Suspect who shot MPD officer linked to explosives, ‘extremist views’

On Friday, April 1, shortly before 3 a.m. Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team (MCSENT), conducted an operation in the 9100 block of Grand Bay Wilmer Road for the selling of illegal weapons, trafficking crystal meth, and illegal possession of explosive devices. During the course of the operation the suspect, 32-year-old Ryan Burkhardt, attempted to elude officers on a motorcycle. As officers were taking Burkhardt into custody, he armed himself with a concealed handgun and fired it multiple times striking an officer twice. The officer was transported to a local hospital and is listed in stable condition. (more…) Continue Reading →

$2.5 million plan introduced to convert middle schools, add staff

Last week the Mobile County school board approved significant changes for three of the 12 schools in the district identified as “failing” by the state earlier this year. The 3-1 vote affirmed a $2.5 million school improvement plan for 16 facilities, which includes the conversion of Denton Middle School into the district’s seventh magnet program and the complete reconstitution of Scarborough Middle School. Under the Alabama Accountability Act a “failing school” is one listed in the lowest sixth percentile of standardized reading and math scores in the previous year. Based on statewide assessments, 12 MCPSS schools were designated “failing” in 2015, but four additional schools “in danger” of failing were also included in the school improvement plan. ACT testing began this week, but Superintendent Martha Peek said MCPSS has been working to improve last year’s results since August. Continue Reading →

Opponents complain tank ordinance ‘compromise’ done behind closed doors

After years of delays and weeks’ worth of debate, opponents of Mobile’s freshly amended petroleum storage tank ordinance say the most significant changes happened behind closed doors. The Mobile City Council approved the new ordinance last week. It requires tanks within a designated portion of the west side of the Mobile River to be at least 1,500 feet from the nearest residential zone, school or church whether inhabited or not. The ordinance also tweaks the city’s notification protocol for residents affected by a new tank application, but also contains a “grandfather” clause loosening some of the restrictions on established tank operators, or on land that has already had proper planning approval. Councilwoman Bess Rich was the lone dissenter on the so-called compromise ordinance, which she said was too far removed from the version approved earlier by the Mobile Planning Commission. Continue Reading →

BOE candidates ready for runoff

Incumbent Matthew Brown is one of two candidates vying for a position on Alabama's State School Board.

As one of only two total elections in a seven-county area, the April 12 runoff between former Principal Jackie Zeigler and gubernatorial appointee Matthew Brown for the District 1 seat on Alabama’s State Board of Education isn’t expected to generate a large turnout. Even though Zeigler ended the March 1 primary with a 10,000-vote advantage over Brown, it wasn’t enough to avoid a runoff, expected to cost around $500,000. (more…) Continue Reading →

Environmental concerns on Fly Creek residents’ minds

Fairhope resident Chip Shaw has personally seen the impact of development on the portion of Fly Creek flowing behind his home on Sea Cliff Drive. Shaw said the level of sand and debris in the creek has increased dramatically due to erosion caused by the development of the Shoppes at Fairhope Village — anchored by Publix — in 2008. According to Shaw, when he first moved into the home in 2002, the creek bordering his property measured approximately 7 feet deep. After a few years, its depth was reduced to 5 or 6 feet because of erosion after hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, but when a retention pond failed at the Publix construction site, Shaw said an additional 4 feet of sediment was dumped into the creek. In 2009, the city of Fairhope and the shopping center’s developers were sued by residents who complained stormwater runoff from the construction site eroded the creek’s banks and filled it with sediment. Continue Reading →