Tuscaloosa

Former House Speaker Mike Hubbard's name has been removed from the Alabama Legislature's website and his legislative district is listed as vacant in the wake of his conviction on ethics charges.

A jury convicted Hubbard Friday evening on 12 felony ethics charges. The felony convictions caused Hubbard's automatic and immediate removal from office.

House Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston is fulfilling the speaker's duties.

Tuscaloosa vigil
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Gay rights advocates in Tuscaloosa are remembering the dozens of victims of a gruesome mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday.

Druid City Pride, an LGBTQ organization in Tuscaloosa, held a candlelight vigil last night along with countless other groups across the state and throughout the country. Those taking part memorialized the 49 people killed and remembered the dozens more injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Hubbard trial
Todd J. Van Ernst

Mike Hubbard’s political career appears to be over.

The former Alabama House Speaker faces sentencing next month after being convicted on 12 of the 23 felony ethics charges. APR’s MacKenzie Bates was at the Lee County Courthouse and files this report.

Hubbard’s defense attorney put his arm around him as the verdicts were read one by one convicting him of using his political office for personal gain.

Hubbard maintained his innocence throughout the indictments, saying the transactions that were made fell within the state ethics law.

Philip Anderson family
Pat Duggins / APR

The family of a dead Tuscaloosa County prison inmate is defending him before the press. APR’s Pat Duggins met with Philip Anderson’s relatives who are filing a federal civil rights suit.

“...it hurts…he was my best friend…”

Erika Fykes is Phillip Anderson’s youngest daughter. She says she got the phone call from her father’s cellmates saying that Anderson had been screaming in pain for a week. Only then, his family claims, did jail officials take him to a hospital. Anderson later died on the operating table from a perforated ulcer.

The former state law enforcement chief who accused Governor Robert Bentley of having an affair with an adviser has been questioned by federal investigators about the governor's administration.

Kenny Mendelsohn, an attorney representing former state law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier, revealed yesterday that the questioning occurred. But he refused to elaborate on what questions investigators asked.

A workshop today in Tuscaloosa was expected to help Alabama communities that lost coal mining jobs.

The Appalachian Regional Authority spoke about how colleges and governments can apply for part of sixty five million dollars in federal aid. The money is meant to help put out of work coal miners back on the payroll.

Co-Chairman Earl Gohl** says some coal towns have used grant money to beef up their manufacturing sectors, while West Virginia took another path…

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Governor Robert Bentley's longtime spokeswoman is resigning next month.

Communications director Jennifer Ardis says that she wanted a change after nearly 10 years in the governor's office, six with Bentley and four with Gov. Bob Riley.           

Ardis will take over June 16 as the director of communications and external affairs for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Ardis said she was interested in new challenges and a change of pace after a decade in the governor's officer.

It was on this date five years ago when a super tornado outbreak hit parts of west and west-central Alabama in 2011.

Over fifty people were killed in the city of Tuscaloosa and twelve percent of the town was destroyed. 

Tuscaloosa’s Acting Planning Director Phillip O’Leary spent the first hours after the tornado in his office. When he finally visited the damage zone, one thing stuck with him…

Tuscaloosa officials are seeking money to replace the city's old passenger train station.

A City Council committee voted Tuesday to select an architect to design the new station and to apply for a grant through the Southern Rail Commission.

Mayor Walt Maddox tells The Tuscaloosa News he fears the city will lose Amtrak service unless it invests in a new station.

Stan Ingold

 

It has been nearly five years since a massive EF-4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa Alabama. Twelve percent of the city was destroyed and seven thousand people became unemployed. Here is a look at what recovery has been like for those who decided to come back and those who did not…

 

Alabama senators have approved establishing an innocence commission to review some of the state’s capital convictions.

Senators voted 20-6 in favor of the bill yesterday, sending it to the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would create a panel to review new evidence in death row cases that hadn't previously been heard by a court.

Bill sponsor, Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker, says he supports the death penalty in Alabama, but he thinks the state should work harder to make sure people are guilty before executing them.

The National League of Women’s Voters launched a website that is a “one-stop-shop” for voting information ahead of Alabama’s presidential primary.  Vote 4-1-1-dot-org provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information.

Kathryn Berg is First Vice President of the league of women’s voters of Alabama. She says the website sorts out the differences between partisan primary votes and the general election for President…

Alabama State Capitol
Wikimedia

State lawmakers may vote today on a measure that would block cities from setting local minimum wages.

Last week, the Birmingham City Council voted to expedite the effective date of a planned minimum wage increase to March 1. Republican state Rep. David Faulkner of Mountain Brook filed a bill that would mandate uniform minimum wages in Alabama and void any local wage ordinances.

Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal wage floor of $7.25.

Advocates for low-income workers say local governments are better suited to handle local wage regulations.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department has announced how officers will be disciplined after a violent arrest last fall that went viral.

Police Chief Steven Anderson says Officer James Kent is still on administrative leave with pay pending disciplinary action. Officer Justin Sams received a written reprimand along with remedial training to improve his communication skills.

Tuscaloosa tornado damage
NWS Birmingham / Wikimedia

The federal government says it wants its money back after auditors claim Tuscaloosa improperly received more than $1 million in aid following the 2011 tornadoes.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General has determined the Federal Emergency Management Agency should reclaim about $1.2 million in storm assistance funding.

A tuberculosis outbreak is continuing in the small Alabama town of Marion.

Alabama Department of Public Health officials say two more people have tested positive for TB in Perry County. Division of tuberculosis control director Pam Barrett says one case of the infection was diagnosed in a child less than 15 years old.

Officials say the tuberculosis outbreak has killed three people since 2011, prompting more aggressive screening efforts in Marion. Those efforts included paying residents to get tested, attend follow-up appointments and complete necessary treatment.

The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from lawyers representing Shelby County who tried to recover $2 million in attorney fees from the U.S. government in a case that nullified a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

The justices let stand a lower court ruling today that said the county's civil rights lawsuit did not advance the law's anti-discriminatory purposes and didn't qualify for fee recovery.

Workers in the Tuscaloosa area could see their wages go up soon.

Mayor Walt Maddox and the city council plan to consider an ordinance that would hike the local minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The proposal prompted a march down University Boulevard to City Hall on Martin Luther King Day. The group called for economic justice and a higher minimum working wage.

Deidre Stalnaker is the Communications Director for the City of Tuscaloosa. She says she’s not entirely sure what impact the move will have on area businesses.

       

The Alabama Department of Public Health will be holding a town hall meeting tonight to discuss an outbreak of Tuberculosis.  Twenty-six people have been diagnosed in the Marion, Centreville and Tuscaloosa areas in the past two years.  Pam Barrett is the Director for the Division of TB control with the Alabama Department of Public Health. She says keeping track of those infected has been a problem.

Wetumpka
Wikimedia

The city of Wetumpka has declared a state of emergency after heavy rains and flooding around Christmas caused widespread damage.

But officials say the declaration is just a formality to allow the city to work more easily on areas that need the most repairs.

Heavy rain caused the Coosa River in Wetumpka to rise to 45 feet, higher than it’s been in decades. Several roads remain closed; one is affected by a 15-foot-deep sinkhole.

Officials with Triple-A of Alabama are expecting a lot of drivers on the road for New Year’s Eve tomorrow. 

Triple-A of Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram says with so many people out and about, drivers should give themselves extra time to arrive to your destination safely…

Elliott Spillers
Pete Pajor / Crimson White

Students at the University of Alabama repeated a list of demands for more diversity on the Tuscaloosa campus.

A student march started at Malone-Hood Plaza and ended at Gorgas Library, where the students' eleven goals were restated. The group “We Are Done UA” wants a safe space for students of color, a diversity class for freshmen, and a way to report hate crimes and sexual abuse on campus, among other things.

Official body cam video from the aftermath of the November 8 arrests of three University of Alabama students. Certain confidential information has been redacted from the video.

Advisory: Some portions of these videos contain strong language and other potentially disturbing content.

There is a "Free Lunch"

Nov 5, 2015

This story is a class assignment in JN 325, a class on writing across media (Radio, TV, Web,) taught by Dr. George Daniels and APR news director Pat Duggins. The students are coached by Duggins, APR assistant news director Stan Ingold, and Morning Edition host Alex AuBuchon.

JN 325 Wrap Script

American Lunch

Lauren Fuller

With the growing popularity of food trucks, you can find food nearly anywhere you go. APR’s Lauren Fuller has the story about a food truck based charity that is bringing a truly free lunch to those in need with their mobile soup kitchen.

Classes are cancelled today in Headland, Alabama after storms dropped more than 5 inches over the area yesterday.

Henry County Superintendent Lesa Knowles said high winds and strong storms passed through the area early Sunday morning and peeled the roof off the Headland High School auditorium. The storms also caused leaks at Headland’s elementary school, and power outages throughout town due to felled trees. School was cancelled today, and the school board has called an emergency meeting for later today.

Attorneys are questioning potential jurors for the retrial of an Alabama police officer accused of badly injuring an Indian man during an encounter earlier this year.

About 70 would-be jurors answered questions both in open court and in the judge's chambers today in preparation for the second trial of 27-year-old Eric Parker.

The Madison police officer is charged with violating the civil rights of 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel during an encounter in a suburban neighborhood in February.

"Where Does Your Water Come From?"

Sep 2, 2015
^0 inch pipelines carry water from Big Creek Lake to water treatment plants in Mobile

All year long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking at water. Specifically, the condition of Alabama’s drinking water supply and the health of our rivers. The APR news team will present a number of stories over the coming weeks on the subject. It’s a story of politics, pollution, economics, and the obvious need that water is there when you turn on the tap. To that end, I traveled from one end of Alabama to the other to answer the question—where does your water come from?

Stan Ingold

  

Rural Alabama residents will finally be able to get broadband internet thanks to an FCC program. It’s called Connect America and its mission is to provide access to high-speed internet everywhere in the country.

     Mark Wigfield is spokesman for the FCC. He says Windstream Communications is the latest company to come on board with Connect America.

The Alabama House of Representatives is debating a large cut to Medicaid after a plan for filling a budget hole unraveled in a tension-filled special session.

Legislators will consider a $156 million funding reduction to Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled.

The Republican proposal comes after a committee voted down an increase in the state's cigarette tax. But Democrats and some Republicans are opposing big cuts to Medicaid.

The Climb

Aug 3, 2015
Josh Hollis

If you’ve driven past Tuscaloosa’s Snow Hinton Park recently, you’ve no doubt noticed the strange red pyramid-like structure and towering spiral slide. The pyramid is called a space net, and despite its futuristic name, it’s actually a playground – and it’s been grabbing the attention of children and adults alike.

Ten-year-old CJ is certainly a fan: “I’ve been on it more than twenty-five times today.”

This unique play unit is the brainchild of Tuscaloosa’s Parks and Recreation Authority. It’s part of a five-point-six million dollar renovation to the city’s various parks.

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