The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

Byrne: Help is on the way after Hurricane Sally

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

The aftermath of Hurricane Sally has left much of Southwest Alabama in bad shape. From the coasts of Mobile and Baldwin Counties to the northern parts of our district, winds and flooding have let many without essentials like power, water and shelter. Fortunately, help is on the way.

As the forecast showed the storm approaching, I began coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the White House, Coast Guard and our state and local elected officials and emergency management agencies. As the storm approached, it was clear there would be major damage. After the storm, by my request, Administrator Pete Gaynor of FEMA flew from Washington to Alabama. On Sunday, we drove all over Baldwin County surveying damage, and the Administrator was able to see with his own eyes the scope of the problem. I appreciated that Administrator Gaynor wanted to see it firsthand and talk directly to those impacted so he could understand the severity of what we are dealing with. In driving all over Baldwin County, we made constant stops to get out, walk through the devastation, and talk with people.

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During the administrator’s visit, President Trump granted Governor Ivey’s request for additional disaster relief, only 36 hours after an application was submitted. This speaks not only to the quality work done by the governor and her team but also to the commitment of FEMA, President Trump, and his entire team to get to work helping those in need, for which I am grateful.

The storm has been greatly underreported by the national media. It does not help that the unfortunate death of Justice Ginsberg occurred late last week. However, if this storm would have hit California or New York and had the same kind of impact, we would be seeing wall to wall coverage. Local first responders performed over 300 water rescues. Yet we only suffered two deaths. Certainly, even one death is a tragedy, and we mourn for the families who lost loved ones. But it is astonishing that a storm that defied forecasts to strengthen at the last minute and bring such flooding and devastation only caused two deaths. This speaks volumes to the work our emergency responders and volunteers did in preparing for the storm and carrying out their mission during and after landfall.

The media may not be paying attention, but President Trump and his administration have remained engaged in getting us what we need to hit the ground running with the rebuilding process. As a result of the disaster declaration, it is important to know what assistance FEMA will be providing to our counties and individuals. The two major areas covered by the FEMA disaster declaration are Individual Assistance and Public Assistance. Public Assistance is made available to counties and municipalities for debris removal, rebuilding public infrastructure, and working to restore utility services. Currently, FEMA can cover 75 percent of these costs.

Individual assistance is available for things like emergency housing repair and hotel costs. But before you know what assistance you may be eligible to receive, you must register with FEMA. This can be done online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362. I cannot overstress the importance of documenting everything you do. Take pictures before, during, and after, and keep all receipts. FEMA will help our city and county government with debris removal, but you must haul your debris to the side of the road and follow guidance from your local officials. FEMA is also providing items like tarps and bottled water at stations throughout Southwest Alabama. The disaster declaration also triggers help to those who may have lost their jobs because of the disaster, like unemployment insurance benefits. I encourage you to contact the state unemployment office if you have lost your job due to Hurricane Sally.

In addition to FEMA’s response efforts, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is now accepting loan applications to assist with both physical and economic damages. These low-interest loans are available to businesses who have experienced substantial damage and may not be able to reopen their doors for some time. I encourage those businesses who need additional financial assistance to register with FEMA and apply for the loan that best fits their needs. Loan application details can be found at www.sba.gov.

As always, my office is a phone call away and can provide assistance or direct you to where you can find help. Alabama will get through this disaster as we have others in the past.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

1 hour ago

New commission tasked with deciding what to do with the state’s soon-to-be-replaced prison facilities

(YHN, Pixabay)

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday created a new commission that will examine how to best utilize the state’s prison facilities, several of which will be emptied in upcoming years as the state constructs three new prisons.

The current plan to build three new men’s prisons was covered by Yellowhammer News in an in-depth report earlier in September.

Officially titled the Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission, the governor’s new group will be chaired by Neal Wade, an economic development official who has worked for the State of Alabama in the past.

“As our Alabama Prison Program moves forward in building three new prisons… we will simultaneously need to smartly and safely repurpose or decommission these outdated, aging prisons,” Ivey said in a statement on Tuesday.

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The governor further explained that the new commission “will provide recommendations based on in-depth facility analysis considering both the impact on the state and local community as well the financial ramifications to potentially repurpose or decommission some of our current prison infrastructures.”

A release from the governor’s office says that some facilities may find another use within the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), while others may be best suited for a different public entity or the private sector.

Citizens will not see a report from the commission anytime soon. The governor has mandated a report be sent to state leaders by September 1, 2023, or 90 days after the Commissioner certifies to the Commission that construction on the final prison is complete.

The report is to include “recommendations for the future of each existing male prison facility.”

Members of the commission, per the governor’s office, are as follows:

Neal Wade (Chair) is the former director of the Alabama Development Office, the precursor to the Alabama Department of Commerce, and currently serves as the managing partner of Advanced Economic Development Leadership for the National Economic Development Education Program.

Sen. Greg Albritton is chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee and was elected to represent District 22 in the Alabama Senate, which includes Baldwin, Clarke, Escambia, Monroe and Washington Counties.

Ben Baxley currently serves as chief of the Opinions Division in the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. He previously served as the deputy chief of the Criminal Division in the office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.

Ted Clem is the director of Business Development for the Alabama Department of Commerce. Clem joined Commerce in February 2014 as a senior project manager and played a key role in two projects in Opelika that involved $340 million in capital investment and nearly 400 new jobs.

Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison was elected to represent District 20 of the Alabama Senate, which includes Jefferson County. She previously served one term in the Alabama House of Representatives and three terms on the Birmingham City Council. She serves as the ranking minority member of both the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund and Governmental Affairs Committees.

Harold Crouch is currently the mayor of Chatom where he has served for 24 years. He was previously on the city council for two terms. He has also taught government, history and economics.

Darius Foster is the CEO and co-founder of H2T Digital. He received a BS in Business Administration from Miles College and a GC in Business Strategies for Social Impact from The Wharton School. He is a current member of the Board of Directors for the Business Council of Alabama as well as a former commissioner of the Alabama Commission of Higher Education.

Annette Funderburk is the President of Ingram State Technical College which serves a 100 percent incarcerated adult population that delivers career technical, GED and job skills training at six locations across Alabama. She previously served nearly 10 years within the Alabama Community College System where her most recent role was director of External Affairs.

Rep. Kelvin Lawrence was elected to represent District 69 of the Alabama House of Representatives which includes Autauga, Lowndes, Montgomery and Wilcox Counties. He serves on the Ways and Means General Fund and State Government Committees in the House of Representatives.

Merceria Ludgood currently serves as a Mobile County commissioner, District One, attorney and civic leader. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama, followed by a Master of Arts degree. She earned her law degree from the Antioch School of Law An avid supporter of higher education, Ludgood is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including being selected for Leadership Mobile, Leadership Alabama and the prestigious Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship.

Walter Givhan, Maj. Gen., USAF (Retired) currently serves as senior vice chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development at Troy University. He is also the commander of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education and vice commander of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base. General Givhan, a native of Safford, Ala., graduated from Morgan Academy in Selma, Ala., and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was a National Merit Scholar.

Allen G. Peck, Lt Gen., USAF (Retired) is an assistant professor in the Department of Airpower and General George Kenney Chair at the United States Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College (ACSC). He also serves as co-facilitator for the joint Air War College/ Air Command and Staff College Airpower Vistas Research Task Force joint elective. Peck served for 36 years on active duty in the USAF, flying the air-to-air and air-to-surface variants of the F-15.

Rep. Connie Rowe is the vice chair of the Majority Caucus in the House of Representatives. She also serves as vice chair of both the Rules Committee and Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Representative Rowe was elected to represent District 13 of the Alabama House of Representatives, which includes Blount and Walker Counties.

Kyes Stevens is the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University.  Starting in 2001, she has worked to design and build an innovative and sustainable outreach program that works with the underserved adult prison population in Alabama.

Willie Williams, Lt. Gen., USMC (Retired) is a senior consultant and owner/president of Williams Consulting, LLC based in Huntsville assisting the Department of Defense-supporting contractors and industries in strategic business development. Williams previously served as the chief of the Marine Corps Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.

“This process will allow both public officials as well as members of the general public to have a meaningful voice in the future of our existing prison infrastructure,” concluded Ivey.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

2 hours ago

This seven-year-old singing sensation from Birmingham is already performing in Nashville

(Evan Riley/Facebook)

Birmingham’s Evan Riley does not know cursive yet, but people are already lining up to get her autograph.

Riley, 7, is a second grade student at Shelby County’s Mt. Laurel Elementary School.

As reported by the Shelby County Reporter, Riley first found her love for — and natural talent in — music when she saw “The Greatest Showman” at age five. She liked the movie so much that she asked to see it over and over again. During one of these replays, she stopped watching — and began singing. That is when her mom knew Riley possessed a special gift.

“She didn’t really sound like a child,” her mother, Heather Lofthus, told the Shelby County Reporter. “She was standing on the coffee table singing, and I got chills.”

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Riley subsequently began taking weekly voice lessons at her kindergarten. She would then perform “Never Enough,” the first song she ever sang from “The Greatest Showman,” at her school Christmas recital.

The audience was reportedly blown away, but Riley soon topped that feat with her school-wide performance of LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue” in front of approximately 1,000 people. A video of that cover found its way to local voice coach Steve Pennington, who has now been working with Riley the past six months.

It was Pennington who set up Riley with three separate performances at prominent Nashville venues last weekend: Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk and Steakhouse.

The rising star was a big hit in what was her first times performing with a band. However, while greater successes seem on the horizon, Riley and her family are focused on remaining grounded.

Keep up with Riley and watch videos of her performances here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Black pro-life leaders gather in Montgomery, argue the next step for civil rights is ending abortion

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — A group of black leaders within the pro-life movement came together in Alabama’s capital city on Tuesday where they highlighted what they believe is racial prejudice among America’s abortion providers.

Speakers included Dr. Alveda King, an outspoken opponent of abortion and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She and the other speakers said their fight to end abortions is the next step in civil rights for African-Americans.

All presenters who were able to make it to Montgomery in person signed the Equality Proclamation, which argues the location of abortion providers and other tactics used by groups like Planned Parenthood are racially discriminatory.

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The group believes, according to a document they disseminated, that “the targeted practices of Alabama abortion providers are both discriminatory and disproportionately harmful to black mothers and their babies.” The group further believes they have a case based on the 10th Amendment that would force state leaders to take actions against such prejudice.

To that end, the group is filing an emergency petition for a writ of mandamus with the Alabama Supreme Court that seeks to spur action from Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall.

King appeared at the event via a recorded video, explaining that her mother has recently come down with COVID-19, which prevented the pro-life advocate from traveling to Alabama.

She noted that 158 years ago President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Today, 158 years later, history will record that leaders of the Pre-natal nondiscrimination alliance, PRENDA, signed the Equality Proclamation,” King stated.

“My uncle worked for the civil rights of all of God’s children. After all the work he did I think his heart would be broken to see what is happening to unborn children in the United States of America,” she added.

“Denying personhood has always been used to justify killing,” said Walter Hoye II, founder and CEO of Issues4Life Foundation, in an attempt to tie the language of abortion advocates to that of American judges in the 19th century who decided slaves did not count as people.

Amie Beth Shaver spoke on Tuesday and referenced Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, saying Sanger did not believe in the human rights of all people. After defending Sanger for many years, Planned Parenthood has begun to walk back its ties to her after her beliefs in eugenics are getting more publicity.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrown abortion access back into the American political spotlight in recent days, with many conservatives hoping President Donald Trump will select a jurist who shares the view of most Republican voters that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

Montgomery attorney Sam McLure is the legal representation in Alabama for the pro-life leaders that assembled on Tuesday, and a staunch opponent of abortion himself. Yellowhammer News asked McLure what he thought of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Judge Barbara Lagoa — the two candidates who observers say are the front runners to be Trump’s selection for the open SCOTUS seat.

McLure did not comment on Lagoa but said that Coney Barrett “has a track record of reverencing the personhood of humans at all stages of development.”

“I think that conviction is important for our country to be a land of justice, and I think it is long overdue, just like Dred Scott was long overdue to be overturned I think Roe v. Wade is long overdue to be overturned,” McLure stated.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

3 hours ago

Trump administration invests more than $2 million in rural Alabama water infrastructure projects

(C. Beeker/Contributed, Wikicommons, YHN)

The administration of President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $2 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in two rural Alabama communities.

The announcement comes as part of a national $268 million investment across 28 states. USDA is reportedly funding 76 projects total through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. These investments will help to improve rural water infrastructure for 267,000 residents.

“The opportunity to bring water and wastewater funding to Alabama is such an investment because it brings modern, reliable water and wastewater infrastructure to our rural communities. These types of projects without a doubt improve the daily lives of Alabamians,” USDA Rural Development State Director for Alabama Chris Beeker said in a statement.

Investments in Alabama include the following:

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The Pintlala Water System, Inc., will use a $2,037,000 loan to expand and improve the existing water system. The project will dig a new deep water well capable of producing 300 gallons per minute operated by a new vertical turbine pump and motor, new water well lines, and a new treatment building with SCADA electrical controls. The project will also replace outdated manual read water meters with the installation of a new Automated Water Reader system. The new upgrades will allow rural residents to have access to safe potable water and reduce water loss. It will also reduce meter read time for employees and should increase water revenue for the rural water system.

The town of Kinston will use a $47,000 loan and a $53,000 grant to provide additional funding for an existing water project. The funds will allow final construction of the project to be completed which includes the addition of a third well and will allow Kinston to be solely dependent on its own water supply. This will increase water revenues and allow rural residents continued access to clean water.

This is merely the latest in a string of similar announcements from USDA Rural Development during Trump’s presidency.

RELATED: USDA’s Chris Beeker: ‘When rural America thrives, all of America thrives’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

7 Things: Tuberville up big, high school football takes a few more hits, Democrats powerless to stop Trump’s SCOTUS nominee and more …

(YHN)

7. Debate topics announced

  • Fox News host Chris Wallace will be moderating the upcoming presidential debate in just under one week, and he’s now announced what the topics of the debate will be in six 15-minute segments.
  • The topics will be the Supreme Court, coronavirus pandemic, economy, “race and violence in our cities,” “integrity of the election,” and both former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump’s records.

6. Another push to exclude illegal immigrants from the Census count

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  • President Donald Trump has been vocal about excluding illegal immigrants from the 2020 U.S. Census count, and now due to a lower court ruling, the Trump administration is asking that the Supreme Court hear arguments before the end of the year over the case.
  • If the Supreme Court agrees and hears oral arguments on the case in December, there’s enough time for a ruling before the January 10 deadline, but this could potentially be enough time for the new Trump Supreme Court nominee to weigh in on the issue.

5. Tests being sent to HBCUs

  • President Donald Trump’s administration has announced that they are sending 250,000 rapid coronavirus tests to 42 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). These are the tests that give results in 15 minutes. This is just the first round of tests being sent out, and Alabama A&M in Huntsville and Alabama State University in Montgomery will be receiving thousands of tests in the first round.
  • A spokesperson for Alabama A&M said that testing has been a big part of returning to school this fall, adding, “This partnership with the federal government, in conjunction with the University’s PCR testing program, will greatly speed up our ability to identify, isolate, and reduce the symptomatic and asymptomatic spread of COVID019 on campus.”

4. Gulf Shores became more popular during the pandemic

  • Recent figures released by Airbnb show that the Gulf Coast in Alabama was a more popular destination than Miami, Florida, from July to August this year. The company has also said that this is a trend being seen around the country, where more people are opting to stay in smaller cities or towns than larger, typical destinations. For example, more people visited Lake Tahoe this year than Las Vegas.
  • Since you can rent up to a whole house, people have also been able to extend their stays in areas, too. The average length of stay has increased by 58%, which could easily be due to the requirement to isolate in many areas upon arrival.

3. Football taking a hit during the pandemic

  • Two Alabama high school football teams have decided to shut down for at least a week due to positive coronavirus cases. Hazel Green is stopping for two weeks with three positive tests, and Wetumpka is stopping football for one week after 12 positive tests. Fifteen players in Hazel Green are quarantined, and aside from the 12 positive cases in Wetumpka, there are eight players quarantining.
  • There are three other high schools that have also canceled football games, with Lee in Huntsville forfeiting their Friday game this week, with only one person associated with the team testing positive and 10 people in quarantine. Jacksonville has had one football player test positive, so they’ve canceled their games for the next two weeks. Mortimer Jordan has also canceled their game this week after at least one positive test.

2. Romney will support voting on a Supreme Court nominee

  • Democrats are now powerless to stop President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee now that U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) has voiced support on moving ahead with whoever President Donald Trump decides to nominate for the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacant seat left by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Romney said that his decision “is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’” and added that it’s about “fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent.” He went on to say if the nominee eventually “reaches the Senate floor,” he intends “to vote based upon their qualifications.”

1. Tuberville is up in Alabama

  • New polling data released by the Morning Consult, which is from a survey conducted from 9/11-9/20, shows that former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville is leading in Alabama at 52% with U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) trailing at 34%, which is similar data that’s been released previously.
  • In other Senate elections across the country, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is leading against Amy McGrath 52% to 37%. In Texas, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is leading by six points with 45% against MJ Hegar with 39%.

4 hours ago

State Rep. Simpson calls for penalty to be raised for contractors working without license during a state of emergency from misdemeanor to felony

(Screenshot/APTV)

It has been a week since Hurricane Sally made landfall in Gulf Shores, and in its wake, it has left a path of destruction in need of repair.

Often after such a storm, a flood of contractors from out of state will make their ways to the affected areas, and sometimes take advantage of those in need of repair work. However, often as is the case with out-of-state contractors, they are not licensed in Alabama. If something goes wrong and a hired contractor cannot complete the work they were hired to do following a storm, the most vulnerable take a hit.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) discussed his bill initially introduced during the 2020 legislative session that would increase the penalty for unlicensed contractors doing work during a state of emergency, which he had discussed with Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff during a recent visit to survey hurricane damage.

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“One of the things I was able to bring up to Governor Ivey was a bill that I had last session, which was HB194,” he said. “What it did was when the governor declares a state of emergency, it would increase it from a misdemeanor to a felony for those that are working on homes for homebuilding repair and doing those types of contracting works if they are not licensed in Alabama. What we are facing right now is so many people are coming into our area and taking advantage of our citizens and having them to pay these astronomical fees and not doing the work properly, and doing the way they’re going to do. It’s very tough to prove fraud.”

“The difficulty with proving fraud, and I can tell you from being a prosecutor on this stuff, is you have to prove at the time of the offense they intended to commit that fraud,” Simpson continued. “It’s very easy for them to come in and say, ‘No, we lost a worker,’ or, ‘No, we lost materials, and I couldn’t complete the job, and I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t intend to defraud that person. It just happened that way.’ That’s very tough to prove in a felony.”

“Right now, it is a misdemeanor in the state if you work without a license — if you don’t have the proper bonding and licensing through the homebuilders association or the correct agencies,” he added. “What that bill did last year was it would have made it a felony if it occurred during a state of emergency. I brought this up to the governor and Jo Bonner. They were very receptive to it. What I want to do is have that bill, in the event, we have a special session — have that bill included into the call for that special session.”

Simpson’s prior effort during the 2020 regular session with the legislation passed the House by a 97-2 margin but failed to get a vote in the State Senate.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

18 hours ago

Three takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart

(@AuburnFootball/Twitter)

At long last, it is game week for the Auburn Tigers. Auburn and Kentucky will kick off this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on the SEC Network. In advance of the contest, head coach Gus Malzahn released Auburn’s week one depth chart on Tuesday. A number of questions that Auburn fans may have are directly addressed with this new information. However, the news on the depth chart may also raise a few eyebrows in relation to the defensive line and secondary, specifically.

Undoubtedly, players will move up or down the depth chart over the course of the season based on quality of play, injury, COVID-19 protocol or weekly changes to the gameplan. But, the initial depth chart gives fans insight into who some of the impact players for Auburn in 2020 will be.

Let’s take a look at three key takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart:

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New-look offensive line
Coming into the season, it was known that Auburn would have a number of new faces on the offensive line after graduating four of the five starters from last year’s group. The new depth chart now gives clarity to who the Tigers expect to make up the unit in 2020.

Nick Brahms is the only returning starter and retains his spot at the center position. The starters at guard are Tashawn Manning and graduate transfer Brandon Council, respectively. As expected, Brodarious Hamm has earned the starting slot at the right tackle position. The only ambiguity in the offensive line position group is at left tackle with Alec Jackson OR Austin Troxell listed as the starter. This indicates that Auburn considers these six players the top options for the five available spots.

It will be critical this season that all six “starters” and the guys listed second or third on the depth chart are ready to perform this year at a position that is often affected by injury and could always have players unavailable due to COVID-19. It was widely known that the success of the offensive line would be key to Auburn having a productive offense this year, we now know the individuals who have earned the first chance to make that happen.

18 true freshmen make an appearance

Although no true freshmen are listed as first-teamers, these young players are littered throughout the Auburn depth chart. Seven newcomers appear on the offensive side of the ball, 10 freshmen made the depth chart on defense and Australian import Oscar Chapman is listed as the potential starter at punter.

This is an impressive showing from the 2020 signing class and may signal great things to come for Auburn. Having quality depth is always important, but this year with a 10-game conference-only schedule, no spring practice and contact tracing procedures that could sideline players by the handful, many of these young men will be called upon in the here and now.

Only time will tell which of these players’ impacts will shape the Tigers’ season this fall, but history tells us that these young athletes will be called upon to deliver in high leverage moments this year. Whether or not they are up to the challenge is likely to determine the outcome of some games and even the season itself.

Surprises on the defensive side of the ball

Kevin Steele’s side of the ball has been one of the most consistent units in college football since his arrival in 2016. He and his staff have developed a clear plan of attack, a successful way of working together and an eye for players that fit the scheme. So, even if there are some shocks, Steele has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.

One of the surprises is the starting cornerback opposite of Roger McCreary. Last week, Steele indicated that there were up to five players competing for that position, so it is not a complete shock that redshirt freshman Jaylin Simpson earned the starting spot against Kentucky. However, many would have guessed that Marco Domio, who was just signed from junior college, or Nehemiah Pritchett would be the last man standing in the competition. Simpson does not have much experience, but if Steele and company trust him to get the job done, then that is a pretty good endorsement.

The most unforeseen developments on the depth chart occur on the defensive line. Colby Wooden starting at defensive tackle is not something that has been discussed anywhere until today. Kevin Steele spoke highly of Wooden last week in his press conference, but the redshirt freshman who signed as a defensive end last year earning the tackle spot next to Tyrone Truesdell was still pretty shocking.

Another unexpected outcome is that four true freshmen are listed on the defensive line depth chart, including Jeremiah Wright, who signed as an offensive lineman in December. Seeing Zykevious Walker listed at defensive tackle ahead of the two junior college defensive linemen that Rodney Garner signed in January may also catch fans off guard.

Coach Garner and coach Steele have a proven track record of getting defensive linemen ready to play in the SEC, but it may just be that the athletes getting the most opportunities in the trenches this year are a little more green than we are used to seeing.

Bonus takeaway

How about Shaun Shivers? Listed at only 5-7 and 179 lbs, Shivers earned the starting spot at tailback and was named one of the team captains. I am a little bit skeptical that Shivers will be an every-down back, but what an accomplishment for a guy who has been doubted because of his size throughout his entire career.

See the whole depth chart:

Twitter/ @byNathanKing

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

19 hours ago

Kim Caudle Lewis is a 2020 Woman of Impact

Kim Caudle Lewis, born and raised in the small southern Madison County town of Triana, has been devoted to North Alabama her entire life.

An entrepreneur and trailblazer, her hard work and intentionality have combined over the years to foster a personal brand built on innovation.

Lewis earned a Computer Information Systems degree from John C. Calhoun State Community College. She then embarked on a career specializing in healthcare information technology consulting.

That foundation was key to Lewis in 2002 starting Project XYZ in partnership with Larry Lewis, who is now her husband. With his experience in government contracting and her expertise in IT and technical solution services, the company has flourished with Mrs. Lewis serving as CEO.

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Indeed, ProjectXYZ has grown from a concept into a national leader with more than 100 employees. The company provides customer support in engineering, logistics, information technology and alternative energy sectors, including the Rocket City’s bedrock aerospace and defense industries.

The company’s success under Lewis’ exemplary leadership has brought about national accolades.

For example, Project XYZ over the past decade was named to Inc. 5000’s annual list of the United States’ fastest growing companies four separate times.

The company has further been honored for its quality of work. This includes being recognized as the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year in 2015; earning the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon award in 2016; and being named the U.S. Chamber Women-Owned Business of the Year in 2017.

However, it has not always been easy going, as Lewis explained in a recent interview with Yellowhammer News. She spoke about the unique hurdles in being a black female in traditionally male-dominated industries.

“It took time to prove that you could do the job and to get out there and do it in a way that you felt comfortable with,” she explained. “So, it was challenging at first.”

However, as she and the company proved themselves, navigating those obstacles became smoother. Lewis also said that the environment has improved — and continues to get better — with the Huntsville’s area booming growth. This is something she has been able to witness over the years being a native of the area.

“You’re seeing more diversity, you’re seeing more inclusion of people from all walks of life. … We’ve got a long way to go to make sure it’s completely equal for all parts, but I think it’s slowly striving to get to that point,” she advised.

Lewis explained that having a diverse team working on projects has tangible positive benefits for businesses, saying diversity opens “a world of opportunity.”

“When you’ve got a lot of people in the room with different ideas and different ways of thinking, there may be an easier, smarter, simpler way to do it [that you find],” she noted. “I think the more voices you have in the room — voices from different communities, different backgrounds, different experiences — helps.”

While her stewardship has worked wonders for her company, Lewis has been equally active and successful in her extensive civic and non-profit endeavors in and around Huntsville.

Perhaps the highlight of her CV in this regard was being chosen as the first black woman in history to serve as the chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, a position in which she served with distinction last year. In that role and others, Lewis continues to champion workforce development efforts, which are key as North Alabama and the state as a whole looks to advance its 21st century economy and prepare future generations for even greater successes.

Lewis told Yellowhammer News that it was a tremendous honor to serve as chair of the chamber in 2019.

“The chamber’s doing great things here in the community,” she remarked.

She has also served in various active volunteer leadership roles, such as a board member, of too many organizations to list; these organizations include the Calhoun Community College Foundation, Cummings Research Park, the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, the Women’s Economic Development Council, Women in Defense, the National Defense Industrial Association and the North Alabama International Trade Association.

This broad spectrum of involvement aligns with another theme of Lewis’ career: diversification.

As if ProjectXYZ was not enough, Lewis’ business portfolio in recent years has been aggressively and strategically broadened to include multiple other upstart ventures.

This includes Kim’s Kloset, an online retail store specializing in trendy clothing, accessories and other fun lifestyle items.

Lewis and her husband are integrally involved with BizTech, a leading local business incubator for technology companies; the couple also recently bought an area television station and worked to bring celebrity chef Darnell Ferguson’s nationally renowned Superhero Chefs restaurant to Tuscumbia –with a second location already planned for Huntsville. Moreover, the Lewis family now owns a plastic injection molding company in the Shoals to serve North Alabama’s automotive manufacturing industry.

Looking back on her burgeoning career thus far, Lewis stated that one of the most rewarding aspects has been doing things in a way that is not necessarily traditional.

“I grew up the youngest of 10 kids,” Lewis said, “and never thought that I would be in the position I am in now to run a company that has — I think the last I counted — 243 employees total [across her ventures].”

“It’s a blessing. Because it’s not something that I ever dreamed about or thought that I would be doing now. But this position, it’s God-sent. That’s the best way to explain it,” she continued.

Her advice to young people looking to follow a similar path?

“Just realize, it is going to be a lot of sleepless nights — it is going to be a lot of times where it seems like the door is going to shut in front of you,” Lewis concluded. “What I’ve learned throughout the years is just because one person says ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean that’s ‘no’ to whatever your dream is. … If it’s something you truly believe in and you really want to work at, you’ve just got to keep going and keep trying.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Kim Caudle Lewis a 2020 Woman of Impact.

WATCH:

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through October 1. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

20 hours ago

Aderholt: ‘Can’t imagine’ Pelosi follows through with threat of impeachment to stop a Supreme Court justice nomination

(Robert Aderholt for Congress, Nancy Pelosi/Facebook, YHN)

With news that U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) is no longer a “good Republican” in the eyes of the media and their Democrats, it’s become clear that President Donald Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court has a good chance of being confirmed.

Democrats, with prodding from their handlers in the press, have decided they have to do something to stop this process.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and others in the media have urged Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to consider impeachment as an avenue to stall any process.

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She, publicly, seems to be open to this idea, but one of Alabama’s congressmen doesn’t think it’s a real serious threat. Instead, he sees it as more political theater from Democrats in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Tuesday and expressed doubt that Pelosi would actually attempt to do this.

“I can’t imagine that Pelosi and the Democrat majority would go forward with any kind of impeachment for these purposes,” he advised.

Aderholt called the gambit “hopeful shenanigans” and noted that the House “has no direct role in the confirmation for the court.”

Expressing a desire to turn down the temperature in Washington, Aderholt said, “It’s the president that selects a person to fill that seat, and then the Senate confirms them.”

He added a move like this would “make things crazy in Washington,” but would not really stop the process.

My takeaway:

Whether it is “shenanigans” or not, Pelosi is being pushed by her media and the base of the Democratic Party to put up a fight here. In the end, it will all be symbolic because if Sheffield, Alabama’s own U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to have the votes to get this replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg confirmed and if he decides he wants to do it, he clearly can.

Yellowhammer News’ Dale Jackson pushes for Mitch McConnell statue in Senate leader’s Alabama birthplace

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

21 hours ago

Playing by the rules: Trump should appoint new Supreme Court justice

(Tracy Estes/Facebook, White House/Flickr, YHN)

For a nation which loves sports as much as our land does, there are still a select few who have yet to grasp the concept – to the victor goes the spoils.

Despite the temptation to provide participation trophies to all who wear a uniform as opposed to simply awarding those who win championships, there are still those of us who believe there are rewards for those who win. And for those who fall short, the incentive should be to try harder in the hopes of claiming those same spoils of victory the next time the scoreboard is lit.

A perfect example of this quandary is the current battle waging in Washington over whether or not President Donald Trump should move quickly to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created with the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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While my heart is moved for her family and friends in the loss of a loved one, I can still recall her constant stand for an assortment of left-wing causes during her tenure on the bench. Why is it we now live in a society where discussion must be all or nothing. I am still of the mind one can mark her passing without mourning the loss of her political views. I do not believe doing so makes me less of a Christian or a hard-hearted individual.

But while Democratic leadership in the nation’s capital is crying foul and claiming the president is playing politics by moving swiftly in this process, I counter by saying the commander-in-chief is simply doing his job.

President Trump was elected by Americans who wish to see the preservation of and a return to more traditional conservative values – those upon which this great land was founded. While I am unashamed to be a Christian, I am not even playing the religious card here. I believe there are still those in this land who may not profess the faith, but remain troubled by the dramatic shift away from law and order in our country. And heaven knows, Christians should be concerned.

While some might wish to differ, the president does not cease being president in an election year. The late justice Ginsburg has been quoted as saying as much in response to one of her own votes on the nation’s highest court. The president is elected to serve a full four-year term.

This president was elected, in large part, due to his promise to appoint conservative judges to the court. In short, he is living up to a campaign promise. This is what his loyal supporters are expecting in this moment.

And while we have all heard from the liberal left saying Republicans felt differently when President Obama was faced with a similar circumstance four years ago, these situations are not the same. Even when Obama was in office, the Republicans still controlled the U.S. Senate. And this is the body charged by the Constitution to confirm presidential nomination’s to the court.

Remember, there is a price for victory and defeat. If the Democrats want to have more say in this process, the party should focus attention on winning control of the senate and the oval office in the same term. This is how our nation’s founders created this game plan. These are the rules as they were written in the Constitution in 1787. Is it not ironic the nation commemorated Constitution Day only a day prior to Ginsburg’s passing?

Too often in today’s society, the liberals want to change the rules when they no longer suit their views. They want the remainder of the citizenry to move further left or simply toss the rules, on in this case, the Constitution, into the mounting debris of history we seem to be creating today.

But this is not what the forefathers envisioned. Those who created this nation needed more than a decade to draft the Constitution following the approval of the Declaration of Independence. There were squabbles over how the branches of government would function and how each would serve as a check and balance over the other. Our system was not designed for easy alteration … and current society is a perfect example as to why.

There is a method for changing current laws. It is called the legislative process. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have it within their powers to enact changes when we see a consistent miscarriage of justice. We have a tried and true method to improve our land – and the calculated process does not need the heavy-handed fist of a dictator, either. We never want to see our system fall under such tyranny.

Those we have elected already have the authority to improve upon an already excellent system. Introduce legislation and rally the support of the majority of congressional members. And in those extremely rare cases when this change elevates to the point of adding an amendment to the Constitution, gain the support needed to have the amendment ratified three-fourths of the state legislatures.

Implementing change to the foundational principles of our government was designed to be difficult. Denying the president those authorities given to him simply because it is an election year is not to be a part of the process.

And those who are not fond of the current process certainly have the right and a process to bring about the changes they may so desire. Remember: the United States of America is a nation of laws and those laws must be maintained and followed in order to preserve order and prevent chaos. Simply crying foul and pointing a finger of accusation toward the sitting president, regardless of party, serves no purpose other than playing to a congressional leader’s voting base back home.

There is a way to have more say in the appointment process … pull back from those extreme liberal views which are contrary to our nation’s foundation, win the presidency and the senate in the same election cycle and follow the rules as drafted in the Constitution. The process has served us well since the document was drafted some 233 years ago. And I am confident it will serve us well moving forward, if we simply remember to play by the rules.

State Representative Tracy Estes is a Republican representing House District 17, which includes Marion, Lamar and Winston Counties

22 hours ago

Mo Brooks heralded as national ‘rock star’ on border security, supporting American workers

(Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Roy Beck, founder and president of NumbersUSA, in recent days named Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) as one of only nine congressional “rock stars “for his support of enhanced border security and defending American workers.

NumbersUSA is America’s largest grassroots border security organization and overall supports lower immigration levels. The group produces grades on each sitting member of Congress every term.

Brooks has scored an “A+” grade on NumbersUSA’s border security vote evaluation for this Congress, as well as for his career since 2011.

Writing for the NumbersUSA blog, Beck said Brooks and eight other members of the House “have achieved our top distinction in challenging the status quo of immigration policies that drive down wages and increase the non-employment of American workers.”

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“These nine didn’t limit themselves to challenging the destructive immigration status quo in just a few areas. Instead, they challenged the status quo across the board, including chain migration, visa lottery, rewards for illegal migration, birthright citizenship, unnecessary worker visas, and interior enforcement,” he added.

On Monday, Brooks released a lengthy statement on the recognition from NumbersUSA.

Full statement as follows:

With 8 million members, NumbersUSA is America’s largest grassroots border security organization and the leader in the fight to protect American workers from job losses and wage suppression caused by cheap foreign labor tsunamis. I’m honored to be named by NumbersUSA Founder & President Roy Beck as one of America’s nine (out of 435 Congressmen) ‘Rock Stars’ on border security issues.

America’s immigration and border security system is badly broken: chain migration, visa lottery, birthright citizenship, unnecessary worker visas, sieve-like borders for drug smugglers, and so on. American families need and deserve stronger border security and interior enforcement, merit based immigration, asylum reforms, and mandatory E-Verify. American job opportunities and wages would skyrocket if ‘Americans First’ immigration policies were enacted. I’m proud to be an ally for NumbersUSA in the fight for the immigration policies that best serve Americans.

Americans regularly rank border security as one of America’s most important issues. Rightfully so. Cheap illegal alien labor steals jobs and wages from hard-working and struggling American families. Worse yet, America’s porous southern border causes the deaths of 30,000+ Americans every single year (from illegal alien homicides and overdoses on poisonous drugs shipped across our porous southern border).

Unfortunately, America’s open-borders special interests (agriculture, construction, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and many others) put their lust for profit and political power above the interests of Americans. In 2010, I promised to stand up to these special interests and do everything I can to secure America’s borders. I have kept my promise. But, don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Roy Beck, the founder and president of America’s premier border security grassroots organization, NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA has examined Congress’s border security records and concluded that, over the past decade, no Member of Congress has stood stronger for American workers and families than has Mo Brooks.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

22 hours ago

ALGOP chair: Doug Jones supports everything Alabamians oppose and opposes everything Alabamians support

(Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan/Contributed, Senator Doug Jones/Facebook

Hillary Clinton … Barack Obama … John Kerry … Al Gore … Bill Clinton … Mike Dukakis … Walter Mondale.

This rogue gallery of liberal Democrats was rejected by Alabamians by large margins when each of them sought the presidency, but interim U.S. Senator Doug Jones proudly voted for each of them when they appeared on the ballot. His support and his personal votes tell us exactly the principles he champions.

Jones accepted a presidential appointment from Bill Clinton during his scandal-ridden administration, welcomed the endorsement of Barack Obama while running for the Senate, and loudly proclaims his current support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, perhaps the most liberal pairing to ever appear on a major party ticket. In fact, during President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, Kamala Harris was quoted as saying she and Jones were “cuttin’ up” with each other, showing a deep disrespect for the seriousness of the situation.

Those simple facts alone offer positive proof that Jones sits on the far-left fringe of the political prism and remains outside the mainstream of the citizens he claims to represent, but allow me to offer even more evidence.

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When Obama was elected president in 2008, he earned only 38% of the vote in Alabama, yet Jones told the Associated Press, “We need to be dancing in the streets rejoicing about his election.” Following Jones’s victory dance, Obama delivered us a stagnant economy, millions more Americans on food stamps, open-border immigration policies, the disaster known as Obamacare, and other liberal policies.

After 60% of voters ratified a 2018 state constitutional amendment that declares Alabama a pro-life state and positions us to take immediate action when Roe v. Wade is overturned, Jones, once again, ignored the majority’s vote. He opposed a federal ban on partial-birth abortions and voted to use our dollars to fund abortion procedures.

Even though the Alabama Legislature passed the nation’s strongest state law to combat illegal immigration, Jones has compared Donald Trump’s border wall to the Berlin Wall, opposed the president’s effort to declare a national emergency along the Mexico border, and voted in favor of sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws – he is complicit in wanting to break the laws of our nation.

Despite Alabama’s strong pro-Second Amendment tradition, Jones told AL.com in 2018 that “Alabamians are ready for restrictions on guns,” and used his maiden speech in the U.S. Senate to attack the National Rifle Association and demand universal background checks. His guy, Joe Biden, told Beto O’Rourke, “You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me.” Believe them on this.

Though similar efforts swiftly died in the Alabama Legislature, Jones told a tele-townhall in July that he supports a federal government study on paying economic reparations for slavery and called it something “we’ve got to do.”

And while Donald Trump carried Alabama with more than 60% of the vote in 2016, Jones has repeatedly attacked the president by telling Newsweek he has given some “a green light to commit hate crimes” and accused him of using “outright bigotry justified as straight talk.”

Of course, he also famously voted twice to remove President Trump from office following the impeachment sham created by Nancy Pelosi and Jones’s other liberal allies. It appears without a doubt that Jones has made it his mission on the Senate floor to support everything that Alabamians oppose and oppose everything that Alabamians support – again ignoring the majority. All of these examples, and hundreds more like them, explain why President Trump recently tweeted, “Doug Jones is a terrible Senator who is just a Super Liberal puppet for Schumer and Pelosi. Represents Alabama poorly.”

The good news is that Alabama voters can soon recall their interim senator by supporting Republican coach Tommy Tuberville in his bid for the U.S. Senate. Coach Tuberville will represent our conservative Alabama values, not the liberal California and New York values that Doug Jones promotes – the two states he gets most of his funding from … that’s not an accident. That’s a signal to us.

Coach Tuberville will make Alabama proud by fighting to protect the Trump tax cuts, the unborn, the Second Amendment, conservative federal judges, plug the holes in our porous border while standing strong with President Trump to drain the swamp and combat liberal and Socialist policies.

It is time for us to end the cancellation of our two U.S. Senate votes and stand united for the cause of conservatism. I will proudly cast my vote for Coach Tommy Tuberville on November 3, and we strongly encourage each of you to do the same. It’s time for you to cancel Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate. It’s time to cancel his ignoring of the majority. It’s time to reset this seat for Sweet Home Alabama. Show the nation Alabama will not be ignored or disrespected anymore – now that’s sweet!

Terry Lathan is the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party

22 hours ago

Energy Institute of Alabama members spearhead Hurricane Sally recovery efforts

(@BaldwinEMC/Twitter, YHN)

The Energy Institute of Alabama’s (EIA) member utility companies continue to work tirelessly to restore power and assist with Hurricane Sally clean-up efforts in Southwest Alabama.

The category 2 hurricane battered the Gulf Coast last week, leaving close to a million Alabamians without power.

Alabama’s electric utilities were prepared ahead of the storm to immediately begin working to restore services. Lineworkers and support crews have been brought in from across the country to aid their incredible efforts.

“These utility companies, and the selfless linemen and crews, have worked around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible to the impacted areas,” EIA Chairman Seth Hammett said in a statement.

“We are grateful for their swift response and service in a time of need for south Alabama. EIA would also like to thank utility workers from neighboring states as well as personnel from the Alabama National Guard for their relief efforts,” he added.

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For example, Alabama Power Company had more than 680,000 customers experience disrupted power service due to Hurricane Sally. As of Sunday, Alabama Power had restored service to 99% of these customers. These rapid response efforts reportedly included the replacing of more than 1,500 spans of power lines as well as replacing over 400 power poles and over 500 transformers that were damaged during the hurricane. The company’s comprehensive efforts included a storm team of more than 4,000 utility workers and support personnel from 14 different states.

Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives, led by PowerSouth, have also joined together to provide crews and relief efforts to the Baldwin EMC service areas most impacted by the hurricane. With initial damages of roughly 2,000 broken power poles, 4,160 spans of downed lines and almost 4,300 trees on power lines, Baldwin EMC – the state’s largest electric cooperative – now has power restored to over 70% of their system, and 94 of the 100 total circuits on the system now have power. Additionally, the Alabama Rural Electric Association continues to spearhead coordination efforts involving Baldwin EMC together with 1,400 linemen and women in co-op crews from 11 different states to safely support relief and restoration efforts.

Additionally, Electric Cities of Alabama crews have been able to restore power to nearly 80% of the more than 56,000 people that had outages due to the severe weather. The specific public power utilities assisting in South Alabama include: City of Troy Utilities; Cullman Power Board; Decatur Utilities; Dothan Utilities; Guntersville Electric Board; Huntsville Utilities; Municipal Utilities Board of Albertville; Opelika Power Services; Russellville Electric Board; Scottsboro Electric Power Board; Utilities Board of Andalusia; Utilities Board of Tuskegee; Tallahassee, FL; The Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach, FL; Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), FL; Gainesville, FL; Orlando Utilities Commission, FL; Lafayette Utilities System, LA; Florida Municipal Electric Association; and American Public Power Association.

“When natural disasters strike, utility workers and crews are often the first responders, working to quickly and safely restore power and assisting the clean-up efforts,” stated EIA Vice-Chairman Houston Smith of Alabama Power Company. “We are committed to a full-recovery and remain incredibly thankful for these heroes who have come to assist on the coast.”

RELATED: Three SW Alabama counties approved for federal disaster assistance after Hurricane Sally

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

23 hours ago

Ivey creates STEM council to inform state on education, workforce development

(Governor Kay Ivey/ Contributed)

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday created a new STEM council that will inform state leaders on matters of education and career preparedness as they relate to STEM.

STEM is an acronym of science, technology, engineering and math, and state leaders have long sought to more deeply integrate those subjects into the state’s education system and workforce development pipeline.

“The Alabama STEM Council will play a vital role in ensuring that our state’s future leaders have the opportunity to learn STEM-based skills that will help them transition into successful career pathways upon graduation,” Ivey, who created the council via executive order, on Monday.

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The governor explained that Alabama in recent years “has continued to grow into an advanced manufacturing, aerospace engineering and cybertechnology center of excellence and as a result, the demand for qualified labor in these sectors has skyrocketed.”

Dr. Neil Lamb, vice president for Educational Outreach at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, will serve as chairman of the Council.

“Our great state is home to several quality STEM-focused education and workforce initiatives. However, we lack a common system to weave these initiatives together into a network that reaches all learners across the state and expands the workforce pipeline,” said Lamb in a statement on Tuesday.

State Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur) sponsored legislation during the 2020 session that would have created a similar STEM council. Her bill passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate due to the coronavirus pandemic shortening the session.

On Monday, Collins praised Ivey, saying, “I’m extremely pleased the governor is taking the lead with the Executive Order to form the STEM Council.”

“Having the math and science experts from Alabama set high quality standards and guiding student growth in achievement will make a positive difference. Thank you, Governor Ivey, for prioritizing education!” Collins added.

Deputy Commerce Secretary Ed Castile will be heavily involved with the STEM council, according to the governor’s office. Castile runs the Alabama Industrial Development Training Agency that focuses on workforce development across the state.

“With new tech companies developing, manufacturing moving to digital “smart factories” and numerous job opportunities that support these businesses, we must have a workforce that will meet the demands,” Castile remarked on Monday.

“The STEM Council will be crucial in working with K-12 education as they develop their STEM programs to align with Community Colleges and Universities to assist students move along the STEM pathways needed by our developing businesses,” he advised.

Per the governor’s office, the full membership of the STEM council is as follows:

  • Dr. Neil Lamb, vice president for Educational Outreach, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
  • Dr. Charles Nash, University of Alabama System
  • Terry Burkle, Baldwin County Education Foundation
  • Dawn Morrison, Alabama State Department of Education
  • Charisse Stokes, Montgomery Chamber of Commerce
  • Dr. Vicky Karolewics, president, Wallace State Community College
  • Sheila Holt, AMSTI director, University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Liz Huntley, Lightfoot, Franklin & White
  • RaSheda Workman, Stillman College
  • Dr. Eric Mackey, state superintendent of education
  • Dr. Barbara Cooper, secretary, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education
  • Jimmy Baker, chancellor, Alabama Community College System
  • Dr. Jim Purcell, executive director, Alabama Commission on Higher Education
  • Fitzgerald Washington, secretary, Alabama Department of Labor
  • Greg Canfield, secretary, Alabama Department of Commerce
  • Tim McCartney, chairman, Alabama Workforce Council
  • George Clark, president, Manufacture Alabama
  • Dr. Ken Tucker, president, University of West Alabama
  • Dr. Kathryn Lanier, STEM Education Outreach Director, Southern Research
  • Dr. Tina Miller-Way, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
  • Amy Templeton, president and CEO, McWane Science Center
  • Kay Taylor, director of education, U.S. Space and Rocket Center
  • Dr. Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach, Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics
  • Paul Morin, Alabama SMART Foundation
  • Dr. Adreinne Starks, founder and CEO, STREAM Innovations
  • Dr. Calvin Briggs, founder and director, Southern Center for Broadening Participation in STEM
  • Josh Laney, Director, Alabama Office of Apprenticeship
  • Keith Phillips, executive director, Alabama Technology Network
  • Jimmy Hull, career and technical education director, Alabama State Department of Education
  • Sean Stevens, career coach, Alabama State Department of Education
  • Tina Watts, community investor, The Boeing Company
  • Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager, Airbus America
  • K-Rob Thomas, power delivery general manager, Alabama Power
  • Dr. Lee Meadows, associate professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Dr. Tim Wick, senior associate dean, School of Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Dr. Robin McGill, director of instruction, Alabama Commission on Higher Education
  • Elisabeth Davis, assistant superintendent of the Division of Teaching and Learning, Alabama State Board of Education
  • Dr. Jeff Gray, professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Alabama
  • Dr. Cynthia McCarty, District 6 representative, Alabama State Board of Education
  • Dr. Andre Harrison, vice president, Cognia
  • Brenda Terry, executive director, Alabama Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering Coalition for Education
  • Tammy Dunn, program director, A+ Education Partnership

The council’s first meeting will be in the next 90 days.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

1 day ago

Football, Fans and Feathers educational program to continue with limited seating

(Auburn University/Flickr, YHN)

AUBURN, Ala. – Despite there being no eagle flights at Auburn home football games this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one of Auburn’s most popular fall programs will return to offer a limited number of fans the opportunity to see a raptor show and flight demonstration.

The Southeastern Raptor Center’s Football, Fans and Feathers educational program once again will be held each Friday before home football games, and this year a new Saturday show will be offered. Each show will have its attendance limited to the first 50 guests.

“We are excited to again provide this unique and educational opportunity for a limited number of fans to experience an up-close view of the center’s birds of prey,” said Andrew Hopkins, assistant director of raptor training and education for the center.

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The Football, Fans and Feathers event will be held on Fridays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. CT before home games—which this year will occur on Sept. 26, Oct. 10, Oct. 31, Nov. 21 and Dec. 5.

Tickets are $8 per person, with children under 3 admitted free, for the hour-long program, which takes place at the center’s Edgar B. Carter Educational Amphitheater located at 1350 Pratt-Carden Drive off Shug Jordan Parkway. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. Tickets won’t go on sale until the Monday prior to each show and will stop being sold one hour prior to the start of the presentation.

Concessions will not be sold, but those attending are welcome to bring their own chair, food or drink. Gates will open one hour prior to the start of the presentation, and seating is first-come, first-served. Face masks and social distancing will be required for attendees.

During the show, hawks, falcons, eagles and other birds of prey are free-flown from towers and around the amphitheater, enabling visitors to see these raptors flying up close. The programs are delivered by Southeastern Raptor Center staff and volunteers.

At the conclusion of each presentation, several of the raptors are brought back out so attendees can have an up-close view and talk with the trainers. No two shows are alike, as different birds are chosen to soar overhead or visit guests up close on a trainer’s glove.

All birds used in the programs are permanent residents that are non-releasable due to prior injuries or human imprinting. The Southeastern Raptor Center is a division of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. For more information, visit www.auburn.edu/raptor.

(Courtesy of Auburn University)

1 day ago

Trump administration sending hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests to HBCUs

(White House/Flickr, YHN)

The administration of President Donald J. Trump on Monday evening sent more than 250,000 rapid diagnostic COVID-19 tests to 42 American historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), representing a continued commitment to protecting the nation’s most vulnerable and ensuring the United States continues to safely reopen its economy.

This comes after the Trump administration’s historic purchase of 150 million rapid response, or point-of-care, tests known as “BinaxNow.” These swab tests return results in only 15 minutes.

Monday merely represented the first round of these tests being sent to HBCUs across the country.

From the Yellowhammer State, Alabama State University in Montgomery and Alabama A&M in Huntsville each received several thousand tests in the first wave.

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Hundreds of thousands of additional tests are expected to be shipped in the coming days to HBCUs that did not receive the tests in the first round.

This aligns with Trump’s targeted test distribution strategy; the president is firmly committed to prioritizing the protection of the vulnerable, elderly, frontline health care workers, K-12 schools, daycare, critical infrastructure workers, first responders and those in areas of natural disaster, in addition to HBCUs.

McClatchy reported comments from Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House coronavirus task force testing czar, regarding the distribution of tests to HBCUs.

Giroir outlined that black Americans are five times more likely to be hospitalized from coronavirus, mainly due to disparities relating to preexisting conditions. Additionally, the administration conducted an analysis of HBCUs that found them to have older faculty and staff with other health factors that make them a relatively high-risk demographic for the virus.

Alabama has the most HBCUs in the nation (14).

White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern stated to Yellowhammer News, “From signing legislation providing over $1 billion dollars to minority serving institutions impacted by COVID-19 to deploying hundreds of thousands of these point of care tests, it is clear that HBCU’s have strong champions in the White House.”

“President Trump will continue his unprecedented commitment to ensure that communities of color are equipped with the necessary health and economic resources they need to combat this pandemic,” added Morgenstern.

ASU, Alabama A&M and the other HBCUs shipped round one tests each received enough kits to test every member of its student body, staff and faculty, although this should not be necessary.

This large number of tests will allow the HBCUs to test all symptomatic individuals as well as to perform robust sentinel testing in the form of 5-10% of their student populations weekly.

This is also only the start for these schools. The administration will resupply the HBCUs with tests “as often as they need,” Giroir told McClatchy.

A spokesperson for Alabama A&M said in a statement to Yellowhammer News, “Wide-spread testing is a significant component of the University’s Fall 2020 Re-entry Plan.  This partnership with the federal government, in conjunction with the University’s PCR testing program, will greatly speed up our ability to identify, isolate, and reduce the symptomatic and asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 on campus.”

This nationwide initiative is more evidence that the United States is leading the world in coronavirus testing. The country has now completed over 100 million tests, leading worldwide in the number of tests conducted per capita for all countries with over 10 million in population. While America’s testing system is already at the head of the pack, the Trump administration continues to rapidly build the nation’s testing capacity to three million tests per day, which vastly exceeds the demand for those advised to seek tests pursuant to CDC testing guidance.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Air Force football to honor Tuskegee Airmen with new uniforms

(Air Force Football/Twitter)

The United States Air Force Academy this week unveiled new football uniforms honoring the Tuskegee Airmen that its team will wear on the field this fall.

The uniforms are part of the Air Power Legacy Series the academy began in 2016 that recognizes important parts of Air Force history.

The Tuskegee Airmen were airborne units made up of black service members who fought during World War II, a time during which the American military was still segregated. The squads were educated and trained near Tuskegee, Alabama.

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The new helmets are pictured on a plane that mentions Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. in script writing on the tail. Davis was the first black officer to solo an Army aircraft and later ascended to command the 99th Pursuit Squadron, America’s first all-black air unit.

(Air Force Football/Twitter)

According to the Air Force, the units that made up the Tuskegee Airmen were assigned the color red as an identifier, a decision that later produced the nickname “Red Tails” for the famous units.

One unit of Tuskegee Airmen, the 332nd Fighter Group, is credited with “flying more than 15,000 sorties and shooting down 112 enemy planes total” during WWII, the Air Force said in a release.

“The unit earned 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Distinguished Unit Citations,” the Air Force added.

President Harry Truman desegregated the Armed Forces in 1948, and the success of the Tuskegee Airmen is often cited as one of the factors that led to that decision.

The Air Force provided more information on the uniforms, saying, “The chrome base gray helmet features the P-51 aircraft flown by the Tuskegee Airmen with signature red tails and nose that helped identify the squadron. The helmet features the four squadron patches for the 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd. The pants feature an authentic stenciled information graphic on the side. The custom nameplate on the jersey says Red Tails, inspired by hand-lettered names painted on the side of the P-51 aircraft.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

1 day ago

7 Things: Trump appears to have the votes for his SCOTUS pick, Jones is against packing the court, Tuberville willing to forgo his pay if elected and more …

(YHN)

7. CDC unsure about coronavirus aerosol transmission

  • While the number of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations are down nationally, the CDC has released and then revoked the findings that the virus may be more of an aerosol than was thought and that wider restrictions might be needed.
  • The guidance, now removed, included increasing social distancing beyond six feet, increasing where masks are worn and new suggestions about ventilation and filtration, which would throw a slowly reopening society for a loop.

6. Anarchist jurisdictions declared

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  • New York, Seattle and Portland have been deemed “anarchist jurisdictions” by the Department of Justice, due to the riots and protests that caused damage and violence across the cities.
  • U.S. Attorney General William Barr said, “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance.” He also expressed that he hopes cities decide to regain order in their areas and “become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

5. Former State Sen. Burkette pleads guilty

  • As was expected, former State Senator David Burkette (D-Montgomery) has pleaded guilty to violating a campaign finance law, in which he admitted to depositing $3,625 of campaign funds into a personal bank account.
  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said, “Personally profiting from campaign funds erodes confidence in the system and will not be tolerated.” Burkette has been sentenced to 12 months of probation and will pay a $3,000 fine.

4. Bus driver in Madison County tests positive

  • In the Madison County School system, a bus driver has tested positive for the coronavirus, and parents have been notified of the situation.
  • Students and drivers all wear masks on the school bus, and students have to keep a distance of six feet between each other.

3. Tuberville highlights support for veterans

  • In a new campaign ad, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville touted his father’s World War II military service and adds at the end that he’ll “donate my salary to the veterans of the great state of Alabama” if elected to the U.S. Senate.
  • In the short ad, Tuberville also says that “anyone who burns this flag should go to prison,” aligning with President Donald Trump.

2. Jones doesn’t support packing the court

  • During a Facebook live event hosted by U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) reelection campaign, Alabama’s junior senator discussed the idea of “packing the court” where Congress would pass legislation to add more U.S. Supreme Court Justices as a way to appoint more liberal judges. Theoretically, this is possible, but Jones made it clear that he doesn’t “agree” with this action.
  • He explained that he doesn’t “believe in retaliatory measures. I just think that is crazy.” He also spoke about how this would work against the U.S. Constitution’s system of checks and balances, saying, “[W]e’ve had nine folks on the Supreme Court since 1869, I believe. And it’s worked out pretty well over the years…I just don’t think that people should start trying to threaten or do retaliation measures like that.”

1. Trump might have the votes for his SCOTUS pick

  • While President Trump has not named his new pick for the Supreme Court, it appears he does have the votes to proceed with the confirmation process as U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) publicly state that they will consider the merits of the person nominated and not rule out a confirmation as U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have done.
  • President Donald Trump has already said he’ll nominate a conservative woman for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With those two factors, the list of potential nominees has narrowed significantly.

1 day ago

Tuberville: SCOTUS fight ‘about pro-religious liberty’ — ‘Doug Jones needs to represent his state instead of his party’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

With the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week, there has been a renewed focus on U.S. Senate races across the country down-ballot from the presidential contest.

The Supreme Court fight has not been lost by Republican U.S. Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, who will face incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in November.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Tuberville elaborated on an earlier statement he made about the Supreme Court vacancy by saying this could be a big win for advocates of religious liberty.

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“This is throwing another log on the fire of a very intense election season,” he said on Monday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show.” “We’ve got 42 days until the election, and this just amped it up, big time. People are saying they should appoint someone — hey listen, we elected Donald Trump and a Senate to get this done when they first got in. They have already put two in. Your term is not over until four years. I think President Trump is going to nominate someone. I’m excited about it. He said it’s going to be a woman. He said it is somebody that’s going to be very conservative, which is what we need. This is about pro-life, pro-Constitution, pro-guns. But the big thing, too: This is about pro-religious liberty. We’re losing religion in this country because the left is trying to take it away from us every day. I tell you, this is going to pay huge dividends for us if we can get somebody in there that’s conservative, that will stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Tuberville also took a crack at his opponent Jones, who he called on to represent Alabama instead of the Democratic Party.

“Doug Jones has already come out and said McConnell shouldn’t do it,” Tuberville added. “Well, Doug Jones needs to represent his state instead of his party. That’s ridiculous. Stay out of it. But hopefully, it gets done.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

1 day ago

Alabama Farmers Federation establishes relief fund for farms damaged by Hurricane Sally

(ALFA Farmers Federation/Contributed)

The Alabama Farmers Federation on Monday announced that it has established a relief fund to help Alabamians whose farms were damaged by Hurricane Sally last week.

This comes after the federation outlined that Sally levied a heavy toll on farmers ahead of the fall harvest, especially in Southwest Alabama.

“When disaster strikes, I am always impressed by the people of Alabama and their giving spirits,” stated Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell on Monday.

“As we started receiving photos of damaged crops, barns and equipment, we also started getting questions from people about what they could do to help our farmers, and that’s why we’ve established this fund,” he explained.

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Donations are tax deductible and may be made online here or by check payable to Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation at P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191. Please include “hurricane relief fund” in the check memo line.

“Most of our farmers had as good a crop as we’ve ever seen, and it was so close to harvest for cotton, soybeans, peanuts and pecans,” added Parnell. “It’s devastating to lose a crop that had so much promise. Our farmers are great people who are assisting each other with cleaning up the damage, and we’re so grateful to everyone across the state who is helping in some way, like donating to the relief fund.”

Donations collected through the relief fund will go toward farmer losses not covered by a farmowner policy, crop insurance or disaster relief programs.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer: Nancy Pelosi ‘committed a felony’ — She shouldn’t be speaker

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) on Monday addressed the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and his thoughts regarding the resulting vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Palmer is the chair of the Republican Policy Committee, which makes him the fifth highest ranking leader among Republicans in the United States House of Representatives.

On Monday morning, he appeared on Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Aunie Show.”

“She was a remarkable jurist,” Palmer said of Ginsburg at the beginning of the interview. “She was an iconic and historic figure on the Court.”

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Co-host Matt Murphy subsequently asked Palmer if he believes there should be hearings and a confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate before November 3’s general election for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Trump reportedly plans to put forward a nomination later this week. The nominee will be a female, the president has previewed.

“I do,” Palmer responded.

“Elections do have consequences,” he outlined. “I think that one of the reasons that Donald Trump was elected president was because he put out a list of people that he said if elected he would choose from for his nominees to the Supreme Court. I think that the Republicans who were elected to the Senate ran on this platform, as well — that we needed to hold the Senate so that we could get conservative, constitutionalist jurists on the courts. And I think Mitch McConnell and the Republicans have proven themselves worthy of that task.”

“I think that this is an example of elections have consequences,” Palmer reiterated later in the interview. “The president was elected — and I think one of the reasons that he defeated Hillary is because of that opening [in 2016] on the Supreme Court. They didn’t want Hillary to fill that spot.”

Murphy stressed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is perfectly within his rights to dictate the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominees, just as past majority leaders have. Senators elect their leaders to do just this, Murphy explained, and ultimately voters will decide at the ballot box if they like how Republicans are handling the vacancy.

Palmer said McConnell’s handling of judicial confirmations has shown “some serious backbone.”

The Central Alabama congressman warned of additional, historic stakes in November’s general election.

“The thing about this is you hear the Democrats talk about what they’re going to do [if] Donald Trump is defeated and they get control of the Senate,” Palmer remarked. “They’re going to going to do away with the filibuster rule. They have literally said they’re going to pack the Court — they’re going to add six justices. They’re going to make Washington, D.C., a state, they’re going to make Puerto Rico a state. They’re planning to have a complete takeover of the federal government. And it will fundamentally change America for the rest of our lives. I don’t think we would ever see the country like it was.”

“So, I think that the president must make a nomination. I think the Senate, while we have a majority, must confirm that nominee,” he continued.

Speaking about the importance of filling the vacancy ahead of November 3, Palmer said the Supreme Court might need to rule in the case of disputed election results or if there are issues regarding the Electoral College. He advised that SCOTUS could be split 4-4, saying, “I don’t think we can count on Chief Justice Roberts.” Ensuring there is an odd number of justices, then, is key, he argued.

Palmer subsequently predicted that confirming Trump’s Supreme Court nominee would be a winning political issue for Senate Republicans with the voters.

RELATED: Tuberville on SCOTUS vacancy: ‘Doug Jones will vote the way that Chuck Schumer and the liberal Democrats instruct him’

In the interview, Palmer also referenced his recent letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr requesting an advisory opinion on whether Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “committed a criminal act by destroying an official copy” of President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech on February 4.

This came after U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Pelosi threatened that House Democrats will impeach Trump again if he nominates someone to the Supreme Court this year.

“You’ve got all these threats out there,” Palmer decried. “Pelosi’s threatening to impeach the president again. For what? Listen, I believe she committed a felony. She shouldn’t even be there (be speaker). And then you’ve got these people threatening to burn down the Capitol. I think that’s an optic that the American people might not appreciate.”

Palmer emphasized, “This Supreme Court opening could be the most consequential in our lifetimes. … I cannot overestimate the importance of this.”

Listen:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

Minority religions and the right to seek truth

(API/Contributed, YHN)

Chick-fil-A makes delicious sandwiches without beef. But not on Sundays. Owned by Christians, the company also gives away millions of dollars each year to charitable organizations that help people who need assistance.

Until recently, one of those was the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army, in its own words, “exists to meet human need wherever, whenever, and however we can.” It fights human trafficking, shelters victims of domestic abuse, feeds the hungry and homeless, and in general does a lot of good for people who have too little good in their lives.

Last year, the City of San Antonio, Texas announced that it would not permit Chick-fil-A to open a restaurant in its airport because Chick-fil-A gave money to the Salvation Army. The city rationalized this embargo on the assertion that the Salvation Army is anti-LGBT. That is false. The Salvation Army serves everyone in need, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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What the city meant was that, like Chick-fil-A and thousands of other companies and non-profits that do good things in their communities, the Salvation Army is a Christian organization. It adheres to the understanding of marriage as an inherently man-woman union, instituted for the benefit of children who are fruits of the union. This view of marriage happens to be the Christian view of marriage, and it is shared by millions of Americans and a majority of people around the world of different faith traditions.

Not everyone agrees that marriage has to do with sexual difference. Indeed, in urban America, the traditional view is now a minority opinion. But people have good reasons to think that marriage is defined to fit human nature.

The definition of marriage as a man-woman union is the only definition that can logically stand on its own principles without collapsing into whatever some group of consenting adults wants it to be. And it is the most consistent with law. It secures the right of natural parents to be presumed legal guardians of their children, and the right of each child to be connected to her mother and father.

To state these obvious truths today is to invite charges of bigotry from the privileged elites who exercise cultural, economic, and political power in cities such as San Antonio. Those elites hold a different view of marriage as an institution for the satisfaction of adult desires. Where they hold power, as in city governments and college campuses, they refuse to allow discussion of the reasons why people might disagree with them.

Indeed, elites appear to fear rational discourse more than they care about those in need. When the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse set up a tent hospital in New York City earlier this year to administer free health care to those afflicted by the Coronavirus pandemic, protestors and City councilors demanded that they leave. Like the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse gladly serves anyone. Its members are motivated to serve by the same Christian faith to which the protestors object. But New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson explained that allowing Christians to provide free health care is contrary to New York’s values of “diversity and compassion for all.”

Marriage is not the only issue on which urban elites suppress rational discourse. Here in Alabama, the City of Birmingham terminated various agreements and partnerships by which Church of the Highlands had provided free services to Birmingham residents. The justification was that the church’s pastor followed a conservative commentator on social media.

Increasingly, elites use the epithet “bigot” to silence anyone who disagrees with them about controversial issues. The irony here is rich. Merriam Webster defines bigotry as “obstinate or intolerant devotion to one’s own opinions and prejudices.” Depriving people of chicken sandwiches and health care to prevent them from being exposed to Christians fits the definition.

One of our most fundamental civil liberties is the right to express minority opinions. As the classical liberal thinker John Stuart Mill explained, the point of tolerating unpopular expressions is to ensure that we understand the truth. Even if all people but one hold the same view, we have nothing to fear from a dissenter. If he’s right and we’re wrong, then we should change our opinion. If he turns out to be a bigot, then his errors will bring the truth into sharper relief.

The case for tolerating a lone dissenter applies equally to minority religious communities. Freedom of conscience is grounded in the recognition that we cannot pursue knowledge of truth alone, and that many important truths cannot be learned from empirical and scientific methods of inquiry.

We should remember that the case for abolishing slavery, the argument for equal civil rights, reasoned opposition to eugenics, and many other moral insights emerged from minority religious groups. We silence them at our peril.

Adam J. MacLeod is Professorial Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute and Professor of Law at Faulkner University, Jones School of Law. He is a prolific writer and his latest book, The Age of Selfies: Reasoning About Rights When the Stakes Are Personal, is available on Amazon.

2 days ago

Workforce development expert Dr. Brock Kelley appointed interim president of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College

(Alabama Community College System/Contributed, YHN)

Chancellor Jimmy Baker of the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) announced on Monday that Dr. Brock Kelley will serve as the interim president of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBWCC).

Kelley comes to LBWCC after a string of prominent roles in workforce development across Alabama. According to a release, he has served as regional director of Workforce Development for ACCS, and as director of Workforce Development for the Alabama Department of Education.

According to the ACCS, a presidential search remains ongoing, the conclusion of which will relieve Kelley of his interim responsibilities.

“Brock’s experience marries the worlds of academics and workforce development, which is a tremendous asset to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College,” Baker said in a statement.

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Dr. Herbert Riedel served as president of Lurleen B. Wallace from 2009 to 2019. Since his retirement in September of last year, the institution was led in an acting capacity by Clay Helms for four months and then by Dr. Chris Cox in an interim capacity since January.

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College has campuses in Andalusia, Opp, Greenville and Luverne.

Word was not made public for the reasons why a switch in interim presidents was necessary, or on what the timeline is for a permanent selection.

Per the ACCS, Kelley has a “Bachelor of Science in Collaboration (K-6) and a Master of Science in Collaboration (6-12) from Troy University. He completed the Education Administration Endorsement at Auburn University-Montgomery and earned his Ph.D. in Adult and Continuing Education from Auburn University.”

“It is an honor to serve the Andalusia, Opp, Greenville, and Luverne communities in this capacity and I’m eager to hit the ground running to create the best possible experience for LBW’s students,” Kelley said on Monday.

Kelley will officially begin his role at the institution on October 1.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95