Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

recycling
Lloyd Gallman / Montgomery Advertiser

Federal labor officials say a recycling center that employs adults with intellectual disabilities in Alabama should have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to its workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that employees were rightfully owed $540,000. The agency says that Montgomery Arc and two of its partners – Hanan Center and McInnis Recycling Center – will pay $541,597 in back wages to 80 employees.

Wallace State Community College
Wallace State Community College

A community college in Alabama has postponed the start of classes over a cyberattack affecting some of its online services.

News outlets report Wallace State Community College says student and employee data weren't breached in the attack. The college says the attack did affect some services such as student email and Blackboard.

Classes at the Hanceville college are now set to start Jan. 8, and registration has been extended through Jan. 15.

Cullman Regional Airport
Cullman Regional Airport

A man and his daughter have been identified as the victims of an airplane crash in north Alabama.

The Cullman County coroner says 40-year-old Tyler Wesley Walker and 10-year-old Brooklyn Walker of Vinemont died in the crash at Cullman Regional Airport on Sunday.

The airport manager says federal officials were still investigating the crash on Monday. The manager says Walker was an experienced pilot who often flew out of the airport.

Attorneys for state inmates say Alabama has made little progress in meeting a court order to dramatically increase the number of corrections officers working in state prisons.  

Attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote in a Friday court filing in an ongoing case over prison healthcare that the state has increased staff by only 25 officers over nearly two years.

A spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, but the department has defended its progress in earlier court filings. 

www.abc3340.com

An Alabama man is accused of trying to bring a loaded gun through a security checkpoint at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

WTOP-FM reports the .380 caliber handgun loaded with six rounds was found in the man's carry-on bag on New Year's Day.

A Transportation Security Administration statement says the gun was confiscated and the man questioned. Airport police cited him with a weapons charge. The man's identity wasn't immediately released.

The TSA says 14 firearms were discovered at the Arlington airport in 2019.

Alabama Democrats
Alabama Democrats

The Alabama Supreme Court has returned a lawsuit over control of the state Democratic Party to a Montgomery judge for resolution. 

Justices dismissed an earlier appeal, putting the case back before Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin. An internal power struggle has pitted longtime party leaders Nancy Worley and Joe Reed against an upstart group.

A federal judge will decide if Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill can block people on his personal Twitter account or if doing so violates their free speech rights.

Merrill and the plaintiffs in the 2018 lawsuit filed motions last month supporting their respective claims. The lawsuit filed by three blocked Twitter users contends that Merrill is putting a "viewpoint-based restriction" to information about, and interaction with, his public office.

missing woman
CNN

A $5,000 reward is now being offered in the case of an Alabama woman who's been missing for a week.

Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama says it's offering the money for information about 29-year-old Paighton Lane Houston of Trussville.

Houston was last seen on Dec. 20 leaving the Tin Roof bar in Birmingham. Reports say she later sent a message to a friend saying she felt like she was in trouble.

She hasn't been in contact with her family since then, and calls to her cellphone are going straight to voicemail.

Alabama State Park Foundation
Alabama State Park Foundation

A nonprofit group is accepting donations to help clean up an Alabama state park that was badly damaged by a tornado earlier this month.

The Alabama State Parks Foundation will take contributions to restore Joe Wheeler State Park near Rogersville. Park superintendent Chad Davis says as many as 150 acres of the park was badly damaged.

That includes campgrounds and day-use areas that are closed indefinitely. Dozens of trees are down and some buildings were damaged. Davis says the park would be working with the Alabama Forestry Commission during the cleanup.

Auburn University

Auburn University is launching a partnership with Auburn City Schools to offer dual-enrollment classes to high school students.

The Opelika-Auburn News reports that the partnership will allow Auburn High School students to begin taking Auburn University classes to help prepare them for college. Officials say the program allows students to earn high school and college credits at the same times. Auburn University calls the dual-enrollment program Auburn First.

Sewage spill
Nelson Brooke / Black Warrior Riverkeeper

An Alabama utility company has disclosed that more than 800,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilled from a plant during a storm, eventually reaching the Tennessee River.

The Decatur Daily reports disclosures filed by Decatur Utilities with the state Environmental Department reveal that about 8 million gallons of raw sewage have escaped the company's system this year. The largest discharge happened last week when rain overwhelmed old pipes and sewage flowed from a manhole for days.

"homeless quilt"
AL.com

The mayor of the south Alabama city of Mobile said a police officer’s social media post appearing to ridicule homeless people was inappropriate and said the city is taking corrective steps. 

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson wrote on social media Tuesday that the post reflected poorly on the city. He said the city is taking corrective action, but did not elaborate.

The Facebook post showed two Mobile Police officers, holding what the post called a “homeless quilt” made of cardboard signs that apparently had been confiscated from panhandlers around the city.

Alabama's unemployment rate is down to a record-low 2.7%.

A statement from the governor's office on Friday said the seasonally adjusted jobless rate for November was one-tenth of a percent better than the October rate of 2.8%. It was also well below the national unemployment rate of 3.5%.

November was the seventh straight month for the state to reach a record low for unemployment.

Shelby County in metro Birmingham had the lowest jobless rate at 1.8%. Wilcox County in rural west Alabama was highest at 6.3%.

Beta Theta Pi
Wikipedia

A national fraternity is disbanding its chapter at Auburn University after school officials suspended the organization over repeated allegations of physical abuse and alcohol infractions.

The Opelika-Auburn News reports that Beta Theta Pi announced the decision Thursday. Auburn suspended the group from campus last month and ordered members to vacate its house.

The fraternity cited mistreatment of new members, called hazing, and unsafe social practices for its decision. The chapter will remain off campus for at least four years.

A drought that threatened crops and helped spark wildfires in the Southeast has receded across most of the region.

A federal report released Thursday shows only tiny portions of Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina are still too dry after weeks of regular rainfall. But conditions are worse in Georgia and Louisiana, where about 1.4 million people are still experiencing drought conditions. That includes part of metro Atlanta.

apartments.com

Authorities in Alabama say a man doing plumbing work on an apartment complex's roof has died in a fall.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 23-year-old Taylor Curtis Gray, of Cullman.

Birmingham police told news outlets that Gray was part of a crew doing plumbing work at East Lake House on Tuesday when he fell 4 stories and landed on a second floor concrete awning. Police said he was pronounced dead on the scene just after 10 a.m.

The investigating is ongoing.  

A state trust is purchasing a nearly 500-acre tract in north Alabama to protect the habitat of a tiny fish that had endangered work on a $1.6 billion car plant.

News outlets report the Forever Wild Land Trust bought land where the rare spring pygmy sunfish lives near the Mazda Toyota plant being built in Limestone County.

The fish is listed as a federally threatened species and is known to exist in only two locations in Alabama, including near the factory. The $10 million land deal is part of agreement last year to avoid litigation over the Toyota Mazda factory.

Equal Rights Act
PBS

Three states have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the addition of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota are suing in response to a renewed push to get the required 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The ERA would ban discrimination on the basis of sex.  

The lawsuit notes that Congress set a 1982 deadline to get the required 38 states to agree. It seeks to prevent David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, from accepting a new ratification from a state.

Montgomery City Council
montgomeryal.gov

Alabama's capital city has repealed a local law that would have jailed panhandlers. The Montgomery City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to repeal the unenforced ordinance that had drawn heavy criticism from homeless advocates and other groups.

The city's newly elected mayor supported the repeal. The city council approved the ordinance in July, but it was never enforced.

The measure would have required panhandlers to be jailed for two days for the first offense, unless the sentence was suspended by a judge. The jail time would have increased with each violation. 

Rod Bramblett
Auburn University

An Alabama judge is revoking the bond for a teenager charged in a deadly crash that killed an Auburn University radio announcer and his wife.

News outlets report a judge ordered the arrest of 16-year-old Johnston Edward Taylor during a hearing Wednesday.

A defense lawyer calls the decision fair. Taylor was free on bond while charged with reckless manslaughter in the death of Auburn broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula. Prosecutors asked the judge to revoke the bond because Johnston received at least three tickets in November for speeding and reckless driving.

Aniah Blanchard
Auburn Police Department

An Alabama judge has dismissed a kidnapping charge against one of the three men arrested in the disappearance of a UFC heavyweight fighter’s stepdaughter who was later found slain.

A Lee County judge dismissed the charge Tuesday against 35-year-old Antwain Shamar Fisher in the case of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard. A motion presented by the assistant district attorney said an investigation revealed Fisher was not present during Blanchard's abduction.

A fraternity at Auburn University in Alabama has been suspended for at least four years over sustained allegations of alcohol and physical abuse.

News outlets report the school launched an investigation into the Delta Zeta chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity in September after it received a report of possible misconduct.

The school's newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, reported Monday that letters addressed to past and present fraternity members said the chapter was being suspended for physical abuse, servitude and alcohol.

tornado
Associated Press

The National Weather Service says at least two dozen tornadoes hit the Southeast this week in a deadly outbreak of severe weather.

Forecast teams have found evidence that twisters struck from western Louisiana to southern Georgia on Monday and Tuesday.

Weather service reports show 10 tornadoes hit Mississippi and nine touched down in Alabama. Louisiana was hit by three twisters, and two struck Georgia.

The strongest storm was an EF-3 tornado with winds of as much as 160 mph. It left a path 62 miles long and as wide as 400 yards in Louisiana. 

blogs.clarionledger.com

The hit Broadway play "To Kill a Mockingbird" is making the unusual step of switching venues for one night — to the cavernous Madison Square Garden.

In February, playwright Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of the novel will be performed in front of 18,000 public schoolchildren from New York City, marking the first time a Broadway play has been invited to the main Garden stage, the home of the New York Knicks and Rangers.

Amazon

“The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods”

Author: Emily Blejwas

Publisher: University of Alabama Press

Price: $39.95 (Hardback)

Pages: 325

There are recipes in this book, even one for Sunday School punch, which is iced tea, muscatel and rum, but this not a cookbook.

Associated Press

Three people are confirmed dead and a dozen more injured as a powerful storm front packing suspected tornadoes smashed into buildings, downed trees and left a trail of destruction around the Deep South.

A dangerous mix of thunderstorms and suspected tornadoes raked the region Monday as a cold front collided with warmer air.

The sheriff's office in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, says the death there came from an apparent tornado strike on a home.

An official in north Alabama reported two deaths there after storms passed through that region.

Pixabay

A prosecutor in Alabama says authorities were able to trace a stolen gaming console to two suspects accused of shooting an Alabama college professor to death last month.

A Mobile County Assistant District Attorney said during a bond hearing Monday that a Nintendo Switch system belonging to University of South Alabama Professor Matthew Wiser was connected to a network by one of the suspects, allowing police to track it to Derric Scott and Tiquez Timmons and make their arrests.

The 20-year-olds are set to be arraigned on felony murder charges Wednesday.

SPLC

 

Employees of the  Southern Poverty Law Center civil rights organization have voted to unionize.

The organization announced Monday that employees voted to join the Washington-Baltimore  local of The News Guild-Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. A supermajority of employees this fall requested representation by the union. 

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Randall Woodfin says he is backing Joe Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Woodfin was among several Southern black mayors who met with the former vice president in Atlanta last month. Collectively, the group represents millions of voters in key early primary states. Candidates including current and former mayors have been courting mayors this cycle as crucial surrogates.

http://wfpk.org

Organizers of the Hangout Music Fest say they're working to address complaints about noise in nearby neighborhoods and behavior such as trespassing, public urination, illegal parking and litter.

Festival founder Shaul Zislin says there’s a team of people focused on maintaining the festival’s positive aspects while mitigating unwanted “side effects.”

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