Alabama ending in-person unemployment help

Dec 28, 2020


Alabamians seeking unemployment will now have to do so over the phone. 

The Alabama Department of Labor said it is ending the in-person service due to the health risks of COVID-19. 

Starting Jan. 3 people looking to claim unemployment have to call 1-800-361-4524 from 5 p.m. to midnight on Sunday through Thursday to schedule a callback for the next day to set up an appointment.

COVID-19 blamed for slow tourism numbers along the Gulf coast

Dec 28, 2020

Gulf coast tourism officials say COVID-19 and lingering damage from Hurricane Sally have seen bookings drop. This follows record business last year. Thousands of retirees avoid the northern cold by spending the winter on Alabama beaches. They’re often called snowbirds, but this year fewer are flying south.


The Christmas Day explosion in downtown Nashville has caused a ripple effect as far south as Birmingham, Alabama. The blast, being investigated as a deliberate act by the FBI and ATF, occurred in front of a AT & T facility. The T-Mobile cell service company said on Twitter that service disruptions include Alabama, Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, and Atlanta. The message went on to say that “restoration efforts continue around the clock & we will keep you updated on progress.”

New Pet in the House

Dec 26, 2020
Jeffrey P. Home [ Flickr]

Having a new pet in your home can be a fun and exciting time for both of you, but it's important to get things off on the right foot.  Your new furry buddy will need some supplies, and especially attention from you.  After all, it takes time to adjust to all-new surroundings - and people!



Political wrangling in the waning days of the Trump administration could hit unemployed Alabamians starting today. The current federal jobless benefits through the U.S. CARES Act are set to expire today, and there’s no indication President Trump has signed a new program ironed out by Congress, which included $900 stimulus checks for most Americans. Trump insisted that the amount be hiked to $2,000, then jetted off to his Mar-A-Lago property in Florida, leaving Democratic lawmakers seizing on the President’s apparent generosity and the GOP reportedly feeling blindsided.


Alabama officials say $220,000 in federal grant money will be used to assist victims of domestic violence in the state. Law Enforcement agencies note a rise in domestic violence during the coronavirus outbreak, with families forced to remain together and indoors on a ongoing basis. Police in Marengo County, for example, reported four homicides back in May—three of which attributed to domestic violence. More than half the federal grant money will go to AshaKiran Incorporated.

Alabama Public Radio

Alabama teammates Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith are joining Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Florida's Kyle Trask as finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Jones and Smith are the eighth set of teammates to be finalists together since the tradition started in 1982. Smith is trying to become the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since 1991 when Desmond Howard, now of ESPN’s College Game Day program, took the award for Michigan. Jones was asked about the buzz around the Heisman during a press conference prior to the announcement of the finalists.


Deaths linked to the coronavirus climbed above 4,600 in Alabama ahead of Christmas. Health experts fear that number will grow because of holiday travel and family gatherings. The state has added more than 4,000 new cases of the illness daily over the last week. Healthcare professionals are still urging less holiday travel to lessen a holiday spike in COVID-19 cases they say started with high school and college football games and Halloween in October and grew worse in November with the Presidential election and Thanksgiving.


The Alabama Department of Public Health says a person who received the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 had a severe allergic reaction. The incident occurred several minutes later but the recipient appeared to recover afterward. The unidentified person had a history of allergic reactions but elected to have the shot anyway. The patient was immediately treated at Decatur Morgan Hospital, where the vaccine was administered. the reaction was reported to the manufacturer.


Forecasters say more than four million people near the U.S. Gulf Coast will be at risk of rough weather just ahead of Christmas. The National Storm Prediction Center says damaging wind gusts will be one of the main threats, along with the possibility of a few tornadoes. The storms are expected to move through tonight. The bad weather is combining with the COVID-19 outbreak to impact Christmas celebrations along the coast. Fairhope United Methodist Church tried to move its Christmas Eve services to an outdoor amphitheater due to the coronavirus.

Teaching Confederate history in a changing world

Dec 23, 2020
APR's Pat Duggins

Movements like Black Lives Matter have changed the way many in Alabama look at Southern history. While some Confederate monuments have been taken down, others have been moved to new locations where they are again on display. 

The Confederate Rest Cemetery in Point Clear is a quiet place. Headstones, new and old, mark 19th century graves. Richard Sheely points out, however, that this was not always such as peaceful location. More than 350 soldiers were hastily buried here when the nearby Grand Hotel was used as a Civil War military hospital.

Christmas in the ICU: Decorations, lights and many tears

Dec 22, 2020
East Alabama Medical Center
Associated Press


Holidays are not easy for anyone this year thanks to COVID-19, but one Alabama hospital is doing its best to cheer up those who will be spending them away from home and family. 

Staff members at East Alabama Medical Center have decorated the intensive care unit with Christmas trees, snowman stickers and lights. They said they hope that the merriment lightens the mental load of their patients. 



Gov. Kay Ivey become one of the first governors to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Monday. 

She received the first of two shots of the Pfizer vaccine at a hospital to encourage trust and confidence in the vaccine. Ivey said she wanted to send a clear message that the vaccine is safe.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says three more state inmates have died after contracting COVID-19. That brings the system's total number of inmate deaths from the illness to more than 50. The deaths include inmates Larry Gene Knight, Dennis Guyton, and Danny Charles Cunningham, all in their late sixties or early seventies. Those fatalities bring Alabama's total number of inmate deaths from the pandemic to 52. That total includes two prison staffers. The largest concentration of inmates sickened by the new coronavirus is at Bibb Correctional Facility.

Notre Dame University

The Crimson Tide’s opponent in the upcoming Rose Bowl will be spending Christmas in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame University says it’s asking its football players to not travel home for the holidays. Alabama, the Fighting Irish, Clemson, and Ohio State were selected for the two semi-final games ahead of the national title contest in Miami. Notre Dame’s concern over holiday travel for its players is partly over logistics and partly over the coronavirus. Head coach Brian Kelly says it was a tough decision to make.

COVID-19 credited with higher live Christmas tree sales

Dec 22, 2020

Christmas is right around the corner and decorations are going up. Numbers across the country show more people are purchasing real Christmas trees this year. Marsha Gray is the executive director of the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. Her organization does exactly that, they promote the use of real trees for the Christmas holiday.

“Our purpose isto help to create greater demand for fresh cut Christmas trees and also to support the industry, we do that through promotion, through education and we also do fund research on Christmas tree production,” says Gray.

Children of Chernobyl

Dec 21, 2020

  Tragedy struck Ukraine in 1986 when a nuclear reactor exploded and left many people in neighboring communities effected by radioactive contamination.  Cancer and other health issues continued to increase in neighboring country Belarus for years after the incident.  But a group of Alabama Methodist churches decided to take action and bring local children to Alabama where they would get the one thing home couldn’t give them: fresh air.


Alabama healthcare workers are still pushing the message of less holiday travel during a statewide spike in COVID-19 cases. The State’s Department of Public Health has a list of suggestions on coronavirus safety around Christmas. That includes checking to see how overwhelmed local hospitals are and to avoid family gatherings that include people you don’t live with. Dr. Richard Friend is Dean of the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences. He says Alabama’s current COVID spike began in October and involved specific events.

APR's Pat Duggins

Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Ohio State made the final four to compete for the college football national title. The Crimson Tide will face Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl after winning the SEC Championship over Florida. One twist for the Rose Bowl game is that it won’t be played in Pasadena. Organizers say concerns over COVID-19 prompted them to move the game to AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The storied bowl game was where the Tide won its first title in 1926 and is featured in Alabama’s fight song.


The Redstone Arsenal, near Huntsville, is among six finalists to be the headquarters of the "Guardians." Astronauts of the Trump administration’s “U.S. Space Force” will be known by that name. Vice President Pence is celebrating the first birthday of the Space Force by announcing the new name of  its members. Pence made the announcement during a celebratory event Friday tracing the development of the newest branch of the U.S. Air Force. Astronaut Michael Hopkins, aboard the International Space Station, took the oath as the nation’s first “Space Force” guardian.

Animals at the Manger

Dec 19, 2020
Prayitno [Flickr]

Most Christmas manger scenes include animals, because the Christ child was born in a stable.  Other than Joseph and Mary, the animals were the only witnesses to the birth of Jesus.  So it seems natural that we would  include our pets in our Christmas celebrations!



A city employee of the town of Rainsville, north of Birmingham, is under suspension for allegedly making wine at the city’s sewage plant. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Office says it got an anonymous tip about an alcohol operation at a municipal building in the town of Rainsville on Thursday. Investigators then uncovered what's described as a large illegal winery inside the Rainsville Waste Water Treatment Plant. Photos released by detectives show glass containers, buckets, a fermenting rack, and other equipment commonly used to make wine at home.


State health officials say Alabama will receive almost 20,000 fewer doses of coronavirus vaccine than initially planned. The change will reduce the number of people who can receive an initial dose of the Pfizer vaccine in coming days. Health officials say the reason for the change is unclear. The department says over four thousand people in Alabama have received the first dose of the vaccine. The second shot of the Pfizer product is designed to some three weeks after the first, with immunity expected to occur the following week.


Alabama's unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in November. That’s a big improvement from earlier in the year but still above last year's level. The preliminary, seasonally adjust rate for last month was better than October's revised rate of 5.7%. But it was still higher than the November 2019 level of 2.7%. A statement from the Alabama Department of Labor says the November rate represents 100,537 unemployed people. Cullman County had the state's lowest unemployment rate, 2.4%. Rural Wilcox County was worst in the state at 10.9%.

The Southeastern Conference Championship is on the line this weekend.  The top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are taking on the seventh ranked Florida Gators in Atlanta tomorrow evening. The SEC has played an all-conference season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Alabama head coach Nick Saban said it is an honor to be playing in this game.  

Alabama hospital ends elective surgeries over virus spike

Dec 17, 2020


A hospital in Dothan is suspending elective surgeries because of an increase of COVID-19 patients needing care.

Southeast Health announced that the change would take effect on Thursday and asked residents to wear face masks and continue to take other safety steps. 

School board to pay $320K to teacher suit over dismissal

Dec 17, 2020
Opelika City Schools


The Opelika City Schools board is settling a lawsuit filed by a former teacher who claimed she was dismissed in retaliation for speaking out about the mistreatment of a special education student.

Board members agreed to end the suit filed by Meagan Norris, who taught at Jeter Primary School.

She reported in 2017 that she saw a physical education teacher use a barrier made of tape to separate special needs students from other children.

2020 was tough along the Gulf coast, 2021 may be worse

Dec 17, 2020

An APR news feature

2020 was a difficult year for Mobile and Baldwin counties. There was the Coronavirus, two hurricanes, protests over police shootings and social distancing. Food banks, nonprofits and those who work with the homeless were stretched to serve more people than ever before. These are problems that won't go away when the year ends, and many are planning now for what will happen in 2021.

Nursing students, teachers to fill gaps at UAB Hospital

Dec 16, 2020


Graduate students and faculty from the University of Alabama at Birmingham nursing school are going to begin working with COVID-19 patients.

All 120 people joining the UAB Hospital care team are licensed nurses. Undergraduate students will also be helping as technicians with vaccine distribution.

The hospital has already enlisted retired nurses to help with patient care due to being short-staffed.

Hatcher defeats Knight in Alabama Senate runoff election

Dec 16, 2020

Rep. Kirk Hatcher defeated Rep. John Knight in the Democratic runoff for an Alabama Senate seat.

The seat became vacant after Sen. David Burkette pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance charges and resigned in September. 

Hatcher won with 74 percent of the vote on Tuesday and will face Republican state Rep. William Greene in a special election on March 2. 

The seat represents state district 26, which includes much of Montgomery County.