The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

9 hours ago

Gun maker Remington loses $3M in Alabama state incentives

(Remington Arms/Facebook)

Alabama officials say a gun maker is losing $3 million in incentives from the state.

State Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield told AL.com in an email Tuesday that Remington Arms has failed to meet hiring and payroll targets at its Huntsville plant, costing it $3 million in incentives.

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Remington emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year.

In November, the Huntsville City Council agreed to relieve the company of its obligation to gradually increase its workforce, and allowed it to maintain at least 415 employees with the goal of having 1,868 workers in 2023.

Canfield says the Commerce Department is confident that Remington will recover from its situation.

He says talks will be pursued to better understand the company’s business plan.

Alabama promised more than $38 million in incentives to Remington.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 day ago

Ex-Auburn assistant basketball coach Chuck Person pleads guilty

(Auburn Tigers)

Former Auburn University assistant coach and 13-year NBA veteran Chuck Person pleaded guilty Tuesday to a bribery conspiracy charge in the widespread college basketball bribery scandal, ensuring that none of the four coaches charged in the probe will go to trial.

Person, 54, of Auburn, Alabama, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court, averting a June trial.

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He and his lawyer declined to speak afterward and made a quick exit from the courthouse.

Prosecutors said Person accepted $91,500 in bribes to steer players with NBA potential to a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser.

As part of the plea, he agreed to forfeit that amount.

Person said he committed his crime in late 2016 and early 2017.

The plea deal has a recommended sentencing guideline range of two to 2½ years in prison, though the sentence will be left up to Judge Loretta A. Preska.

The sentencing is scheduled for July 9.

In a release, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Person “abused his position as a coach and mentor to student-athletes in exchange for personal gain.”

“In taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes, Person not only placed personal financial gain above his obligations to his employer and the student-athletes he coached, but he broke the law,” he said.

Person’s plea falls in line with those recently entered by three other former assistant coaches at major college basketball schools.

Tony Bland, a former Southern California assistant coach; ex-Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson; and former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans are awaiting sentencing.

Their prison terms are likely to be measured in months rather than years.

Person, former associate head coach at Auburn, was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986 and played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

In court papers, prosecutors said Person arranged multiple meetings between the financial adviser and Auburn players or their family members.

Prosecutors said he failed to tell families and players that he was being bribed to recommend the financial adviser.

In one recorded conversation, the prosecutor said, Person warned an Auburn player to keep his relationship with the financial adviser a secret.

According to prosecutors, Person said: “Don’t say nothing to anybody. … Don’t share with your sisters, don’t share with any of the teammates, that’s very important cause this is a violation … of rules, but this is how the NBA players get it done, they get early relationships, and they form partnerships.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Court: Alabama can’t keep its lethal injection method secret

(Wikicommons)

A federal appeals court sided with news media organizations Monday in ruling that Alabama cannot keep its lethal injection protocol secret from the public.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected Alabama’s argument that its execution method is not a court record and thus should remain secret.

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“Judicial records provide grounds upon which a court relies in deciding cases, and thus the public has a valid interest in accessing these records to ensure the continued integrity and transparency of our governmental and judicial offices,” the court stated in its ruling.

At issue is what the court described as the botched execution of Doyle Hamm on Feb. 22, 2018.

The court said that after several failed attempts to insert a needle into his veins, the execution was called off as midnight approached.

The Associated Press and other news outlets then sought the state’s execution protocol and related records.

“Alabama is the most secretive state in the country with respect to its protocol,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“The intense secrecy has obvious problems,” he said. “The Doyle Hamm case is one classic example of that because the difficulties in finding a vein all happen out of the view of the public.”

Representatives of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday’s decision, so it was not known whether they would appeal.

Alabama could ask the appeals court for reconsideration of the case, or appeal to the United States Supreme Court, Dunham said.

The state also could ask for a stay of Monday’s ruling as appeals play out, he said.

Monday’s decision upheld a federal judge’s ruling last year that the public has “a common law right of access” to the records.

In that May 2018 ruling, U.S. Judge Karon Bowdre decided that some information can remain secret in the interest of security, such as the names of low-level prison employees involved in executions.

Last year’s ruling found that the execution protocol and related records “clearly concern a matter of great public concern, i.e., how Alabama carries out its executions,” the appeals court wrote in Monday’s ruling.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Reality TV star ‘Mama June’ arrested in Alabama

(WE tv/YouTube)

Reality television star June “Mama June” Shannon has been arrested on drug charges in Alabama.

News outlets report that Shannon and a friend, Eugene Doak, were arrested March 13 at a gas station in Macon County where he was heard threatening her.

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The reports say that in the course of the investigation authorities found drugs and drug paraphernalia.

AL.com says the criminal complaint states the two had crack cocaine and a crack pipe.

Both are charged with felony drug possession and misdemeanor unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

The 39-year-old Shannon is the mother of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, who starred in a reality TV show on TLC.

Shannon later starred in her own show documenting her weight loss.

The reports did not say whether she had a lawyer.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Groups across US take in dogs, cats after Alabama tornado

(Oregon Human Shelter/Facebook)

People across the nation are helping to find homes for animals evacuated from shelters in an Alabama community that was devastated by a tornado.

The twister left 23 dead and dozens of people injured as it roared across the community of Beauregard on March 3.

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The Humane Society of the United States contacted several humane societies across the nation to ask for help, Al.com reported.

The Oregon Humane Society says it was asked by the national organization if it could take any of the 150 pets that were being evacuated from Lee County shelters.

In Tennessee, the Nashville Humane Association says it received 21 cats and dogs affected by the tornado. It said those animals will be up for adoption soon.

“They have been through a lot,” said Laura Charvarria , executive director of the Nashville Humane Association.

“One of the shelters, Southern Souls, the tornado touched down actually in their backyard, so they experienced that, on top of, they just went through a 6-hour drive from Alabama to Tennessee, so that is extremely stressful on the animals,” Charvarria said.

Many of the animals from Alabama were flown on a jet to Oregon about a week after the tornado.

Staffers from animal shelters in that region met the dogs and cats when they touched down.

“There was a great camaraderie among the group 7/8— a wonderful testament to the collective compassion in the Northwest.

As the plane touched down the group erupted in applause,” the Oregon Humane Society said in a news release.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 days ago

Shelby County seeking more workers

(Pixabay)

The county with Alabama’s lowest unemployment rate is in need of more workers.

WBRC-TV reports that employers in Shelby County just south of Birmingham are having trouble filling some jobs.

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The county of more than 210,000 people has the lowest jobless rate in the state at 3.2 percent, and “help wanted” signs are a frequent site outside some businesses.

The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce says employers are constantly looking for qualified welders, forklift operators and information technology assistants.

The head of the chamber, Kirk Mancer, says the organization is working with schools and training partners on specific programs to help develop future workers.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

North Alabama schools closing because of severe weather chance

(YHN, Pixabay)

Schools are closing early in north Alabama because of the possibility of severe weather.

The National Weather Service says numerous severe storms are possible beginning Thursday afternoon in the Tennessee Valley region and as far south as the northern Birmingham area.

Forecasters say winds up to 60 mph are possible along with isolated tornadoes and hail.

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They raised the chances of severe weather in the latest forecasts. More than 15 school systems closed early as a precaution.

The threat will extend to early Friday in central Alabama.

The state is on the southern end of a storm system that pummeled the central United States.

The weather service says storms should not be dangerous in parts of east Alabama that are still recovering from killer tornado outbreak earlier this month.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Alabama woman to star on ‘Bachelorette’

(Access/YouTube)

A former beauty queen from Alabama will be featured on the upcoming season of “The Bachelorette.”

University of Alabama graduate Hannah Brown of Northport was named the newest “Bachelorette” during the season finale of “The Bachelor” on Tuesday night.

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The Tuscaloosa News reports Brown graduated from Alabama in 2017 with a communications degree and was crowned Miss Alabama USA last year.

She worked as an interior designer in Northport before joining the cast of the ABC-TV reality show.

Brown was spotted in Tuscaloosa last week as she filmed segments for the show outside Bryant-Denny Stadium and a sorority house on the Alabama campus.

“The Bachelorette” premieres May 13 on ABC.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Three small quakes shake coast near Alabama-Florida line

(Pixabay, YHN)

A small earthquake has hit the Gulf Coast for the third time in a week.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that a magnitude 2.3 earthquake occurred Tuesday night near Flomaton, Alabama, near the state line with Florida.

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The town has about 1,400 residents.

No damage was reported from the weak quake, which the Geological Survey says was too weak for most people to even feel.

The agency says two other small earthquakes have occurred in the same area in the last week.

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake happened Monday afternoon, and a magnitude 2.6 quake happened near the state line around Century, Florida, last week.

Those quakes did not cause any damage, either.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Alabama Forestry Commission: March 3 tornadoes resulted in nearly $5.9 million damage to timberland

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

The Alabama Forestry Commission estimates timber losses caused by deadly tornadoes on March 3 at nearly $5.9 million.

That is almost $1,000 per acre of timberland damaged by two or three tornadoes in Macon, Lee and Barbour counties.

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A report posted Monday on the commission’s website says the twisters destroyed more than 149,000 tons of timber worth nearly $3.4 million on 5,888 acres, adding that clearing and replanting will cost another $2.5 million.

A news release says it is important to salvage damaged timber as soon as possible, removing dead wood that could contribute to destructive wildfires or be infested by bark beetles.

The commission recommends landowners check with U.S. Department of Agriculture service centers about possible cost-share assistance.

The Lee County tornado devastated the town of Beauregard, killing 23 people.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

$12M award after funeral home lost woman’s cremated remains

(Pixabay)

The daughter of an Alabama woman whose cremated remains were lost by a funeral home has been awarded $12 million.

AL.com reports the jury verdict was announced Monday after Pine Crest Funeral Home in Mobile lost the remains of Shelley Hood’s mother, Cecille Howard Taylor Gardner.

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Although Hood’s mother died in 2011, court documents show, Hood first inquired about the remains in 2015 and was repeatedly told by management that they would be found.

In 2016, the company’s general manager told Hood that the remains had not been located and no record existed of their whereabouts.

Hood filed a lawsuit in 2017.

The funeral home is owned by Service Corporation International, a leading provider of death care services and products in North America.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Alabama jobless rate steady at 3.8 percent

(ADOL/Facebook)

Alabama’s unemployment rate is unchanged at a record low level.

The Alabama Department of Labor says the state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted jobless rate for January was 3.8 percent.

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That is the same as in December and slightly better than the rate from a year earlier.

The agency says the rate marks record low unemployment in Alabama.

The number represents about 83,400 unemployed people and more than 2.1 million who are working.

Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says market sectors including construction, manufacturing and information all experienced significant increases from a year earlier.

Shelby County in the Birmingham area has the state’s lowest jobless rate at 3.2 percent, and Wilcox County in west Alabama is worst at 10.5 percent.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 week ago

Town ravaged by tornado prays at church that sheltered many

(Providence Baptist Church/Facebook)

The pastor of a church that became a center for shelter, help and grieving when a tornado killed 23 people in eastern Alabama said in his first Sunday service after the storm that the Lord has reached out his hand to the community.

Imperfect things like tornadoes and other tragedies happen because we live in an imperfect world, Providence Baptist Church Pastor Rusty Sowell said Sunday.

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His sermon focused on the Bible verse Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Nearly 100 people safely rode out the March 3 storm in the church, which then because a center for donations and the place where Sowell and the county coroner told families they had lost loved ones.

This Sunday, 23 crosses sat outside the country church, one for each victim of the huge EF4 tornado that roared through Beauregard a few hours after last Sunday’s services with 170 mph (270 kph) and a path nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) wide.

As she sat in a pew, Sunday, Cindy Samford said all her emotions hit her suddenly. She lost her home in the storm hours after last week’s service.

“I’m heartbroken by the loss of lives and the devastation of it all. Today in church was a confirmation of faith that God was watching over us. God has his hands on us,” Samford said.

President Donald Trump visited the church Friday as he looked at the damage, signing Bibles for some victims there seeking help.

Sowell said it was easy to speak badly about the president and wondered if some of the critics owned Bibles.

“My first thought is if that is what you are worried about, bring your raggedy self down here to our corner of the world and get to work,” Sowell said to applause from the packed congregation. “The ones that are running their mouths are not down here getting their hand dirty, walking alongside the walking wounded.”

But most of Sowell’s sermon was how God reaches out his hand in times of need.

He talked about how the church built a second building across the street with showers, a full kitchen and a large gathering space after the area was devastated by Hurricane Opal in 1995 and could not get help.

That building became the center of the relief efforts after the tornado.

“This is why this building is here,” Sowell said. “And God knew.”

Carolyn Thrower said being at Providence Baptist this Sunday was awe-inspiring, knowing they were helping to show God’s love and healing.

“Church always helps, but today it was a special blessing,” she said.

Supplies continue to pour into the church, and Sowell said he was amazed at the generosity of people, even if Providence Baptist was dealing with a problem many places face after a disaster — too much donated water and clothing.

“Please we don’t need any more,” Sowell said of the thousands of cases of water and bags of clothes. “In fact, everyone here gets to carry home a case of water.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Judge OKs wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of aborted embryo

(WAAY-TV 31 News/YouTube, Pixabay)

An Alabama judge has approved a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a 21-year-old man on behalf of an aborted embryo.

AL.com reported Wednesday that Ryan Magers is calling the six-week-old embryo “Baby Roe” in his suit seeking damages from the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives.

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Magers was 19 and the girl was 16 when he said he “pleaded” with her to not get an abortion.

Her parents say it was her decision to take the abortion pill.

The case was made possible by Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger, who ruled that Magers could represent the estate of his ex-girlfriend’s aborted embryo.

Alabama voters approved an amendment last year declaring “the importance of unborn life.”
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Forecasters heighten risk of storms and twisters in South

(NWS/Facebook)

Forecasters are upgrading the likelihood that severe storms and strong tornadoes could strike parts of the South less than a week after a twister killed more than 20 people in Alabama.

A region that includes parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee will be at heightened risk of severe weather Saturday, the national Storm Prediction Center reported Friday.

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The area includes 2.5 million people, including the Memphis, Tennessee metropolitan area.

The storms will be fast-moving, racing to the northeast at 50 to 60 mph (80 to 97 kph), said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

“It means you have to take action when warnings are issued and not wait until you see the threat visually,” he said. “If you wait until you see an approaching tornado with damaging winds, it’s going to be at your location within seconds.”

As the sun rises Saturday, storms and possibly tornadoes will likely be moving through east Texas and parts of Louisiana and Arkansas, the National Weather Service is projecting.

Saturday night, the threat will likely continue after dark as the storms move east into Alabama, forecasters said.

That poses a particular danger as many people are often asleep.

“It can be more difficult to reach people at night,” Bunting said. “Just make sure you know how to the get the warnings if it’s in the middle of the night.”

President Donald Trump planned a Friday visit to Lee County, Alabama, where Sunday’s tornado wreaked its worst havoc, killing 23 people.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Tornado update: All missing have been accounted for

(NWS Birmingham/Twitter)

Officials overseeing the disaster response to a tornado-stricken community in Alabama say all people reported missing have been accounted for with no increase in the death toll.

Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told a news conference Wednesday that the death toll stands at 23, but his office is “in standby mode on the outside chance they find somebody else, which is not likely.”

Sheriff Jay Jones said the disaster response will now shift to recovery following two full days of searching.

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Officials say a powerful EF4 tornado, cutting a path of destruction nearly a mile wide, caused the devastation Sunday in rural Beauregard, Alabama.

Government survey teams have confirmed at least 34 tornadoes struck the Southeast in the deadly weekend outbreak that devastated a rural community in Alabama.

The National Weather Service says a violent storm system Sunday spawned at least 11 twisters in Alabama and 14 more across Georgia.

Five tornadoes have been confirmed in Florida, and four more in South Carolina.

The most powerful was an EF4 tornado blamed for killing 23 people in Beauregard, Alabama, as it traveled roughly 70 miles (112 kilometers) on a path that also left a trail of destruction in western Georgia.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Searches to resume after tornado kills 23 in Lee County

(AP/YouTube)

Rescuers prepared Monday to tear through the rubble of mobile homes and houses in search of survivors of a powerful tornado that rampaged through southeast Alabama and killed at least 23 people.

The trail of destruction was at least half a mile wide and overwhelmed rural Lee County’s coroners’ office, forcing it to call in help from the state.

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“The devastation is incredible,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said.

Drones flying overhead equipped with heat-seeking devices had scanned the area for survivors, but the dangerous conditions halted the search late Sunday, Sheriff Jones said.

Rescuers planned to resume the search at daylight Monday.

The Sunday tornado, which had winds that appeared to be around 160 mph (257 kph) or greater, was part of a powerful storm system that also slashed its way across parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

Levi Baker, who lives near the hard-hit area in Alabama, took a chain saw to help clear a path for ambulances and other first-responder vehicles.

He said he saw bodies of dead people and dead animals.

He said some houses were demolished and trees were uprooted or snapped in half.

One house was swept off its foundation and was sitting in the middle of the road.

“It was just destruction,” Baker said. “There were mobile homes gone. Frames on the other side of the road.”

Jones said the twister traveled straight down a county road in the rural community of Beauregard reducing homes to slabs.

Scott Fillmer was at home when the storm hit in Lee County.

“I looked out the window and it was nothing but black, but you could hear that freight train noise,” Fillmer said.

The National Weather Service confirmed late Sunday a tornado with at least an F3 rating caused the destruction in Alabama.

Although the statement did not give exact wind estimates, F3 storms typically are gauged at wind speeds of between 158-206 mph (254-331 kph).

After nightfall Sunday, the rain had stopped and pieces of metal debris and tree branches littered roadways in Beauregard.

Two sheriff’s vehicles blocked reporters and others from reaching the worst-hit area. Power appeared to be out in many places.

In a tweet late Sunday, President Donald Trump said, “To the great people of Alabama and surrounding areas: Please be careful and safe. Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming. To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!”

Rita Smith, spokeswoman for the Lee County Emergency Management Agency, said about 150 first responders had quickly jumped in to help search the debris after the storm struck in Beauregard. At least one trained canine could be seen with search crews as numerous ambulances and emergency vehicles, lights flashing, converged on the area.

At the R&D Grocery on Monday morning in Beauregard, residents were constantly asking each other if they were okay.

“I’m still thanking God I’m among the living,” said John Jones, who has lived in Beauregard for most of his life.

No deaths had been reported Sunday evening from storm-damaged Alabama counties other than Lee County, said Gregory Robinson, spokesman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

But he said crews were still surveying damage in several counties in the southwestern part of the state.

Numerous tornado warnings were posted across parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina on Sunday afternoon as the storm system raced across the region.

Weather officials said they confirmed other tornadoes around the region by radar alone and would send teams out Monday to assess those and other storms.

In rural Talbotton, Georgia, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Atlanta, a handful of people were injured by either powerful straight-line winds or a tornado that destroyed several mobile homes and damaged other buildings, said Leigh Ann Erenheim, director of the Talbot County Emergency Management Agency.

News footage showed smashed buildings with rooftops blown away, cars overturned and debris everywhere. Trees all around had been snapped bare of branches.

“The last check I had was between six and eight injuries,” Erenheim said in a phone interview. “From what I understand it was minor injuries, though one fellow did say his leg might be broken.”

She said searches of damaged homes and structures had turned up no serious injuries or deaths there.

Henry Wilson of the Peach County Emergency Management Agency near Macon in central Georgia said a barn had been destroyed and trees and power poles had been snapped, leaving many in the area without power.

Authorities in southwest Georgia were searching door-to-door in darkened neighborhoods after a possible tornado touched down in the rural city of Cairo, about 33 miles (53 kilometers) north of Tallahassee, Florida, on Sunday evening. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

Authorities said a tornado was confirmed by radar in the Florida Panhandle late Sunday afternoon.

A portion of Interstate 10 on the Panhandle was blocked in one direction for a time in Walton County in the aftermath, said Don Harrigan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Supreme Court rules for Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison

(AL DOC)

The Supreme Court is ordering a new state court hearing to determine whether an Alabama death row inmate is so affected by dementia that he cannot be executed.

The justices ruled 5-3 on Wednesday in favor of inmate Vernon Madison, who killed a police officer in 1985.

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His lawyers say he has suffered strokes that have left him with severe dementia.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in siding with Madison, now 68.

The high court ruling is not the end of the case.

Justice Elena Kagan says in her majority opinion that, if the state wants to put Madison to death, an Alabama state court must determine that Madison understands why he is being executed.

The justices have previously said the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment means that people who are insane, delusional or psychotic cannot be executed.

But Kagan, reading a summary of her ruling, said, “Based on our review of the record, we can’t be sure that the state court recognized that Madison’s dementia might render him incompetent to be executed.”

Madison’s attorney Bryan Stevenson, who is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, applauded the decision.

“Prisoners who become incompetent due to dementia and severe mental illness are vulnerable and should be shielded from abusive and cruel treatment.

The court’s opinion affirming the basic principle of a humane system of justice is a significant victory,” Stevenson said in a statement.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall predicted the execution will eventually go forward.

“We expect that when the lower court revisits the matter on remand from the Supreme Court, it will once again find that Madison is competent to finally face the justice that he has so far evaded for nearly 34 years,” Marshall said in a statement.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, who last year would have allowed the execution to proceed without hearing the case, dissented. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was not yet on the court when arguments took place in early October.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Judge to consider return of ISIS bride from Hoover

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh0qlEAN5Do

A federal judge in Washington has agreed to move quickly on a lawsuit filed by a former Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State and wants to return to the United States.

The family of 24-year-old Hoda Muthana filed suit last week against the Trump administration after the government said she was not a citizen and would not be allowed to enter the U.S. with her 18-month-old son.

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Her family sought expedited action on her suit because Muthana is now in a refugee camp in Syria.

Judge Reggie Walton granted that Tuesday and scheduled a hearing for Monday.

The U.S. determined Muthana was not a citizen because her father was a Yemeni diplomat when she was born in New Jersey.

But her lawyers say he was no longer a diplomat at the time.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Alabama beach towns vow crackdown on unruly spring breakers

(Orange Beach PD/Facebook)

City leaders in Alabama beach towns are vowing to crack down on drunken and disorderly beach-goers.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have long sought to bill themselves as family-friendly spring break destinations, AL.com reported.

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In Orange Beach, Mayor Tony Kinnon warns that people who visit his town for spring break must behave or “you’re going to jail.”

“If you are looking for a party town, the city of Orange Beach is not it,” Orange Beach said in an advisory. “The Orange Beach Police Department will utilize all available resources at our disposal to maintain order and continue to provide a safe, enjoyable experience for all visitors.”

Orange Beach will use undercover officers and other resources to maintain order during the spring break season, Kinnon said.

It is an effort to combat increases in underage drinking, disorderly conduct and illegal drug use that the city typically sees during the spring break season, officials said.

In Gulf Shores, there will be a seasonal alcohol ban on public beaches.

It will run from March 2 through April 28.

“We’re anticipating a little bit of an elongated spring break this year,” said Grant Brown, Gulf Shores’ director of recreation and cultural affairs.

The schedules of various schools this year will mean that spring break activity will be more spread out, he said.

Warnings such as those issued by Orange Beach and Gulf Shores do not stop at the Alabama-Florida line.

In Florida, the Santa Rosa Island Authority, which oversees Pensacola Beach, has distributed a flier stressing the importance of mutual respect among beach visitors.

“Adult beverages are allowed on the beach. Glass containers, underage drinking and public drunkenness are not,” it states. “Illegal drugs and driving under the influence will not be tolerated. Laws and ordinances will be strictly enforced, for everyone’s safety.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Sit-in anniversary to be marked in Montgomery

(ASU/Facebook)

An event next week will honor university students who led a 1960 sit-in at a whites-only courthouse lunch counter.

Alabama State University said in a news release that resolutions by the Montgomery City Council and Montgomery County Commission that acknowledge the “wrongs from the past” will be presented Monday to the university president Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr.

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The students from the historically black university on Feb. 25, 1960, staged a sit-in at the whites-only lunch counter at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

It was the first known sit-in in Alabama to defy segregation laws.

The students were arrested and prosecuted.

The event is being held on the 59th anniversary of the protest.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

Former Alabama legislative leader Zeb Little arrested

(Cullman County Sheriff)

A former Alabama Senate leader has been charged with felony theft.

The Cullman Times reports that 50-year-old Zeb Little was arrested Thursday on three theft charges.

He was booked into the county jail and released on bond.

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Court records are not yet available to show what Little is accused of stealing or whether he has a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

Little is a lawyer, and records show a one-time client sued him in September for failing to turn over money from a settlement.

The case is still in court, and Little is no longer practicing.

Little represented the Cullman area for 12 years as a Democrat in the state Senate.

He was the majority leader for eight years ending in 2010, when he was defeated by a Republican challenger.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

Roads flooded, schools closed in north Alabama after heavy rain

(YHN, Pixabay)

Some roads are covered with water in the Tennessee Valley and schools are closed after days of heavy rain.

Nearly a dozen city and county systems in north Alabama and southern Tennessee canceled classes Friday.

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Storms have pushed rivers and creeks out of their banks, causing flooding.

Other school systems are opening late, and forecasters warn more rain is on the way.

The weather service says severe storms are possible across the region on Saturday.

As much as four inches of rain has fallen across a wide area since Tuesday, swelling waterways.

Forecasters say another two inches of rain could fall, and there’s nowhere for the water to go because the ground is saturated.

The flooding threat also extends into northeastern Mississippi and southeastern Arkansas.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

Dothan City Schools to eliminate up to 70 jobs

(DCS/Facebook, Pixabay)

An Alabama school system says it may eliminate nearly 70 jobs after decisions to close some schools in an effort to save money.

The Dothan Eagle reported Dothan City Schools expects to cut at least 47 staff members as part of the efforts.

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Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said the decision to close four schools means there are fewer support positions needed.

The types of positions being eliminated include clerical assistants, secretaries, nurses, education aides and the child nutrition program staff.

Several other staffers may be switched to teaching positions. There are no plans to lay off current teachers.

Edwards says she will make a formal recommendation on the layoffs and transfers next month or in April.

She said the school system could save about $3 million with the cuts.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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