The Birmingham Baron posted a 5-1 victory over the playoff bound Chattanooga Lookouts, but the win is bittersweet for some fans who don’t want the team to move from Regions Park in Hoover to a new stadium in downtown Birmingham. Last night was the Baron’s last game at Regions. They’ll open next year at a new stadium – called Regions Field – adjacent to Railroad Park, just a couple of blocks from UAB. Birmingham-Southern College Athletics Director Joe Dean Jr. tells the Birmingham News he thinks the new Regions Field could be a boost for the metropolitan area, driving downtown development and giving Birmingham a new look and feel. But many Facebook users (scroll down for two separate posts) have taken to the social network to complain about the move, saying they won’t feel safe bringing their families downtown for ball games. City advocates say crime statistics show downtown Birmingham is actually safer than any of the over-the-mountain communities. You can check out the crime stats yourself.
The nation’s oil and gas hub along the Gulf Coast is slowly coming back to life in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. At the height of the storm 1.3 million barrels per day of oil production was suspended. The government now says 800,000 barrels per day remain offline. That’s a little more than half of Gulf of Mexico production. One refinery in the path of Isaac has returned to full operation, nine are restarting or operating at reduced rates, and one is still shut down because it’s still without power. The national average price of gasoline rose 11 cents last week.
It may be just the third week of school, but some public school administrators are already looking ahead to next year. They’re preparing for a new state law that requires schools to replace textbooks with a laptop, tablet or other wireless device for each student so they can access digital textbooks. Schools can opt out of the plan, but Senator Gerald Dial – who co-sponsored the proposal – tells the Anniston Star he expects 80 percent of Alabama’s schools will join the program in the first year. Some schools are already head of the curve. Schools in the northeast Alabama city of Piedmont began equipping 4th through 12th graders with Apple laptops two years ago. Last year, they gave iPad tablets to 1st through 3rd graders. Dial says switching from printed books to e-books saves the state money.
The American Civil Liberties Union is criticizing a new policy that requires visitors to Alabama’s prisons to have their fingerprints scanned. David Fathi of the ACLU’s National Prison Project tells the Montgomery Advertiser the new rule is “extreme”. Fathi says no other state has such a requirement. He says it’s a barrier to people visiting state prisoners. Prison spokesman Brian Corbett says the policy began last month as the department upgraded its computer systems. He says scanning the fingerprints of prison visitors allows officers to verify that people really are who they claim to be. Prison officials also require visitors to present identification cards, but they say that method isn’t foolproof.
A Los Angeles film company is looking for extras for a movie it’s shooting in Birmingham. The movie is called “Grace Unplugged.” It’s about an 18-year-old girl who runs away from home to become a pop star in Hollywood. The filmmakers say at five tonight – they need about 2,000 extras for a scene that’s being shot at the Alabama Theater in downtown Birmingham. The film feature Christian musician Chris Tomlin and actor Kevin Pollak from the Usual Suspects and the Drew Carey Show.