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Top News Links: Thursday, April 16

Budget bind may close Cheaha, other parks

Fifteen Alabama state parks are on a list of parks to close if Alabama can't resolve its budget crisis, WHNT News 19 reports.  The list of potential closures includes Guntersville and Joe Wheeler, two of the jewels of the system in north Alabama; Cheaha, home to the state's tallest mountain; and Lake Lurleen near Tuscaloosa. – AL.com

Blogger ordered to pay $3.5M by judge

A Shelby County man has been ordered to pay $3.5 million in a defamation lawsuit after his blog accused Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange of having an extra-marital affair. Robert Shuler spent five months in jail before he also agreed to remove stories from his website Legal Schnauzer about the son of the former governor in addition to stories concerning Strange, according to AL.com. – BizJournals.com

Bentley joins other governors to support Ex-Im

Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL) this week joined a majority of Governors across the country in sending a letter to Congress in support of the Export-Import bank. The Ex-Im bank, which requires Congressional reauthorization, will expire unless it is renewed by June 30th. – Yellowhammer

Moore: Judicial branch can’t handle cuts

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says the state's judicial branch can't properly function if cuts proposed for state agencies go into effect. Moore told lawmakers at a budget hearing in the Alabama House on Wednesday that cuts to courts' funding could result in closings and layoffs. Moore says no other Alabama state agencies have lost as much as the courts have. – WAFF

New KBRA ratings for ServisFirst

ServisFirst Bank has earned investment-grade ratings by the Kroll Bond Rating Agency. KBRA assigned a senior unsecured debt rating of BBB+, a subordinated debt rating of BBB, a short-term rating of K2 and outlook as stable. ServisFirst Bank was assigned a senior deposit rating of A-, a short-term rating of K2 and outlook as stable. – News release

Did Banksy make a stop in Montgomery?

A depiction of Martin Luther King Jr. recently painted on the side of an abandoned downtown Montgomery building has some thinking the city may have been visited by world-famous graffiti artist Banksy. Several local art enthusiasts believe the internationally known British artist came to town the night of March 24 and put his mark on the rough brick facade of 30 Perry St. at South Perry Street and Washington Avenue. – Montgomery Advertiser

Alabama nursing homes keep residents happier

The Alabama Nursing Home Association and its member facilities are keeping their residents and families satisfied and engaged at a rate that continues to exceed the national average, according to a recently released 2014 data analysis report by National Research Corporation using data from My InnerView performance measurement products. – Money/CNN

Lawson State students to work with EPA

Students at Lawson State Community College will have an opportunity to serve as 'environmental ambassadors' and receive internship opportunities through a new partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. A memorandum of understanding was signed this week between Lawson State President Perry Ward and EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. – AL.com

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