Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 1/27/2023
Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.
Alabamians are set to start receiving special tax rebates next month. State lawmakers passed the rebate plan in May. Single people will receive $150 rebates. Married couples will get $300 with no caps based on income. The one-time rebates are expected to go to around 1.9 million state residents. AL.com reports the plan will cost the state about $393 million which comes from a $2.8 billion surplus in the Education Trust Fund. Funds from the Alabama Department of Revenue will begin arriving on Nov. 30. For those who use direct deposit for their tax refunds, the rebates will go to their checking account. If there’s no address on file, the refund will be issued via check. To qualify, you must have filed a state income tax return for 2021 on or before Oct. 17, 2022. People who don’t file a return or who are considered as a dependent in 2021 aren’t eligible.
Ahead of Alabama’s next legislative session in February, one state lawmaker wants to make it easier for parents to find or afford childcare. House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels tells WIAT TV in Montgomery parents shouldn’t be held back from the workforce because of the cost of childcare. According to a 2021 report, the average cost of weekly infant daycare in Alabama was $139 per child. Those prices have gone up since the pandemic. Daniels’s proposal would give tax credits to employers that have an on-site facility, partner with a local facility or provide a stipend for childcare. It would also give tax credits to the childcare providers involved.
Two local organizations are taking steps to address childcare issues in Huntsville. The Community Foundation Women’s Philanthropy Society selected Huntsville Housing Authority’s Childcare Project and Heart of the Valley YMCA’s Pathways to Solutions to receive grants of $50,000 each. The funds will help address the shortage of trained childcare workers and childcare openings. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber was awarded a grant by the Tennessee Valley Authority to support training and education for family childcare providers. The project will establish four new in-home childcare programs, and help existing in- home programs with supplies, resources, and training.
Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded more than $2.5 million to assist Alabamians who are homeless or close to becoming homeless. The funds from the Emergency Solutions Grants program will assist local governments and nonprofit agencies. The Alabama Political Reporter says the City of Huntsville will receive $400,000. Huntsville will contract with several groups to provide housing and shelter needs for people in Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
With the lack of rainfall continuing across our area, drought conditions have worsened. Parts of the Tennessee Valley are now experiencing extreme drought as month-to-date and year-to-date rainfall totals fall behind. Regions of extreme drought are working into parts of Jackson, Madison, Marshall, Morgan and DeKalb counties, as well as parts of Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties. The rest of the area continues to experience severe drought conditions. The area needs days of slow-soaking rains to help with the deficit. WHNT TV reports there’s only some light, quick-hitting rain in the forecast for Monday with the passage of a cold front.
If you are looking for a family-friendly Halloween event, you are invited to join the UAH Department of Music for their annual Ghost Piano Experience. Music Tech students use the Yamaha DCFX technology to capture the pianists' performances, add original video and holographic imagery, and create this annual multimedia Halloween celebration. It will be held Monday, October 30 at 7:30 PM in Roberts Recital Hall. It’s FREE and Open to the Community.