDermott says Smith has received death threats after last year’s fatal shooting of 58-year-old Greg Gunn. He filed a motion in December to change the location of the proceedings.

picture of dry river bed
taigasylvan /

The Alabama Office of Water Resources has placed 18 more counties under a drought emergency. reports yesterday’s declaration means that 46 of the state's 67 counties — more than two-thirds of Alabama — have been designated at emergency level, the most severe drought designation.

The latest counties to be added to the list are in west and east-central Alabama and include Montgomery County and Tuscaloosa County. Most of the northern half of the state had been previously classified at that level.

The Montgomery County District Attorney says his county’s court system is drowning in a massive backlog of pending drug cases.

District Attorney Daryl Bailey tells the Montgomery Advertiser that a backlog of more than 1600 cases means that anybody arrested for drug-related charges would currently be waiting more than two years for trial as evidence is processed.

Bailey says the state's budget crisis and staff cuts mean the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences is struggling to keep up with the number of cases it needs to analyze.

The United States Supreme Court upheld a ruling yesterday declaring that tax subsidies for health care from the federal government are constitutional.

In Alabama, that’s good news for more than 130,000 people that purchased insurance through the Affordable Care Act. In most cases, the federal tax breaks on those plans were what made them affordable enough to purchase.

Voters in Birmingham overwhelmingly approved a tax increase yesterday that will go toward Birmingham’s City Schools.

According to Birmingham Board of Education President Randall Woodfin, the extra tax will cost the average homeowner an additional $1.83 a month.

Money from the tax increase will be used to put a preschool classroom in every Birmingham city elementary school. Some schools that already have preschool programs are expected to expand them. The money will also go toward funding music and other fine arts programs as well as foreign language education.