Authorities in Montgomery say a child has died in a house fire that occurred early Monday morning. Police Sgt. Denise Barnes says fire crews were called to the 4300 block of Sunshine Drive around 7 a.m. and were told one of the home's occupants may have still been inside. The house was reportedly engulfed in flames when emergency responders arrived. The body of a child was found after the fire was extinguished. Barnes says the house sustained major fire and smoke damage. The family's dog also perished in the blaze.
It soon will be Montgomery's turn in the spotlight for the various events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the voting rights march and the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Mayor Todd Strange says he and other city officials learned a few lessons from the massive crowds that descended on Selma earlier this month.
Officials with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says the shortage of state troopers has reached a critical state. ALEA spokesman Sgt. Steve Jarrett says the state reached an all time low of 289 troopers on the road late last year. Since then, the agency has pulled manpower form other departments to bring the number of troopers on the road to 431. However, Jarrett says a recent study by the University of Alabama's Center for Advanced Public Safety puts the number of troopers the state should have on patrol at just over a 1,000.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a federal lawsuit against a private probation company accused of targeting poor Clanton residents and threatening them with jail time for failing to pay fines. The lawsuit accused Judicial Correction Services and a local manager of racketeering and extorting probationers for monthly payments. Clanton resident Roxanne Reynolds said she was among those targeted by JCS. The Southern Poverty Law Center says some probationers were ordered to pay $140 monthly fines of which $40 was given to JCS. The company has declined comment.
The Alabama House has passed a bill that gives ministers, judges and others the right to refuse performing marriage ceremonies. The legislation passed on a 69 to 25 vote following nearly four hours of debate. Opponents of the bill claim it is unnecessary, since judges and clergy members already have the right to refuse to conduct wedding ceremonies. The bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Jim Hill of Moody maintains that it clarifies already existing law. Still other critics label the measure as discriminator against gay couples. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The week long march from Selma to Montgomery along U.S. Highway 80 is winding down. About 130 people are re-enacting the 1965 Voting Rights march that began last Sunday in the west Alabama city. Brenda Davenport with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference says marchers expected to arrive in Montgomery late Friday morning. Davenport said the SCLC will host a gospel concert this evening at 7 p.m. at Macedonia Church at 3070 Selma Highway in Montgomery.
Montgomery police have made an arrest in the early Wednesday morning death of 44-year-old Robert Nelson. Montgomery Police say 41-year-old John Cain of Montgomery was arrested and charged with one count of murder. He is being held in the Montgomery County Detention Facility on $75,000 bond. Police say Nelson was fatally shot during an argument that took place in the 900 block of West South Boulevard. Montgomery Police responded to the report of a shooting at around 4:30 a.m. Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was found in the parking lot near Waffle House.
Republicans in the state Senate and House have approved legislation they consider to be a top priority in this year's session. Last night, the Alabama Senate, on a 22-12 vote, approved a charter school bill over the objections of some Democrats. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh dismissed critics who wanted to remove a provision that would let charter schools hire non-certified teachers. In the Alabama House, a jobs incentives package pushed by Governor Robert Bentley was approved Tuesday.
The old Montgomery Mall will now be called "One Center." The announcement was made Tuesday by city, county and community leaders. Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Harris says the name is an excellent way of revitalizing the area. Steven Patrick with Blue Ridge Capital says the 250,000 square feet inside the building is available for numerous businesses.