A federal investigation is blaming inadequate work by an excavation crew for a pipeline explosion that killed two people in Alabama and slowed the flow of fuel to the Eastern Seaboard in 2016.

A report released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board says excavators used heavy machinery to dig up a Colonial Pipeline pipe when the work should have been done by hand. It says a machine hit a fitting on the pipeline, unleashing gasoline and starting a blaze that killed two people and hurt four others.

Corporations and other groups are helping to pay for Alabama's 200th birthday party.

The Alabama Bicentennial Commission says more than $3 million has been donated to the foundation created to raise money for the celebration. The commission says donations are being used to pay for grants, exhibits and a bicentennial park at the Capitol but they will also pay for a closed-door event for state officials.

A former chairwoman of Birmingham's water board won't have to go to prison for her public corruption conviction.

A judge sentenced Sherry Lewis on Thursday following her conviction on felony ethics charges of using her position for personal gain. He ordered her to pay fines of $30,000 and perform 400 hours of community service.

The state attorney general's office says a north Alabama judge has been arrested on a charge that he misused his office for personal gain.

Limestone County District Judge Douglas Lee Patterson was arrested Thursday. The attorney general’s office said Patterson used $47,000 intended for juvenile court programs for his personal expenses. 

The attorney general's office said he also improperly took money when he served as a conservator for a nursing home resident and for another man.

Court records did not show if Patterson has an attorney representing him. 

An Alabama woman who accused police officers of severely beating her disabled son then withholding video of the alleged attack is suing five officers for excessive use of force.

News outlets report Angela Williams announced her federal lawsuit on Monday. She says her son, Ulysses Wilkerson, was 17 at the time he had one hand cuffed as Troy officers kicked him in the face. Williams says Wilkerson was walking behind businesses in December 2017 and ran from officers before being caught and beaten. Officers said they thought he had a weapon.

An Alabama school board is disciplining three teachers accused of sharing offensive text messages about students that were later leaked online.

News outlets report the Houston County School Board voted Wednesday night to approve 10-day, unpaid suspensions for three teachers from Ashford High School.

As many as six teachers were suspended earlier after a student used social media to post leaked text messages that included a racial slur and comments about students' sex lives. The suspensions for three teachers followed an investigation by school officials.


An Alabama man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for repeated sexual abuse of a girl over a 10-year span.

News outlets report 72-year-old Herbert Writesman was sentenced Wednesday on over 30 counts of sex crimes including, first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy. Writesman must also pay $13,100 in court costs and $100 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fee. Writesman pleaded guilty to the crimes in September.

Court documents say the abuse began in 2006 when the victim was 6 years old and continued on 16 different occasions over the course of a decade.


Alabama’s infant mortality rate has hit a record low.

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that the 2018 infant mortality rate was the lowest in Alabama history.  However, Alabama's infant mortality rate continues to be higher than the national rate.

There also remains a racial disparity in infant mortality rates. The infant mortality rate for black infants in Alabama was 11.0 in 2018, more than twice the infant mortality rate for white infants.

Icy roads caused wrecks and school delays in north Alabama after a round of light snow and temperatures in the 20s.

News outlets reported multiple crashes on elevated roads and overpasses early Wednesday near Huntsville, including Interstates 565 and 65. No serious injuries were reported, but traffic was slow in areas.

At least two dozen school systems opened two hours late as a precaution to give time for icy patches to thaw. A few government offices and businesses also delayed opening.

An Alabama inmate who escaped from a state prison four months ago is now back in custody.

Citing the state department of corrections, news outlets report 50-year-old Kevin Bradley Nelson surrendered to deputies in Chilton County on Tuesday. The agency says Nelson was serving two years at a state prison for receiving stolen property when he escaped in August.

Details surrounding his escape and what prompted his surrender were unclear as of early Wednesday.


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