Senators question Alabama prison construction plan, Engineering conference in Tuscaloosa

Mar 9, 2016

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's prison construction proposal is facing its first legislative test.

Bentley is asking lawmakers to approve an $800 million bond issue to build four new prisons and close most existing facilities. Some members of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee questioned aspects of the project during a public hearing Wednesday.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn told lawmakers the new prisons will alleviate overcrowding and replace outdated facilities where it is difficult to maintain security. Committee chairman Trip Pittman says the proposal is good, but he adds others are opposed.

The committee is expected to vote next week.

Engineering students at the University of Alabama are showing off their ideas on building a better bridge. APR student reporter Allison Mollenkamp has more…

The student designs are being showcased at the American Society of Civil Engineers Southeast Student Conference in Tuscaloosa.

UA is hosting the conference for the first time since 2005. This year the organizers expect a thousand attendees divided between students and faculty.

The students will have the chance to compete in several competitions, including the regional levels of the national steel bridge and concrete canoe competitions.

Preston Jutte* is the conference host co-chair for the conference. He says the conference has been planned around displaying the new engineering buildings on campus.

“We focused a lot of this conference around the new Shelby and engineering quad now that it’s all together, all different facilities are there. So most of our very small competitions as far as testing and judging will be taking place in building such as the North Engineering Research Center and South Engineering Research Center.”

The conference will last until Sunday.

The Selma Police Department is using new eyes in the skies to help with public safety.

The department spent nine thousand dollars to buy four unmanned drones back in January. The unmanned aerial vehicles, or U-A-V’s will be used for traffic control and to help ensure officer safety during police investigations. The drones were first used this weekend.

John Brock is the Chief of Police in Selma. He says the drones were first used to ensure public safety during the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee this weekend.

“We videotaped the march going down the route. We had a drone following the march. For safety reasons we had them up checking rooftops and buildings, abandoned buildings make sure that nobody’s gonna try and do anything. Just an active safety sweep.”

The mayor of Selma originally hoped to purchase five drones, but funding was not available.