It’s almost Thanksgiving, and for many of us that means traveling to see family. For those who have to fly, the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is the place it all begins. In a national ranking earlier this year, Birmingham’s airport was 63rd on the list. It lost points mostly stemming from the airport’s $50 million dollars […]
Each year thousands of people suffer from diseases that defy diagnosis, sometimes for decades. They are medical refugees. These undiagnosed diseases, as they are called, mean a doctor can’t figure out what’s wrong with their patient. But UAB is trying to change that.
At the heart of the recent federal trial under way is a question, “Are prisoners getting the mental health care they need? Mental health advocates insist they are not.
The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing a decision on whether public schools are doing enough to educate students with special needs. Under federal law, students with disabilities are entitled to a “free appropriate education.” At issue, however, is what constitutes “appropriate”. In Alabama, there are more than 83,000 children with special needs. And for the parents and educators of those children, meeting educational needs is often a struggle.
With recent shootings and terrorist attacks in Paris and Orlando, some in Birmingham are taking new interest in personal safety. Les Lovoy reports on how local law enforcement are trying to respond and what people can do to protect themselves.
Southern Living, one of the South’s most iconic magazines, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Birmingham-based institution has an enduring relationship with readers and a unique history, but at the same time, it’s evolving to appeal to a younger, urban readership.
Birmingham’s western business district is one of the city’s oldest. At one time, a thriving community of working class families surrounded it. A shopping mall anchored the retail center, and businesses, large and small, lined Third Avenue West. Now, it’s a different story. The area has been in decline for decades. In 2011, the city Birmingham spent $46 million on the Birmingham Metro CrossPlex sports facility in hopes of giving the area an economic boost.
In Alabama, suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 12 to 16. A bill passed by the state legislature that could be signed by the governor would help teachers better prevent these suicides.
Heroin abuse continues to rise nationally and in Alabama, leaving more people searching for ways to kick addiction. Families ask friends, professionals and scour the Internet looking for the best, and most affordable, treatment for their loved one. But the financial burdens can be crippling, sometimes thousands upon thousands of dollars.
Recently, Alabama saw national attention for the high numbers of women it prosecutes for drug abuse during pregnancy. While critics say drug testing new and expectant mothers may be illegal or unconstitutional, most realize why it’s an issue. Alabama’s infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the nation 49th, right after Mississippi. In 2013, Alabama lost approximately more than 500 infants.
It takes 20/20 focus to identify the multitude of factors impacting the health of Jefferson County residents. After months of planning, the County Department of Health has developed a plan and is putting it into action. The county and community organizations are partnering to improve health and quality of life with its Community Matters 20/20 Plan.
Heroin use has exploded in Alabama, and heroin-related deaths more than doubled in Jefferson County last year. That means more and more relatives have to cope with the mistrust, deception and shame that come with addiction. Despite the stigma, parents and families are reaching out for help.
Concussions can occur from head injuries while playing any sport where a player receives a blow to the head. And for years, hearing the crack of two helmets colliding or seeing a player crash to the ground headfirst, was the only way to determine if a player might have suffered a concussion. But that’s changing.
The Birmingham Zoo is preparing to spend $15 million of an overall $50 million renovation project. Those dollars will be spent on both animal exhibits and non-animal projects. In today’s contemporary world, zoos must wrestle with how best to spend their funds in order to fulfill their missions and draw more diverse folks, who enjoy and expect interactivity. Les Lovoy reports on how the Birmingham zoo is keeping up with current trends by striking a balance between animal conservation and education and offering an overall entertaining experience for visitors.
Police and public health leaders in Alabama are trying to deal with a spike in heroin use in recent years. Naloxone — or narcan — is a drug that, when administered correctly, can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. A bill passed the Alabama Legislature this week that would allow first responders to give narcan to someone dying from an overdose. But some don’t think the bill goes far enough. UAB researchers are working on a crowd-funded study that puts narcan directly in the hands of users’ and family and friends.
As heroin use increases in North Central Alabama, law enforcement is taking a hard look at how to stop the supply, and handle heroin dealers and users. But beyond arresting dealers, they’re also often the first on the scene of heroin overdoses. Les Lovoy reports on how law enforcement officials are juggling drug enforcement and saving lives.
Traditionally, people who suffer from kidney disease and need a transplant put their name on a national list. Next, they have to wait until their name comes up to receive a compatible kidney. And with over 100,000 names on that list, it can take up to 10 years to receive a kidney. Today, there’s a viable alternative. The University of Alabama at Birmingham is at the forefront of a process, which allows someone to receive a healthier kidney in a much shorter time.
While incarcerated women have characteristics that are similar to their male counterparts, a closer look reveals another story. Studies have shown that the majority of incarcerated women were victims of verbal, physical or sexual abuse before coming to prison. Les Lovoy reports how abuse in prison can re-traumatize women and the challenge for them to break the cycle of abuse, once they re-enter society.
Throughout the week, WBHM is reporting on the hurdles ex-felons face once they’re released from prison. One of the primary challenges they face is finding stable employment. In addition to the external struggles ex-felons face when looking for work, many also grapple with internal ones, like drug addiction or mental health issues. But, issues aside, ex-offenders need a job to provide for their basic needs, in addition to money required to pay court expenses and restitution.
The long path back to a normal life begins with whether or not an employer will give ex-offenders a chance. For WBHM News, Les Lovoy has more.
It’s been an eventful week for the Alabama Prison System. On Tuesday, Governor Robert Bentley announced initial plans for rebuilding the state’s overburdened and underfunded prison system. Governor Bentley said Alabama would work in partnership with private agencies and the government to examine the prison system and suggest reforms. Bentley’s announcement came on the same day the Southern Poverty Law Center released a highly critical report on medical care in Alabama prisons. For WBHM, Les Lovoy outlines the numerous challenges facing Alabama’s prisons, and what the state is doing to solve the problems.
For the last several months, WBHM has joined al.com and the Center for Investigative Reporting as part of the Alabama Media Group’s investigative journalism lab. Together, we’re taking a look at Alabama’s prison problems. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice accused Alabama of failing to protect prisoners at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women from sexual abuse and harassment from male officers. To hear more on the issues and challenges facing the Tutwiler prison, Les Lovoy spoke with Kim Thomas, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner.
Since 2007, more than 250 newspapers have stopped publishing. As newspapers across the country fold or choose to publish less frequently, media experts are asking big questions. If newspapers scale back, will citizens know less, and even care less, about where they live? And does this affect how many people vote? Research says “yes.” On the heels of Alabama’s June 3 primaries, Les Lovoy reports on the challenges today’s newspapers face, and what it means for civic life.
Callie Courter can’t remember when she wasn’t writing poetry and singing around the house. The Birmingham native started writing song lyrics while majoring in music at UAB. As a graduation present, her dad financed the production of her first album, called ‘Love Is For The Brave.’ She now lives in Nashville, where she’s chasing her dreams of being a professional musician. Courter sat down with Les Lovoy to tell WBHM about the new album, her first experience in the studio, and her songwriting process.
It’s been almost 12 years since a Democrat held a major office in Alabama. But recently, there seems to be new energy among Democrats. In April of last year, Mark Kennedy resigned as chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. He created a new foundation, the Alabama Democratic Majority. Kennedy’s split with party leadership wasn’t pretty, but the new foundation has political leaders talking.
In Helena, Alabama, a private company thinks its up to the task of providing Helena’s 17,000 residents with citywide Wi-Fi, all while competing with much larger internet service providers. Les Lovoy reports on how it’s hoping Helena will be a successful test case for citywide Wi-Fi.
For 27 years people of all races, ages and gender have celebrated Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday by attending The Unity Breakfast, in the heart of downtown Birmingham. This year’s breakfast has special significance because of the 50th anniversary of some of the major events of the Civil Right movement. But attendees at today’s Unity Breakfast will see a public show of disunity.
As the Northeast begins to rebuild after SuperStorm Sandy, many Alabamians probably can’t help but think: been there, done that. From Hurricane Katrina to last year’s deadly tornadoes, the state has taken a beating. So has the insurance agency.
It’s been more than a year since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and still, businesses across Alabama’s Gulf Coast are struggling to rebound. Sales are off for everyone from seafood processors to charter boat operators. And there’s a domino effect that’s sweeping up other, less obvious industries across the gulf and beyond.
In the late 1980’s, a child who’s come to be known as R.C. was removed from his home because of allegations of abuse and neglect. R.C. was sent to a series of psychiatric institutions, even though he was not diagnosed with any serious emotional problems. Lawyers sued the Alabama Department of Human Resources on behalf of R.C. And in 1991, a federal court issued the R.C. Consent Decree. It required a massive overhaul in the way DHR provides mental health treatment to foster children in Alabama. The state is now lauded as a national model, but there are still big challenges.
Each year thousands of teens across the country find themselves in jail. For some, their only “crime” is they suffer from a mental illness. Well-meaning parents who are at the end of their rope are convinced the juvenile justice system is one place their teens will get treatment. But as Les Lovoy reports in the first of a two part series on children’s mental health, it doesn’t always work out that way.
A bill to authorize charter schools in Alabama is dead in the state legislature, but don’t expect the debate to die down anytime soon. President Obama is pushing charter schools, and several of the gubernatorial candidates say they support the idea as well. But just what is a charter school? They’ve been around for more than a decade in some other states, but here in Alabama there seems to be a lot of confusion.
Over the last several years, Birmingham and Jefferson County have experienced a tsunami of political corruption. From the HealthSouth accounting scandal to the convictions of several former county commissioners. And, of course, next month Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford goes on trial in a 101-count federal bribery and conspiracy case. Les Lovoy reports on the toll political corruption takes on the our local economy and what the local business community people are plan to do about it.