Today may be the day of reckoning for supporters of football at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.
UAB President Ray Watts says he will announce his decision today on whether to reinstate the Blazers football program, as well as the bowling and rifle teams. The initial announcement to cancel UAB football angered students, alumni, and local community leaders.
We spoke to Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin about the situation. He says the loss of UAB football has a wide impact.
“It really hurts the economic development of our community, just not being able to attract students who may want to come to a university that has a thriving undergraduate program, and that would include, and particularly in this part of the country, football.”
The city of Birmingham has pledged $2.5 million over five years to support the program if UAB reinstates football. President Watts has been criticized for relying on a controversial study which said the program was too expensive to maintain.
Today marks the opening of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Federal forecasters are predicting a quieter than average season with three to six hurricanes expected. Alabama disaster managers are warning state residents to make preparations anyway.
Art Faulkner is the director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency. He says it only takes one hurricane like Andrew or Katrina to do a lot of damage. Faulkner adds once a hurricane appears, it can be dangerous to rely too much on forecast models.
“We’ve seen hurricanes change track overnight -- the sun goes down, and it’s predicted to go one place, and it ends up moving one hundred and twenty miles, which can impact any of three states, and even intensify.”
Faulkner says the danger from a hurricane depends on where you live. Residents along the gulf coast face a possible direct hit, while inland communities face flooding as well as evacuees driving north to escape.
Alabama teachers and other education employees will soon be shelling out more for insurance if they smoke or have a spouse on the plan.
A state board voted on a number of changes to Alabama education employee benefit plans Thursday to help offset a nearly $140 million shortfall for 2016.,The majority of the system shortfall will be replaced by transferring funds from the state's retiree health care trust fund.
Alabama's educators will see their surcharge climb from $28 to $50 a year if they smoke, and copays will be increasing by $5 for some medical specialists. The fee to carry a spouse on the insurance plan will also be going up $25 each year from 2016 to 2018.
The board voted down its largest proposed insurance hike. Premiums would have increased by $10 a month for active employees and $20 for families. Insurance premiums are currently $15 for individuals.
A spokeswoman for the education employee lobby says Alabama's teachers and other education officials haven't received a raise in eight years, and simply can't afford any more costs.