WVAS Local

A major road improvement projects kickrd off Wednesday on West Fairview Avenue in Montgomery.  The work will stretch from I-65 to Air Base Boulevard.  Public Information Director for the city Michael Briddell says the project encompasses three phases.  The repaving portion of the project is expected to be complete by August 10th, but the installation of new signals won't begin until late fall.  The entire undertaking will cost nearly $1.4 million and is being funded by the Alabama Transportation and Improvement Program or ATRIP.  

The Montgomery Zoo will debut its latest addition today.  A young pygmy hippopotamus is going on display for the first time after its birth at the zoo in early April.  Officials say a new exhibit has been constructed in the South America Realm for the male calf and its mother.  A zoo release states that the pygmy hippo birth is significant because males are after born in captivity.  Though pygmy hippos share the same general form as the hippopotamus, they grow to approximately half the height and one quarter of the weight of their larger cousins.

Authorities say an Alabama girl died a day after she fell while trying to hang a swing in a tree.  Blount County Sheriff's Officer Operations Commander Tim Kent says 13-year-old Alexsis Payne fell Friday evening.  Kent says when she fell, the swing rope was looped around her and tightened around her abdomen, injuring her.  Payne's family called 911 when they found her.  She was taken to a local hospital and then airlifted to Children's of Alabama in Birmingham, where she died Saturday.  Kent called the girl's death a tragic accident.  

Two people were killed in accidents in Butler and Perry County over the holiday weekend.  The first happened Sunday night on Alabama Highway 61.  A car and SUV crashed into each other about a mile north of Uniontown.  State Troopers say the car's driver, Johnny Lewis of Newbern died in the wreck.  Three people in the SUV were injured.  Authorities say a preliminary investigation shows that alcohol may have been a factor in the accident.  

The famed Tuskegee Airmen have lost another member.  The family of Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Junior released a statement yesterday reporting his death over the weekend.  Capt. Brown commanded the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, during World War II.  He flew 68 long-range missions from August of 1944 to March of 1945.  Family members report that the Washington D.C. native passed away at the age of 94.  

Several black Alabama lawmakers have joined a federal lawsuit challenging state legislation that blocks Birmingham from establishing a local minimum wage.  An amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court Thursday says the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and several individual lawmakers have joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs.  The lawsuit alleges that racial bias fueled Republican-backed legislation blocking Birmingham from setting a $10.10 per hour local minimum wage.  

Alabama officials have filed a lawsuit against Dothan over hundreds of sewage overflows that have occurred in the city in recent years.  Citing a complaint filed Thursday in Houston County Circuit Court, the Dothan Eagle reports that Attorney General Luther Strange and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management have accused the city of repeatedly violating the terms of its wastewater management permits at each of its wastewater treatment plants.  The lawsuit says there have been 248 sewage overflows reported by the city over the past five years.  

Members of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office are getting some well deserved recognition at the state level for the work they do to fight for justice.  Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney Scott Green has been named Assistant District Attorney of the Year for 2016 by the Alabama District Attorneys' Investigators Association.  Green started as a prosecutor with the Montgomery County District Attorney's office in September of 1999 and has prosecuted every type of case.

Police in Opelika say a black bear that had been roaming the city's residential areas has been recaptured and released back into the wild.  Capt. Shane Healey says the bear was first seen at the city's public works facility Wednesday and authorities tried setting up a perimeter around the area to catch it.  Healey says officials worked with the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to tranquilize the bear and keep him cool while he was moved back into the wild.  Healey says this sighting was not the first time a bear was spotted in the city.  

State Auditor Jim Zeigler is asking to join an ongoing lawsuit over the use of oil spill settlement funds to build a beachfront hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park.  Zeigler Tuesday filed the motion to intervene in the civil lawsuit in Montgomery circuit court.  Former Conservation Commissioner Charley Grimsley, a longtime opponent of the project, filed a lawsuit in April against Gov. Robert Bentley challenging the use of the money for the project.  Bentley has moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Grimsley does not have a basis or standing to sue.