Latest Alabama news, sports, business and entertainment
Severe storms possible in Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Forecasters say that severe storms are possible in Alabama ahead of an approaching cold front.
The National Weather Service says that any storm that develops will pose a threat of damaging straight-line winds and large hail.
Storms could form in Alabama as early as Thursday afternoon, and the threat of severe weather will continue overnight and into Friday.
A hazardous weather outlook for northern Alabama warns of widespread thunderstorm activity in the region from Thursday evening through early Friday morning. Winds of up to 70 mph will be possible with those storms, and some flash flooding is also possible.
Forecasters say thunderstorm development will depend on day-time heating and potential surface instability.
Ala. enacts stricter law on scrap metal sales
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new law signed by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is trying to crack down on metal thefts by setting up stricter requirements for selling scrap metal.
The legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Poole of Northport and Republican Sen. Ben Brooks of Mobile says sellers of scrap metal must be photographed, provide a copy of a personal identification card and give information about the identity of their vehicles. Scrap metal purchasers must send the information to a statewide database and keep it for at least one year.
Poole tells the Press-Register that thieves often do thousands in damage to get a small amount of metal. He said law enforcement can use the database to help find the culprits.
Alabama teacher facing meth charges
(Information in the following story is from: The Dothan Eagle, http://www.dothaneagle.com)
DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a south Alabama teacher will likely lose his job following his arrest on methamphetamine and alcohol charges.
Houston County sheriff's deputies say 32-year-old Jason Allen Andrews was arrested on drug charges after being pulled over during a traffic stop. He's also charged with possession of moonshine.
The Dothan Eagle reports that Andrews is a science teacher at Ashford High School in southeast Alabama. But Houston County Superintendent Tim Pitchford says Andrews is now on leave and likely won't have his contract renewed after a review on Friday.
Pitchford also says a county background check didn't detect Andrews' past arrest on theft charges in 2005 because that case was dismissed.
Court records don't show whether Andrews has hired an attorney.
More than 100 road, bridge projects planned in Ala
JACKSON, Ala. (AP) — The state is planning more than 100 projects to improve roads and bridges across Alabama.
Gov. Robert Bentley will be in the southwest Alabama town of Jackson on Thursday to announce a list of the work. Another news conference will be held later in the day in Birmingham.
The projects will be funded through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, or ATRIP.
The program includes road and bridge improvements that officials say are needed throughout rural Alabama. It will also address transportation needs in larger cities.
GULF OIL SPILL-LITIGATION
Judge outlines new plan for Gulf oil spill trial
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has outlined a new structure for a trial of Gulf oil spill claims that wouldn't be resolved by a proposed class-action settlement between BP PLC and a team of plaintiffs' attorneys.
In an order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said the trial scheduled to start Jan. 14, 2013, will be conducted in at least two phases.
The first phase will explore possible causes of the April 2010 well blowout that triggered a deadly rig explosion and led to the massive oil spill. The second phase will address efforts to stop the flow of oil from BP's Macondo well.
Barbier said he may issue partial rulings at the end of each phase.
A trial originally scheduled to start in February was postponed indefinitely after the settlement was announced.
Fed flood insurance program gets 60-day extension
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has given itself two more months to come up with long-term solutions for the debt-burdened National Flood Insurance Program.
A voice vote in the House has extended the life of the program for 60 days, assuring that people in flood-risk areas will continue to have access to the flood insurance they need to close on mortgages or obtain refinancing. The Senate approved the extension last week.
The last full-scale reauthorization of the NFIP occurred in 2004. Since 2008 the insurance provider has stayed alive through short-term extensions while lawmakers debate how to restore fiscal soundness to it.
The NFIP was largely self-financing until it was overwhelmed by claims from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It now owes nearly $18 billion to the Treasury.
Judge pushes Harvey Updyke's trial back a week
(Information in the following story is from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/)
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — A Lee County judge has agreed to push back Harvey Updyke Jr.'s trial date by at least a week.
The Opelika-Auburn News reports that Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker III moved it from June 11 to as early as June 19 on Tuesday.
Updyke is accused of poisoning Auburn's two Toomer's Oak trees. Prosecutors are scheduled to videotape the deposition of a key witness, who won't be available during the trial because of a scheduling conflict, on June 18. The witness is a Mississippi State University analyst who studied samples from the trees for signs of poisoning.
Defense attorneys had requested more time to consult with independent experts on the analysis.
Updyke was not in court Tuesday. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including felony criminal mischief.