Ashley Cleek

Ashley Cleek is a freelance multimedia journalist.

Sewer Overflows Persist Despite Billions Spent

Jefferson County’s sewer system has been troubled for decades. First it spewed sewage into area rivers. Then, years of corruption prevented repairs from being done and forced the county into what was then the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. The county has spent billions to fix the sewer system, but some neighborhoods in Jefferson County haven’t seen much improvement at all.

Black Belt Residents not Happy as State Closes Satellite Driver’s License Offices

Rural Alabama residents are not happy state law enforcement closed 31 satellite driver’s license offices Wednesday. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says the closures were due to an eleven million dollar cut in the new budget that went into effect Thursday. While drivers can still renew their license in most counties, they’ll have to travel further to get a new one. Particularly hard hit is the Black Belt, which is one of the poorest regions in the state.

Court Fees Increasingly a Bad Deal for Alabama

If you don’t pay a traffic ticket on time – or you lose in court – you may end up paying a hefty court fee in addition to the fine. In some cases, those fees in Birmingham bring the bill to up 10 times the original ticket. Over the years, the Legislature has raised court fees to cover the costs of running the system. And many people think this is a bad idea.

NAACP Asks for Jefferson County Courthouse Murals to be Removed

Members of the Jefferson County Commission say they’ll address a petition by the local NAACP chapter and other groups calling for the removal of two murals in the courthouse. This latest push comes in the wake of the killings of nine African Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, that sparked a debate over symbols of the Confederacy throughout the South.

“To Me, It Was A Good Thing” Feizal Valli Remembers How Hurricane Katrina Brought Him To Birmingham

Feizal Valli worked as a bartender in New Orleans for over a decade. When he first moved to the city back in the 90s, New Orleans was known as the murder capital of the country. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Valli was living on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. He talked to WBHM’s Ashley Cleek about his life before and after the storm.

UAB Research Lab Hopes To Define Concussion Biomarkers

There’s been a spike in children under 19 visiting the emergency room with concussions. ERs saw a more than 50 percent increase between 2001 and 2009. Doctors say this could actually be a good thing, resulting in part from improved awareness of what a concussion is. But, perhaps surprisingly, there’s still a lot we don’t know about concussions, like how long they last or what all the long term effects are. A group of doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who aim to change this.

Alabama Reacts to Gay Marriage Decision

Gay marriage is now legal in Alabama. In a 5 to 4 decision the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday states can’t stop same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize those unions across the country. Ashley Cleek has an overview of how the decision is playing out in Alabama.

Food Stamp Fraud Investigation Means Fewer Places to Find Groceries

A federal investigation into food stamp fraud called operation T-Bone shuttered 11 stores across Jefferson County in June. The scam allegedly involved store operators buying food stamp debit cards from local customers and then using those cards to stock their own shelves with goods from wholesalers. The investigation turned up the heat on the alleged scam, but it also left many communities in Birmingham without anywhere to buy even the most basic groceries.

Uncovering Alabama’s Hidden Hepatitis C Problem

Injection drug use is on the rise around the country, feeding an increase in cases of the blood-borne liver disease Hepatitis C. The Centers for Disease control says that, nationally, Hepatitis C infections rose 150 percent in the last 3 years. But the spread of the disease in Alabama is hard to measure. Doctors and health care officials are trying new ways to determine the true spread of the disease here in Alabama — doctors like Jim Galbraith, an emergency room physician at UAB.

Birmingham’s Broken Parking Meters

Depending on where you are in Birmingham, you could pay around two dollars to park for two hours on a city street. Or – you may not pay at all. Birmingham has more than 5,000 parking meters. With more restaurants, businesses and residents returning to the city center once again, those steel gray meters with an appetite for quarters are stirring concerns among those who live and work downtown.