News

Pixabay

The Alabama Public Radio news team spent fourteen months investigating the issue of human trafficking in Alabama. You can find that content at apr.org. The project meant talking with a lot of people, and there’s one part of the story that has taken until now to come together. It’s a University of Alabama project designed to help trafficking survivors, and to build trust where trust appears to be rare.

no littering
Pixabay

An Alabama city has kicked off a new anti-littering campaign. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin launched his “Don’t be a D.U.M.M.Y.” campaign.

D.U.M.M.Y. stands for Dumping Ugly Mess in My Yard. The mayor and people in various Birmingham communities are tired of illegal trash dumping, WBRC-TV reported.

First-time offenders will face a $500 fine. For a second or subsequent offense, the fine doubles to $1,000.

Miles College
miles.edu

The football program at Miles College is getting a boost thanks to a donation from Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.

WRBC-TV reports Winston, a Hueytown, Alabama, native, on Wednesday presented Miles College President Bobbie Knight and Athletic Director Reginald Ruffin a check for $50,000, which will be used for upgrades within the Alabama school's program.

Earlier this month, former NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley donated $1 million to the school, a private historically black liberal arts college in Fairfield, Alabama.

Leaders in Mobile, Alabama, are dimming chances for reviving passenger train service along the northern Gulf Coast.

Member of the City Council's finance committee withheld support for funding service through Alabama's port city on Tuesday. Al.com reports the full council could vote on the issue next week.

Amtrak hasn't operated along the coast since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Louisiana and Mississippi have approved funding to restart the trains, but Alabama hasn't. Officials at the Alabama State Port say passenger trains could disrupt freight service through the port.

Krystal
krystal.com

A Southern restaurant chain known for tiny hamburgers and late-night service has filed for bankruptcy.

Federal court documents show the Krystal Co. sought federal bankruptcy protection in Atlanta on Sunday. Documents say the company owes between $50 million and $100 million to food suppliers, equipment companies and others.

Krystal was founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1932 and is now based in Atlanta. With more than 300 restaurants and 7,500 employees, Krystal calls itself the South's oldest fast-food chain.

barbed wire prison fence
Pixabay

Authorities are searching for an inmate who escaped from a work-release program in northwest Alabama.

A report from the Department of Corrections says 26-year-old Xavier Lamont Armstead escaped from custody in Colbert County on Monday afternoon. He left a job site and hasn't been seen since.

Lamont was serving a more than 19-year sentence for third-degree burglary. Court records show he has multiple arrests on charges including burglary, forgery, theft and receiving stolen property.

factory smokestacks
Pixabay

A company plans to create as many as 400 jobs as it reopens a closed latex factory in southeast Alabama.

The state Commerce Department said in a statement Tuesday that Medical Industries of the Americas intends to reopen a shuttered factory at Eufaula in coming months. The factory will produce items including latex gloves, condoms and hot and cold packs for therapy.

The company says it has retooled a factory that used to be operated by Ameritex Corp. near the Georgia state line. It says its investment could reached $50 million eventually as it adds product lines.

globalda.com

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Alabama’s largest, boarded more fliers in 2018 than any year in the past decade, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s latest data.

In that year, about 1.46 million people flew out of Birmingham, while Huntsville International Airport had around 581,000, the second-most. Birmingham Airport Authority President Ronald Mathieu said he expects more growth to show in 2019. He attributes the busy airports to the economy doing well.

Aniah Blanchard
Auburn Police Department

State senator Cam Ward says he plans to file a bill to revoke bond for more offenses after the death of Aniah Blanchard.

In a news conference in Montgomery last Tuesday, Ward said the 19-year-old’s death inspired the proposal. The suspect in her death was out on the maximum bond in the state’s bail schedule when she died. The Eighth Amendment, which covers bail and punishment law, could prohibit the changes Ward wants. Defense attorneys say it would likely face opposition in court. Blanchard was the stepdaughter of a UFC heavyweight fighter.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
al.com

Weeks after her disappearance, a convicted sex offender faces charges in the case of an Alabama woman left dead in a shallow grave in Hueytown.

The Senate is holding a trial on the impeachment of President Trump, who is accused by the U.S. House of abusing his power and obstructing Congress. Each day of the trial will stream through this player as proceedings begin. At the conclusion of the trial, senators are expected to vote on whether Trump should be removed from office. Click the headline to view.

 

One of the nation's largest churches continues buying property for a planned new campus for Highlands College, which trains ministers.  

Al.com reports that Church of the Highlands is purchasing the land near the former Cahaba Grand Conference Center in Birmingham. Real estate records show that the church this month closed on a deal to pay $32 million for an office building, parking deck and land. 

The nation's first memorial to lynching victims is expanding.  

The Equal Justice Initiative on Saturday opened a new welcome center and exhibition space that will add to the existing lynching memorial and museum that documents the history of racial inequality in America.

The pavilion, located in downtown Montgomery, will serve as a hub for visitors to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum.

Pixabay

Cold weather poses at least as many risks to our furry friends as hot weather does.  For example, you wouldn't leave your pet alone in a car in the summer heat, but in the winter that car can become a refrigerator.  It's not a safe place for any animal, especially your pet.

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The Alabama Supreme Court won't reconsider a ruling that prohibits Birmingham from obscuring, or taking down, a Confederate monument in a city park.

Justices on Friday turned down a rehearing request without comment.  

The court in November ruled that Birmingham violated a state law protecting Confederate monuments when it put plywood panels in front of a towering obelisk in a downtown park.

Inerstate 20/59
WVUA23

New I-59/20 bridges that pass through downtown Birmingham will open to traffic Tuesday, on 1-year anniversary since the road closed for construction.

Alabama Department of Transportation spokesperson Tony Harris said the former infrastructure was carrying twice the amount of traffic they were made to accommodate.

“It should be quieter in the downtown area than [when traffic used] the old steel super-structures, and it should provide for a safer, more modern passage through downtown," he said.

 

vaping
Pixabay

The city of Decatur released a letter saying students found using or in possession of vaping devices will go to the Center for Alternatives to Suspension.

Recent research has shown increased findings of harm caused by vaping. The new punishment comes after Decatur City School Administration tried cracking down on the issue by giving in-school suspension for vaping in 2019.

The Alabama Department of Public Health has identified 13 cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarette use.

Sandhill Cranes
PIxabay

Hunters in Alabama may now hunt the Sandhill Crane once again. 

Alabama Hospital Association
The Business Journals

A statewide campaign wants to help Alabamians adopt healthy lifestyle habits.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Initiative

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's study commission on criminal justice policy will make recommendations that could including sentencing changes and expanding the use of pretrial diversion programs.

The panel met for the final time Tuesday and will submit recommendations ahead of the legislative session that begins Feb. 5.

State Sen. Cam Ward is a Republican from Alabaster. He says he expects a package of four to five bills to be introduced in the session.  

Alabama Dance Council
Alabama Dance Council

 

The Alabama Dance Festival is putting on performances, classes, auditions and other events in Birmingham this week and next.

 

Dance groups and individuals from throughout the Southeast will meet for the festival beginning Friday and will continue through next Sunday.

Alabama Dance Council executive director Rosemary Johnson said her statewide non-profit organization puts on the event to foster learning among students and established professionals.

Construction is underway on the new $150 million Tutwiler Residence Hall on the University of Alabama campus.

The new 365,000-square-foot dormitory will be home to 1,285 first-year female students. It will replace the existing Tutwiler Residence Hall, next to the site.

Al.com reports construction is set to be complete by mid-2022.

The new facility will be the third residence hall built on the campus over a 100-year time span honoring Julia Tutwiler, an education and prison reform advocate. 

Gov. Kay Ivey has yet to decide whether Alabama will accept the resettlement of new refugees, as a key deadline approaches next week.

Alabama is one of a handful of states that hasn't announced a decision after President Donald Trump said agencies must get written permission from state and local officials when they want to resettle refugees beyond June 2020. The Trump administration gave governors a Jan. 21 deadline to decide.

A north Alabama school district is closing some of its schools this week after a tornado caused heavy damage at an elementary school.

A twister that forecasters say was an EF-2 with winds up to 120 mph devastated Brindlee Mountain Primary School at Union Grove on Saturday. Superintendent Cindy Saye Wigley says it's fortunate students weren't in class at the time.

Korean War Memorial
tracesofwar.com

A police chase ended in fire and heavy damage to an Alabama memorial commemorating the missing and dead of the Korean War in Mobile.

 Spanish Fort police said the man fled in a stolen truck after officers tried to question him in Mobile on Sunday.  He eventually crashed through a gate and into a monument at Battleship Memorial Park, causing his car to burst into flames and the display to char.  Authorities said they are still looking for the driver, who escaped by running through the smoke and fog.

Associated Press

An Alabama county is taking steps to preserve what's left of the lockup where officials say Martin Luther King Jr. served his final time behind bars. 

Jefferson County commissioners approved a resolution Thursday to memorialize an area inside the county courthouse in Birmingham that used to be a jail.

The county says King was held there in 1967. He served a brief sentence for contempt after losing an appeal on his conviction for demonstrating without a permit years earlier.

King was assassinated about five months later in Memphis, Tennessee.

National Weather Service Birmingham

Authorities blame severe storms sweeping across southern portions of the U.S. and into the Midwest for the deaths of at least 11 people, including two first responders.  

That number includes three people killed during a tornado in Pickens County Alabama.

High winds, tornadoes and unrelenting rain have battered large swaths of the country.

Officials say a police officer and a firefighter in Lubbock, Texas, were killed Saturday after being hit by a vehicle at the scene of a traffic accident.

skeeze [Pixabay]

The Koala population has been so devastated already by the Australian Wildfires that the marsupial may end up on the endangered species list - a tragic thing to happen to such an iconic animal!

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Following the death of an employee last summer, Apex Roofing and Restoration LLC and a subcontractor must pay nearly $160,000 in fines.

 The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration found violations including fall hazards and improperly trained workers. The department is also investigating the companies for child labor violations. The federal investigation launched in July, after a 15-year-old worker fell 40 feet to his death at a job site. The companies have 15 days to dispute the fines, comply or meet with officials.

A federal judge sentenced a St. Louis-area man to four years in prison after his tax return scam netted nearly $900,000.

Babatunde Olusegun Taiwo and others used personal information from school district employees in Alabama and Mississippi. They obtained some of this from a data breach at a payroll company, according to federal prosecutors. Overall, they filed more than 2,000 fraudulent tax returns claiming more than $12 million in refunds. The IRS paid about $890,000. Taiwo agreed to a plea deal in Sepember.

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