State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) will air his first TV ad in his campaign for governor next week. An advance look at the commercial, which focuses on term limits, a flat tax and cutting spending, can be seen here:
Alabama governor: Significant damage in areas
The governor of Alabama says there has been significant damage in parts of Alabama.
Gov. Kay Ivey said state resources were being sent to the affected areas, especially Jacksonville and Calhoun County, in her statement Monday night.
She added, “Our first priority is ensuring our people are safe. Please stay out of affected areas and let first responders do their job.”
Alabama Power Co. is reporting about 15,000 homes and businesses without electricity in areas including Calhoun and Etowah counties.
Significant damage has been reported at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.
Athletic director Greg Seitz said in a tweet Monday evening, “I can confirm we have major roof damage at Pete Mathews Coliseum, but The Pete is not completely destroyed.” He said there was extensive damage in Jacksonville.
The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted earlier that there was possibly a large tornado near Jacksonville and Calhoun County that was moving east into northern Cleburne County.
Severe storms have damaged buildings and downed trees in a northern Alabama county.
The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office posted photos on Twitter of houses without roofs and destroyed garages in Ardmore, Alabama, on Monday evening. But it had no reports of injuries from the storms.
The office also tweeted that downed trees and power lines were blocking roads in the county along the Tennessee border.
The National Weather Service in Huntsville, Alabama, issued a severe weather statement at 6:41 p.m. that a confirmed tornado was over Ardmore and moving east.
The University of Alabama planned to suspend normal operations Monday evening because of a severe weather threat.
The school said in a news release that operations would be suspended from 6:30 p.m. until midnight. That means classes and campus activities scheduled during that window are canceled.
University libraries were set to close at 6:30 p.m. and some dining halls were set to close early.
Campus shelters were open to students, faculty and staff at North Campus Storm Shelter, East Campus Storm Shelter and the Magnolia Parking Deck. The Magnolia Parking Deck accepts pets accompanied by their owners.
The university plans to provide updates on Twitter at @UA_Safety.
(Image: Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)
Severe storms spawn tornadoes, damage homes in Southeast US
Severe storms that spawned tornadoes damaged homes and downed trees as they moved across the Southeast on Monday night.
Forecasters warned that the storms could threaten more than 29 million people, raising the risk of powerful tornadoes, damaging winds and hail the size of tennis balls.
Cities in northern Alabama reported power outages, and the National Weather Service in Huntsville reported at least three confirmed tornadoes in the area.
In Limestone County, an Alabama county on the Tennessee border, the sheriff’s office posted photos online of houses with roofs ripped off and outbuildings torn from their foundations. Several roads were closed because of power lines or trees, the office tweeted. But it had no reports of injuries from the storms.
The athletic director at Jacksonville State University said late Monday there was significant damage to the campus.
“I can confirm we have major roof damage at Pete Mathews Coliseum, but The Pete is not completely destroyed,” Greg Seitz said in a tweet.
Seitz later tweeted that they were still surveying the campus but that there was major roof damage to two halls, adding that his was thankful that JSU was on spring break this week and that most students are out of town.
Portions of northern Alabama and southern Tennessee were still under tornado warnings Monday night, and the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for much of northern Georgia as the line moved eastward.
Forecasters said the storm threat is unusually dangerous because of the possibility of several tornadoes, some of which could be intense. The weather service says hail as large as 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter could fall, and there’s a possibility of wind gusts to 70 mph (115 kph).
“The potential for strong to violent, long-track tornadoes is a real possibility,” Alabama state meteorologist Jim Stefkovic said at a news conference.
Alabama Emergency Management Executive Operations Officer Jeff Smitherman raised the threat level and increased staffing at Alabama’s emergency management agency. The storms are the first severe weather to threaten the state this year.
School systems from central Tennessee as far south as Birmingham, Alabama, let out early, hoping students and staff would have time to get home before the storms moved through.
The threatened storms come one day before the official start of spring, and are “by far the most impressive setup we’ve seen so far this year,” said Kurt Weber, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Huntsville, Alabama.
“We can’t rule out a strong tornado east of Interstate 65 at this point with all the ingredients coming together,” Weber added. “Hopefully not, but definitely a possibility.”
He said golf ball to tennis ball-sized hail, which can do serious damage to buildings and cars, was possible.
“This is one of those days you want to put the car in the garage if you can,” Weber said.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey urged Alabamians to implement safety plans and get in a safe location.
“We are not taking the situation lightly,” Ivey said. “Severe weather is unpredictable and that is why it is paramount we prepare ahead of time.”
The University of Alabama suspended operations Monday from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, meaning classes and campus activities were cancelled, libraries closed and shelters were opened on campus.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)
‘Spanking’ without consequences — University of Alabama sticks with leftist Anniston Star amid sexual harassment scandal
(Opinion) Last week, The Tuscaloosa News’ Drew Taylor reported the University of Alabama would continue its community journalism program at The Anniston Star, a newspaper in the public eye for sexual misconduct allegations committed by its longtime editor H. Brandt Ayers in the 1970s.
Monica Watts, the associate vice president for communications at the University of Alabama, verified The Tuscaloosa News’ reporting and told Yellowhammer News that this “excellent training program” would continue.
“The University considers the safety and security of its students as its highest priority,” Watts said in a statement offered to Yellowhammer News late Wednesday. “UA students have worked with the Anniston Star in the community journalism program since 2006, and absent additional information, this excellent training program will continue. Until the recent reports, the University was unaware of the allegations about Mr. Ayers from the 1970s. Mr. Ayers has not directly supervised UA community journalism students and, to our knowledge, has not played an active role in the newsroom training of our students during the program’s existence. Newsroom managers and UA faculty members directly supervise UA students.”
Far be it from me to question what a college student might learn from The Anniston Star’s newsroom. How to be hostile toward Republican politicians or working toward making Calhoun County a socialist utopia immediately come to mind.
However, how is it possible the University of Alabama in good conscience can continue its relationship with The Anniston Star?
Indeed, in this era of the political left (which includes the media and academia) being drunk on virtue, such behavior cannot go unanswered without some consequence.
Unlike, failed Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore, who faced allegations with nearly the same amount time elapsed as Ayers, Ayers admitted to the wrongdoing.
But then again, unlike Moore, The Anniston Star’s editorial board holds a lot of opinions with which those that run the University of Alabama probably agree.
A quick glance of the University of Alabama’s website shows a policy with an emphasis on raising “awareness” about sexual assault. Numerous op-eds and staff editorials have appeared in The Crimson White, the university’s student newspaper, over the past year decrying sexual assault and touting the #MeToo campaign.
The University of Alabama severing ties with The Anniston Star to make a statement and “raise awareness” seems like a no-brainer at this point.
The brain trust that runs the Capstone offers the rationale that since Ayers wasn’t in contact with the students in the community journalism program, there’s no reason to discontinue this relationship.
Here’s the dirty little secret: The University of Alabama has a long-standing relationship with Ayers. In 2002, the University awarded Ayers what was reported to be its highest honor — The Henry and Julia Tutwiler Distinguished Service Award. He was also the featured speaker that year at the University’s winter commencement ceremony.
Yes, Ayers graduated with a degree from Alabama in 1959. But otherwise, why would he be considered for such an honor? Was it the grand overtures about the merits of communism in the former Soviet Union? Perhaps it was his stalwart defense of Bill Clinton against a scandal-driven media years earlier.
The likely answer was that Ayers at the time was a player in Alabama Democratic Party politics. He and Alabama Education Association head Paul Hubbert, a Democratic Party candidate for governor, were allies. And he was in their view justly rewarded with this honor from high academia and built a relationship that continues through today.
The Anniston Star shouldn’t cease publication because of its previous editor’s behavior.
However, it should not be rewarded with having the prestige of the University of Alabama’s seal of approval. It’s not as if there are dozens of other newspapers spread throughout the state of Alabama it could partner with for this allegedly valuable education program.
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.
Kirby Smart supposedly took a picture that might put a damper on his friendship with Nick Saban
The national championship matchup has a lot of people speculating about the publicly cordial relationship between Nick Saban and his former Tide coaching colleague Kirby Smart, and a recent story by Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News adds, let’s just say, some drama to the mix.
“The Tuscaloosa News learned that on his way out the door, Smart took a picture of Alabama’s recruiting board, which hangs in the inner sanctum of the Alabama football building, and showed it to recruits who weren’t necessarily at the top of that board,” Suttles wrote.
Why this matters: Recruiting in college football is as competitive as the games themselves. It’s so big, in fact, that it elicits publications and pundits to rank coaches in terms of how well they do it. If Smart actually took that picture, he not only disrespected his friend in Coach Saban and the entire Alabama team – he committed football treason.
Left-wing activists call on Nick Saban to speak out against Trump’s NFL anthem protest criticisms, decline White House invite
In a press release issued Thursday, the liberal activist group CREDO Action boasted about a petition it claims that more than 72,000 people have signed calling on University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban to speak out against President Donald Trump.
The petition encourages Saban to “disavow” Trump’s criticism of the National Anthem protests by NFL players and to pledge to decline an invite to the White House should Alabama emerge victorious in Monday’s college football national championship game against the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
“Take a stand against Donald Trump’s racism. Disavow his hateful critique of NFL protesters who are speaking out against systemic racism and police brutality. Affirm your players’ right to protest and pledge not to take your team to the White House if you win the national championship.”
CREDO Action is the advocacy arm of CREDO, a self-proclaimed “social change organization” and offers fundraising methods for other liberal groups.
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.
That time Nick Saban chewed me out at a press conference
Looks like I have a new and improved excuse to stand firm as the only non-Crimson Tide fan in my family:
Nick Saban is my trigger.
I’ve been having some strange reactions to sports news lately but I couldn’t think why …
— First, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced that SEC Media Days will no longer be held exclusively at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover.
Thinking about SEC Media Days made my eyes start to twitch.
My hands began to shake.
— Next, Saban’s defensive coordinator signed on as head football coach for the Volunteers.
SEC Media Days … Phillip Fulmer… Nick Saban … Tennessee … Alabama …
Something about it all made me break out in hives.
And then the memory came back, washing over me in one big wave.
Remember back in the early 2000s when Coach Fulmer was Tennessee’s head coach and he secretly told the SEC and NCAA about a University of Alabama booster who cheated to recruit players? All that led to an NCAA investigation, the booster’s conviction and probation for the Crimson Tide.
I was a news and sports intern at Birmingham’s WBRC in 2003 when Coach Fulmer was one controversial guy in Alabama.
I can’t remember the exact details (and calls and emails to WBRC did not receive a response), but someone in the sports department sent me — unsuspecting, no-clue-me — into SEC Media Days with one question for all the football coaches, along the lines of: “What do you think of what Coach Fulmer did by telling on Alabama?”
Can you even imagine how then-LSU Coach Saban reacted when he realized I was asking him to gossip?
Oh. My. Word.
Whatever he said sent me into a terrified stupor.
In my mind’s eye, he went from looking something like this:
To something like this but worse:
So, that’s right: If people can claim that Donald Trump and spiders are legitimate triggers, then I’m claiming Nick Saban as my trigger and that’s why I can’t cheer for Alabama to get to the National Championship (okay, okay I do respect the guy and won’t cry if they win).
Maybe a Saban chewing is a rite of passage? This AL.com YouTube video from Josh Snead says it all (I feel ya, Josh):
Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammernews.com.
(Are you scared of Coach Saban? What would you ask him at a press conference?)
University of Alabama student dresses as Christmas tree for class, goes viral
Forgive Kelsey Hall if she isn’t smiling for pictures – sometimes, celebrities get burned out.
Hall, a University of Alabama sophomore majoring in chemistry, has a festive lineup of Christmas-themed clothes. But, thanks to an unexpected gift from her mother and a not-so-serious tweet, Hall has worn a Christmas tree costume across campus this week.
On Dec. 2, Hall tweeted a picture of herself wearing the costume with the message, “1,000 retweets and I’ll wear this to all my classes for the rest of the semester.”
The tweet has since been retweeted nearly 19,000 times, and students have shared dozens of pictures and videos of Hall on social media. Hall has since been interviewed by state and national media outlets.
“I’m sure a lot of people on campus have wondered, ‘Why is she dressed like a Christmas tree?’” Hall said. “I never thought it would take off like this.”
University of Alabama: Why did your mother send you a Christmas tree costume?
Kelsey Hall: There’s a video on the Internet of a guy wearing this costume and dancing to Drake’s “Jumpman.” I love dressing up, and I love Drake, and it reminded her of me. So, she bought it for me to recreate the video.
UA: So, do you plan to shoot the Drake dance video? And how optimistic, given how the first tweet and photo went viral, are you that he’ll see it and respond to it?
Hall: I’d pass out if that happened. That’s the goal – meet Drake. I still have to learn the dance, though.
UA: Is the tree costume comfortable?
Hall: It’s not very comfortable. The face-hole falls down a lot, and I have to keep readjusting it, especially with my backpack on. It’s very hot, and it’s getting a lot of water in it. But it’s light and airy.
UA: Why so serious in all of the social media pictures?
Hall: In the first picture, I just looked dead inside, and I’ve been trying to keep the same face to keep it going. But I hope people are laughing and having fun with it.
UA: Any regrets about the initial tweet?
Hall: I’m glad I didn’t post it the day I got it; there were still three weeks of class left. But yeah, there’s a little regret. It’s overwhelming with people contacting me and asking me for interviews when I have to study for finals. But as long as people are loving it and laughing at it, it’s fine.
UA: Have you thought about adding flair to it? It has some bulbs, but no personalized ornaments or lights.
Hall: I’ve thought about, as the days go on, adding some stuff so I don’t get completely bored of it and people start wondering, “Why is she still doing this?” It was a little hard today because it was raining. I’m thinking about it, though.
UA: How festive is your family during Christmas? Is this the wackiest of your Christmas activities?
Hall: We usually do the normal Christmas things. We exchange gifts, bake cookies, go look at lights – but nothing too crazy. But anyone who knows me knows I would do something like this.
UA: How tough is it balancing instant celebrity and classwork, especially at the end of the semester?
Hall: I’ve been sleeping a lot, so that hasn’t been affected. But I’ve had to turn off notifications so I can focus on work. I try to respond to people asking for interviews, but it’s kind of hard to balance with tests coming up. I haven’t had time to study, and I’m a little stressed about that.
UA: Do you plan to retire the costume after this week, or are you open to passing it down to another student?
Hall: I’ve thought about bringing it back next year. If anyone wants to join me and get a costume, I’d very much appreciate it. I’ve been getting a lot of weird looks being the only person dressed like this. And if someone wants to take over, I’d definitely pass it on.
UA: Please, tell me your favorite Christmas song is “O Christmas Tree”!
Hall: (laughs) It’s not. My favorite is “Baby Please Come Home for Christmas.” I like Michael Buble’s version.
UA: What do you want for Christmas?
Hall: Not sure yet. I’ve been thinking about school.
This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.
Alabama universities provide new business incubators to launch young entrepreneurs
Alabama universities are providing new launch pads for entrepreneurs and their innovative business ideas across the state.
Several new incubators have opened or are in the works, and all of the projects have the potential to help spin out new jobs and investment for local communities.
At the University of Alabama, the Technology Villages program has kicked off with two partner cities – Cullman and Fairhope – and the goal of creating entrepreneurial hubs that will fuel tech business growth.
The program is a “unique bend on economic development” that will be especially useful in small and rural communities that don’t have a lot of money to spend on business recruiting efforts, said Dr. Rick Swatloski, director of UA’s Office for Technology Transfer.
“Successful communities are required to continue to aggressively recruit new companies, but also diversify to support vital new small company growth that represents over half of new jobs created in the United States today,” he said. “We look forward to communities, private companies, federal agencies, individuals and Alabama corporations joining the University in this critical job creation mission.”
The Technology Villages program assists communities in building and operating storefront technology-focused incubators. In Cullman, the city has renovated a 2,200-square-foot space for its Village in the downtown business district, and in Fairhope, BBVA Compass has pledged space for the Village, also downtown.
The goal of the centers is not to be traditional incubators; rather, they will function as start-up resource hubs for distance learning and consultant support. The university also will provide business development services, including help with research, patents and contract manufacturing strategy.
“Both communities have secured initial funding for the program, and identified the location,” Swatloski said. “The next critical step for both will be the hiring of a director to oversee the day-to-day operations. Additionally, the communities are continuing to identify additional key partnerships to help ensure the sustained success of the program.”
Technology Villages is based on a five-year pilot program conducted by Clemson University in five South Carolina cities. In the first 18 months of that initiative, programs in Bluffton and Rock Hill created more than a dozen companies and nearly 70 new jobs.
TIGER CAGE ACCELERATOR
Meanwhile, Auburn University recently opened the Tiger Cage Accelerator and Incubator, a 2,700-square-foot space at the Auburn Research Park that provides student-led startups with office and meeting space, along with access to mentors.The facility is a collaborative effort between the Harbert College of Business’ Lowder Center for Family Business and Entrepreneurship and the Auburn University Research and Technology Foundation.
Harrison Evola is a recent Auburn graduate and founder of FetchMe, a concierge delivery service that has experienced significant growth over the past year.
Evola has been using the incubator space for his business operations, and he has also participated in Auburn’s Tiger Cage student business pitch competition.
“The Tiger Cage center is so helpful,” he said. “I have a place to meet with employees, keep my work stuff, work 24/7 and I’m surrounded by other kids who have ambition like me as well.”
The idea for FetchMe was born when Evola was a teenager working for Papa John’s Pizza, where he did everything from making and delivering pizzas to washing dishes and helping customers.
“I liked interacting with people, and I thought it would be cool to own my own business. I took that thought and applied it to FetchMe,” he said.
The startup, which delivers restaurant food, groceries, snacks, coffee and more, made its first delivery a year ago. Today, the firm does 1,500 orders per month and has partnered with more than 25 restaurants in the Auburn area, with plans to expand further. A complete list of partners and services can be found at FetchMeDelivery.com.
INVENTION TO INNOVATION
At the University of Alabama in Huntsville, construction is underway on the D.S. Davidson Invention to Innovation Center (I²C), which will serve as an incubator for entrepreneurs and new business development in the region.
The three-story, 46,650-square-foot building is expected to be complete by early 2019, and it features easy access to UAH’s College of Business, as well as the university’s library, engineering, and science and technology facilities.The facility’s mission is three-fold: stimulating growth of new and existing science and engineering high-tech companies; catalyzing formation of a resilient entrepreneurial ecosystem in the northern Alabama and south central Tennessee regions; and building partnerships with various entrepreneurial ecosystems and hubs to create pathways that empower, ignite, and motivate the community to make ideas happen.
“I²C facility and programs will support entrepreneurs on building scalable, investable, high-growth, technology-focused businesses that will serve as catalysts for economic development and regional innovation,” said Rigved Joshi, who oversees strategy, programming, partnerships and daily operations at the center.
The incubator is named for Huntsville businesswoman and philanthropist Dorothy S. Davidson, who made a $5 million gift to UAH in support of the project. Other funding came from the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Innovation Fund, Madison County Commission, City of Huntsville, UAH Foundation and U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
Davidson, who is chief executive and board chairman of Huntsville’s Davidson Technologies Inc., said she knows how hard it is to start a business when you don’t have the support you need. Most people fail, she added, not because they don’t have the technological expertise but because they lack business skills.
In the new incubator, small business owners will benefit from the university’s expertise and the close proximity of peers at Cummings Research Park.
“They won’t necessarily compete with the businesses in Huntsville, but they will be coming out with innovative ideas to improve what’s already here with help from the university,” Davidson said. “That will make the incubator an open door to creating small businesses, giving those with innovative ideas a place to go, get set up, and develop more technology.”
(By Dawn Azok, courtesy of Made in Alabama)
Shooting victim Scalise to be Saban’s guest at tonight’s Bama-LSU game
It’s not often that the University of Alabama honors a rabid fan of the opposing team, especially when that fan wears purple and gold.
But the Crimson Tide are making an exception tonight for U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), whose recovery from a nearly fatal gunshot inspired his colleagues and much of the country. Scalise is an honored guest at tonight’s Alabama game against his beloved Louisiana State University Tigers. He is watching the game with Alabama’s congressional delegation.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban — who has won national championships at both schools — extended the invitation, said Clay Ryan, the vice chancellor for governmental affairs at the University of Alabama System.
“We hoped the invitation would demonstrate the mutual respect between our universities and recognize the importance of this rivalry,” Ryan said. “Coach Saban has regularly acknowledged the fond memories he and Miss Terry have of their time in Baton Rouge. This is a special game.”
Scalise drew widespread sympathy when a gunman targeting Republicans shot him and four others at a practice of the GOP’s congressional baseball team on June 14. A bullet from James Thomas Hodgkinson’s rifle traveled across his pelvis and fractured bones. He underwent multiple surgeries.
Scalise provoked a rare bout of bipartisanship on Sept. 28 when he returned to the House of Representatives for the first time.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said fellow Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) took the lead in helping to organize the event. He said Scalise is well-liked among his colleagues but that the hosts’ hospitality will only go so far.
“After we get through recognizing him for what he’s been through, I hope, as an Alabama graduate, we whip LSU’s tail,” he said.
And don’t count on sympathy for Scalise to extend to his favorite team among the Bryant-Denny Stadium faithful.
“We’ve had to be strategic about where we placed him in the stadium so as not to set off an uproar,” Ryan quipped.
Soccer Injury Leads to Tragic Death of University of Alabama Student
As reported by Fox News, University of Alabama student Allie Brodie has died after being struck in the head by a soccer ball three weeks ago.
The injury occurred October 7 while Allie was playing a friendly soccer game with friends. The blow triggered brain arteriovenous malformation, a condition she had been born with but had gone undetected. As her symptoms continued to deteriorate multiple emergency surgeries were performed. Doctors ultimately decided to place her into a medically conduced coma, and she never recovered.
In response to the untimely death of her daughter, her mother posted the following message on Facebook. “Allie passed away yesterday afternoon (October 28), but she will be in our hearts forever. She never came out of the coma, and couldn’t battle the complications from pneumonia. Heaven has gained a beautiful guardian angel, and we continue to seek peace in God’s plan for our sweet girl.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help support Allie’s family. If you would like to donate please click here.
University of Alabama Receives DOJ Grant to Combat Human Trafficking
According to a press release from the University of Alabama, the University’s School of Social Work has received a $1.35 million grant from the United States Department of Justice to help young Alabamians who are victims of human sex trafficking.
The Juvenile Victims of Human Trafficking in Alabama Project aims to develop the state’s ongoing relationship with treatment centers and law enforcement and develop a statewide screening and training program. The project will also design a database resource system, Safe immediately-Accessible Resources for Trafficked Youth, known as SMARTY, which will coordinate trauma-informed services to fully meet the needs of trafficked youth.
“There are a lot of people doing a lot of amazing work to target this problem in Alabama, but what this grant will do is really coordinate those efforts with a unified protocol for helping children who are victims,” said Dr. Javonda Williams, UA associate professor of social work and principal investigator of the grant. “This will unify those pockets of great services in the state, give us a common language, a common to-do list for support and help.”
The three-year project will assess needs and resources throughout the state, as UA researchers create training systems catered to each Alabama county. This will help local communities be better prepared to support victims of trafficking. Finally, the project will develop a statewide database of information and resources to help with the fight against human trafficking.
“We’re not going to produce another big book training where they go back to their part of the state and do not have the same resources and services of a larger county,” Williams said. “We’ll need to catch up with what traffickers are currently doing and fit that into both smaller and larger areas. We need to be as nimble as the perpetrators.”
According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been 300 trafficking cases in Alabama since 2007. The majority of these cases are related to sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, according to the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.
“Many have no idea how prevalent human trafficking is at every corner of the state,” said Sally Longshore, who serves on the Task Force.
The University of Alabama hopes that the grant will enable its faculty and researchers to understand better how human trafficking is affecting the state, to educate the public and lawmakers on ways to combat human trafficking and support the victims of such a horrible crime.
Universities In Alabama Help Prepare The Next Generation of Automotive Engineers
Everyone is aware of Alabama’s prominence on the gridiron, but few are aware of the strides Alabama universities are taking to ensure that students are prepared for automotive manufacturing in the 21 Century.
As reported by Alabama News Center, the University of Alabama is offering education and research opportunities that give automotive engineers the tools they need to continue to compete with an ever-evolving automotive market.
Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian is one of the leading engineering professors at Alabama, and he is helping drive the university’s state of the art program. A former vice president of group research and advanced engineering at Mercedes-Benz, Balasubramanian works in the Capstone’s Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies. He teaches students about electronics, energy storage and fuel cells, materials and manufacturing, and powertrains. “These are interesting research projects, and we have interaction between the industry and the professors here, who are also getting more insight into what really drives the automotive companies,” said Dr. Balasubramanian.
As the automotive industry increasingly develops electric motors, part of the university’s goal is to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge needed to fill the new market. “Since coming here, I’ve been preaching that we need more computer scientists and electrical engineers, as the industry is becoming more electrified,” said Dr. Balasubramanian.
Just last month, Mercedes announced their intent to invest $1 billion in electric vehicle production at their Tuscaloosa plant.
Other Alabama schools are also picking up on the new automotive trends. Auburn University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville are working together as part of the Southern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Center.
Reaching outside the state, Auburn and Huntsville are collaborating with Clemson University with the hopes of receiving an official designation as a National Science Foundation research center. If given the designation, companies will conduct research through member universities. Students will then be given the ability to work on real-world problems and increase their ability to find jobs once they leave.
Speaking to the relationship between auto manufacturers and universities, Auburn associate professor said, “There’s a need for industry to have a relationship for academic research, because they have limited resources to do their own. The industry doesn’t do that on its own anymore, to any great degree, so we are giving them access to what’s coming down the road and what they could be looking for in the future.”
Sen. Shelby Applauds University of Alabama in Huntsville’s $20 Million Science Grant.
Earlier today, Senator Richard Shelby reported that the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of Alabama in Huntsville $20 million over five years.
As part of the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, UAH seeks to develop technologies for applications ranging from aerospace and manufacturing to food safety, based on low-temperature plasmas. Through the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the grand will support fundamental research and education efforts.
Furthermore, the grant will allow UAH to better share resources with other Alabama institutions of higher learning. In turn, this will lead to greater technology development.
Touching on what the grant means for Alabama, Sen. Shelby said,
“This award serves as merited recognition of the great work that is ongoing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. UAH is a nationally recognized institution for its research efforts that benefit students, industry, and the community and will continue to do so in the years to come. Once again, Alabama has set itself apart as a leader in science research and higher education.”
Senator Shelby is known for his continued support of equipping students with the tools they need to succeed. He has helped raise money for numerous university projects across the state, and state of the art engineering buildings at the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama bear his name because of those efforts.
University of Alabama Honors First African-American Student
The University of Alabama honored a legend in Civil Rights history on Friday, as it unveiled the Autherine Lucy Foster Historic Marker. The ceremony held on the lawn of Graves Hall highlighted several keynote speakers, including UA President Stuart R. Bell and distinguished alumna Marian Accinno Loftin.
Bell stressed the impact of Foster’s legacy on the university and the entire state of Alabama. “Mrs. Foster’s initiative and courage opened the doors and created the opportunity for all races to attend the University. This historic marker will serve as a testament to her enduring impact on our campus and beyond.”
The idea for the marker came from several faculty members who petitioned the university to place the historic marker near the site where Foster was turned away by an angry mob in 1956. When told about the honor, Foster said, “I never imagined my decision to enroll would affect so many in so many ways. Today, I have several children who have attended the University and am, myself, a proud graduate and member of the alumni association. I am very humbled that the University has chosen to recognize me in this way.”
Foster’s resilient story began in 1952, when she received an English degree from Miles College. Foster then attempted to enroll in the University of Alabama, but was rejected because of her race. After a drawn-out legal battle, she was admitted by court order. On Friday, February 3, 1956, Foster became the first African-American in Alabama to attend a white public school or university. That day, she attended her first class as a graduate student in library science, but on Monday, as 3,000 people came to the university to protest, the board of trustees expelled Foster, citing concerns for her and other students’ safety.
Loftin remembered being in one of Foster’s literature classes on that fateful day.
“On Friday, February 3, Autherine’s first day in class, she crossed the Quad alone without notable incident. But on Monday a crowd gathered, and the disturbance accelerated. Chants became angry shouts. Our class was dismissed, and Autherine was ushered out of the building to safety.”
The university did not officially annul Foster’s expulsion until 1988. She then re-enrolled at the University with her daughter, Grazia, and earned a master’s of education in 1991.
The marker is now placed on a campus of increasing diversity. The University of Alabama’s multicultural campus includes more than 4,000 African-American students.
Alabama Native Named Third Runner Up In Miss America
Notwithstanding a field of 51 highly talented young women, Alabama born Briana Kinsey finished as the third runner up in last night’s Miss America Pageant.
A graduate of Hoover High School and the University of Alabama, Briana represented the District of Columbia, where she’s lived since graduating from UA in 2015.
Her story is not what most would expect, however. On the road to Miss America, Briana had to overcome bullying from her peers. Her height, at 5′-11″, was one of the things that made her most uncomfortable. When she was in the eighth grade, her mother decided that Miss America might be an effective way of instilling confidence in her daughter. Since 2008, and ten pageants later, Briana has won more than $60,000 in scholarships and developed the confidence necessary to excel in whatever career she chooses.
As a Top 15 member, Briana was giving the opportunity to answer two questions on the live TV, which she did with grace, poise, and confidence.
Now that the pageant is over, she plans to become a doctor, specializing in pediatric endocrinology so she can help children with endocrine disorders, including diabetes.
The winner of last night’s pageant was Miss North Dakota Cara Hund, and Miss Alabama Jessica Procter made the Top 7.
According to Miss America’s website, “The Miss America Organization, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, is the nation’s leading advocate for women’s education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States, awarding millions of dollars annually in cash awards and in-kind tuition waivers. MAO is comprised of 51 organizations, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”
Built By Bama: UA Golf Star Wins First Major Championship
Yesterday, during the final major championship of the year, former Alabama golf star Justin Thomas etched his name into golf history.
A native of Kentucky, Thomas has been around golf his entire life. His father is a PGA professional and played a central role in helping the young golf professional progress through the golfing ranks.
In 2012, Thomas accepted a golf scholarship from the University of Alabama, making it clear that he had the potential to compete at a high level. After two seasons and a national championship with the Crimson Tide, he turned pro.
Now, after three years and six wins on tour, Justin is a Major Champion.
He didn’t win the tournament in dramatic fashion like many watched Tiger Woods do over the years. Getting off to a slow start during the week, Thomas finished (+1) on the first day. After fighting his way back and getting into one of the final pairings on Sunday, he finished the tournament with an impressive round of golf. With a lot of skill and a little bit of luck, the young star sunk some impressive putts on the back nine to solidify his spot at number one on the leader board.
Along with bragging rights, Thomas is walking away with $1.89 million in prize winnings. Add that to the advertising deals he is likely to get, and there is no doubt that Christmas came early for Justin.
University of Alabama to Honor Purple Heart Recipients With Special Parking Privileges
According to a report from the University of Alabama News, the school’s two Purple Heart recipients will soon have premium parking privileges on campus. As most of our readers know, Purple Hearts are commendations given to those who’ve been wounded in combat, and the University is rewarding those recipients with special parking privileges.
Alabama law student Steven Arango is a second lieutenant in the Marines and is on reserve status while he attends law school in Tuscaloosa. The Clearwater, Florida native was commissioned in August of last year and is a president of the UA Military Law Society. The Military Law Society proposed the idea to Chris D’Esposito, director, UA Transportation Arango’s step-brother, Flynn Bluett, helped create the design for this parking space.
“My grandfather, who was a sniper in the Marine Corps, was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in the Marshall Islands during World War II,” Arango said. “This is something that’s been on my heart. I’ve seen similar parking spaces at Home Depot, and anytime we can do something on campus to honor our veterans, I’m all for it.”
On Aug. 9 at 11 a.m., the University of Alabama will unveil the new parking space in the Ferguson Center parking lot designated only for U.S. combat veterans who have received the Purple Heart. The designation of the UA site will be a Purple Heart logo, and a post in front of the space bearing the same mark.
The ceremony will be held in the Ferguson Center, west of the building on Campus Drive. Veterans affiliated with the University of Alabama will speak during the ceremony, including retired Air Force Colonel and Purple Heart recipient Duane Lamb. Col. Lamb is the assistant vice president for facilities and grounds and commander of Tuscaloosa’s Purple Heart chapter.
David Blair, director of that UA’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs said their organization is honored to be a part of this project.
“Honoring veterans in this way shows the commitment and dedication UA has for taking care of these students. This is just one more reason UA continues to be recognized as a Top Military and Veteran friendly university. Currently we serve just over 4,000 veterans, service members, and dependents. The financial impact these students have at UA and in the local community annually is well over $40 million.”
Currently, two registered Purple Heart recipients belong to the University of Alabama’s student body, which is designated as a Purple Heart University—a special designation given to universities that recognize veterans wounded in combat. UA’s Purple Heart recipients will register with Veteran and Military Affairs and receive a Purple Heart hang-tag for their vehicles that will allow them to use the specially-designated. The tag will also allow the honored veterans to park in any spot or zone on campus, except for handicapped spaces.
Nick Saban Has a Bold New Idea for How to Fix College Football
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Seemingly more than most sports, the format of College Football is under constant attack from coaches and commentators who think they can fix the perceived inequalities in the system. The advent of the College Football Playoff has alleviated many criticisms regarding the fairness of the game, but questions still remain regarding the equity of scheduling.
Nick Saban, the five-time national champion coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, has an idea to make college football more uniform. During his run through the ESPN Car Wash yesterday, Saban proposed eliminating non-power five opponents from power-five team schedules.
“We should play all teams in the Power 5 conferences,” Saban said on SportsCenter this Wednesday. “If we did that, then if we were going to have bowl games, we should do the bowl games just like we do in the NCAA basketball tournament — not by record but by some kind of power rating that gets you in a bowl game. If we did that, people would be a little less interested in maybe bowl games and more interested in expanding the playoff.”
Saban compared the current situation in college football to what goes on the NFL. In College football, Saban noted, there are few opportunities for apples-to-apples comparisons of teams in different conferences. In the NFL, teams play all of their games against each other, rather than playing a game or two against a CFL team.
According to Saban, a system absent of “cupcake” games would be better for everyone involved. “In this scenario, there would be more opportunity to play more teams in your league, as well as to have more games that people would be interested in,” he said. “We all play three or four games a year now that nobody’s really interested in. We’d have more good games, more public interest, more fan interest, better TV.”
Alabama starts its season against another college football juggernaut: Florida State. Every year since 2008, the Crimson Tide have opened up their season with a major non-conference opponent. Saban said that there is a method to the madness.
“I would rather play Florida State,” Saban told ESPN. “Not just Florida State but a good team in the beginning of the season because I think it does a lot for your team and your team’s chances of being successful. First of all, you have a better offseason when the players have a big challenge in the first game. It really tells you regardless of the result where your team is, legitimately.”
Alabama and Florida State face off in the season opener on September 2. The game will be aired on ABC at 7 p.m. CST. Tickets for the showdown have already sold out.
Bama’s Big Al Looks Fierce on Marvel’s New College Football Comic Cover
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For the second year in a row, Marvel Comics teamed up with ESPN to create an epic comic book cover to promote the start of the college football season. While last year’s covers hyped up major early-season match-ups, this year’s features the first three College Football Playoff National Champions, including the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tide are represented by their elephant mascot, Big Al. While usually quite adorable, this version of Big Al looks ready to dominate the gridiron.
— CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) July 20, 2017
Big Al is joined by the mascots of the two other schools to win the CFP Championship: Ohio State and Clemson. Alabama is the only team to qualify for all three playoff fields, winning one and losing to the other two eventual champions.
At SEC Media Days in Hoover last week, the Tide were picked to win their fourth consecutive SEC Championship by those in attendance. Vegas also has Alabama listed as one of the favorites to claim the national championship.
Coach Nick Saban’s squad kicks off its season in Atlanta against the Florida State Seminoles on September 2. The game will be aired on ABC at 7 p.m. CST. Tickets for the showdown have already sold out.
Former ‘Bama Star Gives Back From NFL Treasures
FULTONDALE, Ala. — Wide Receiver ArDarius Stewart made the jump to the NFL this offseason, and like many of his former Crimson Tide teammates, he cashed in a big paycheck. But instead of spending all of his newfound wealth on himself, Stewart used $15,000 to pay for new helmets for the Fultondale High School Football team.
Before suiting up for The University of Alabama, Stweart took the field for the Fultondale Wildcats as a quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. The currents players at FHS told ABC 33/40 just how grateful they were for the donation from one of the school’s most successful alumni.
“Folks are going to be walking out there with helmets that nobody else in the state of Alabama has, period,” linebacker Joshua Stanton told 33/40. “Like I said, it’s a great gift from ArDarius.”
— Fultondale Athletics (@CatsFultondale) July 18, 2017
Ardarius stressed to 33/40 the importance Fultondale has played in his life. Because of this impact, he was more than happy to pay it forward.
“You make time for things that are important to you. This school is very important to me,” he said. “No one really does anything for Fultondale, but Fultondale–the Fultondale community. I’m a part of this community and I just wanted to show them that I’m standing strong with them.”
During his time at Alabama, Stewart became notorious as a big-play threat, and he operated as a dynamic weapon in Lane Kiffin’s spread attack. In his last season with the Tide, he had 54 receptions for 864 yards and nine touchdowns.
The New York Jets drafted Stewart in the third round with the seventy-ninth overall pick. His rookie deal will pay out $3.25 million over four years.
Nick Saban Hoping To Learn From Last January’s Failure
HOOVER, Ala. — After a 14-1 season, an SEC Championship, and finishing second overall in the country, Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban has one word to describe 2016: failure. Such is the mentality that has made his program one of the most dominant in college football history.
“I hope we won’t waste a failure,” Saban said of the Tide’s heartbreaking loss to Clemson in the National Championship game. “We weren’t able to finish like we needed to, and there were a lot of lessons to learn from that.”
At this year’s edition of SEC Media days, there is certainly no shortage of topics for Saban to discuss. From the rare championship defeat to the new offensive coordinator, reporters were eager to get more information about how the Alabama program is handling the current transition.
Overall, Saban has been pleased with the work put in by his new offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll. Saban hired the former New England Patriots Tigh Ends Coach after Steve Sarkisian abandoned the program after coaching in only one game. Specifically, he has liked the progress he has seen Daboll make with quarterback Jalen Hurts’ passing ability.
The Tide begin their season in Atlanta in a likely top-ten matchup against the Florida State Seminoles. Coming off of a surprising Orange Bowl victory against the Michigan Wolverines, FSU is expected to have a successful year in the ACC.
“Florida State probably has as many good players returning as anyone in college football,” Saban said. “They’re built like an SEC team. They’re fast, but also big and tough and play good defense.”
The anticipation for the Bama-FSU matchup is only growing, and tickets for the game are already sold-out.
Besides Alabama, no team in the SEC has the same coach it did seven years ago, and one reporter asked Saban what it takes to stay at one program so long. The five-time national champion had a one-word answer: “Win.”
Saban was joined at Media Days by three Crimson Tide upper-classmen: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Calvin Ridley, and Bradley Bozeman. All three are expected to have standout performances this year.
Former Bama Football Star Holds Backpack Drive at His High School
PRATTVILLE, Ala. — Former Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard may have just been drafted into the NFL, but he certainly has not forgotten about who helped get him there. This past Sunday, the college standout returned to his high school, Autauga Academy, for a backpack drive and community day.
At the event, Howard gave away over 200 backpacks with school supplies inside to local children. The “Got Da Juice” community day also included additional activities for kids and their families to enjoy before going back to school.
“It was an opportunity for all the kids in the neighborhood and surrounding areas to come out and get backpacks. We had school supplies inside them, bouncy houses, games and food,” Howard told the Alabama News Network.
Before becoming a national star at The University of Alabama, Howard was a five-star tight end recruit playing for Autauga Academy’s football team. While playing for the Tide, Howard managed to have his biggest games on the biggest stages, and he earned the Offensive MVP for the 2016 National Championship Game against Clemson.
The native Alabamian will spend his Sundays playing for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers after being selected nineteenth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Howard is the first Alabama tight end selected in the first round since Ozzie Newsome in 1978. His rookie deal will pay $11 million over four years and included a $6.2 million signing bonus.
New Miss Alabama Works to Combat Hunger
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Across the state and nation, Miss Alabama and Miss America are incredibly influential role models. For many young girls, they strive to achieve the level of scholarship, beauty, and grace that the women competing at the top-level of the pageant world exhibit so well. Last week, Jessica Procter of Tuscaloosa was the latest young woman to be crowned Miss Alabama. Although she worked very hard to get to this point, the real work of being a role model to thousands of young girls is just beginning.
A relative newcomer to pageant life, Procter said winning Miss Alabama was a dream come true. “Honestly, it was like living in an alternate universe,” Procter told Yellowhammer. “You picture that moment and you work for that moment, but when it finally happens, it feels unreal.”
Four years ago, Procter began participating in pageants during her junior year of high school. She wanted to boost her resume for college scholarship committees and figured performing well in pageants would look impressive.
She first saw a post about Miss Tuscaloosa Outstanding Teen on Facebook and wanted to give it a try. While she had no previous experience, she had an extensive background as a musical performer who sang with her family from a young age.
“I watched Miss America more than a few times as a kid,” she said, “but it was never something where I really knew how it worked.”
After placing third in her first-ever pageant, Procter caught pageant fever and she continued to perform well in state-level competitions. She has served as Miss West Central Outstanding Teen, Miss Alabama Outstanding Teen, Miss Center Point, Miss Tuscaloosa, and Miss Leeds Area. Overall, Procter has earned more than $42,000 in scholarship money that will ensure a debt-free graduation from The University of Alabama.
Procter emphasized the importance of scholarship and giving back in both the Miss Alabama and Miss America organizations. Founded in 1921, the Miss America Organization is still the nation’s largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women, as Procter is a paramount example.
“My most important role is to show the world what the Miss Alabama Organization is about,” she said. “It’s not about me, it’s about the organization and the good that it does. I’m just its voice this year.”
Procter’s platform focuses on the pressing issue of food insecurity, which is formally defined as the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. She first saw the tragedy of hunger on a mission trip with her family overseas. Her experience changed her and forced her into action. “I couldn’t sit there when people in our world are struggling to meet basic necessities that I take for granted every single day,” she said.
At first, she wanted to start a program to help impoverished people overseas. But she soon found out that the problem plagues one in five Americans, and her focus soon shifted. She watched a 20/20 documentary in a freshman-year psychology class about hungry children in Camden, New Jersey, and one story from the video hit her especially hard.
“There was a boy named Isaac…who had never heard the words breakfast, lunch, and dinner before. He had never had three set meals a day. If he did, there was no need to name them because it wouldn’t be something he would get the next day. Three set meals a day was just an unattainable luxury in his life.”
She sat there in the 150-person class weeping. “This boy only lives 14 hours away from me, and here I am about to go eat at the dining hall and I’m worried about sending money overseas,” she said. “I need to do something about this in America.”
She contacted the West Alabama Food Bank about local hunger in her area. After some discussion, she formed Step Up to the Plate, a partnership with the West Alabama Food Bank, that works to find ways to address food insecurity in the state.
Step Up To The Plate fights hunger by conducting canned food drives, speaking to local community groups and schools, raising money, participating in and encouraging volunteerism at local soup bowls and food banks, and establishing food recovery programs at local businesses. “You’ve got to make other people as passionate as you are because you can’t do it alone,” she said.
Procter will take her cause and talents to the Miss America stage as one of the 52 final contestants. The ninety-seventh Miss America pageant will be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sunday, September 10, 2017.
Auburn, UAB Working to Schedule a Non-Conference Football Game
AUBURN, Ala. — With UAB’s football program returning this season, the athletic department has a big-time future opponent on its mind: the Auburn Tigers. According to reports, both UAB and Auburn have a shared interest in playing a non-conference game in the future. However, the parties have yet to find a date that works for both teams.
The Tigers and Blazers last faced off in a 29-0 Auburn rout back in 1996. Jay Jacobs, Atheltic Director for Auburn University, told Al.com that he would like to see another matchup between the in-state schools. “We’ve had conversations with them,” Jacobs said. “We’d love to play them again if we can work it out on the schedule, but finding a common date is often difficult to do sometimes.”
Auburn has some prominent non-conference opponents in the upcoming years, including PAC-12 powerhouses Washington and Oregon. Add in the contracts the school has with Southern Miss, Kent State, Tulane, and Liberty and it is not tough to see why scheduling UAB any earlier than 2020 is a difficult task.
Even without Auburn, the Blazers have plenty of top-notch SEC competition coming down the pike. Over the next three seasons, UAB will travel to play the Florida Gators, Texas A&M Aggies, and the Tennessee Volunteers.
The UAB Football Team was controversially eliminated back in December of 2014 as one of the several programs cut within the Athletic Department. Officials from the University announced in 2015 that the program would return for the 2017 season following community outrage and increased financial support for the team.