Huntsville

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.

Alabama Department of Archives and History

As part of our way of looking at Alabama’s bicentennial we’re taking a looking at each of Alabama’s past capitals. The second capital we’re looking at holds that title with a little controversy.              

In 1809 the town of Twickenham was founded by Leroy Pope near a spring in northeast Alabama. It was named after the town in England, however, that name would not stick…

1811 Twickenham changed the name to Huntsville.

Marshall Space Flight Center
NASA

The director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is retiring.

Marshall officials say Todd May announced his retirement to employees yesterday. It is set to take effect July 27.

A statement from U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville says May is being replaced on an acting basis by Marshall's deputy director, Joan A. "Jody" Singer.

May was first named acting director of Marshall in 2015 and then took over the position on a permanent basis. Before that, the Fairhope native managed the Space Launch System, NASA's heavy-lift rocket that's still in development.

cigar box guitars
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Summer is basically here, and that means it’s music festival season. In Alabama, Hangout Music Festival on the Gulf Coast took place earlier this month, and Sloss Fest in Birmingham is coming up in July. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports on one festival this weekend that might not be on your radar. It shines a spotlight on an unusual and historic instrument.

Fulton flood damage
Clarke Co. EMA

Last weekend was a wet one across the state of Alabama, and forecasters say several spots saw record-breaking amounts of rainfall as well as flooding and rain-related damage.

National Weather Service officials say the rain was extreme in southwest Alabama, especially in Clarke County. Total rainfall for that area this weekend was 9.34 inches. Emergency management officials say 18 car and residence rescues were made Saturday night and early yesterday morning.

Remington AR-15
Phil White / TFB

The city of Huntsville is reiterating its support for a firearms manufacturer that recently filed for bankruptcy.

Huntsville officials released a statement yesterday saying its economic development team will continue engagement with Remington. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday.

The statement also acknowledges Remington has fallen behind on job-hiring obligations tied to financial incentives it receives from the city.

A north Alabama man pleaded guilty to terrorism charges yesterday, admitting he bought bomb-making materials and had hoped to conduct terrorist attacks.

In federal court in Birmingham, Aziz Sayyed, 23, of Huntsville, entered the guilty plea to charges that he sought to aid a foreign terrorist organization.

Trump Mobile rally
Jeff Haller / New York Times

President Donald Trump will be moving his visit to the Yellowhammer State up. Senator Luther Strange’s campaign team recently announced the President will attend a campaign rally in Huntsville at 7 p.m. on Friday.

President Trump’s visit comes just four days before the Republican runoff election between sitting U.S. Senator Luther Strange and Roy Moore, Alabama’s former chief justice. The two men are locked in a heated race for the Republican nomination for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat.

NASA is gathering stakeholders in the International Space Station to look at the future of the orbiting complex, and potential changes could impact the city of Huntsville.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville controls science work that’s done aboard the football field-sized space station. That could soon mean working for or with private industry on the complex.

Mo Brooks
Getty

The race to fill Alabama’s second U.S. Senate seat is heating up, and a recent informal poll could spell bad news for the incumbent.

Nine candidates, both Republican and Democrat, vying for Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat participated in a candidate forum and straw poll last night in Huntsville. Al.com reports the event was organized by the Christian Citizen Task Force, with over 300 people in attendance.

Music fans in Alabama can see music history on display in Huntsville this weekend.

The 13th annual Cigar Box Guitar Festival is taking place tonight and tomorrow at Lowe Mill in Huntsville. Cigar box guitars are simple instruments, usually with just one or two strings, that use a cigar box as its body. The instruments have a long tradition among blues music and jug bands, especially in the South.

This weekend’s festival will also have an art market, food trucks, and a workshop where you can make your own cigar box guitar alongside craftsmen at Lowe Mill.

A law that would regulate ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft failed to pass the Legislature this year. It’s unclear when or if those companies will begin service in certain Alabama communities.

Uber is blaming the cities involved. Al.com reports a spokesperson for Uber singled out Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson as being primarily responsible for the stalled legislation.

Pieces of Iconic Huntsville Mosaic to be Given Away Tonight

May 23, 2017

Pieces of a Huntsville religious icon are going home in the hands of the faithful today.

Tiles from a large mosaic called The Cosmic Christ will be handed out to anyone who wants one starting at 6 p.m. this evening. The image has been a staple of downtown Huntsville’s skyline since the 1970s, but is being taken down due to wear and tear. The plan is to replace the mosaic with another over the next five years. The project is expected to cost around $1.5 million.

wikipedia

Israel's advanced missile defense system is being designed in northern Alabama.   

Al.com reports that the system named David's Sling was partially designed in Huntsville to help Israel's defense against regional enemies such as Iran, Palestine, Turkey, and other countries in the Middle East. The defense system is designed to intercept enemy drones, planes, medium- to long-range rockets, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The system is named after the David and Goliath Bible story.

recycling
Lloyd Gallman / Montgomery Advertiser

Municipal officials can lose sleep over the volume of trash that residents produce, but those in Montgomery have the opposite problem. They say the city isn’t producing enough trash to sustain a citywide recycling program.

Montgomery has a similar population size to three other major Alabama cities, Huntsville , Birmingham and Mobile. But the Montgomery Advertiser reports that the capital city is the only one without a recycling program and the only one with any doubts about its ability to maintain one.

New House Minority Leader Talks Workforce Development

Feb 13, 2017

The minority leader of the Alabama House of Representatives is rolling up his sleeves for his first full week of work.

Democrats voted last Wednesday to elect Representative Anthony Daniels of Huntsville as their leader. The Speaker of the House, Representative Mac McCutcheon is also from the Huntsville area. The two plan to hold meetings in their mutual hometown.

There's going to be more than a little clowning around in the Huntsville area starting tomorrow.

The Rocket City Clown Alley is starting its latest workshop on the fine art of clowning. The eight-week course starts tomorrow. The class covers all the bases of clowning, from face painting, to juggling, to character development.

Organizer Paul Carlton goes by the clown name Dr. Curley. He says having fun is the first step to clowning.

Huntsville BoE Talking Superintendents Tonight

Jan 30, 2017

The Huntsville Board of Education is meeting tonight to narrow down their list of candidates for superintendent.

The board has five candidates remaining for the position. Those finalists have gone through extensive, individual interviews in the past week.

Keith Ward is the spokesman for Huntsville City Schools. He says each remaining candidate has a vast array of experience.

North Alabama has a huge new structure on its landscape.

NASA says construction work is finished in Huntsville on a 221-foot-tall, twin-tower stand that will be used to test hardware for the space agency's new rocket.

 The massive structure is located at Marshall Space Flight Center, where engineers are installing equipment needed to test the largest fuel tank that will be part of the Space Launch System rocket.

An internationally renowned biotechnology company in Huntsville is planning to expand.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology says it's starting work on a new, 100,000-square-foot building that will provide extra work space. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow.

The HudsonAlpha campus already has three buildings where more than 700 people are employed.

A company associated with HudsonAlpha, Conversant Bio, will be one of the first occupants of the new building. It provides human tissue and viable cell samples to researchers.

Carbon monoxide leak at Redstone sends 7 to hospitals

Dec 9, 2016

What's being described as a carbon monoxide leak at Huntsville's Redstone Arsenal resulted in seven people being sent to a hospital.  The problem occurred this morning at Redstone Arsenal's Fox Army Health Center.

An official says Redstone firefighters confirmed elevated levels of carbon monoxide at the building when they responded to an alarm.

Post spokesman Chris Colster says four people were sent to the hospital at first, and three more were taken to a hospital after the health center reopened for a short time later.

An Alabama inmate is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his upcoming execution to consider whether a judge should have been able to give him a death sentence when the jury recommended life imprisonment.

Attorneys for Ronald Bert Smith filed the stay request today. Smith is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection next Thursday for the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

A jury recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote, but a judge sentenced Smith to the death penalty.

Robert Lightfoot
NASA

Space enthusiasts will have a chance to speak with some of the top figures in deep space exploration this week.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) is hosting the ninth annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium in Huntsville today through Friday on the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s campus.

Jim Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director of the AAS. He stresses the importance of the environment the symposium provides.

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.

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