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.

27 mins ago

Montgomery launches ‘Feed the Meter for the Homeless’ project

(S. Reed for Mayor/Contributed, YHN)

Under the leadership of Mayor Steven L. Reed, new specialized parking meters were installed last week in downtown Montgomery to provide a quick, convenient way to support locals affected by homelessness.

Reed announced the meters were on the way during a recent city council meeting. Called the “Feed the Meter for the Homeless” project, the City’s new initiative is made possible through a partnership with the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (MACH).

The special parking meters are green and offer residents a way to donate directly to support MACH and central Alabama agencies working with those experiencing homelessness in Alabama’s capital city. Donations will be accepted in the forms of coins or cash at each specialized meter and by card through the ParkMobile app (zone 36999) or online payment.

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“The Feed the Meter for the Homeless initiative connects compassion with convenience by allowing Montgomery residents and visitors to support our neighbors affected by homelessness and its devastating ramifications,” Reed said in a statement. “Each donation is a hand-up to help those in need and an investment in building a better future for Montgomery and the River Region.”

For more information on Feed the Meter for the Homeless MGM, please click here.

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

1 hour ago

Cathy Randall now serving on board of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham

(The Women's Fund of Greater Birmingham/Contributed, YHN)

Dr. Cathy J. Randall, chairman of the board of Pettus Randall Holdings, LLC, is now serving as a board member for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

The Women’s Fund made the announcement in a recent release, detailing that Randall term’s officially began on January 1. A Birmingham native and Tuscaloosa resident, she is a longtime, prominent civic and corporate leader, as well as the legendary former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama.

Tracey Morant Adams, board chair for The Women’s Fund, said in a statement, “The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham strives to elevate and amplify women’s voices, and we are incredibly fortunate to welcome Dr. Randall to our board as she is a well-established voice in the state.”

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“Cathy’s passion for community service and her experience in building a better Alabama will be a tremendous asset for the organization,” Adams added.

Randall’s service to the state includes being immediate past chairman of the Alabama Academy of Honor and former president of the boards of directors of the American Village, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame and the David Mathews Center of Civic Life, as well as former director of Alabama Girls State.

Additionally, she currently serves on the board of Alabama Power Company and is a former board member of Mercedes Benz USI. Randall was the co-chair of Governor Kay Ivey’s inaugural committee and was named as a Woman of Impact by Yellowhammer Multimedia in 2018.

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

2 hours ago

Sessions responds to ‘desperate and afraid’ Byrne and Tuberville — ‘Sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point’

(Jeff Sessions/Contributed, Tommy Tuberville, Bradley Byrne/Facebook, YHN)

With Alabama’s U.S. Senate Republican primary headed into the home stretch, the field’s three front-runners are beginning to mix it up among one another.

The first significant shot came from U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who on Saturday went up on air with an ad attacking both his leading opponents: former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville has thrown a few barbs as well while on the stump, including one at Sessions that accused him of having “turned on” President Donald Trump.

In a statement given to Yellowhammer News, Sessions condemned the tone of both Byrne and Tuberville, noting their positions in recent polling and describing their tacks as “sleazy.”

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“It is unfortunate that both Tommy Tuberville and Bradley Byrne have abandoned any pretense of running a positive campaign. But it is not surprising: both candidates are trailing in the polls, and when politicians like Tuberville and Byrne are losing, they become desperate and afraid,” Sessions stated. “Both Tuberville and Byrne have quit on themselves and their campaigns. Neither can connect with voters on the merits of their ideas. It is sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point.”

Sessions warned there would be a response if this activity persisted.

“If their baseless, desperate attacks continue, they will be forcefully answered,” he continued.

The former U.S. Senator maintained that Alabamians in this primary will be focused on substantive issues.

“The key issue for Alabamians is who will most effectively and forcefully fight for their conservative values and interests, such as ending illegal immigration, protecting our jobs from unfair foreign competition, defending religious freedom, and further advancing our strong Trump economy.”

Alabama Republican voters on March 3 will cast a ballot for their preference to represent them on the general election ballot in November.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

15 hours ago

Leaders, educators and students gather for Alabama’s 2nd Annual HBCU Summit

Sen. Doug Jones (left) moderates a panel discussion at the 2nd Annual HBCU Summit. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama’s 2nd Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Summit celebrated the state’s 14 HBCUs and the value they bring to higher education across our state and country. Saturday’s event, moderated by Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, was held at Miles College in Fairfield.

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The event kicked off with a panel discussion titled “Women in the Lead: How Six Alabama HBCU Presidents Are Raising the Bar.” The session included comments from:

“Extraordinary panel of women in leadership positions,” Jones said afterwards. “I think they provide unique insights to this. Just an amazing group of women that come from varied backgrounds — they came from academics, but also from business, so it’s a unique perspective that is what is going on with HBCUs but also with higher education in general.”

The panelists touched on a number of topics, including ways to help more high school students and nontraditional students get enrolled, making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simpler to fill out, partnering with businesses to offer degrees and curriculum the businesses need and working together to elevate the communities they serve.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on is that the benefit of being an HBCU is that … you may not have these large classrooms like you have (elsewhere), but you have teachers that know your name, teachers that care,” Archie said. “We’re going to give you that pep talk when you need that pep talk and we’re going to help you achieve.”

It is that level of concern for students that stood out to Jones.

“These female leaders are so dynamic and so passionate about what they do,” Jones said. “They care so much about their students and their communities. They really represent the best of all HBCUs. HBCUs are the fabric of the communities and I think you saw that reflected here today.”

The summit also featured a career fair and an afternoon panel discussion titled “Student Voices: How Alabama HBCU Student-Leaders Are Lifting Up Their Campuses.” The panel, moderated by Jones, featured students from Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Shelton State Community College, Talladega College and Trenholm State Community College.

“Trying to educate and train the workforce of the 21st century is going to be a challenge,” Jones said. “We’re changing technologically, we’re changing demographically, we’re online — everything is moving in a different direction. Education has got to keep up with that, but also so do businesses. They’ve also got to start reaching out and develop those partnerships to not only train, but to mentor. I think you heard that today.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP field while Jones trails all, Birmingham’s battle over monuments and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Is President Donald Trump causing mistrust in government or is he exploiting that lack of trust?

— With new polls out, does Jeff Sessions have the GOP race locked up and does Doug Jones even have a chance?

— Is Birmingham’s mayor boosting his profile while continuing the fight over a Confederate monument?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by Secretary of State John Merrill to discuss the latest report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that claims Alabama is suppressing voters and Merrill’s willingness to take on more responsibility at the Secretary of State’s office.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at the waste of millions of dollars Alabama municipalities spend on “public notices” because of a series of outdated laws requiring publication of voter rolls and public notices in local newspapers.

Alabama Politics This Week – 2/16/20

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP fields while Jones trails all, Birmingham's battle over monuments has no real purpose and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Friday, February 14, 2020

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

18 hours ago

Community development key to elevating Alabama

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Many of Alabama’s rural cities and towns are growing their communities, thanks to valuable assistance from Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE) and Main Street Alabama.

Leaders from both organizations shared their benefits Jan. 30 at the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s (EDAA) Rural Development Conference in Montgomery. Bevin Tomlin, Economic and Community Development manager for Alabama Power, hosted a panel discussion with Sidney Hoover, executive director of Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE), and Mary Helmer, state coordinator and president of Main Street Alabama, in which the women discussed ways their organizations assist communities.

“We go in and help them with community development — all of those quality-of-life issues, such as education, health care, recreational — why do you want to live here,” Hoover said. “We used an asset-based approach and leverage that.”

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Community development helping rural Alabama grow from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Hoover said ACE takes cities one to three years to complete, whereas Helmer says Main Street Alabama is an ongoing community program designed to create jobs, spark new investment, attract visitors and spur growth.

“It’s really talking about how you build that swell of community involvement and engagement and carry it through to economic development,” Helmer said. “Main Street never leaves a community. It’s a way to manage the changes in a district over time.”

Tomlin said a number of cities across Alabama are growing, thanks to help from ACE and Main Street Alabama.

“You can look at towns like Jasper and Decatur at how far they’ve come in the past five or 10 years with the tools and resources that Main Street Alabama has been able to bring to their programs,” Tomlin said. “You can see breweries popping up, you can see clothing boutiques popping back up, you can see people wanting to come back into downtown, and then with ACE you’re developing your leadership capacity in the communities.”

Hoover said ACE helps communities focus on the unique qualities that make them attractive to both their residents and potential businesses.

“We want them to develop what they want to be,” Hoover said. “Some want industries, some that’s not what they want, and so success is the vision they have for their community and the uniqueness of it.”

Helmer said a unified community is a key to success.

“Everybody wants to be able to recruit businesses in, but you really have to work with the existing businesses first, and then look at the market and be able to recruit additional businesses beyond that,” Helmer said. “If you don’t allow people to be involved in the process on the front end, they don’t play or pay on the back side of it, so it’s extraordinarily important.”

Tomlin said both organizations are helping elevate Alabama’s attractiveness to new businesses.

“When your downtowns are revitalized, when your communities are prepared for growth, like through ACE, you are able to attract the population that wants to live in your communities,” Tomlin said. “So, when an economic development project is looking at the state, you’ve got more communities that are able to raise their hand and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got what you’re looking for.’”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

19 hours ago

UAB Hospital named one of America’s best hospitals for 2020

(UAB)

UAB Hospital was named one of the best hospitals in the nation by Healthgrades, a resource that connects consumers, physicians and health systems.

America’s Best Hospitals™ honors the nation’s top-performing health care providers, based on an analysis of more than 45 million patient records across nearly 4,500 hospitals over three years. The list honors the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation for overall clinical excellence. UAB Hospital is the only Alabama health care facility to make the list.

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Healthgrades America’s Best Hospitals Awards analyzed the performance of United States hospitals across 32 conditions and procedures, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis and stroke. Overall, patients treated in hospitals named as among America’s Best Hospitals™ have, on average, a 26.6 percent lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive this award. If all hospitals, as a group, performed similarly to America’s Best Hospitals, 161,930 lives could potentially have been saved.

“It is our great faculty and staff who deserve the credit for UAB Hospital’s recognition by Healthgrades for what it is, a great hospital and an asset for everyone in Alabama,” said Will Ferniany, Ph.D., CEO of the UAB Health System. “We are here to advance medicine throughout Alabama, our country and the world.”

UAB Hospital has previously received the Outstanding Patient Experience Award™ from Healthgrades. The award recognizes hospitals that provide an overall outstanding patient experience, defined as the sum of all interactions, shaped by a health care organization’s culture, that influence patients’ perceptions across the continuum of care.

Click here to view Healthgrades’ hospital quality methodologies. Click here to see a full list of the recipients.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama at Birmingham)

20 hours ago

Tuberville denies being an ‘amnesty’ advocate — ‘No pathway to citizenship if you come here illegally’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

HARTSELLE — With a little more than two weeks to go until Republicans head to the polls to select their preference of who will represent their party on the ballot against U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) on the November 3 general election ballot, the first wave of attack ads have gone up on the airwaves.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) gets credit for being the first to go on offense with two television spots.

In one, two actors portray his opponents — former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. However, in another, audio of Tuberville from a Shoals Republican Club meeting back in August is used to make the case Tuberville is an advocate for amnesty for illegal immigrants.

“There are people coming across the border that need jobs,” Tuberville says on the audio. “And we want them to come over here. We just need to know who is here, put the wall up — then let them come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.” A narrator replies, “Hey, Tommy, that’s amnesty.”

On Saturday, during a campaign stop at Bentley’s at the Outhouse restaurant in downtown Hartselle, Tuberville sat down with Yellowhammer News to clarify his position on so-called “amnesty” and elaborate on his beliefs on immigration policy.

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“There is no pathway to citizenship if you come here illegally,” Tuberville said when asked for his definitive position on amnesty for illegal immigrants. “You have got to go and start back the right way.”

“None,” he replied when asked again.

Tuberville maintained that advancing the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, as proposed by the Trump administration, was central to his position on immigration policy. He emphasized its necessity to thwart drug trafficking.

“If we get it up, we can slow the drug traffic down,” he said. “Eighty percent of drugs come across the border. I’ve dealt with it every day, and it is getting worse. We lose 60,000 people a year in overdoses.”

The football coach-turned-candidate insisted the wall is the top priority before pursuing any changes to current immigration law.

“My stance from day one has been this: We don’t even think about any kind of talk with anybody who is here until we get that wall built because it doesn’t make any difference, because people keep coming,” Tuberville said. “We’ll end up having to change it for this group, change it for that group.”

“There are so many people who want to come here the right way,” he continued. “There’s 400,000 people in India today that speak English, that are educated, that want to come to this country. But we can’t let them in because we’re being overrun at the border. Until we can control what is coming in, we don’t need to do anything about immigration.”

When asked about the DREAMers, which refers to those immigrants brought illegally to America as minors, Tuberville said he would have to look at it as a U.S. Senator after wall construction.

“I’d have to look at – I’d have to look at all of it,” he said. “As a senator, you get the information. Who knows who is here? Does anybody have a real clue of who is here in this country? How many we’ve got? For me to make any speculation toward any group – I wouldn’t have any opinion on that.”

Tuberville admitted there was a degree of frustration reflected during his speech earlier in the day at the Madison County Republican Men’s Club breakfast in nearby Huntsville. However, he said it had nothing to do with amnesty allegations and more to do with the culture of politics.

He attributed the attacks that he supports “amnesty” to the “swamp.”

“This group that’s saying this stuff about amnesty, or whatever they’re saying about me – it’s the swamp,” Tuberville said. “They can’t run on anything. They don’t do anything. They’ve never done anything. They take a paycheck, and then they try to get reelected. We’re in the problems now because of the people I’m running against. They create the problems. I’m trying to go solve the problem because I know the problem.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

 

22 hours ago

Roby: Creating and protecting new ideas

(Representative Martha Roby/Facebook, YHN)

Throughout the years, advancements in technology have altered and changed the world we live in.

Talented and bright minds are constantly pitching new ideas in industries all across the board, but it is the ability to protect these intangible creations that gives them their value. As technology has changed over time, so have the policies that protect these notable developments. With technological progression comes a more complex legal environment for businesses and organizations. It’s critical that strong protections are in place to safeguard the innovative ideas of the American people, ultimately stimulating innovation, fueling economic growth, and building stronger communities.

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I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, where I am in a unique position to advocate for the core copyright industries and related workforce that contribute so much to our economy and culture, both in Alabama and across the country. I believe our government must work to ensure our Intellectual Property (IP) laws are up-to-date and that they address the needs of today’s digital world. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) recently released the 2020 International IP Index, evaluating the IP framework between 53 global economies, ranking the United States in first place. Although the U.S. received the highest rating, Congress still has a lot of work to do.

More than 45 million American jobs rely on IP-dependent industries. Alabama has a large IP footprint, as there are currently 910,062 IP-related jobs in the state. Last year alone, there were 5,393 innovations registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alabama. Unfortunately, these hardworking, creative professionals don’t always receive the recognition and compensation they deserve due to several factors that we’re working to tackle in the House Judiciary Committee. With the strong IP presence we have in the American workforce, it’s important to understand the need for considerable protections.

Many colleges and universities in Alabama have established learning environments that give guidance to students who construct innovative works as part of their education. The University of Alabama is home to the Office for Innovation and Commercialization, and Auburn University houses the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization. These offices, along with others across the state, provide knowledge and expertise to students who are seeking licensing agreements with commercial entities. Another way to expand this knowledge is by engaging with professionals. In Huntsville, the USPTO is hosting a roundtable event later this month to engage in a discussion on the emerging issues surrounding IP enforcement.

As creative minds are hard at work across our country, my hope is that members of Congress, including myself, are working to craft meaningful policy that will protect these innovative ideas. With the recent celebration of National Innovation Day, I’d like to encourage young people to exercise their creativity and ingenuity. While our youth are the future of the creative industry, it’s imperative that we motivate people of all ages to innovate and create. I will remain engaged with this issue in my role on the House Judiciary Committee to ensure we are advocating for the proper IP protections necessary to preserve the unique creations of the American people.

Representative Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

24 hours ago

Power Moves: Bobbie Knight taking helm at Miles College is the latest in a lifetime of leadership

(Chad Allen/Alabama NewsCenter)

Becoming president of Miles College – the first female chief executive in the school’s 122-year history – wasn’t part of Bobbie Knight’s retirement plan.

After 37 years with Alabama Power, where she held several leadership positions, including vice president of Public Relations and vice president of the company’s Birmingham Division, Knight wasn’t in the market for a new, full-time job.

Indeed, Knight had plenty going on even after her 2016 retirement from the power company.

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In 2017, she was elected to Miles’ board of trustees and co-chaired newly elected Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s transition team. Then, in 2018, she was appointed to the Birmingham Airport Authority, where her colleagues immediately elected her chair. She also had her own consulting company, not to mention other, ongoing volunteer civic obligations.

But when longtime Miles President George French announced last year that he was leaving to become president of Clark Atlanta University, the Miles board of trustees quickly turned to Knight to serve as interim president of the 1,700-student college in Fairfield near Birmingham.

“I was absolutely floored,” Knight said.

“I deliberated long and hard after I got over the initial shock of being asked to consider this opportunity and I have continuously prayed for the wisdom, strength and courage it will take to lead this institution with integrity, compassion and a servant’s heart,” Knight said during a press conference announcing her appointment.

Bobbie Knight shares her plans for Miles College from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“During this transition, the job before me is clear; first, to serve the students of Miles College by ensuring they receive a quality education, that they are equipped with the tools they need to be successful here and in the future and that they enjoy a safe and fulfilling campus life. Second, my job is to maintain a fiscally sound institution. I have a business background and my plan is to use business principles and practices to keep this institution financially strong.”

It didn’t take long for Knight to make a mark.

In January, Miles announced it had received its single largest contribution from an individual donor in school history – $1 million.

The donation came from a celebrity more often associated with another Alabama institute of higher learning: Charles Barkley, the former Auburn University and NBA basketball great and television commentator.

Barkley singled out Knight in his comments about the donation. “I’ve gotten to know Bobbie Knight over the last year and it was really something I wanted to do,” Barkley said in a statement. “To have a female president is a big deal and I want to help Bobbie be as successful as she can be.”

Knight said that even though Barkley didn’t attend Miles or any other historically black college or university, “he understands how vitally important HBCUs have been in this country.”

Barkley’s donation drew national attention, and Knight hoped it would set the stage for more contributions as Miles embarked on a $100 million fundraising campaign. Before the month was over, the school announced it had received a $50,000 contribution to its football program from Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and Hueytown native Jameis Winston.

“Having someone of Jameis’ stature selflessly contribute to our growth here at Miles gives credence to what we are trying to accomplish, which is to give our student-athletes the best collegiate experience possible,” Knight said in a news release.

That Barkley cited his relationship with Knight in making his donation is hardly the first time Knight has been recognized for her skills – and for making a difference.

Knight grew up in the Birmingham neighborhood of Zion City, one of five children. Her mother worked as a pastry chef in the long-closed Pizitz department store bakery. Her dad was an inspector at Stockham Valves and Fittings, at that time an important member of Birmingham’s heavy industrial sector. He passed away when Knight was 14.

“Bobbie truly comes from humble means,” said Robert Holmes, a retired Alabama Power executive and longtime civic leader who serves as vice chair of the Samford University board of trustees. Holmes watched Knight rise through the company ranks, starting with an evening shift in customer service and moving through positions of increasing importance.

“She has an unparalleled work ethic,” Holmes said, noting how Knight went back to school to get a law degree while working full-time.

After becoming a vice president at the power company, Knight was chosen among 21 women worldwide for the annual Leadership Foundation Fellows Program of the International Women’s Forum. The exclusive fellowship for female executives included study at Harvard University and the Judge School of Business at Cambridge University in England.

Knight has been honored with numerous other accolades through the years, including Outstanding Alumni in Public Relations by the University of Alabama School of Communications and recipient of the Women’s History Award from the Birmingham Chapter of the NAACP.

She has served on numerous civic and nonprofit boards, including Red Mountain Theatre, VOICES for Alabama’s Children, the Alabama Literacy Council and United Way of Central Alabama. She helped to create Birmingham’s Railroad Park as a member of its founding board and served as chair of the board of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

“When Bobbie gets engaged in projects, she gets engaged,” said Norm Davis, a retired financial services executive who has known Knight for 25 years.

“Bobbie is very strategic in her thinking and her actions,” said Davis, who was working with French on plans for Miles’ fundraising campaign when French announced his move to Atlanta.

“She’s just done everything right,” he said about Knight’s new role as college president. “She’s one of those people that, when she sees something where she can make a difference, she is always willing to roll up her sleeves and go to work.”

He recalls observing Knight on a scalding summer afternoon, watching practice for the Miles marching band. “She is all over the campus, engaging the kids. She is working on strengthening the graduation rate, recruiting students, building relationships.

“She continues to build the community,” Davis added, noting that he and Knight both believe a vibrant Miles College can serve as an economic engine in Fairfield and for western Jefferson County.

“I think we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in this region. That’s what I see,” Knight said.

“She is going to leave Miles better than how she found it,” Holmes said, citing Knight’s passion for the community that raised her.

“Bobbie wants to give back to the city, and the county and the state, from where we’ve both gotten so much from,” said Holmes, also a Birmingham native. “She is a living example of what one can do.”

Power Moves, an ongoing series by Alabama NewsCenter, celebrates the contributions of multicultural leaders in Alabama. Visit AlabamaNewsCenter.com throughout the year for inspiring stories of those working to elevate the state.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

HudsonAlpha researchers work toward incredible cotton improvements through genetics

(HudsonAlpha/Contributed)

Researchers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology have set out to make a better cotton through a series of research collaborations, grants and projects. These grants include sequencing “elite” cotton strains, sending cotton to space and conversations between students and astronauts.Genetics could transform the very ways we think of cotton and its uses. Scientists ask us to imagine colored cotton straight from the plant, which would reduce the environmental footprint of dye use. Fire-retardant cotton would come with major implications for consumer safety. Cotton might even be bred with natural antimicrobial compounds, which could revolutionize the medical industry by providing hospitals with linens and bandages that have antibacterial properties.

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With such bold visions, it’s easy to see why researchers have focused in on cotton for genetically guided improvement. A series of grants will allow researchers at the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC) to move us ever closer to the cotton of tomorrow.

One project HGSC scientists will work on has them sending cotton to space. The idea is that cultivating cotton in zero gravity might alter the genetics or epigenetics of transformation in a visible way, giving scientists a target when compared to cotton cultivated on earth.

The HGSC provides high-quality whole genome sequencing and analysis in agriculture, having created more than half of all the high-quality reference genomes currently in circulation. Now the project team, led by Jeremy Schmutz, will sequence both the earth-grown samples and the samples that return from space, searching for differences on the genetic level. The effort is part of a collaboration with Christopher A. Saski, Ph.D., of Clemson University, funded by Target and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

However, it’s not the only cotton-based project on the radar for the HGSC. Schmutz is also heading a project funded by Cotton Incorporated that will compare elite cotton lines with a historical one. Breeders develop “elite lines” that they use as the basis for their crops, often because they are well adapted to the climate they’re grown in, particularly disease resistant or have some desirable traits. By comparing elite lines to a historical cotton reference genome, researchers hope to unveil the parts of the cotton genome that make the elite lines so desirable, making them easier to replicate and improve.

As far as education is concerned, Vice President of Educational Outreach Neil Lamb, Ph.D., will lead a student experience for a diverse group of students from local high schools. The Educational Outreach team will cover the basics of epigenetics, information about cotton and the specific details of the research project.

Students will have an opportunity to ask questions of researchers from both HudsonAlpha and Clemson. Lamb is also working with NASA to explore the possibility of linking students to the astronauts on the International Space Station for a conversation about how the experiments are carried out in space.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Diverse businesses ‘critical’ to success of Birmingham

African American entrepreneurs were encouraged to embrace growing business opportunities during the start of the 16th Annual A.G. Gaston Conference at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex on Tuesday morning.

A panel of business leaders shared with attendees a variety of opportunities. Bob Dickerson, executive director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center and host of the conference, said Birmingham has plenty of opportunities available.

“There are a lot of opportunities that are happening in our city, created by The World Games, expansion of the airport, transit – we’re about to build a stadium, and that, in addition to all of the regular stuff that goes on, says that there are tremendous opportunities for small, minority and diverse businesses,” Dickerson said. “We just wanted to put that out there and try to do what we can as the A.G. Gaston Company to help people do more business in the city of Birmingham.”

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Business leaders encourage African American entrepreneurs at 2020 A.G. Gaston Conference from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Dickerson said the Birmingham region is about 30 percent black or brown, but black and brown companies and entrepreneurs only generate about 1 percent of the total spend.

“We have to change that,” Dickerson said. “We need to make sure we understand it and our stakeholders, major corporations, big procurers have to understand that it’s in everybody’s best interests that we grow African American businesses.”

Glenda Thomas, Supplier Diversity manager at Alabama Power, said investing in the services of suppliers helps more than the business.

“For every million dollars that a corporation invests and pays you for your services, that creates 14 jobs,” Thomas said. “We’re changing the narrative about supplier diversity, economic inclusion, where we’re making an impact in our communities.”

David Fleming, president and CEO of REV Birmingham, said small businesses have a tremendous opportunity to thrive.

“In the last decade, we have seen a lot of change in our city,” Fleming said. “Our city center went from having 5,000 people living in it to over 13,000 people and growing. That’s opportunity. Those people need services. They need businesses to serve them. I believe there’s a lot of great days ahead of us in Birmingham and we’re happy to be a part of it with all of these great friends up here to build our city.”

Marcus Lundy, senior vice president and Supplier Diversity manager for Regions Bank, said small businesses can become suppliers to larger businesses, but only with assistance.

“There are three legs to the stool in what we do with supplier diversity: access to opportunities, access to capital, and training and development,” Lundy said. “That’s why we’re here, to share those nuggets with you.”

Melodi Morrissette, Community Relations executive for the East region of BBVA, said educating small business owners is important.

“Our small business curriculum has five modules in there and we’re looking for opportunities to come to you and share one of those modules, such as developing a business plan or how businesses obtain credit,” Morrissette said. “Access to capital has been named one of the biggest needs for small business owners.”

Fred McCallum, interim president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said BhamBizHub was created to help small businesses and minority-owned businesses connect with people who need their services.

“The goal of the BhamBizHub is to create a place where we can connect small businesses, minority-owned businesses to resource providers,” McCallum said. “If you’ve got services you can provide to those businesses, we would be interested in talking to you.”

Ronald Mathieu, president and CEO of the Birmingham Airport Authority, said his organization is one of those resource providers that needs a robust supply chain.

“We exist to be an engine for this community,” Mathieu said. “The more successful we are, the more money we are ultimately able to put into this community, and the better and healthier the community is.”

Irvin Henderson, president of Henderson and Company, said his company is in Birmingham on purpose.

“We chose to come here because Birmingham is the next hot thing,” Henderson said. “Not here by mistake. Here on purpose.”

The entire panel discussion can be viewed in the video below.

Watch the Business Corner Opportunity Forum at the 2020 A.G. Gaston Conference from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

Death, taxes and prosperity

(Pixabay, YHN)

The only two sure things in life, according to the saying, are death and taxes. Should businesses profit when one of their employees dies? They can avoid taxes, and this reduces our prosperity.

I first read about “Janitors Insurance” or “Dead Peasants Insurance” in Harvard Professor Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy. Professor Sandel used the case to criticize how this affected businesses’ view of workers: “Creating conditions where workers are worth more dead than alive objectifies them; it treats them as commodity futures rather than as employees whose value to the company lies in the work they do.”

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Corporations have legitimate reasons to take out insurance on top executives. A good CEO has a vision and strategy for a company, which subordinates may not fully grasp. The sudden and unexpected death of a leader can cost a company. The insurance industry creates value by covering such losses.

By contrast, firms’ financial interest in most employees is more modest. Employees are certainly worth more than their salary, because they know and are good at their jobs. Hiring and training a replacement takes time and money. The stake, however, is small relative to the insurance policies companies take out, like a $250,000 policy for a convenience store clerk. And companies keep the policies after employees quit or retire, so they are not protecting against losses from separation.

Janitors (and executives) Insurance policies are not for the employees’ benefit; they are “company-owned,” meaning that the business pays the premiums and is the beneficiary. Many businesses do offer life insurance as an employee benefit. Employees and their families are the beneficiaries of these policies.

Although Professor Sandel refers in the above quote to an employee being worth more dead than alive, no one accuses businesses of hastening employees’ deaths to collect Janitors Insurance.

Our tax code incentivizes businesses to purchase Janitors Insurance. Life insurance is an investment yielding a return on the premiums paid. The insurance company invests the premiums and shares some of the returns through a more generous benefit to make life insurance more attractive to potential customers.

Significantly for our story, life insurance death benefits are generally tax-free. This allows businesses tax-free investment income.

We might want to blame corporations for trying to pay less in taxes, but this would be misplaced. Public finance economics distinguishes between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Avoidance legally reduces taxes owed, while evasion involves lawbreaking. Economists assume that individuals and businesses will engage in avoidance. Indeed, numerous ads during income tax season encourage us to avoid paying too much. We control tax evasion through legal and moral sanctions.

Efforts like Janitors Insurance to avoid taxes divert businesses’ effort away from earning profits. The time and effort managers use devising new tax dodges cannot be spent making new or improved goods and services or lowering costs, activities which make our economy more prosperous. Avoiding taxes merely makes someone else pay for government. When businesses find avoiding taxes more profitable than producing goods and services, our economy grows more slowly.

Considerable investment went into developing Janitors Insurance. Corporations lobbied states during the 1980s for laws allowing the insuring of all employees, not just executives. And explaining the legality and wisdom of Janitors Insurance to top management must have taken many meetings.

We like taxing businesses because they appear rich. Yet the question of who truly pays business taxes is very complicated. Taxes can reduce worker pay, while many working Americans own stocks through a pension or IRA.

Because of these uncertainties and the enormous cost of making tax avoidance more profitable than production, many economists support lower business taxes. The Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017 indeed cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21%. Time will tell, but this tax cut should reduce businesses’ use of Janitors Insurance.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

2 days ago

Byrne releases ad — ‘Hillary still ain’t in jail’; Sessions, Tuberville ‘Should’ve stayed fired’

(Byrne for Senate/YouTube

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on Saturday went up with his latest television ad, which hits both of the other leading two candidates in Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate primary field.

The 30-second spot represents what is known as a “contrast ad,” with negatives against former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville leading off, followed by a positive conclusion about Byrne.

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Entitled, “Fired,” the ad dings Sessions for being forced to resign as attorney general by President Donald Trump and Tuberville for resigning as Auburn’s coach upon the request of the athletics director following the 2008 season, among other allegations about both candidates.

The spot features a mock panel of three voters seemingly interviewing each of the three Senate candidates one-by-one.

The former football coach is the first candidate that goes before the panel, with an actor dressed as Tuberville standing before the three mock voters.

Next up is an actor portraying Sessions.

In what might be the stand-out line from the creative ad, one of the panelists comments on Sessions’ time as attorney general, “Hillary [Clinton] still ain’t in jail.”

Finally Byrne himself comes before the panel, boasting about his congressional record of voting with Trump as well as his recent staunch support of the president during his impeachment, for which Byrne was recognized by Trump at the White House following his acquittal in the Senate.

Watch the entire ad for yourself:

“With momentum on our side, it’s time to highlight the clear differences between the candidates,” Byrne campaign manager Seth Morrow said in a statement to Yellowhammer News regarding the ad. “While others got fired for failing to get the job done, Bradley is the proven fighter with a track record of defending President Trump and our values. Bradley is the fighter we need to fire Doug Jones come November.”

The primary will be March 3. Candidates in the field also include former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs). Moore and Mooney have both significantly trailed in polling compared to Sessions, Tuberville and Byrne.

The ultimate Republican nominee will face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

Sessions, Tuberville campaigns react

In a statement, Sessions campaign spokesman John Rogers said, “When a candidate is desperate and losing, they always attack. Unfortunately, that’s what we are seeing not only from Bradley Byrne, but also from Tommy Tuberville. Both are throwing mud at Jeff Sessions because they are losing, and they have failed to connect with voters. Neither Byrne nor Tuberville can win on the issues. They can’t lay out a positive, conservative agenda for Alabama and the nation, and so they are desperately attacking Jeff Sessions, the only proven conservative leader in this race.”

Tuberville himself also released a lengthy statement bashing the Byrne ad as containing “lies” and “baseless attacks.”

“When Donald Trump was deep in the fight against Hillary Clinton and needed Bradley Bryne the most, Byrne said he was ‘unfit to be president.’ Alabama doesn’t need to elect another cut-and- run congressman like Bradley Byrne. We need a pro-Trump fighter like Tommy Tuberville,” Tuberville said, firing back.

“Career politicians and second-tier candidates like Bradley Byrne are afraid of losing power and being yanked out of the swamp. In the final few days of the primary, he’s telling lies, distorting positions, and launching baseless attacks because desperate candidates do desperate things,” he added, calling the spot “a sleazy, swamp creature tactic from a desperate politician.”

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

2 days ago

Finding Birmingham’s next A.G. Gaston

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Creating an environment that develops the next generation of young entrepreneurs and business owners was the focus of a panel discussion Wednesday at the 16th annual A.G. Gaston Conference.

Bob Dickerson, executive director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center and host of the conference, said his team chose this panel topic to talk about how the community can create an incubator to nurture and support the next A.G. Gaston.

“There are people in our midst, folks who are starting businesses, some people who may be working somewhere right now, who have the wherewithal, who have something inside of them that might allow them to become the next A.G. Gaston,” Dickerson said. “I want them to leave here better informed about how to help grow African American business enterprise in our community.”

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Searching for the next A.G. Gaston from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Anthony Hood, director of civic innovation in the Office of the President at UAB, moderated the discussion. He asked participants to talk about Birmingham’s ecosystem and what conditions need to exist for business owners, especially black business owners, to grow, thrive and become the next A.G. Gaston. Elijah Davis, Strategic Growth manager at Urban Impact Inc., said one way is to modernize technical assistance offered to business owners.

“One of the things I continuously complain about is that if we are using 1990s ways of technical assistance, we will fail,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the property owners as we really develop a cohesive vision that really of us really believe that it can still be.”

Tene Dolphin, deputy director for Business Diversity and Opportunity at the City of Birmingham, said the city is ripe for becoming a hub for minority entrepreneurs.

“The reason why I love this work so much is because I believe we create culture,” Dolphin said. “We create the energy that’s in this city. If we don’t connect to the businesses that are in somebody’s house, the retail businesses, the businesses that are in somebody’s head, we’re missing the mark.”

Carmen Mays, founder and CEO of Elevators, said there is a whole class of creative young people in Birmingham who people never see because they don’t present themselves in a way that many people think is acceptable.

“Because of that, we miss out on the beauty of the ecosystem,” Mays said. “That’s where all of the culture is. That’s where all of the swag is. That’s where all of the sauce is. All of that stuff that makes us so colorful and great is really with those people.”

Davis said discussions like this are an opportunity to help people around the country.

“I see this, Birmingham, as just not a particular type of local opportunity to uplift black folks, but this is also a signal to uplift black folks in the entire nation,” Davis said. “Nowhere else is there a historic black Wall Street that’s still owned and occupied by businesses that have been here.”

Dickerson said the discussion also helped participants leave with a better appreciation of who A.G. Gaston was and what he meant to Birmingham.

“What he taught, what he left us — I want them to be fired up,” Dickerson said. “I want them to leave here fired up about going out and either supporting an entrepreneur that happens to be an African American, becoming a better African American business owner, or a corporate person that understands the need and significance of supporting African American entrepreneurship in our community.”

The entire panel discussion can be viewed in the video below.

Watch the Day 2 morning panel discussion from the 2020 A.G. Gaston Conference from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

GOP U.S. Senate hopefuls make pitch to Madison County Republican Men’s Club

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

HUNTSVILLE — With just over two weeks until Republican voters go to select their preference for who will represent them on the ballot against incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), four of the GOP Senate hopefuls paid a visit to the Madison County Republican Men’s Club monthly breakfast meeting.

Before a crowd of at least 300 people at the Trinity United Methodist Church, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and Stanley Adair made late-campaign pitches to a group that will likely have high participation in the March 3 primary contest.

Tuberville led off with impassioned remarks about social values and touted his support for President Donald Trump.

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“Why do you think our prisons are full? Because we do not have God as part of our country anymore,” Tuberville said. “We’ve got to get him back.”

“Christianity built this country, and we’re going to stay with it,” he added. “Nobody else is coming in here and changing our culture. We’re not going to let that happen.”

Tuberville also pledged to be a vocal supporter of the completion of Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Later at the event, Mooney spoke about remaining true to conservative values and principles.

“My promise to you is I’ll be the same guy the day that I walked out that I was the day that I walked in,” he said. “You know why I’m going? I’m going to protect foundational beliefs of our nation, Alabama beliefs — send them back to Washington. We’ve got to talk about it every day. We’ve got to stand for it, and we’ve got to make sure we stand on principle and deliver the message our nation wants to hear because this nation was founded like no other nation.”

“Be proud of the Constitution,” Mooney added. “Defend it, protect it. It is the best document that has ever been produced in this world.”

Immediately following Mooney, Byrne addressed the group, lauding the week President Trump had at the beginning of the month that started with the chaos in the Democratic Iowa caucuses, followed by the State of the Union address and his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial.

However, in what was one of the more noteworthy parts of the speech, the Baldwin County congressman revealed what was to come later that day in the form of a television commercial targetting Tuberville.

“Listen to my television commercial we’re running right now,” Byrne said. “It has a recording of Tommy Tuberville saying he is for amnesty. Listen to his own words. Don’t take my word for it. ‘We need to build a wall.’ We did build a wall.”

Following Byrne, Haleyville businessman Stanley Adair spoke, lambasting Tuberville and politicians in general.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

2 days ago

Recent heavy rains continue to affect Alabama Power lakes

(Nik Layman/Alabama NewsCenter)

The heavy rains that fell this week are continuing to affect several Alabama Power lakes.

Smith Lake on the Black Warrior River and Weiss Lake on the Coosa River have risen above their summer levels. While Weiss Lake’s rise has slowed, Smith Lake is expected to continue coming up through the weekend. Its level is not expected to peak before the next round of rains, which are forecast for next week.

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Alabama Power opens spillway gates at dams to control rising lake levels from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Since Feb. 10, Alabama Power lakes in the Black Warrior, Tallapoosa and Coosa river basins have seen an average of 3.5 inches of rain, which has fallen on already soggy ground and swollen creeks.  Since the beginning of February, an average of 8 inches of rain has fallen in these same basins, which is well above normal.

Most of north and central Alabama are still vulnerable to river flooding following this week’s rains, and many areas remain under a flood watch or warning, according to the National Weather Service.

Lake elevations are always subject to change. With all the recent rain, and more to come, individuals with boats and other water-related equipment and facilities should stay alert to changing conditions on Alabama Power reservoirs and be prepared to take steps to project their property.

For more information about Alabama Power lakes and updates on lake conditions, download the Smart Lakes app for your smartphone or visit www.apcshorelines.com. Individuals can also call 1-800-LAKES 11 (1-800-525-3711) for the latest.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

High-ranking research programs power UAH aerospace collaborations

(Made in Alabame/Contributed)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Aerospace engineering researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are modeling how a future U.S. spacecraft might be engineered for nuclear propulsion. They are also studying how reliable rocket engine components can be printed using advanced manufacturing techniques.

These two projects illustrate why UAH consistently ranks among the nation’s top programs for federally financed aerospace research. In 2018, the university earned a No. 5 ranking for research activities in the field, according to data from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Judith Schneider, a professor in UAH’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, said the university’s location in Cummings Research Park means it is perfectly positioned for collaborations with aerospace companies and government agencies located on Redstone Arsenal.

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“We’re here in Huntsville, the Rocket City,” said Dr. Schneider, whose research focuses on advanced manufacturing processes such as friction stir welding and additive manufacturing of metals. “I don’t think there is another place in the world that has all the capabilities we have right here in one location.”

POTENTIAL PARTNERS

Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA’s center for propulsion research and a frequent collaborator, stands nearby. Major aerospace and defense firms including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman all have a major presence in Huntsville, which also hosts homegrown firms such as Dynetics.

Meanwhile, many other companies, including space flight company Blue Origin and rocket engine manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne, have launched major growth projects in the city.

“Every major aerospace company in the industry is represented here. They’re all here,” Dr. Schneider said. “People are going to come to Huntsville and UAH because this is where all the players are.”

The extensive capabilities of researchers at UAH and other Alabama universities represent a critical component in strategic efforts to accelerate the growth of the aerospace industry in the state, according to Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Alabama educators are engaging in high-level collaborations with key organizations within the aerospace and defense sector to tackle the toughest challenges facing this industry,” Secretary Canfield said.

“These educators, and their students, are making important technical contributions through groundbreaking research in spaceflight, aircraft design, additive manufacturing technologies, and much more.”

Alabama’s aerospace industry is home to 300 companies from 30 different countries, employing more than 13,000 people in manufacturing roles and another 4,600 working as aerospace engineers. The sector has seen more than $3 billion in new capital investment since 2011.

‘INNOVATIVE OUTCOMES’

Industry’s critical mass in Huntsville translates into opportunity for UAH researchers. The latest NSF data also showed that UAH ranks No. 11 among U.S. universities for NASA-sponsored research and No. 28 for Department of Defense research.

“This success points to the valuable partnerships that have existed for decades in this community and that UAH clearly provides effective and innovative outcomes to the technological challenges that exist for the U.S. Army, NASA and the FBI,” said Dr. Bob Lindquist, UAH’s interim vice president for research and economic development.

One ongoing project for NASA centers on nuclear thermal propulsion as part of a potential test flight later this decade. The space agency is trying to determine the feasibility and affordability of a low enriched uranium-based NTP engine to power a manned spacecraft.

UAH researchers are working closely with counterparts at Marshall Space Flight Center and private contractors to solve the technical challenges created by a nuclear reactor at the heart of a rocket engine for deep space voyages.

UAH’s research focus is on modeling the nuclear-powered spacecraft on a mission to Mars.

“That’s why NASA brought us onboard, to explore opportunities and to look off into the distance to see what might be accomplished,” said Dr. Dale Thomas, UAH’s eminent scholar in systems engineering, who is the principal investigator for the research grant.

ADDITIVE EXPERTISE

Dr. Schneider works with NASA and small manufacturers to research the effects of non-equilibrium build conditions on the resulting microstructures of metals used in additive manufacturing. A special concentration is on the interfaces formed in direct printing of bi-metallic components.

In one project for NASA, Dr. Schneider and her students worked with a vendor to help mature its processing of printing a single part from copper and Inconel, a nickel-based superalloy. NASA needed to determine if the part could stand up to the rigors of a hot-fire test, which was subsequently demonstrated.

Dr. Schneider’s ability to evaluate the microstructures of 3-D printed parts, especially those made with two different materials joined together, provides manufacturers with critical data about the integrity of their products.

“A lot of manufacturers are printing stuff today, but they don’t always have a full picture about the quality of what they are printing,” she said. “We are continuing to work with many small businesses. We can help them refine their process parameters to get a better product.”

In addition to collaboration with NASA, UAH’s expertise in additive manufacturing has led to collaborations with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center (formerly known as the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC) and others.

EMERGING AM CENTER

Major companies are also heavily involved in additive manufacturing in Alabama.

Carpenter Technology Corp. late last year opened a $40 million advanced manufacturing facility on its Athens production campus, where it produces high-end specialty alloys.

GE Aviation produces two jet engine components using additive technologies at a facility in Auburn that was the aerospace industry’s first site to produce an engine part using 3-D printing technologies. The plant is undergoing a $50 million expansion announced last year.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

Rogers’ report from Washington: The state of the Union is strong

(Congressman Mike D. Rogers/Facebook, White House/Flickr, YHN)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On February 4, I was honored to be on the House Floor as President Donald J. Trump delivered one of the most moving and remarkable State of the Union addresses in American history.

In a speech titled, “The Great American Comeback,” President Trump highlighted not only our booming economy and strengthened military, but what makes America truly shine.

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From the booming economy to Space Force to the Tuskegee Airmen to Rush Limbaugh to a soldier coming home to his family after a long deployment – President Trump presented great reminders of what it means to be an American.

As he concluded his speech, I was extremely disappointed in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s petty and childish behavior as she ripped up the copy of the speech he had given her.

Pelosi’s actions were a complete embarrassment to our country and to the position of speaker of the House. I supported an effort to reprimand the speaker for her disgraceful actions.

It seems that this is a theme for Democrats though.

If things aren’t going exactly the way they want, they will go to any lengths from embarrassment to lies to a sham impeachment.

When President Trump was elected in 2016, the impeachment talks began.

Over the past three years, Democrats have been focused like a laser on trying to undo the 2016 presidential election results.

Since last November, Democrats have wasted the time of Congress and our country as they dragged out an unfair and completely partisan impeachment trial.

On the heels of President Trump’s very impressive address to the nation, the following afternoon, he was acquitted by the United States Senate.

I was thrilled to see this finally happen so that we can hopefully move past this Democrat-driven attempt to divide our nation.

I continue to stand in strong support of President Trump and his leadership.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is a Republican from Saks. 

2 days ago

State Rep. Clouse: Would like to have lottery vote this November — Gaming commission should have been done 6-7 months ago

(Screenshot/APTV)

House Ways and Means General Fund Committee chair State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) thinks there is still a possibility that a referendum on a lottery could be on Alabama’s November statewide ballot.

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday, Clouse said despite Gov. Kay Ivey naming a commission to study gaming earlier in the day, a lottery could be done separately from a discussion regarding other gaming, primarily the so-called legacy dog track gaming facilities and the casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The Dale Country Republican lawmaker said he would like to see the vote on this general election ballot to save taxpayers the cost of a statewide special election, especially given the November election is expected to generate the highest turnout of any election in a four-year time span.

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“I would like to have this, and hope to have it still decided in this legislative session so we could be voting in November,” Clouse said. “You know, the November election, when we’re voting for president, is the most highly participated in election in the state, particularly this year when we’ve got a hotly contested U.S. Senate race. I would certainly rather do it in November, where there would be no additional cost to the taxpayers instead of having a special election on down [the road] that will cost about $3 million, you know?”

The clock could be ticking for Montgomery to move on a lottery. As the quadrennium winds down, the likelihood of the legislature taking on a big issue like a lottery will decrease. He added that Ivey’s gaming commission was “fine,” but said it was his preference for that to have been done earlier.

“I mean, this is the year to do it,” Clouse argued. “If you want to do a commission, that’s fine. But it should have been done six or seven months ago so it would be ready to go by the time we went into session. And even at that, I still don’t agree that the lottery should be a part of it. There are certainly a lot of things they can study with the Indian compact situation and with the local legislation that affects Greene and Macon, and Jefferson County dog tracks and Lowndes County. I mean, they’ll certainly have their plate full with those issues. But I just don’t think a lottery should be a part of it.”

Under Clouse’s education lottery proposal, half of the revenue generated would go to Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, and the other half would fund need-based college scholarships.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

2 days ago

Donald Trump gives Mo Brooks his ‘Complete Endorsement’

(M. Brooks)

As the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate are waiting with bated breath in anticipation for if and when President Donald Trump will issue his judgment on their race, Trump made his position known on another GOP primary contest within the boundaries of Alabama.

Via a posting on Twitter, Trump gave his “Complete Endorsement” to U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) on Friday in Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.

Brooks, a five-term incumbent, faces retired U.S. Navy officer Chris Lewis in the March 3 Republican primary. No Democrat candidate qualified to run in this November’s general election, therefore the candidate that emerges victorious on the GOP side will likely be a congressman through 2022.

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“[Mo] Brooks is running for Congress in the Great State of Alabama,” the president tweeted. “He is a huge supporter of the #MAGA Agenda. Mo fully supports Securing our Border w/the WALL, he Loves our Military & Vets, & is Strong on the #2A. Mo has my Complete Endorsement!”

In a statement, Brooks reacted, “I thank President Trump for his endorsement in the March 3 GOP Primary. President Trump’s endorsement confirms what most Tennessee Valley voters already know: that I have been, and am, a very dependable and stalwart supporter of America’s foundational principals that have combined to make America the greatest nation in world history.”

“No question, President Trump deeply appreciates my unwavering support for strong border security,” he continued. “Too many Americans are dead, have lost jobs, or suffered from suppressed wages because of the illegal alien tsunami that crosses America’s porous southern border with impunity.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

2 days ago

Alabama’s first sandhill season in 103 years deemed success

(Jason Russell/Contributed)

Another warm winter left Alabama’s duck hunters frustrated, but those who were lucky enough to score permits for the first sandhill crane season in the state in 103 years were elated.

Although not all of the 400 crane permit holders were able to harvest one of the large birds, those who did raved about the new hunting opportunity.

Jason Russell of Gadsden, Alabama, and his 17-year-old son, Grayson, both drew permits, which allowed a harvest of three birds each.

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The first order of business was to secure a place to hunt sandhills in the hunting zone in north Alabama. Fortunately, a friend from Birmingham had connections with a landowner near the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, and they were granted permission to hunt.

“We were excited to get an opportunity to hunt the sandhills,” said Russell, an avid duck hunter and award-winning decoy carver. “We’d seen them around for years. We really didn’t know the reality of what it would take to kill one. Once we were drawn, we thought we’d give it a shot. We bought decoys and got ready. What was interesting this year, everywhere I went, I saw cranes. I saw them near my house. At Weiss Lake, we saw cranes. At Guntersville, we saw cranes. Everywhere we went, we at least saw cranes flying.”

On the morning of the first hunt, the Russells saw several cranes in the field they planned to hunt and saw several more in the air. After setting up their decoys, both full-body and silhouettes, they settled into their blinds.

“Within 20 minutes we had a group of birds fly 15 yards over our decoys,” Jason said. “We ended up letting them go because we were so awestruck that our setup actually worked. We were kind of surprised. Another 20-30 minutes went by and groups of two and three came by. On our first hunt, three of us had permits, and we killed six birds on an afternoon hunt that lasted maybe two or three hours. We were pretty excited that you could actually decoy them. After duck and goose hunting for 30 years, this gives hunting a new twist and a new excitement.”

The Russells had planned to hunt cranes just like they would geese in an open field with layout blinds. They soon discovered natural vegetation helped them hide much better.

“There was some scrub brush sticking up,” Jason said. “I thought, well, let’s at least be comfortable. There was enough brush to where we could get hidden. We put our full-bodies out at 20 yards, hid our faces and kept our heads down. We were shooting decoying birds at 15 to 20 yards.”

The hunters left that area undisturbed for three weeks before attempting a second hunt. They were even more awestruck when they arrived at the hunting land. Jason needed two birds to fill his tags, while Grayson only needed one.

“When we got there, there must have been between 200 and 300 sandhills in the field,” Jason said. “After we got set up, three birds came in and I doubled up.”

With only one tag left, the cranes seemed hesitant to decoy. The Russells soon figured out that trying to mix crane hunting and goose hunting might not work very well.

“We had put out full-body goose decoys to try to kill a few geese while we were there,” Jason said. “It was interesting that the cranes seemed to be skirting our decoys. We decided either we were going to have to move or do something different. We made the decision to pull all the goose decoys. By the time we pulled the last goose decoy and got back in the blind, we had a pair of sandhills at 15 yards. My son rolled his out, and we were done. It could have been coincidence that we pulled the goose decoys and we killed one, but I feel like they flared off of the full-body goose decoys. We were just catching the cranes traveling from one field to another. I guess they decided to drop into our decoys to see what was going on.”

Before the hunt, Russell was afraid that it might be possible to mistake a protected whooping crane for a sandhill crane. That turned out to be an unrealized worry.

“One of my fears was being able to identify the birds if we were in low light,” he said. “Sometimes when you get the sun wrong, you can’t see color that well. I thought we were going to have to be really careful to look out for whooping cranes. But that was not a problem. The whooping cranes stood out like a sore thumb. We made sure there was no shooting at all when those were in the area. And we never shot into big groups of sandhills. We never shot into groups of more than four birds. I felt like we didn’t educate them for the most part. If people will be smart and shoot the birds in the decoys or really close, then it will be a good thing for years to come.”

Jason said it was “awesome” that he and Grayson both got permits in the first year of the new sandhill season.

“To get to shoot our sandhills together was special,” Jason said. “On our first hunt, we shot into a group of three birds and each of us got one. It was real exciting to get to have that moment of father-son hunting. It was just a neat, awesome experience that we will never be able to share again in waterfowling.”

Jason took his youngest son, 13-year-old Jonathan, on the second hunt to share the experience although Jonathan wasn’t able to hunt.

“I just wanted him to see it,” Jason said. “I was excited for him to get to watch and hear the sounds of how loud those birds really are. It was amazing. He carried one of the birds out of the field. It was a big, mature bird and he cradled that thing all the way out of the field.”

The excitement wasn’t over for the Russells when they prepared the crane for the dinner table.

“Cooking them was phenomenal,” Jason said. “We cooked some one night and took a little to a church group. One of the guys who doesn’t eat wild game said it was the best meal he’s eaten in his life. It was very flavorful. I thought it would be more like a duck, but it wasn’t. We enjoy eating duck, but I could eat way more sandhills. It was just so tender. I’ve always heard sandhills were the ribeye of the sky. Now I believe it. When you put it in your mouth, it tasted like steak. It was tender and juicy. Oh my gosh, it was so good.”

Seth Maddox, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Migratory Game Bird Coordinator, said the duck season was indeed disappointing, but he was enthusiastic about the first sandhill season.

The final results of the sandhill season won’t be available for a couple more weeks to allow permit holders to complete their post-season surveys.

Maddox said he expects the final numbers to be in line with other states with sandhill seasons.

“From the hunters we’ve talked to, it seems to be a pretty successful sandhill season,” Maddox said. “We’re expecting a harvest rate of about 30 percent, which will be a little more than 300 birds.”

Maddox said the warm winter not only caused diminished duck numbers in Alabama but also affected the sandhill population.

“Sandhill numbers were a little below normal for the birds we typically over-winter here in Alabama,” he said. “Our 5-year average is 15,000 birds. This year, we estimated the population at 12,000, which made for a little tougher conditions for hunters. The birds tended to concentrate in areas closer to the refuges.”

Maddox said the sandhill season is the first of four as an experimental season under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations. He said the number of permits (400) and tags (1,200) will be the same next year.

Alabama’s sandhill harvest rate is similar to that of Tennessee and Kentucky, which surprises Maddox a bit.

“Our season was probably a little better than I expected,” he said. “Our hunters had never done it before. They had to find people willing to give them access to hunting land. Hunters got to make new friends. I think it was a very successful season.”

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Episode 45: Name a more iconic duo than Auburn basketball and overtime

(YHPN)

Your favorite couple reconvenes to react to Auburn’s overtime wins over LSU and Alabama, discuss the latest happenings in The Bachelor with Madi P and some other shenanigans going on in the college sports world.

Is the ‘Barn cheatin’ again? Can Arkansas football compete in the SEC West? Who would watch a sitcom about Paul Finebaum?!

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3 days ago

Dem State Rep. Rolanda Hollis doubles down on mandatory vasectomy bill

(Capitol Journal/Facebook, YHN)

MONTGOMERY — State Rep. Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham) is doubling down after she made international waves Thursday in introducing a bill that would require every Alabama man to undergo a vasectomy within one month of his 50th birthday or the birth of his third biological child, whichever comes first.

Yellowhammer News first reported on HB 238, which laments in the bill synopsis, “Under existing law, there are no restrictions on the reproductive rights of men.”

Hollis, in a tweet sharing Yellowhammer’s original article on the legislation, confirmed HB 238 is indeed a reaction to pro-life legislation enacted last year, including the Human Life Protection Act.

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“The Vasectomy bill is to help with the reproductive system,” she wrote. “This is to neutralize the abortion ban bill (Human Life Protection Act). The responsibility is not always on the women. It takes 2 to tangle [sic].”

“This will help prevent pregnancy as well as abortion of unwanted children,” Hollis claimed. “This bill is to help men become more accountable as well as women.”

In an interview with WSFA on Friday, Hollis reportedly pushed back on the notion that HB 238 is “an outrageous overstep.” She complained that “year after year the majority party continues to introduce new legislation that tries to dictate a woman’s body and her reproductive rights,” adding, “men should not be legislating what women do with their bodies.”

During the debate on the Human Life Protection Act in 2019, Hollis read from a poem “If My Vagina was a Gun,” comparing the Second Amendment rights debate to the debate over a woman’s right to an abortion.

In fact, debate on that bill last year in the upper chamber actually touched on vasectomy — just in a different way. State Sen. Vivian Davis-Figures (D-Mobile) offered an amendment to criminalize any man who gets a vasectomy with a Class A felony. An attempted vasectomy would have been a Class C felony. That amendment failed.

State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) went further during that debate, suggesting that “a castration bill” should be introduced.

Vasectomies under Hollis’ bill would be at the man’s expense. HB 238 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation is very much dead-on-arrival in the Alabama legislature.

On the same day HB 238 was introduced, State Rep. Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) reintroduced an anti-infanticide bill she first filed last session. Hollis on Thursday also filed a bill that would require local Alabama boards of education to provide feminine hygiene products in female restrooms at public schools in their respective jurisdictions.

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