Seven Stories for Friday in West Alabama
The Alabama Community College System turns 60 on Monday and it is bucking a national trend of reduced enrollment since the pandemic. In Alabama, enrollment has increased 5% each year since 2020.
Neil Scott is system vice chancellor for student success. He says state community colleges have been aggressively pursuing first generation college students, giving them a chance to change the trajectory of the family. Tuscaloosa's Shelton State is one of the schools seeing enrollment increases to almost 4,500 students.
It costs a lot to keep an ambulance service running and funding for the Greene County Ambulance Service continues to fall short. Service Director Christopher Jones tells news partner ABC3340 everyone in the county should be concerned because continued shortfalls could lead to shutting down the service.
Ambulance revenues comes from patient charges, donations from private citizens, private companies, and some monthly donations from municipalities in Greene County. According to Jones the majority of patients in Greene County are Medicare or Medicaid patients. Their insurance only pays 30-40% of their charge.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox will begin a series of town hall meetings with community groups across the city next week. The first meeting will be Monday with the Tuscaloosa Downtown Merchants Association in the City Council Chambers.
A bill submitted by Cottondale State Senator Gerald Allen would prohibit any future additional sales and use taxes in Tuscaloosa County municipalities without a majority vote of qualified electors. Critics of the bill call it legislative over-reach.
With an aging population needing more healthcare services, Alabama is currently experiencing a shortage of some 3,000 physicians. A bill moving through the Alabama State Senate aims to address that shortage.
Sponsored by Republican State Sen. April Weaver, who represents Bibb County, the legislation would streamline the process so out-of-state physicians can more easily relocate and practice in Alabama. It also seeks to reduce barriers so international medical graduates can help staff overcrowded hospitals and creates an apprenticeship-like program for medical school graduates who are waiting to get placed into a residency program.
2023 will go down as having the most tornadoes and severe weather reports during the first three months of the year dating back to 1950. That number, at least preliminarily, stands at 410 nationally. Alabama is near the top of the list for total tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail so far this year with 311 total severe weather reports, 64 of them for tornadoes.
14 tornadoes touched down on January 12 alone in Alabama, killing seven and injuring dozens. The worst damage occurred in Selma where President Biden declared a Federal Disaster Declaration. That declaration was extended to cover twister damage in Greene, Hale and Sumter counties in West Alabama.
In sports: Some area high school baseball teams are having great seasons…Tuscaloosa County is No. 2 in Class 7A…Northridge is No. 8 in 6A…Bibb County is No. 3 in 4A…Gordo is No. 1 in 3A with Fayette County at No. 6…in Class 2A Tuscaloosa Academy is No. 4 and in 1A Sweetwater is No. 10.