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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 2/2/2024

Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley
Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley

Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.

The United States Postal Inspection Service is investigating break-ins at collection boxes in Huntsville and Madison. USPIS, which is the law enforcement and security arm of the postal service, says it is working with Huntsville and Madison Police Departments to investigate incidents. In a statement to WHNT TV, the Postal Inspection Service said that it uses a ‘multi-layered approach’ to combat mail theft and robberies. It also relies on reports by customers to alert them when mail theft has occurred and identify items taken. If you are a victim of mail theft, USPIS encourages you to report it to local police and call their hotline at 877-876-2455 or visit its website, www.uspis.gov/report. If you are a witness to mail theft or have knowledge of mail theft-related activity, you’re also asked to contact USPIS using the same hotline number or web link.

Alabama’s legislative session starts next week, and one lawmaker plans to file a bill to crack down on child pornography created by artificial intelligence. Rep. Matt Woods, R-Jasper, says the rise of AI brings a new challenge of protecting children from their images being used in sexually explicit ways. The new bill, which is yet to be filed, is called the Alabama Child Protection Act. WHNT TV reports the bill seeks to raises the age of children protected under the state’s child pornography laws from 16 to 17. It also allows victims to get up to $25,000 per image for civil penalties. It would also make fully computer-generated child pornography illegal.

Birmingham-based Regions Bank is cutting 600 jobs after reviewing “overall economic factors.” AL.com reports the layoffs represent about 3 percent of Regions’ 20,000-member workforce. Regions says about 70 percent of the job cuts impact positions outside the Birmingham metropolitan area. Most of the cuts come from the bank’s mortgage division. Regions cited the current higher-rate mortgage environment for a decrease in homeowners trying to refinance their mortgages and prospective homeowners seeking loans.

Limestone County is one of Alabama’s fastest-growing counties and the school district is taking steps to keep up with the population growth. Limestone County school leaders plan to redraw district lines to accommodate new students. Limestone County Schools Superintendent Randy Shearhouse tells WAFF TV some schools are overcrowded while other schools have empty seats. The School Board will vote on the redistricting the schools in March.

Decatur City Schools leaders say they plan to open a third high school. WAFF TV reports the current plan is to turn the Career Academies Building into a new high school that will cater to students focused on trade programs. Currently, students who attend Career Academies of Decatur split their time between the trade school and either Decatur High or Austin High. But turning the career academies into a high school would allow them to stay on campus all week.

Researchers at The University of Alabama in Huntsville have designed a wearable biosensor that offers a new way to measure human muscle activation to potentially prevent injuries and enhance athletic performance. The breakthrough design is built around a new type of triboelectric nanogenerator, a device that converts mechanical or thermal energy into electricity for use in wearable electronics, that will cost less to manufacture than traditional nanotechnology. A news release from UAH says the new sensor employs adhesive materials to harvest power by transferring an electric charge between two objects when they contact or slide against one another.

The Alabama Department of Transportation has started nighttime single-lane closures for a rehabilitation project on the Interstate 65 Tennessee River Bridges. With some exceptions, ALDOT is restricting lane closures to nights to minimize impacts to traffic during the project. A news release from the department says the majority of the project will not involve travel lane closures, though lane closures will be necessary for initial work items. The project is anticipated to take about 2½ years and includes cleaning, painting, and repairing concrete and structural steel on the 50-year-old bridges.