Tough decisions are looming for state leaders over the next four years. That is part of the message from Governor Robert Bentley in his inauguration speech as he ushered in his second term on Monday. A budget shortfall, overcrowded prisons and improving healthcare are among the challenges mentioned. The governor did not go into specifics, but he said the state's economy has improved. Lt. Governor Kay Ivey, Attorney General Luther Strange, Auditor Jim Zeigler, Agriculture Commissioner John McMillian and Secretary of State John Merrill also took their oaths at Monday's ceremonies.
For the first time in Montgomery, two African-American men are holding top law enforcement positions. Derrick Cunningham was officially sworn-in Friday as the first African-American sheriff for Montgomery County. Cunningham said he looks forward to working with Montgomery's new Police Chief Ernest Finley and the law enforcement community. Finely will be sworn-in at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, January 20th at the City Hall Auditorium.
A commemoration was held last night to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. He would have been 86-years-old on Thursday. Members of the local community group, Birthplace for Justice gathered on the State Capitol steps to serve cake and sing songs. Cecile Sutton said the event was held after learning that there would be no MLK parade in downtown Montgomery because of Governor Bentley's Inauguration.
Central Alabama CrimeStoppers has tallied its year end totals in tips and reward money for 2014. Executive Director Tony Garrett says the group received 720 tips that led to 191 arrests. Reward money of $11,420 was paid out to those calling in information. He says while murders were down last year, some other crimes kept pace. CrimeStoppers is a non-profit organization that serves 17 law enforcement agencies in the River Region. They began in Montgomery in 1997 before expanding in 2000.
Gun violence at two separate businesses sent dozens of people scurrying for safety late Wednesday morning and last night. The first shooting occurred about 11 a.m. outside a Pure Service station near the intersection of Upper Wetumpka Road and Fairground Road. Montgomery Police said two men exchanged gunfire, there were no injuries. One male suspect was apprehended a second gun-toting male remains at large. The search for the gunman prompted authorities to place three elementary schools on soft lockdown.
Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford is urging the alleged gunman in the shooting of four Tuskegee University students and a fifth person to come forward now. Last Sunday, four Tuskegee University students along with a fifth person were injured by gunfire at an off-campus house party. Mayor Ford stresses justice will be served. Ford says the investigation is ongoing and believes the alleged shooter will be captured.
Montgomery Police say the death of a 19-year-old inmate who was found passed out in his jail cell is being handled by the State Bureau of Investigation. Authorities said the cause of Tony Lewis' death is unclear. The chief of operations at MPD Ron Cook said in a statement Tuesday that Fire Medics found no evidence of physical trauma. Lewis, who had been in the city jail since December 9th, died late Monday night at a local hospital.
The Alabama House has re-elected indicted Rep. Mike Hubbard as speaker. The newly-elected Alabama Legislature convened Tuesday in Montgomery for its organizational session. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty to 23 ethics charges and is awaiting trial. Senator Del Marsh was re-elected as Senate President Pro Tem. The organizational session can last up to 10 days. The regular session of the Legislature begins in March.
The newly elected Alabama Legislature begins its organizational session Tuesday, but the leadership will look much like the old Legislature. House members say they expect to re-elect Republican Mike Hubbard for another four-year term as speaker even though he's been indicted on ethics charges. Senate members say they expect to re-elect Republican Del Marsh as president pro tem.
Authorities say four Tuskegee University students were wounded by gunfire in an off-campus shooting. Tuskegee Police Chief Lester Patrick said officers responded to the shooting around 12:45 a.m. Sunday, where the students had been at a party. Patrick tells the Opelika-Auburn newspaper that two of the students are listed in stable condition at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. He said two other students were released from the hospital Sunday morning. Tuskegee University said in a statement that all the students are expected to recover from their injuries.