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The state’s COVID numbers keep heading in the wrong direction, as the Delta variant of the virus is now present in better than four out of five people who test positive for the virus across the country.
Thursday’s report by the Alabama Department of Public Health showed that new cases were down slightly from Wednesday but still high enough to push moving averages upward yet again. Alabama tallied 1,567 additional cases, down slightly from Wednesday’s 1,632 count. The total for the pandemic is now 565,510 cases in the state. Read more.
Hundreds of Birmingham residents went to Boutwell Auditorium hoping to get their cases settled by getting their warrants removed and receiving a new court date to pay off a ticket, or pay it off then and there. Read more.
Birmingham police will no longer use no-knock warrants such as the one that led to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville last year. Mayor Randall L. Woodfin, Police Chief Patrick Smith and Thomas Beavers, senior pastor of The Star Church, announced that and several other revisions to police policies and procedures during an event Tuesday. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — Democratic State Sen. Priscilla Dunn won’t be running for reelection in 2022, and at least two current state representatives plan to run for the vacant seat.
Dunn’s husband, Grover Dunn, told Alabama Daily News on Monday that his wife would be retiring after finishing her last year in office.
State Reps. Louise Alexander, D-Bessemer, and Merika Coleman said they plan to run for the seat. Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, said he has been considering running for the Senate seat but has not officially decided.
Alabama joins 16 other states and Washington D.C. where third graders must pass a reading test – or risk being held back. That’s why this summer, teachers at Birmingham City Schools began coaching their students on reading skills to get a head start on the new retention policy. Read more.
Gov. Kay Ivey and education leaders are stressing the importance of expanding summer learning throughout the state as educators seek to help students recover from learning loss sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ivey on Wednesday toured a program that is funded by Summer Adventures in Learning and helps pair community organizations with schools to create high-quality summer learning programs.
Jim Wooten, chair of Sail, said Sail aims to reimagine what summer school can look like. He said easily 75% of Alabama students could benefit from summer learning. Read more.
Seats on several Birmingham boards and authorities will be up for grabs next month, including city council-appointed positions on the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority and the Birmingham Land Bank Authority. Read more.
Birmingham has increased its recycling pick-up schedule to twice a month, though Mayor Randall Woodfin says his “full intent” is to eventually return to the program’s pre-COVID weekly schedule. Read more.
Despite several recent shootings, Ensley’s Club Euphoria is staying open — for now. The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to give the venue 13 weeks to institute a safety plan and address neighborhood concerns, after which the council would decide whether to shutter the venue. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — A pre-filled bill in the Alabama Legislature seeks to offer more protections for pregnant workers by outlining accommodations that employers would be required to take supporting their health. House Bill 1 from Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, would require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” related to pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — A bill that would change the definition of riot in state law and increase penalties for those who participate in one has been pre-filed for the 2022 regular legislative session. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — A second bill targeting how theories on race and bias are taught has been pre-filed in the Alabama House, this one applying to education institutions and the training state employees and contractors receive. Read more.
A bill to block the medical treatment of transgender youth in Alabama, one of the most controversial bills of the Legislature’s 2021 session, will be back in 2022. Read more.
Birmingham has been riddled with crime for decades, and people are concerned about the increasing number of homicides. In 2020, violent crimes such as rape and robberies decreased, but gun-related violent crimes increased almost 20%. Last year ended with a total of 122 homicides, the most in the last 25 years. So far in 2021, there have been at least 60 homicides in the city of Birmingham, according to data from the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. Read more.
The spike in Birmingham’s gun violence has many residents concerned and outraged. Local activists have said reducing shootings has to be a community effort, with local government support. Read more.
Trauma doctors in Birmingham are treating a record number of patients with gunshot wounds. Health officials hope a violence intervention program could help reverse the trend. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — A first-of-its-kind advanced graphite processing plant in Coosa County will bring an overall investment of $124 million to Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday.
The plant, which will be known as Alabama Graphite Products, will help with the production of an essential material in batteries that power electric vehicles, electronics and other green energy products.
“This plant not only will make Alabama the U.S. leader in graphite production, the go-to place for this important resource in battery manufacturing, it also will elevate our standing even more as a major player in the fast-growing electric vehicle sector,” Ivey said. Read more.
Landing, an apartment rental company, will relocate it headquarters to Birmingham, creating more than 800 new jobs. Read more.
The Jefferson County Commission today approved a resolution to provide economic incentives for Bill Smith’s latest venture – Landing – but not before Lashunda Scales had her say.
The matter passed 3-1, with Scales casting the dissenting vote. Sheila Tyson was absent.
Scales expressed concern, saying she wanted to see what efforts the company will make to give priority to hiring residents of Jefferson County. Additionally, she said she is concerned that a long-term plan for the company was not presented even though the incentive plan covers six years.
The District 1 commissioner said that while the company currently arranges apartments for rentals, she is afraid the operation will go beyond apartment rentals
A pair of road projects are closer to fruition after the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday approved resolutions related to those two projects.
Each project is in the city of Hoover. One authorizes a joint services agreement with Hoover and Jefferson County and CSX Transportation on improvements to South Shades Crest Road, to which a third lane will be added from Alabama 150 to Eden Ridge Drive.
That project includes replacing a bridge that passes over CSX train tracks.
The other project authorizes paying for tract 6 of the Galleria Boulevard extension project. For years, motorists have driven through the parking lot of Ashley Homestore as they’ve made their way from Alabama 150 to Lorna Road on the other side of the hill.
Solomon Crenshaw Jr. recently won two first-place awards and a third-place award from the National Federation of Press Women for stories he wrote for BirminghamWatch in 2020. Read more.
Over Memorial Day weekend, at least 26 shootings were reported in major cities across Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. At least 10 people were killed and 17 others were injured. It was the latest example of rising homicides and gun violence across the Gulf states this year. Read more.
Gov. Kay Ivey and some legislative leaders met Wednesday to discuss possible next steps after the governor’s proposal to lease three new men’s prisons stalled earlier this month.
“No decisions were made today; this was simply an opportunity for an update on where we are and what needs to happen, going forward with respect to improving our prison infrastructure,” Ivey said in a written statement.
The meeting included Ivey, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, and the Legislature’s two General Fund budget chairmen. Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, and Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range.
Officials did not disclose the details of what was discussed, but called the meeting productive and the first of several. Lawmakers earlier this year balked at a nearly $3 billion price tag on Ivey’s 30-year prison lease plan and said they’d largely been excluded from discussions.
When replacement parts are needed for the Alabama State House’s electrical system, some have to be “scavenged” because the system is so old that new parts are no longer available.
Meanwhile, the HVAC system has outlived its intended lifespan and is contributing to mold issues in the nearly 60-year-old, eight-floor building, according to a recent facility condition assessment by a Georgia-based engineering firm.
The report has renewed discussions about the health and safety conditions of the building and the need for a new building, or at least significant renovations. The report and springtime presentation to the Legislative Council outlined some concerning conditions in the building and about $51 million in renewal costs needed in the next 10 years.
The bottom line is that lawmakers need to act on the condition of the State House and the costs will be significant, Rep. Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, told Alabama Daily News on Tuesday. Gaston is chair of the Legislative Council, which owns the State House.
Birmingham City Schools and Alabama Regional Medical Services will be giving COVID-19 vaccinations to city school students and their parents over the summer in an effort to make schools and their communities safer when they reopen in the fall.
Alabama’s population has grown to more than 5 million people not because of residents expanding their families, but because of people moving into the state from other places in the country.
In fact, Alabama’s birth rate fell in the 2010’s and its death rate rose, which follows a national trend, according to a Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama analysis of U.S. Census Bureau estimates released earlier this month. Read more.
The Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual list of hate groups nationwide Feb. 1, and while the number of groups has gone down from last year, there are still 20 Alabama groups that made the cut. Altogether, the SPLC tracked 830 organizations defined as hate groups in 2020. “The number is a barometer, albeit only one, of the level of hate activity in the country,” the website says. Read more.
Vestiges of segregation still thread through the systems and processes with which we engage throughout our lives, influencing Black Alabamians in large and small ways, including economic opportunities and lifetime wealth, relationship with law enforcement, health care and even projected lifespan. BirminghamWatch has an ongoing effort to analyze how these sometimes unrecognized vestiges of segregation are playing out in people’s lives today. Read stories in The Legacy of Race series.
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