Student reporter Libby Foster

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COVID-19 unemployment benefits will be cut in half across Alabama tomorrow.

The state is terminating the extra $300 a week supplied by the Federal Government. That unemployment benefit program from Washington will continue nationally until early September. Some businesses in Alabama have faced labor shortages in recent months and some critics blame jobless benefits .

Dev Wakeley is a policy analyst with Arise Alabama. He doesn’t think this policy will help businesses find employees.

 Alabama Democratic Women
alabamademocraticwomen.org

 

Democrats are trying to drum up support in one of the reddest states in the country.

The group Alabama Democratic Women will be attending the national Women Build Back Better event today and Saturday. The event supports President Biden’s recovery platforms and trains women in campaigning and advocacy.

LaTanya Millhouse is the president of Alabama Democratic Women. She wants to expand her organization statewide.  

Free Masons
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Alabama’s largest fraternal organization is celebrating its 200th birthday this weekend.

The Freemasons of Alabama have nearly 300 lodges and more than 25,000 members in the Yellowhammer state. The group was founded in 1821 in Alabama’s first capital of Cahawba.

Teddy Grogan is the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Alabama. He said freemasons have been politically and civically active since their founding.  

country-magazine.com

 

Registration for Alabama’s gator season is now open.

Alabama is one of nine states that sells permits to hunt the large reptiles. Gator hunts take place primarily at night and by boat. Only 260 hunting tags will be distributed this season.

Marianne Hudson is an Outreach Specialist with the Alabama Department of Conservation. She said that the $22 fee to apply for a tag serves a larger purpose.  

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Alabama schools are getting almost $2 billion from the federal government.

The funds are a part of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Act. Districts across the state are completing recovery plans to get their share of aid.

Michael Sibley is the Director of Communications for the Alabama State Department of Education. He said schools have not had to deal something like this before. 

ehow.com

 

Alabama’s elderly can now participate in more social activities.

Senior centers are reopening for indoor gatherings under Governor Ivey’s Safer Apart Program. The meeting places provide essential services like meals and exercise classes to the elderly. The centers were previously open only for outdoor activities and to-go meals.

Jean Brown is the Commissioner of Alabama Senior Services. She said COVID-19 has affected the mental health of Alabama’s elderly.  

Great State
Great State

 

Mobile health clinics are headed to rural parts of Alabama.

These health centers on wheels are run by the local nonprofit Great State Alabama. The organization focuses on uplifting underserved communities. They think rural Alabamians don’t have enough access to specialized healthcare.

Daniel Sparkman is the Executive Director of Great State Alabama. He explained why his organization is bringing its health clinics to rural Alabama. 

 

WVUA 23

 

The Tuscaloosa County Jail is now allowing inmates to send and receive emails. 

Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Steve Abernathy cited the lack of communication between inmates and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic as a major reason for the policy. The new email notification system will grant access to friends and family while maintaining social distancing. 

Pelham Recreation Center
pelhamalabama.gov

 

Groups in Madison County are holding a drive to help out victims of last week’s tornadoes.

Madison County Commission 2 and Liberty Middle School are collecting donations this week. They’re specifically asking for items like cleaning supplies and storage containers. All donations collected in the drive will be sent to the Pelham Recreation Center and distributed throughout Shelby County.

Steve Haraway is the Madison County Commissioner for District 2. He said Madison County wasn’t severely affected by last week’s storms. 

Kay Ivey
Associated Press

 

Governor Kay Ivey held a press conference in Calhoun County after tornadoes caused extensive damage in the area last week.

Over 230 miles of tornadoes ripped through Alabama on Thursday, March 25.  Ivey was hopeful and goal-oriented about the recovery process. She said she’s working with local, state and federal emergency officials to distribute disaster relief services. 

Left Hand Soap Company
Facebook

 

Local businesses in Tuscaloosa and around Alabama were closing about this time last year due to the pandemic.

The decision to reopen has been a tough one for many business owners. Tuscaloosa’s Left Hand Soap Company remains an online-only and pickup business. Their shop has stayed closed to make sure they can keep producing essential products like soap and hand sanitizer.

Soapy Jones owns Left Hand Soap Company. She said some businesses have to reopen earlier than others to stay afloat.

 

A local civil rights leader is being celebrated in Selma today.

Caravans are driving throughout the neighborhoods where pastor and educator Dr. F.D. Reese lived and worked today. Reese was instrumental in bringing John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr. to Selma during the 1965 civil rights movement.

Collins Pettaway sees Reese as a mentor and is producing the holiday’s festivities. He said it’s important for Selma to honor its local activists. 

 

Some Tuscaloosa voters found something extra in their mail boxes recently. The brightly colored fliers are from the website anybodybutwalt.com. One side bears the slogan “Walt’s Report Card” with a grade of F minus for the crime rate, and A pluses for raising taxes and city debt. The reverse side of the flier has full color photos of Maddox’s two opponents, Martin Houston and Serena Fortenberry.

Willie B. Smith III
Alabama Department of Corrections

 

Alabama's first scheduled execution of 2021 is at a momentary hault after being stayed by an appellate court.

The 11th Court of Appeals issued the stay Wednesday night, hours before the lethal injection was scheduled to be carried out Thursday morning.

Bevill State Community College
Twitter

 

Cooped up college students are getting some relief for their cabin fever.

Bevill State Community College returns to in-person classes today after closing its doors for the month. The college made the decision to close and reopen based on available COVID numbers and guidelines.

Tana Collins is the Director of Public Relations for Bevill State. She said the community college has to consider many factors in its decision making. 

Pixabay

 

Tuscaloosa veterans are being prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations.

High-risk vets over 75 can call the VA medical center today to get their first dose of the vaccine. The local medical center opened a clinic last week and is distributing 60 Moderna doses a day.

Tony Davis is the Chief of Staff at the VA Medical Center. He said administering the Moderna vaccine is challenging. 

 

 

The Alabama State Fair is tightening security measures after a fight broke out over the weekend. Birmingham Police confirmed that one person was taken into custody regarding the incident and one security guard suffered a minor injury on Saturday. Local law enforcement also verified that a deadly Sunday shooting in the Elyton Village Neighborhood of Birmingham was related to the earlier altercation at the fairgrounds. One person died in the Sunday shooting.