• Civil Rights

    Civil Rights District Groups Get Nearly $2.7M in Support From JeffCo Commission

    The Jefferson County Commission today approved $2,691,642 in federal ARPA funding to organizations in the Civil Rights District to improve civil rights tourism.

    The $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill was enacted to speed the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jefferson County determined that tourism had been affected by the pandemic. After their applications were vetted by consulting firm Witt O’Brien, 16th Street Baptist Church, Urban Impact Inc., Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and historic Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville were allotted funds for unique projects. Read more.

  • Economy

    With the NCAA Tournament in Town, Birmingham Is Ready for Thrilling Games, an Economic Boost

    Birmingham is hosting NCAA Tournament games this weekend for the first time since 2008. It’s the latest addition to the city’s growing profile as a sports hub. Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    City Relinquishes Power Over Old Powell School, Raising Concerns About Historic Preservation

    After a contentious discussion, the Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to relinquish its interest in the historic Powell School building, which has been vacant for more than two decades.

    Though developers of the property told councilors that historic preservation is their priority, they expressed doubts that they’d be able to save most of the 134-year-old structure. Now, with the city stepping out of the way, they won’t be compelled to.

    Councilors split over the discussion. District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott said she was “aghast” at the idea of “giving the property away” to a developer with no guarantee of historical preservation.

    Mayor Randall Woodfin retorted that it made less sense to leave the dilapidated school building standing. “It is clear blight,” he said. Read more.

  • Alabama Department of Environmental Management

    Working Group Appointed to Learn What Went Wrong With Response to the Moody Landfill Fire

    The Alabama Department of Environment Management on Friday announced the formation of a working group to assess whether changes in laws, regulations and resources are needed following the fire at the vegetative waste disposal site near Moody.

    In a press conference, ADEM officials said the fire revealed shortcomings in the ability and authority of state and local governments to respond to situations that are outside the scope of their regulated activities but pose risks to the public. The working group will examine the response to the fire and make recommendations for improving the ability of state and local agencies to respond to similar emergencies in the future. Read more.

  • Economy

    As Alabama Coal Miners Strike Nears End, a Look at Why It Started, How It Failed

    After 700 days, the United Mine Workers of America Union asked Warrior Met Coal to allow the strikers to come back to work unconditionally. Read more.

  • Red Mountain

    Red Mountain Cut Features Time Capsule of Alabama’s Robust Geologic History

    A national natural landmark, the road cut along Birmingham’s Red Mountain Expressway documents more than a hundred million years of geologic history and was once an educational centerpiece. Read more.

  • Coronavirus

    Alabama Health Officer Reflects on Lessons Learned From COVID-19

    Three years ago, Alabamians were beginning to see the impacts of a new respiratory virus sweeping the nation. 

    “Everybody remembers watching in horror at what was transpiring in Washington State in this skilled nursing facility,” recalled Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health. “We just didn’t know how much we didn’t know.”

    Harris made the comments during a monthly meeting of the Alabama Board of Health on Thursday. He discussed lessons learned from the pandemic and future challenges amid the looming removal of a federal emergency declaration. Read more.

  • Education

    A Local Hip-Hop Education Group Teaches Kids Life Skills

    The education collective Knowledge Rhythm and Understanding, known as K.R.U., is using the music genre to teach life skills. Read more.

  • Downtown Birmingham

    JeffCo Approves $5 Million Toward Construction of Amphitheater

    The Jefferson County Commission today approved the next step in making a 9,000-seat, $50 million amphitheater part of The Star Uptown development on the campus of the former Carraway Hospital.

    A $5 million contribution from the county’s economic development fund goes toward building the event venue. The county also approved a guarantee to cover any shortfall on the project up to $10 million.

    The matter was approved on a 3-1-1 vote with Sheila Tyson voting no and Lashunda Scales abstaining.

    The panel vote came after citizens – mostly residents of the area where the venue will be built – voiced their concern about the future of their community. Read more.

  • Alabama Legislature

    Judicial Funding Fight Likely to Continue in Upcoming Legislative Session

    An additional eight circuit court and five district court judges are needed in various parts of Alabama, including Madison and Baldwin counties, according to a recent report.

    That same report also says Jefferson County has more judges than caseloads there require.

    But reallocating judgeships has become a politically complicated issue in recent years. Fiscal conservatives in the State House have balked at spending millions on additional seats when Jefferson County and other districts have a surplus. Jefferson County’s well-muscled delegation has protected its judicial seats.

    But now, more lawmakers, including the new chairman of the House General Fund budget committee, appear willing to spend on at least a few new seats. Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    Pay Raises, Recreation Areas Provided Under Woodfin’s Budget Surplus Plan

    The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to unanimously approve Mayor Randall Woodfin’s plans for spending the city’s $81 million budget surplus, with money allocated to a cost-of-living adjustment for city employees, capital improvement for parks and libraries, and funding for a new amphitheater in the city’s Uptown entertainment district. Read more.

  • Birmingham City Council

    Birmingham Council Looks to Reduce Crime With Statistical Analysis

    The Birmingham City Council has approved a partnership with the nonprofit Aspen Institute to gather and analyze a wide variety of data about the city’s 99 neighborhoods.

    The project, named the Birmingham/Aspen Justice and Governance Partnership, is intended to reduce crime by gathering and analyzing hyperlocal statistics — for example, the number of traffic stops or emergency room admissions in a given neighborhood. This information would be made publicly available and could be used by lawmakers to inform policy. Read more.

  • Coronavirus

    What a Difference a Year Makes, but COVID’s Still Around

    One year ago, Alabama was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    At the state’s peak, on Jan 21, 2022, the 7-day average of new COVID cases per day was 12,918, according to the New York Times’ COVID tracker.

    The year before, in February, 2021, deaths hit their high with an average of 147 Alabamians a day succumbing to the disease.

    This week, as of Wednesday, Jan. 18, the 7-day average of new cases per day statewide was 963, and the daily average of deaths was 3.1 on Thursday.

    Despite the steep drop, health officials have urged people to remain vigilant, keep up with their vaccinations and mask if their community is at risk of COVID or if they are at heightened risk from the virus. Read more.

  • Economy

    An old school in Birmingham’s Bush Hills is now an urban farm. Residents are thinking bigger.

    At west Birmingham’s old Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, on the near-four acres that were once the school’s grounds, area residents tend to their own small garden plots with all manner of fruits and vegetables. The potatoes, greens, squash and other produce raised here — as much as 50,000 pounds a year — is distributed within the community, free of charge.

    What started as a means to prevent the old school from becoming a blight on the neighborhood is now the Bush Hills Community Garden and Urban Farm. Located about a mile from Legion Field, plans are underway for more than just agriculture. Some residents believe it is a model for other projects that adapt existing structures to the needs of their surrounding communities. Read more.

  • Ethics

    Investigation Accuses Alabama Power of Funneling Money to Local News Sites for Favorable Coverage

    A trove of leaked documents appears to show Alabama Power indirectly and covertly paid news outlets for favorable coverage. A story from NPR and the nonprofit news collaborative Floodlight says the practice continued for almost a decade and hid transactions by utilizing nonprofits and shell companies. Read more.