Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 11-10-2023
Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.
Alabama is planning to be the first place in the world to carry out an execution using nitrogen. Kenneth Eugene Smith is set to die by nitrogen hypoxia sometime between 2 a.m. on Thursday, January 25, and 6 a.m. on Friday, January 26. Gov. Kay Ivey announced the time frame yesterday. AL.com reports the state tried to execute Smith by lethal injection in November 2022, but stopped the procedure because workers were unable to start an intravenous connection before the execution warrant expired at midnight. That longstanding rule was changed months later, allowing the governor to set a “time frame” for executions that could extend past 24 hours, doing away with the midnight expiration of death warrants.
A team that drew new congressional maps for the state presented a $515,000 bill to Alabama in a court filing Friday. If a federal court approves the bill, the state will have 30 days to pay the special master team, which includes the Special Master Richard Allen, cartographer David Ely and their legal counsel. Alabama Reflector reports Allen’s services totaled about $90,000. Ely’s could cost the state $105,600. The remaining $317,000 is the cost of the team’s legal representation.
Starting January 1, full-time hourly workers in Alabama will pay no state income tax on overtime pay. That’s defined as pay for work in excess of 40 hours in a week. The new law is the result of a bill sponsored by Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville. This would create a 5% raise on pay for work over 40 hours a week for full-time hourly employees, because that’s the rate of the state income tax. AL.com reports Daniels originated the idea, which won support from the Republican majority and passed without a dissenting vote in June. It was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill in June and signed it ceremonially during a news conference this week.
A new fire station and a police substation are coming to Town Madison. City leaders say these additions are going to improve how quickly first responders can help you and they just might lower your insurance rates. Madison Mayor Paul Finley tells WAFF TV the city is quickly growing and needs more police officers and firefighters and plenty of space for them to work. Plans call for turning an office building into a public safety annex that will house a large police substation and a new fire station. City leaders say the project will take about a year and a half to complete.
Huntsville’s new city hall, scheduled to open next year, now has a name. It’s not named for a former mayor, as one council member said he wanted. Councilman Bill Kling told AL.com last month that he wanted the eight-floor building overlooking the downtown square to be named for Steve Hettinger, who served two terms as mayor from 1988-1996. During Thursday night’s city council meeting, Councilwoman Jennie Robinson noted that none of the city halls in Alabama’s 10 largest cities are named for someone. In a 3-2 vote, the council decided that the name for the new city hall is “Huntsville City Hall.”
On Nov. 14, the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Committee invite the public to attend a showcase event at the Huntsville Public Safety Training Academy to learn more about how officers are trained. In a news release HPCAC Chair Jonathan Rossow says they want to take residents behind the scenes to learn about new and innovative ways our police officers are trained and educated. He says for those who want to understand why police do what they do and the challenges facing law enforcement, this is an excellent opportunity to go straight to the source. The HPCAC showcase event is Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 5:30-7 p.m., at the Public Safety Training Academy, 5365 Triana Blvd., Huntsville.
Galaxy of Lights at Huntsville Botanical Garden has been nominated as one of the best botanical garden holiday light shows in the nation. The contest is presented by the 2023 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. You can vote once a day for the run of the contest, through November 29 at 10best.usatoday.com.