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Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 4/19/2024

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 Alabama House of Representatives passed a package of bills this week designed to increase workforce participation in the state. The “Working for Alabama” set of bills has the backing of Gov. Kay Ivey as well as leaders in both chambers and broad bipartisan support. The Alabama Reporter says the bills range from education programs to new tax credits for housing and childcare. It would allow up to $25,000 in tax credits for childcare facilities and create tax credits in incentivize developers to create more affordable housing in the state.

Alabama ranks 45th in the nation for child well-being. That’s according to a new report from the child advocacy group VOICES for Alabama’s Children. The only states that fall below Alabama are Oklahoma, Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico. VOICES, funded by the Anne E. Casey Foundation, releases the Alabama Kids Count Data Book annually to help policymakers and researchers understand how children are growing up in the state and identify areas in need of improvement. The Montgomery Advertiser notes that in 2023, about 22.3 percent of the state’s children were living in poverty. The Data Book classifies nearly half of those children as being in “extreme poverty.”

The National Institute for Early Education Research released its annual State of Preschool report this week. It tracks preschool enrollment, funding, and quality across states. Alabama is one of only five states in the country to meet 10 of 10 research-based quality standards benchmarks for minimum quality for pre-kindergarten programs. However, the Alabama Political Reporter notes the report finds the state ranks 15th the nation for preschool enrollment for four-year-olds and serves no three-year-olds. Alabama enrolled 39 percent of 4-year-olds, an increase of 1,449 from the prior year.

The Huntsville Hospital Health System will close the Medical Mall Wellness Center on July 1. Hospital President Tracy Doughty tells WHNT TV that the hospital will repurpose the space in the Med Mall Wellness Center for clinical use, Existing members will be able to use the other two facilities in Jones Valley and Madison.

Arts Huntsville needs over 1000 volunteers for the 2024 Panoply Arts Festival, April 26 - 28. Shifts vary in length and are available in every area of the park, from art and STEAM interactives to gateway greeters, face painting and more. The minimum age to volunteer is 14 years old with an adult present. Volunteers 16 and 17 years of age may volunteer with permission from a parent or guardian. Individuals can sign up to volunteer at artshuntsville.org. Groups interested in volunteering together can email Ashley Hudson at ahudson@artshuntsville.org.

Huntsville’s new music festival is set for September 28 and 29 at John Hunt Park. The festival, to be called South Star will be produced by C3 Presents, the company behind mega festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. AL.com reports the performer lineup and ticket prices have yet to be revealed. There is a website though – that’s www.southstarfestival.com.