Alex AuBuchon

News Host / Reporter

Alex AuBuchon is APR’s Morning Edition host and also writes news and feature stories. He got his start in nonprofit radio at the University of Tennessee’s venerable WUTK-FM.

AuBuchon started as a student DJ before quickly falling in with the news team. He spent a semester on the news staff and then a year as News Director, delivering live newscasts and teaching broadcast workshops to undergraduate journalism students.

AuBuchon then switched over to commercial radio, taking a job as Operations Manager and Assistant News Director for a group of four radio stations in his hometown of Paris, Tennessee. He scheduled traffic and automation breaks and did administrative work for four stations during the week, and delivered newscasts and maintained a popular news website on the weekends.

Alex crossed back over to public radio in January 2015, moving to Alabama to wake up early and give listeners the news they need to get ready for the day.

Fourteen Alabama prisoners have earned theological degrees under a new seminary program in the state’s prison system.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says the first inmates graduated from seminary studies under the Birmingham Theological Seminary Prison Initiative Program.

The privately funded program allows inmates to take seminary classes taught at the Bibb County Correctional Facility. The program lasts two years.

Ten inmates earned certificates in biblical studies and four earned masters of arts in biblical studies.

Alabama's prison system is facing a hearing on how it provides mental health services to inmates.

Al.com reports U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has ordered a hearing in Montgomery later today on why the Alabama Department of Corrections should not be held in contempt of court for failing to meet deadlines for increasing mental health staffing.

Thompson ruled last year that mental health care in Alabama prisons was "horrendously inadequate" and violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Alex AuBuchon / APR

The four girls killed in a church bombing in Birmingham in 1963 were remembered over the weekend during a memorial service on the attack’s 55th anniversary.

Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson were all killed September 15, 1963 when a bomb placed by Ku Klux Klan members ripped through Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Saturday’s service also honored two boys, Johnny Robinson, Jr. and Virgil Ware, killed in separate incidents shortly after the bombing.

The federal government has until mid-November to respond to the state of Alabama's lawsuit seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from U.S. Census counts.

Last week, a federal judge gave the U.S. Department of Commerce and Census Bureau an extension until Nov. 13 to reply to the lawsuit. Lawyers had said the Department of Justice components needed additional time to finish "evaluating the arguments that the government will make in this matter."

An inmate was fatally stabbed at a state prison in Springville, Alabama last weekend.

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton says the stabbing happened Sunday evening at St. Clair Correctional Facility.

Prison staff found 29-year-old Terry Terrell Pettiway unresponsive and suffering from a stab wound at around 6:45 p.m. Sunday evening. Pettiway was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Alabama’s capital city is currently dealing with a shortage of school bus drivers.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports the Montgomery Public Schools are working toward solutions for the lack of drivers at the start of this school year. A school official says the district is seeking more drivers, but they aren't receiving any applications despite efforts to advertise openings.

Of Montgomery Public Schools's 159 routes, 151 have a driver with no subs. The problem becomes even worse when drivers call out.

University Hospital
USA Health

The University of South Alabama in Mobile is changing the name of its hospital.

Late last week, university trustees approved changing the name of USA Medical Center to University Hospital.

A statement from the university's medical dean, Dr. John Marymount, says the new name reflects the school's mission to provide medical education and health care stemming from research.

The hospital is the only one in southwestern Alabama that offers the top-level of trauma care.

Jefferson County is making plans to put an armed resource officer in every school in the county as part of a new school safety plan.

Local officials announced the plan as part of a press conference yesterday. Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says there are currently 25 officers for the 56 schools in the county school system. He says they plan to hire enough contract deputies to cover all 56 county schools.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is reporting a string of large campaign contributions as she looks to reclaim fundraising dominance in the gubernatorial race.

Campaign finance reports show the incumbent Republican has received $95,000 in large contributions over the last three weeks.

Ivey received $25,000 each from the Alabama Builders Political Action Committee, the Trucking Association PAC and Georgia Crown Distributing Inc.

She also received $20,000 from another political action committee.

Ivey faces Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in the November election.

Airbnb is set to start collecting local lodging tax in Alabama’s largest city within the next month.

Al.com reports the Birmingham City Council approved an agreement yesterday allowing the short-term rental website to collect the city's 6.5 percent tax on rentals. Airbnb already collects a 4 percent state lodging tax for all Alabama rentals, including Birmingham.

Assistant City Attorney Julie Barnard says the tax will be collected automatically when a room is booked within city limits. Airbnb then will send the collected tax revenue to the city.

Voters in Muscle Shoals are heading to the polls today to consider a measure that would raise local taxes.

School officials are seeking a 5-mil property tax increase, on top of the existing 7.5-mil municipal ad valorem tax currently in place in Muscle Shoals. Officials say the money would go toward funding the local public school system. Specifically, they are looking to build a new elementary school and a new band room for the city high school.

Hubbard trial
Todd J. Van Ernst

An appellate court has upheld most of the convictions against former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Yesterday, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed 11 of the 12 counts against Hubbard for ethics violations, including using his public office to drum up clients and investments for his businesses.

For years, Hubbard was one of the state's most influential Republicans, but his political career came to an end with his 2016 ethics conviction.

Birmingham's public transportation agency is getting federal money to help it go electric.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority will receive $1.5 million through a grant program.

The federal agency says the money is supposed to be used for purchasing battery-run electric buses and charging stations.

The Birmingham grant money is among more than $84 million that's being provided in 41 states to update buses and other transportation infrastructure with advanced propulsion technologies.

An Alabama doctor has been sentenced to more than twelve years in prison for his role in a Montgomery pill mill.

U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin Sr. told Al.com that 56-year-old Gilberto Sanchez was found guilty last week of prescribing unnecessary controlled substances for his patients. He was also found guilty of committing health care fraud and laundering money.

CHS library
Lowndes Co. BoE

There’s a new school superintendent in Lowndes County, Alabama.

The Lowndes County Board of Education announced yesterday that Jason Burroughs has signed a three-year contract with the school system – that according to WSFA-TV.

Burroughs was previously serving as the interim superintendent and was the former assistant superintendent. He also has served in various other positions during his 23 years with the school district.

Union members in south Alabama are heading back to work after suspending their strike against a soft drink bottler.

Employees of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United in Mobile, Robertsdale and Leroy, as well as in Vancleave, Mississippi, went back to work Monday, suspending a walkout that began Aug. 9.

About 275 employees at the locations are represented by the Teamsters Union. Last year, the locastions were transferred from a North Carolina-based bottler to the Birmingham-based Coca-Cola United.

Auburn GLA
Frank Susko / Invisible Histories Project

A new project is documenting the history of LGBTQ people in the Deep South, a region that once all but forced gays, lesbians and others to live in hiding.

The nonprofit Invisible Histories Project has gathered volumes of information about gay life in Alabama, including decades-old directories of gay-friendly businesses; activist T-shirts; records from gay-rights groups; and rainbow-themed material.

The organization is also expanding into Mississippi and Georgia this year, and organizers hope to cover the entire Southeast within a few years.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says the state comptroller has updated an agreement with county sheriffs to end a practice allowing them to pocket state money left over from inmate food programs.

Al.com reports starting next month, the affidavit that county sheriffs must sign will contain new language clarifying the use of jail food funds.

It states the sheriffs must agree funds will only be spent on "preparing food, serving food and other services incident to the feeding of prisoners." The old version didn't specify use of funds.

One of Alabama's largest publicly held companies, the Birmingham-based Energen Corp., is being bought out by Texas-based Diamondback Energy Inc. in a stock deal worth more than $9 billion.

The companies announced the transaction in a statement released Tuesday. They say the deal will create a company that will operate in the Permian Basin, which produces oil and natural gas located in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

The combined company will produce the equivalent of about 222,000 barrels of oil daily and own more than 266,000 acres in the region.

A city in north Alabama has approved the use of taxpayer money to pay legal expenses for a police officer charged in the death of an armed man police say was suicidal.

Al.com reports the Huntsville City Council voted unanimously late last week to cover the defense of 25-year-old Huntsville Police Officer William Darby.

Darby was indicted earlier this month on a murder charge in the shooting of 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker.

The Alabama Supreme Court has stayed the trial of a Montgomery police officer facing murder charges.

Aaron Cody Smith was scheduled to go to trial Monday on murder charges for the 2016 shooting of 58-year-old Greg Gunn. Yesterday, state Supreme Court justices stayed the trial to consider his appeal on a number of issues.

Smith's attorneys argue he should be immune from prosecution because he was acting in self-defense.

They also argue the trial judge tainted the jury pool with comments about the case.

Tabitha Isner, the Democratic candidate in Alabama's 2nd Congressional District, says Russian hackers made more than a thousand attempts to break into her campaign website last month.

Isner says there were 1,400 attempts to break into the website. Most came from accounts with Russian internet service providers.

Isner says she has no idea why her campaign was targeted. She says the hackers were attempting to log in manually to the site.

A university in Alabama is grappling with a housing shortage after a tornado is and is buying mobile homes to provide living space for students.

WBMA-TV reports Jacksonville State University plans to use 22 mobile homes to house students this fall.

Many houses and apartments were destroyed or heavily damaged when a tornado struck on March 19, creating a housing crunch in the city.

MLK Tuscaloosa
Edward Jenkins

The state of Alabama has a rich and painful history when it comes to the civil rights movement. Researchers recently uncovered new evidence about a lesser-known chapter of that story.

The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Task Force has located a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at a service in Tuscaloosa. They also found video of what came to be known as “Bloody Tuesday”, when a peaceful march to protest segregation was met with beatings, tear gas, fire hoses and arrests.

Virginia Wadley Bradley
UAB

A new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham could help patients ward off dementia.

UAB School of Medicine researchers took part in a project examining what the benefits would be if a patient dramatically lowered his or her blood pressure. The so-called SPRINT MIND trial examined whether a lower blood pressure reading would also reduce the risk of cognitive impairment or dementia.

Researchers found that reducing systolic pressure below 120 did reduce that risk. The systolic reading is the first of two numbers when you get your blood pressure taken.

HERO
HERO

The Appalachian Regional Commission is examining “bright spots” in health care, and one Alabama county made the list.

Hale County was included in a report of ten case studies where researchers from the Appalachian Regional Commission headed to areas with much better than average health statistics. They tried to find out why those counties were healthier, to see what other struggling areas can learn.

Airports across the state of Alabama will be improving their infrastructure soon, thanks to more than $25 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby says the grants will help 25 airports with improvements, new structures and safety advances. The Mobile Downtown Airport will receive the most with $7.08 million, while the Thomas C. Russell Field Airport in Alexander City will get the least with $94,500.

The grants are funded through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and federal appropriations.

Officials at a school in south Alabama are being recognized for their work in transforming education.

The Genesis Innovative School in Conecuh County’s public school system has been named one of seven schools across the country that are launching creative and innovative programs to better meet students’ needs – that according to the digital education company Fuel Education.

Genesis is a fully virtual public school, with coursework available online 24/7. Students are located all across the state.

For the 27th time this year, a loaded gun has been found in a carry-on bag at the Birmingham airport.

Al.com reports Transportation Security Administration officers found the handgun Tuesday morning at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. TSA officers confiscated the gun and alerted airport police, who then escorted the passenger out of the checkpoint area.

A judge is refusing to grant immunity to a white Alabama police officer who claims he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot an unarmed black man in 2016.

WSFA-TV reports Montgomery Judge Greg Griffin made that decision after a hearing yesterday in which Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith described the shooting. Smith will go on trial next month on murder charges for the death of 58-year-old Greg Gunn.

The shooting happened after Smith stopped Gunn as Gunn was walking home through his neighborhood late one night in February 2016.

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