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.

6 mins ago

U.S. Rep. Rogers: ‘The Squad’ is in charge of the Democrats

(Screenshot/C-SPAN)

By now, you’ve likely heard of “The Squad,” a foursome of freshman congressional Democrats that wield power and influence given their heightened presences in the media.

The group, consisting of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), have also been a problem for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

During an appearance on Birmingham radio’s Talk 99.5 on Thursday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) acknowledged the group was indeed in charge of the Democratic Party and said that “The Squad” has some more moderate members within the House Democratic caucus concerned.

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“They are in charge and that’s a thing a lot of folks on the outside don’t recognize,” Rogers said. “The reason why they have so much power in the conference is because their party has moved far to the left. That where the energy is. That’s why you see Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren and [Pete] Buttigieg, whatever his name is – those folks,  that is where the energy is. So, the more mainstream Democrats are worried about their primaries. And AOC, and Tlaib and the other two in what they call ‘The Squad’ have made it clear: They’re going after some more mainstream members in their primaries. They intend to take them out. That’s paralyzed a lot of these people because in most of these districts, you’ve got to worry about the primaries, not the general elections.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

51 mins ago

‘Momentous’: Alabama shatters five economic records

(PIxabay, YHN)

Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that Alabama achieved five economic bests in June, setting a new record low unemployment rate, high jobs count, high employment count, high labor force count and low unemployment count.

June’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.5%, breaking the previous record low of 3.7% from the month previous. June’s rate represents 2,160,931 employed people, another fresh record high, which was 10,456 more employed than last month’s count and 48,952 more than in June 2018.

“Another month, and yet another set of broken records,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement.

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“It’s so exciting to be able to announce these great numbers month after month,” she continued. “It’s always positive to announce a new record low unemployment rate, but we also saw more people working than ever before, fewer unemployed than ever before, more people in the workforce than ever before, and finally, more jobs than ever before. These gains are momentous, and we certainly hope they continue as the year progresses.”

The civilian labor force increased over the year by 39,099 to a record-high 2,240,309. The civilian labor force represents the number of people, aged 16 and over, who are either working or looking for work, excluding the military and those in institutions.

The number of people counted as unemployed dropped to a new record low of 79,378, which represents a drop of 9,853 people from June 2018.

“Let’s talk about jobs. Our economy is supporting more jobs than ever before,” Washington outlined. “There are over 37,000 more jobs in Alabama today than a year ago. Those jobs are coming with the second highest average weekly earnings in history. Workers are earning an extra $44.76 per week than they were a year ago, and $21.91 more than they were just last month. Two of our employment sectors saw their highest average weekly earnings: the trade, transportation, and utilities sector and the professional and business services sector. So not only are we gaining jobs, but Alabamians are bringing home more in their paychecks.”

Total private industry average weekly earnings measured $860.73 in June, up from $838.82 in May and $815.97 in June 2018.
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 37,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+8,000), the construction sector (+7,800) and the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,800), among several others.

Wage and salary employment increased in June by 6,600. Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+1,500); the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+1,100); and the construction sector (+1,000), among others.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector and the professional and business sector’s average weekly earnings measured $702.96 and $1,087.97, respectively, which represents both sectors’ record-high earnings.

For the second consecutive month, all 67 counties saw declines in their over-the-year unemployment rates, with drops ranging from half a percentage point to more than three percentage points. Wilcox County, which traditionally has the state’s highest unemployment rate, saw its rate drop by 3.4 percentage points to 7.3%, its third-lowest rate ever.

“To put this in perspective, take a look at Wilcox County. During the recession, the county’s unemployment rate peaked at 31% in February 2010,” Washington advised. “Nearly one in three people in that county’s labor force were out of work. Now, they are at a near record low unemployment rate.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in June were Shelby County at 2.5%, Marshall County at 2.8% and Baldwin County at 2.9%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 7.3%, Greene and Perry Counties at 6.8% and Clarke County at 6.5%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were Vestavia Hills at 2.2%, Homewood at 2.3% and Alabaster at 2.4%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were Selma at 7.2%, Prichard at 6.6% and Anniston at 4.9%.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Why college football is so popular in the South

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

As college football prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday, answer this question: Why is this sport more popular in the southern United States than anywhere else in the country?

Three Southeastern Conference football legends offered their opinions Tuesday during the conference’s annual SEC Football Media Days in Hoover. Archie Manning says the answer to that question begins in high school.

“High school football is fantastic in the South,” Manning said. “We also have high school coaches that stay with it for their career. I admire that fraternity. Those men don’t coach high school football for the money. They do it because they love what they do.”

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Manning also credits warmer weather, a fact Steve Spurrier says encouraged him to play and coach at Florida.

“I visited in late March when it was 72 in Gainesville and 32 in Johnson City, Tennessee,” Spurrier said. “All I know is I was blessed to go there.”

Herschel Walker says the SEC’s strong football programs help draw fans and players.

“The SEC stands with a lot of power,” Walker said. “People know when you’re going to play a team from the SEC — I don’t care who it is, you better bring more than your lunch because it’s going to be a tough game. Guys are going to play extremely hard.”

Why college football is more popular in the South from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

A number of events celebrating 150 years of college football are scheduled this fall at schools throughout the conference and around the country. In addition, ESPN will be airing “Saturdays in the South,” an eight-part documentary series chronicling the birth and growth of college football in the South.

“You will hear stories of greased railroad tracks, an era before the SEC chant was ever heard, and weave tales through the decades of the modern area of success experienced now by the Southeastern Conference,”  SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.

Walker shared his own story of how he used a coin flip to choose between a career in the military or college.

“One Sunday in April, my mom asked me, ‘Don’t you think it’s time for you decide what you’re going to do?’ and before she could say anything, she said, ‘If your mind and your heart is pure of the Lord Jesus, it doesn’t really matter of your decision.’ So I decided to flip a coin. It landed on college. I then flipped a coin between Clemson and Georgia, and it landed on Georgia. I wanted to go to USC out in California, so I flipped a coin between those two schools, and it landed on Georgia again. I then pulled the names out of a bag, and I pulled Georgia, and that’s how I ended up at Georgia.”

“Sometimes when you’re naive and stupid, God will take care of you, because that was the right decision,” Walker added.

Why Herschel Walker used a coin flip to decide his plans after high school from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

He also praised a decision by Georgia to name its football field after Vince Dooley.

“He deserves it because he built men,” Walker said. “To name the field after him, I’m happy to be a part of it.”

All three men say they are honored to remain active in college football activities and discussions about the sport.

“I love the college game,” said Manning, who played quarterback at Ole Miss. “I’ve been involved in the National Football Foundation. I love that involvement. We stay close to the game and try to develop leaders through the game. I’ve certainly enjoyed that.”

“There’s something about football,” Spurrier added. “When you only have one game a year, you have bragging rights for the whole year if you win. There’s always a lot riding on the outcome, and it’s benefited all of us up here.”

“To be a part of anything that’s been around 150 years, you’ve got to be honored,” Walker said. “In today’s world, everyone wants to erase history, (which) I think is a shame. For me to be a part of something that’s 150 years old is incredible.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

7 Things: Abortion ban takes a toll on Ivey, Doug Jones losing support and the feud between Trump and ‘The Squad’ rages on

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

7. Racial slur spray-painted on Birmingham real estate sign

  • Husband-and-wife real estate team Jeremy and Gina Miller from Birmingham found that one of their “For Sale” signs had a racial slur spray-painted on the sign, but the Millers won’t be pressing charges.
  • While the incident has gained viral attention, the identity of whoever spray painted the sign is still unknown. The Millers have declined to press charges because they don’t think anything good would come from it, and the Millers want to use this situation to spread a positive message to unite people.

6. Ivey taking action on the prison system

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  • An executive order signed by Governor Kay Ivey will create the Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy which will analyze data to help address the serious issues with Alabama’s prison system.
  • Ivey said this study group will lead to more reforms in the system, adding that “we are well on our way to making meaningful progress.”

5. Al Green thinks this impeachment vote was successful

  • After U.S. Representative Al Green’s (D-TX) latest attempt to impeach President Trump, he stated that this attempt wasn’t a complete failure since this time they got almost 100 votes in favor of impeachment, whereas before they had only gotten 58 the first time and 66 the second.
  • Green went on to claim that Trump is causing harm to society, and if he continues to do so “with his inciteful and hateful rhetoric then he will be impeached.”

4. House votes to increase the minimum wage to $15

  • In a brilliant piece of political theater, the House passed a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, setting up a nice battle over the measure in the media, even though it has no chance of passing the GOP-controlled Senate.
  • The bill would increase wages for some but the bill as passed in the House would kill close to 4 million jobs for the lowest earners, speed automation, drive up prices, hurt the economy, shrink family incomes and increase the deficit, inflation and interest rate, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

3. Trump and “The Squad” keep at it

  • According to U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), President Donald Trump has moved away from politics, and now “we are in racism…we are in a fascistic government.” They believe criticism against them is violence.
  • Trump is backing away from the “Send her back!” chants at his rally, but continues to point out that he views this as a battle over ideology and love of America. He even tweeted a video that included a Lee Greenwood song and declared America was “ONE ‘SQUAD’ UNDER GOD!”

2. Doug Jones is a one-term Senator

  • Morning Consult released a poll that shows U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is losing support in the state, with his 2019 first-quarter approval rating 20% lower than the first quarter of 2018.
  • The poll showed that 39% of registered voters approve of Jones, 37% disapprove and 24% are undecided. His overall his approval rating has gone down 3% since the beginning of 2019.

1. Kay Ivey loses far more ground than other governors that signed abortion bans

  • A flurry of one-sided national and local media attention after signing a bill ban most abortions in the state of Alabama, which her constituents supported, Governor Kay Ivey’s approval rating plummeted 17 points, according to a Morning Consult poll of Governor Approval Rankings
  • While Governor Ivey still sits with a +28 point approval rating, her fall was not mirrored by governors in Missouri, Georgia and Louisiana.

 

5 hours ago

Scofield: ‘Broadband is our infrastructure challenge of the 21st century’ — Crucial ‘to save some of the best areas of this state’

(S.Ross/YHN)

GUNTERSVILLE — Yellowhammer News on Thursday held the second event in its 2019 “News Shapers” series. Entitled “Connecting Alabama’s Rural Communities,” the forum regarding broadband expansion drew a great crowd and elicited insightful conversation from the four expert panelists: State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Arab), Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative’s Fred Johnson, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative’s Tom Stackhouse and Maureen Neighbors of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

Tim Howe, Yellowhammer Multimedia co-owner and Yellowhammer News editor-in-chief, moderated the forum, which came days after the second round of grants was awarded under the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund.

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This fund was created through legislation sponsored by Scofield and signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey during the Alabama Legislature’s 2018 regular session. The first round of grants was awarded earlier this year. The legislature then passed another bill by Scofield updating the law during the 2019 regular session.

To kick the conversation off on Thursday, Howe noted Scofield’s successful efforts the past two years in passing his broadband expansion legislation, also pointing to HB 400 sponsored by State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) and State Sen. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro).

Howe asked Scofield about this year’s update of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act and the feedback he heard prior to the 2019 regular session that led to him crafting SB 90.

“We passed the broadband expansion bill last year, and we knew that there would be some changes that needed to occur this year — some fine-tuning and some tweaking,” Scofield explained. “And we know that in the future, there will also need to be some fine-tuning as we look to make the program work better… SB 90 reflected some of those changes, and we heard that (the need for changes) from our providers.”

Scofield explained that it is not profitable in many rural areas for companies to install the necessary broadband infrastructure, which is why the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund is so important. The fund provides state grants for service providers to supply high-speed internet services in unincorporated areas or communities with 25,000 people or less. Under the law, grant awards cannot exceed 20 percent of the total cost of a project, meaning providers must still have significant “skin in the game” financially.

“At the end of the day, our providers are the ones who are going to be installing the infrastructure for the consumers to enjoy,” Scofield outlined. “So, it’s very important to listen to the providers. This whole thing began by listening to the providers. ‘What is it going to take to get you to expand in rural Alabama?’ And folks, it’s cost. It’s a business decision. The market size is just not there, so the cash flow is just more difficult.”

He likened modern government support of broadband expansion to rural electricity and water expansion of old.

“You’re looking out at Lake Guntersville,” Scofield told the crowd at Guntersville Town Hall, “and it’s a product of government being involved in infrastructure. In the 1930s, the government got involved in rural power. Our co-ops took advantage of that and delivered power to rural customers. And in the 1960s-70s, they expanded to rural water. Well, broadband is our infrastructure challenge of the 21st century.”

“Without our providers, and without government providing some incentive to bring their costs down, it simply wouldn’t occur,” he emphasized. “So, the changes that we’ve seen (through SB 90) are to make the job easier on these guys (the providers).”

‘We still live in a capitalist economy’

Asked to speak to the recommended changes from the provider side, Johnson stressed, “Good public policy has to be based on fact.”

“It’s really easy to blame people for why there’s not broadband in certain parts of the state,” he continued. “But we still live in a capitalist economy — for the time being — and it’s a business case. If it’s (broadband) not there, there’s a really good reason for it. What this legislation does, especially in connection with the federal legislation… what it does is give companies that want to step up to the plate the leverage it may take to swing the pendulum to where a business case can be built and you can serve areas where otherwise there’s no public policy support to build.”

Johnson said he personally thinks “the world of Clay Scofield, Steve Livingston and (House Majority Leader) Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville),” who were all in attendance.

“The neatest thing about this (2019 broadband expansion efforts) was you had the leadership in the legislature — and Representative Shedd certainly needs to be included [in that recognition] — they took the time to understand the issue,” he added. “It’s not a Democratic, it’s not a Republican issue. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s an issue that affects all rural Alabamians of every race, color, creed, sex and anything else you want to talk about.”

Of the legislative leaders, Johnson reiterated, “They took the time to understand the issue and ask, ‘What do we need to do to swing the pendulum?’ Quite frankly, I think we’ve got one of the more cohesive public policies in the United States [now]… so I think they’ve done an excellent job.”

Stackhouse affirmed just how important SB 90 and HB 400 were from the perspective of an electric utility provider serving a rural nine-county area in central Alabama.

“80 years ago in November, our [co-op’s] first electric customer was connected… and the area flourished because of getting electricity to an area where a lot said, ‘You can’t make money at that, there’s no use doing that,'” Stackhouse advised. “It was huge.”

Now, in modern times, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative’s board has created a subsidiary to handle communications services, like broadband.

“Communication is now the electricity, and without [the legislation], it just doesn’t happen,” Stackhouse said.

He praised Scofield for his leadership, adding of SB 90 and HB 400, “It has really helped us step up.”

“And we’re not building our [broadband efforts just] on grants, we’ve got a business model we believe we can make work,” Stackhouse continued. “But grants help a lot, though, especially when it’s sparsely populated areas that need it just as much.”

Without broadband expansion, ‘they’re going to die’

Following up on just how much many rural areas in the state really do need broadband access, Howe then recalled an op-ed that Scofield wrote and Yellowhammer News published during the 2019 regular session when Scofield stated the survival of rural Alabama depends on broadband expansion.

Howe asked Scofield to outline the various aspects of modern life that are affected by access to high-speed internet services in his district and others like it across Alabama.

“In about every way you can think of,” Scofield said. “Not just agriculture, but economic development — you’re not going to recruit a company with 21st century jobs to an area without a 21st century infrastructure. You’re not going to train a 21st century workforce without 21st century infrastructure.”

“Telemedicine is the future for our healthcare, which I believe is one of the things that’s going to help bring healthcare costs down for a lot of Americans,” he continued.

Scofield stated that this is especially true, “In rural areas where we see increased levels of diabetes and obesity and a lot of ailments that seem to go up, because the healthcare isn’t easily accessible.”

“So, the thought that a person can connect to MD Anderson for a cancer screening in Greene County, and never leave Greene County, can save that person’s life,” he explained. “It’s a game-changer for a lot of people, and I think that a lot of folks just don’t realize that 830,000 or 840,000 Alabamians still don’t have [broadband] access.”

He then reaffirmed just how crucial these broadband expansion efforts are.

“It’s critical that we get this infrastructure out, that we get people hooked up in our rural areas because they’re going to die — they’re going to be left behind, they’re being left behind right now,” Scofield emphasized. “So, I think the quicker that we do that, the quicker we’re going to save some of the best areas of this state.”

‘This is a legacy’

Later in the forum, Scofield did also caution that broadband expansion to all Alabamians logistically cannot and will not happen instantaneously.

However, success will be achieved only when “we get to a point where, like power … if you want high-speed internet [wherever you live] in the state, you can connect to it,” Scofield believes.

“I think that’s where we’ve got to get,” he said. “And that’s not going to happen overnight… Everyone’s got to be patient. Lake Guntersville didn’t fill up in a day, they didn’t build the dam in a day and they didn’t give power to rural Autauga County in a day — or even here. It’s going to take a long time to build this infrastructure out, but I believe that we are on the right track.”

Scofield wrapped up the forum by lauding the integral support and teamwork of some of his fellow legislators who were in attendance, including Livingston, Ledbetter and State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre), along with Shedd, who was unavailable to make the event.

“I’m really proud of what we came out with,” Scofield said of SB 90 as signed into law. “And I think that whether you’re an elected official or not, if you had something to do with this, I think that this is a legacy that we’re going to be able to leave this state. It’s going to benefit generations. And that’s why I do what I do, and I know that’s why they (the legislators in attendance) do what they do. I think it’s going to be something that’s going to move this state forward in ways that we can’t even envision today.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

19 hours ago

On this day in Alabama history: Camp McClellan was established in east Alabama

(John Stanton/FortWiki)

July 18, 1917

Shortly after the United States entered World War I, the War Department established Camp McClellan as a rapid mobilization base and permanent National Guard facility. More than 27,000 men were training at the east Alabama base by the end of 1917. Camp McClellan was originally named in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, and was renamed Fort McClellan in 1929. During World War II, nearly 500,000 military personnel trained there. After being put in custodial status following the war, it was reactivated during the Korean War and Cold War era. The focus shifted to chemical weapons training during and after the Vietnam War. The fort survived one round of military base closings during the 1990s, but it was finally shut down in 1999. The site has shifted to private use as well as for Alabama National Guard training.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

19 hours ago

Ainsworth in Huntsville: Alabama is ‘the aerospace capital of the world’

(W. Ainsworth/Twitter, YHN)

Wednesday, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) presented Dr. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. with the 2019 Thomas R. Hobson Distinguished Aerospace Service Award for a lifetime of exemplary achievement in the aerospace field.

The award presentation came during the Aerospace States Association’s annual dinner, which was held in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Ainsworth is currently chair of the association, which is a national nonpartisan group composed of lieutenant governors, gubernatorial-appointed delegates and associate members from aerospace organizations and academia.

In remarks shared with Yellowhammer News, Ainsworth honored Alabama’s space legacy, recognizing Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary this week.

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“Throughout each of the past six decades, Alabama and the Marshall Space Flight Center have created the engines that rocketed man into the heavens,” he said. “It’s here that Dr. Wernher Von Braun and his committed team of scientists and engineers birthed the Saturn V rocket that took men to the Moon and allowed them to place a U.S. flag on the lunar surface.”

“For those reasons, it’s altogether appropriate that we gather in this state and this city for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission,” he continued. “We are fortunate to have Buzz Aldrin, an original moonwalker and living American legend, join us during this conference.”

The conference is set to last through the rest of the week, with attendees working on publicly policy related to the aerospace industry and advocating for their home states.

“The work we do here this week will bring the stars and planets closer to the earth and ensure that future generations are privy to the same dreams and inspirations that the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle, and Space Station eras provid-ed to generations prior,” Ainsworth told the crowd.

Alabama is set to play a big role in ongoing and future space exploration, as Ainsworth emphasized in an interview with WHNT on Wednesday.

“I was just talking with some industry leaders who are here and they are talking about expanding the existing industry,” he the lieutenant governor said. “I think a lot of new industries are looking here. And the reason why is we are the aerospace capital of the world. I think when you look at our tax environment, with the workforce we are training, Alabama is open for business in aerospace, no doubt.”

Speaking with WZDX, Ainsworth referenced the Artemis program, with companies like United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Alabama set to make history in the very near future.

“Today I had an opportunity to tour ULA where they are building rockets that will literally send our next astronauts to the Moon, and when you look at just the president’s commitment to going back to the Moon, and when you look at potentially the future of going to Mars, it’s an exciting and energetic time in the aerospace industry right now,” Ainsworth advised.

RELATED: Aderholt celebrates Apollo 11, calls for SLS to stay on schedule

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn.

21 hours ago

Apollo 11 is now problematic?

(NASA on the Commons/Flickr, D. Jackson/Facebook, Wikicommons, YHN)

Right now, Alabama, along with the rest of America, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. A mission that culminated in man walking on the moon and fulfilled the vision put out by President John F. Kennedy that it would be done before the end of the 1970s.

In normal times, this would be a time for celebration and unity. Americans from all sectors and political parties would drop their swords and join together to consume media of trying times and magnificent accomplishments.

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Unfortunately, this is Trump’s America and because of that, the overarching theme that must pulse through every aspect of American culture, which is dominated by the media and their Democrats, is the simple undeniable and universal belief that America sucks.

It’s racist, stupid, sexist, stupid, homophobic, stupid, Islamaphobic, stupid and stupid.

Our soccer team believes it. Our celebrities believe it. Our politicians believe it.

And the news media is going to feed it to us non-stop.

For example, Werhner Von Braun was a Nazi, therefore his accomplishments on this matter are unworthy.

Another example: The space program had too many men, therefore it was problematic.

Another argument is Soviet Russia had more firsts (or something), so America should have focused less on accomplishing the mission and more on diversity.

Who is this for? What American wanted this? Who is the consumer for this news?

Inhabitants of American newsrooms and their woke superfans online.

This was not one outlet, one reporter, one editor — it is across the board.

These are major American media outlets and they cannot resist the urge to scold their fellow Americans for, in this case, the perceived sins of the past.

This is why people hate the media as a whole.

They aren’t offended, they aren’t going to write a letter, they aren’t going to demand someone be fired.

Your average American is sick of this nonsense. They roll their eyes and go on about their business.

This is why people don’t trust them. This is why they are called things like the “enemy of the people” and people applaud it.

This is how you got Trump.

President Donald Trump is the embodiment of the people who are sick of this crap.

And every time the people who work in these newsrooms and under these “legendary” banners write these articles try to scold Americans for some clearly arbitrary offense of the day, or the past, they might as well drop a dollar into Trump’s reelection campaign.

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

21 hours ago

Doug Jones’ approval rating continues to fall

(D. Jones/Facebook, YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) continues to lose popularity as 2020 draws nearer.

Morning Consult on Thursday released its polling numbers for the second quarter of 2019, showing Jones’ net approval rating 20 points lower than the first quarter of 2018 when he entered the U.S. Senate.

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The polling was conducted from April 1 through June 30 and measured registered voters. The results showed 39% of respondents approved of Jones’ job performance, while 37% disapproved and 24% were undecided. The margin of error was 1%.

In contrast, Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) net approval rating is 15 points higher than Jones’, with 46% approving and only 29% disapproving of Alabama’s venerable senior senator.

Jones’ net approval rating has dropped three points since the beginning of the year.

Another poll conducted in April went deeper than Morning Consult’s approval rating surveys, showing that Jones faces nearly insurmountable demographic barriers to reelection.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn.

22 hours ago

Alabama couple turns racist graffiti message into opportunity to respond to hate with love

(J. Miller, J. Anderson/Facebook, YHN)

Jeremy and Gina Miller, an interracial husband-and-wife real estate team in the Birmingham metro area, were shocked on Wednesday to discover a racial slur painted on one of their “For Sale” signs at a local property.

ABC 33/40 reported that “NO N***R” was painted on the Local Realty sign in large white letters.

However, the Millers are responding to this hateful incident purely with love, guided by their faith, according to The Trussville Tribune.

“I think that God has been preparing Gina and me for a long time, in ways that we never would have expected, to touch a lot of people,” Jeremy told the newspaper.

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The Millers, who live in Clay, will not be pressing charges on the individual responsible for the racist graffiti, whose identity is at this time unknown.

“We would love to know who did it because if we find them, we will show them mercy,” Jeremy advised. “I don’t think anything good comes from pressing charges. That’s not the message here.”

The couple hopes to use the incident to unite their community and lift others up.

“We just got a message on Facebook yesterday about how God spoke to him through my post and our response,” Jeremy told The Trussville Tribune. “It encouraged him to see us responding through love and not through retaliation.”

“When something like this occurs, you can love back instead. We want to unite people,” he added.

Jeremy also wants people to know the racist incident is not representative of their community.

“This is not indicative of the people in this area,” he emphasized. “It happens everywhere and they don’t always say it to your face.”

Perhaps the toughest part of the incident personally for the Millers has been trying to tell their children what happened.

“Having to explain to them what happened with the sign has been a little frustrating,” Gina noted.

The Millers are also using this incident as a learning opportunity.

“We tell [our children] all the time, hurt people, hurt people,” Jeremy explained. “I tell them that even adults do mean things sometimes. When you’re angry, you’re not nice to other people… We want to respond in love when maybe that person hasn’t received such things.”

Jeremy stressed a constant message of love.

“It (racism) is not dead and it probably won’t die for a very, very long time, but we as a culture and society have to keep perpetuating the message of loving one another,” he remarked. “If someone’s hurting and they lash out at you, you don’t have to respond negatively.”

The defaced sign has been replaced with a fresh one that includes both Jeremy and Gina’s headshots.

Read more here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Ivey establishes study group on Alabama’s corrections system

(YHN, Pixabay)

Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed an executive order establishing the Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy, which will receive and analyze accurate data, as well as evidence of best practices, ultimately helping to further address the serious challenges facing Alabama’s corrections system.

The Ivey administration, after inheriting decades-old, systemic problems in the state’s prison system, including overcrowding and understaffing, has made reforming the prison system a top priority, with the governor stressing that it is ultimately a key matter of public safety.

“The people of Alabama are not unaware of the complexities that face our state’s prison system, which take a toll on their hard-earned dollars and negatively impact public safety. The challenges we face are multifaceted, and in turn, a multifaceted solution, driven by data is necessary,” Ivey said in a statement on Thursday.

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“In establishing the Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy, I am looking to see data driving us to even further reforms in the system,” she outlined. “Thanks to my Administration and the Legislature, we are well on our way to making meaningful progress, and I am confident this group will help us dive even further into the facts to ensure the state’s existing efforts lead us to an Alabama solution.”

Ivey also believes that success in achieving positive results requires continued collaboration between the executive and legislative branches. To that end, the study group will consist of the governor, who will serve as the chair; the attorney general; three members of the Alabama House of Representatives appointed by the speaker of the House; three members of the Senate appointed by the president pro tempore; the state commissioner of corrections; the state director of finance; and additional individuals as the governor deems necessary.

Members of the group may participate by proxy, and the governor has designated former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Champ Lyons to serve in her place as chairman.

“The primary emphasis of Governor Ivey’s new established study group is indeed to study. The Department of Corrections has important reforms underway, and we will be there to further analyze various areas of the justice system, ultimately helping our state to continue making informed, data-driven decisions,” Lyons advised.

“We will consider the problem of recidivism and steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a released prisoner returning back to state custody. We will also look closely at data on the current sentencing laws. As Governor Ivey has made clear, addressing the challenges facing our state’s prisons is multifaceted, and she is certainly helping bring various heads together to move the needle on this critical issue,” he concluded.

Legislative members of the study group include: State Senators Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and State Representatives Jim Hill (R-Moody), Connie Rowe (R-Jasper) and Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa).

The Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy will convene for the first time Monday, July 22, 2019.

The executive order decrees that the group will be dissolved effective the first day of the Alabama Legislature’s 2020 regular session.

This comes after the Department of Justice earlier this year concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the conditions in Alabama’s prisons for men violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution regarding“cruel and unusual punishment.” The DOJ also implied that if measures were not taken to improve the situation, the prison system could face action from the federal government, which could come in the form of a takeover.

Legislative leaders have recently forecasted a potential special session on corrections occurring in January or February of 2020 before the regular session.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

7 Things: ‘Send her back’ chants, impeachment fails, Alabama politicians push back on racism charge and more …

(Fox News/YouTube)

7. Toll fate uncertain

  • The Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority only meets when called on, and they may be called on to deal with a growing concern over the potential tolls to pay for a $2.1 billion bridge project in Mobile. The board includes Governor Kay Ivey’s Cheif of Staff Jo Bonner and Speaker of the Alabama State House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia).
  • Candidates for U.S. Senate are still slamming the plan. U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) called it “unacceptable” and former Chief Justice Roy Moore asked, “Why would we want to be like New York or California?” while wondering why Alabama Republicans “would even consider such an agenda.”

6. Democrats are just in it for the money and power

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  • Former Auburn football coach and 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville has started questioning why Democrats seem to be pushing so much for socialism to be the new normal.
  • Tuberville believes Democrats are pushing for socialism for “money and power” and they don’t actually care about people. He also mentioned how when he was growing up, socialism and communism were cuss words and “a total scam.”

5. Congressmen brag on Alabama’s contribution to the Apollo 11 program

  •  Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) spoke on the House floor to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in favor of Alabama’s future involvement with the Space Launch System (SLS). Aderholt mentioned how proud he is of Alabama’s involvement in developing “our most powerful rockets.”
  • Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) also took to the House floor to praise the Marshall Space Flight Center for its role in past space exploration and its part in propelling the program forward, stating, “As we reach for the stars, I have confidence that the Tennessee Valley, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Huntsville, where we say The Sky is NOT the Limit.”

4. El Chapo gets sentenced — Ted Cruz and Mo Brooks still want his money for the wall

  • Notorious drug trafficker Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as “El Chapo,” was sentenced to a life sentence plus 30 years and the restitution of $12.6 billion dollars for crimes that the judge said were “overwhelming evil,” including drugs, murder and money laundering.
  • Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and House sponsor Mo Brooks have renewed calls for the federal government to use El Chapo’s money to build the wall, but the U.S. government doesn’t know where that money is.

3. Alabama Republicans don’t think Trump is being racist

  • All of the Republican Alabama members of the U.S. House voted against the resolution to deem President Donald Trump racist for his tweets against “The Squad,” but Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) explained his position on the whole situation.
  • Palmer didn’t agree with Trump, but he said that the tweets were “ill-timed and insensitive.” He does not think the tweets were racist. Palmer has even called attention to the hypocrisy of the Democrats with the examples of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeting that supporting Israel is only “about the Benjamins” and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s claims that there are concentration camps at the southern border.

2. There will be no impeachment 

  • The House of Representatives has voted to kill the resolution from Rep. Al Green (D-TX) that would bring articles of impeachment against President Trump.
  • The vote on Green’s third attempt to impeach Trump was 332-95, but when speaking in favor of the resolution, Green referenced the decision to condemn Trump’s actions on Twitter as racist, saying that this resolution was the opportunity to “punish him.”

1. Latest media tizzy is over a crowd chanting “Send her back!”

  • The battle between “The Squad” and President Donald Trump took another turn on Wednesday night when the president was criticizing  Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and the crowd began chanting “send her back” in reference to her nation of birth, Somalia.
  • This obviously sent the media and their Democrats into an apocalyptic reaction about the appropriateness of the chant and how it is all Trump’s fault that we are here in our current political environment, which ignores years of claims that everyone who disagrees with Democrats is racist and the current president is a traitor to the nation.

 

1 day ago

Auburn veterans association, University of Alabama veterans association unite again to raise awareness for veteran suicide

(Pixabay)

The University of Alabama and Auburn University veterans associations are once again teaming up to raise awareness for the 22 veterans lost each day to suicide by marching from Tuscaloosa to Auburn, Alabama, for the 2019 Iron Bowl.

The 150-mile “Operation Iron Ruck,” which will begin at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on November 26 and conclude at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn on November 30, will take an estimated 70 hours to complete.

“The Iron Ruck is an opportunity to bring awareness to an unnecessary plague that runs rampant in our veteran community,” said Auburn University Veterans Association President Jonathan Housand. “We hope to show how easy it is to put aside our differences to unite as brothers and sisters for a bigger cause than ourselves.”

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“I want to thank the student veterans at the University of Alabama for demonstrating with the student veterans at Auburn University to bring this amazing event to life,” Housand added. “Together we are helping to prove that we are always here for each other and never out of the fight.”

The ruck march participants will carry a 22-pound ruck-sack to coincide with the Mission 22 suicide campaign. The packed ruck will consist of toiletries, undergarments and other items collected by the athletics and Student Veteran’s organizations and will be donated to Mission 22, 3 Hots and a Cot and the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City.

“The purpose of this March is to raise awareness of the tragedy of veteran suicide,” said Slade Salmon, president of the University of Alabama Campus Veterans Association. “We at the CVA extend our sincerest gratitude for the support from our local community around Tuscaloosa, Auburn University, and from the state of Alabama as well.”

Kody Pemberton, a University of Alabama student and member of the Veterans Association, says he is excited to participate once again in the ruck march.

“It’s great to see the new leadership of both organizations step up and spearhead the 2nd annual Ironbowl Ruck march,” Pemberton said. “Last year we had a great turn out and we were able to help many veterans, and I know this year Slade and Jonathan will go above and beyond to ensure we help even more.”

For more information on the march, an email can be sent to uacva1@gmail.com or mssalmon@crimson.ua.edu.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

2 days ago

Outrage over John Merrill’s comments is dishonest

(J. Merrill/Twitter)

Almost every week, Alabama is subjected to a dishonest cycle of news coverage from something that is either misinterpreted or an outright lie.

This week is no different.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill attended a Republican meeting in Fort Payne over the weekend and during a question and answer period, he responded to a question about the culture war by making a reference to “homosexual activities.”

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Media outlets pounced on the quote to feed the outrage beast because nothing generates click like “Alabama politician” and “homosexual activities.”

The explanation of those comments is far less interesting than the media narrative surrounding it, the headlines it generated and the social media reaction it attracted.

The question Merrill was responding to was about changes in America’s pop culture. Merrill lamented the lack of television shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Andy Griffith,” which included him musing, “We’re too interested in homosexual activities.”

When Merrill appeared on WVNN radio’s “The Dale Jackson Show” Wednesday morning, he was asked what exactly he meant by that line.

He elaborated that he was talking about all of the media attention directed to the United States women’s national soccer team as the “most significant cultural event “ and how the focus on their activism and lifestyle opposed to their exceptional soccer accomplishments turned off many.

The 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate talked about how the media focused more on personality than the country they were playing for, saying, “The liberal mainstream media has promoted a narrative that has identified them as gay and as advocating for gay rights and homosexual issues related to their participation on the field as a secondary item.”

My takeaway:

Merrill is dead on here.

You were told either support the teams’ politics or you were not welcome.

Sports and entertainment used to be a respite from the real world, but that is now gone.

You will now have to view every aspect of your life through the social justice prism or risk the backlash.

Even the Apollo 11 anniversary.

 

A large number of Americans are generally tired of this, which is what John Merrill is accurately dialed into.

Listen:

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

2 days ago

Aderholt celebrates Apollo 11, calls for SLS to stay on schedule

(Rep. Aderholt/YouTube)

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Wednesday delivered a speech on the U.S. House floor honoring North Alabama’s Apollo 11 contributions and urgently calling for the Space Launch System (SLS) to stay on schedule for the future of American space exploration.

Aderholt’s comments came the week of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary. The launch occurred on July 16, 1969 and the landmark landing on the Moon’s surface happened four days later. Saturn V, which was developed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, powered the mission.

After speaking of the legacy of Apollo 11, Aderholt turned his attention to how Alabama is set to make history once again.

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“I am excited about the president’s call to accelerate our plans and to land again on the Moon, by 2024,” he said. “This mission, named Artemis, will also be historic – a woman astronaut will be the next person to step on the Moon.”

“I am very proud of the role my home state played in the development of our most powerful rockets, the Saturn family. … Likewise, I am proud that Marshall Space Flight Center, including the Machoud Assembly Facility, is the designer and builder of the Space Launch System. This will be the most powerful rocket in the world, and it is approximately 90% finished. The taxpayer owns it and will benefit from it as a national asset. It is the successful, combined work of private companies and suppliers from virtually every state in the nation,” Aderholt outlined.

Extolling the capabilities of SLS, he then said the system can be “ready by 2024, but only if we move ahead this year with that goal.”

Aderholt urged his colleagues to join him in supporting SLS.

“Systems like the SLS and Orion inspire innovation, and maybe one day other rockets and capsules will surpass them, but to reach our goal of 2024, we need to stay focused and complete these nearly mature systems,” he emphasized.

The Alabama congressman said the nation’s space ambitions should not end with the next Moon landing.

“Let’s reach that peak, let’s make that landing,” Aderholt concluded. “And as we ponder the future of the Moon, let’s look up again, and set a date, a real mission date, for setting foot on Mars.”

Watch:

Aderholt’s full remarks as follows:

Fifty years ago this week, three brave Americans stepped foot on the Moon.

When we look at our children’s toys, it is amazing that they contain more data processing power than the systems which operated the Apollo vehicles.

These three American astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, could not know whether they would return. They were willing to serve their country and proud for America to be leading the world in space.

But even if our space program got a strong jump start because of the Cold War, this mission was also about the human spirit and the need to explore. The whole world was eager to hear news of the mission. No matter what might happen in the future, this would be the first time human beings stepped foot on a world other than our home. Neil Armstrong’s description of this mission as a “leap” was fitting then, and it is instructional now.

I am excited about the president’s call to accelerate our plans and to land again on the Moon, by 2024. This mission, named Artemis, will also be historic – a woman astronaut will be the next person to step on the Moon.

I am very proud of the role my home state played in the development of our most powerful rockets, the Saturn family. You can still see a real Saturn V rocket, suspended horizontally, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Likewise, I am proud that Marshall Space Flight Center, including the Machoud Assembly Facility, is the designer and builder of the Space Launch System. This will be the most powerful rocket in the world, and it is approximately 90% finished. The taxpayer owns it and will benefit from it as a national asset. It is the successful, combined work of private companies and suppliers from virtually every state in the nation.

The Saturn V rocket was able to execute Apollo missions in one launch because the rocket’s third stage propelled the lander and re-entry vehicle to the Moon’s orbit. Similarly, the SLS Exploration Upper Stage, or EUS, will enable a payload delivery to Moon orbit – including the Orion capsule – of 45 metric tons – three to four times greater than other launch vehicles currently in use or close to completion. We can have that EUS capability ready by 2024, but only if we move ahead this year with that goal.

Systems like the SLS and Orion inspire innovation, and maybe one day other rockets and capsules will surpass them, but to reach our goal of 2024, we need to stay focused and complete these nearly mature systems.

Some have said in recent years about going to the Moon, “Been there, done that.” With all due respect, I disagree. But of this new mission to the Moon, I might say, “Go there, but don’t stop there.” Sustainability offers many future benefits, but let’s not get distracted and overfill our backpack for this first, human return to the Moon. Let’s reach that peak, let’s make that landing. And as we ponder the future of the Moon, let’s look up again, and set a date, a real mission date, for setting foot on Mars.

I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

RELATED: Huntsville celebrates Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, looks to create next ‘giant leap’ — ‘Alabama is clearly in the lead, and we’re going to stay there’

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

Tuberville on Dem socialist push: ‘Money and power is what it is about for the left — They could care less about these people’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

In American politics, the term “socialism” no longer carries the taboo it once had evidenced by the success of self-proclaimed socialist political candidates on the Democratic side of the aisle.

Given these changing times, it is certain to cause Republicans to question socialism in campaigns by sounding the alarm and warning those who are listening about the perils of that ideology. Such is the case with former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020.

During an interview with “Alabama’s Morning News” host JT Nysewander on Birmingham radio’s 105.5 WERC on Tuesday, Tuberville questioned the reasoning for the push toward socialism for Democrats.

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“Money and power is what it is about for the left,” Tuberville said. “They could care less about these people. They really could. They want to go to socialistic ways. It is really scary. When you and I grew up, if you brought up socialism or communism, it was a cuss word. Nowadays, they are pushing it. Biden said the first thing he is going to do if he is elected is raise taxes. The poor people are tired of sending all of their money up there and getting nothing back for it. It is a total scam.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

A ‘Story Worth Sharing’: Yellowhammer News and Serquest partner to award monthly grants to Alabama nonprofits

(Serquest, YHN)

Yellowhammer News and Serquest are partnering to bring you, “A Story Worth Sharing,” a monthly award given to an Alabama based nonprofit actively making an impact through their mission. Each month, the winning organization will receive a $1,000 grant from Serquest and promotion across the Yellowhammer Multimedia platforms.

Yellowhammer and Serquest are looking for nonprofits that go above and beyond to change lives and make a difference in their communities.

Already have a nonprofit in mind to nominate? Great!

Get started here with contest guidelines and a link to submit your nomination:

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Nominations are now open and applicants only need to be nominated once. All non-winning nominations will automatically be eligible for selection in subsequent months. Monthly winners will be announced via a feature story that will be shared and promoted on Yellowhammer’s website, email and social media platforms.

Submit your nomination here.

Our organizations look forward to sharing these heartwarming and positive stories with you over the next few months as we highlight the good works of nonprofits throughout our state.

Serquest is an Alabama based software company founded by Hammond Cobb, IV of Montgomery. The organization sees itself as, “Digital road and bridge builders in the nonprofit sector to help people get where they want to go faster, life’s purpose can’t wait.”

Learn more about Serquest here.

2 days ago

Van Smith lands ‘pro-jobs’ BCA endorsement in Alabama HD 42 race

(BCA/Contributed, YHN)

Autauga County Commissioner Van Smith has received a major boost as the special primary election for Alabama House District 42 draws near.

The board of directors of ProgressPAC, the Business Council of Alabama’s (BCA) political arm, on Wednesday announced that they have endorsed Smith, a farmer and retired educator.

“I am honored to have the support of the business community,” Smith said in a statement. “Education and workforce development are the cornerstones of my campaign. I look forward to championing pro-business ideals in Montgomery.”

The seat became vacant upon the death of State Rep. Jimmy Martin (R-Clanton) in late May. The primary is scheduled for August 20.

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ProgressPAC Chairman John Mazyck said, “Van Smith’s background as a farmer and an educator combined with his service on the County Commission give him solid credentials to serve the central Alabama district in the House of Representatives.”

“He has demonstrated that he is committed to recruiting new industry and growing jobs. ProgressPAC is proud to endorse him in the August 20 special election,” Mazyck concluded.

BCA’s ProgressPAC is comprised of a statewide board of directors and nine regional advisory committees (RACs) that assess races in each locality and make endorsement recommendations to the full board of directors.

ProgressPAC’s RAC 4, chaired by Horace Horn of PowerSouth Energy, initially made the recommendation to endorse Smith, which was followed by the full board voting affirmatively on this recommendation.

“Alabama’s business community is proud to support Van Smith,” Horn emphasized. “We look forward to working with him as we continue to best position our state for continued growth, recruiting jobs and workforce development.”

Smith earned a master’s degree from Alabama A&M in Agriscience Education. He served 37 years in public education as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, retiring in 2013.

Since then, Smith, 66, has served on the Autauga County Commission. Born in Chilton County, he also currently operates Hickory Hill cattle and hay farm.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

Mo Brooks: Apollo 11 legacy ‘lives on in the Tennessee Valley of Alabama’

(Rep. Brooks/YouTube)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) on Wednesday took the floor of the U.S. House in celebration of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary and his North Alabama district’s role in making that famous mission successful.

He reminisced on growing up near enough to Marshall Space Flight Center that he remembered “the Earth shake and the dishes in our kitchen cabinets rattle as the [Saturn] V engines were tested nearby.”

Brooks went on to emphasize that Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center “is the birthplace of America’s space program.”

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He honored the many individuals working behind-the-scenes in Huntsville who made this statement a reality, also delivering optimistic, inspirational remarks about the future of U.S. space exploration and scientific achievement.

“[M]ankind’s greatest achievements are yet to come [and] America will continue to accomplish the unimaginable in space for the benefit of all humanity,” Brooks emphasized.

Similar to comments made at Tuesday night’s Apollo 11 50th anniversary dinner at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Brooks also stressed that North Alabama would be playing a vital role in the next space frontier: The Artemis program which will take Americans back to the surface of the Moon and eventually to Mars.

He concluded, “As we reach for the stars, I have confidence that the Tennessee Valley, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Huntsville, where we say The Sky is NOT the Limit,’ will be instrumental in carrying American astronauts back to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond!”

Watch:

Brooks’ full remarks as follows:

Mr. Speaker, this week, America celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of mankind’s— and America’s— greatest achievements— walking on the surface of the Moon.

Although then only a child, I well-remember the Earth shake and the dishes in our kitchen cabinets rattle as the [Saturn] V engines were tested nearby.

Even now, 50 years after watching the Moon landing, I get chills remembering when Apollo astronauts landed and later planted the American flag on the Moon’s surface.

It was American ingenuity, boldness, technical prowess, and economic might that made this historic achievement possible.

I’m proud to say the legacy of the Apollo 11 Moon landing lives on in the Tennessee Valley of Alabama that I represent.

Some history is in order.

The Tennessee Valley’s Marshall Space Flight Center is the birthplace of America’s space program.

Americans generally, and Alabamians in particular, designed and engineered the Saturn V rocket that launched the historic Apollo 11 and took American astronauts to the Moon.

I will never forget the flames and the roar as our Saturn V rocket was launched and carried the Apollo 11 crew and vehicles to the Moon.

I remember with tremendous pride American Neil Armstrong’s words as he to set foot on the Moon, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

That giant leap, meant to benefit all mankind, is a prime example of American exceptionalism and helped cement America’s status as the best, most powerful, and most influential nation in world history.

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted America’s flag on the Moon’s surface on July 20th, 1969, there was no doubt that America’s space program had passed the Russians and become the preeminent leader in space exploration, a position America maintains today.

This week, America not only reflects on the miraculous achievements of the Apollo 11 mission, but we also honor those who played a critical role in its ultimate success.

The Tennessee Valley is immensely proud of our pivotal role in landing a man on the Moon and, equally importantly, returning them alive to Earth.

Reflecting our pride in America’s achievement, there are two— that’s two— Saturn V rockets displayed at the United States Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

These Saturn V displays help inspire the next generation to reach for the stars and achieve what now may be thought impossible.

While it is important to remember the historical achievements of the Apollo missions, it is also important to honor those who sacrificed their lives in the effort to achieve American greatness.

In that vein, Huntsville has named schools after Apollo Command Pilot Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White, and Pilot Roger Chaffee, each of whom died during a capsule fire during an Apollo 1 ground test.

After the Moon landing and return of Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins to Earth on July 24, 1969, Huntsville’s streets were awash with revelers.

German Rocket Scientist Wernher Von Braun said on the Huntsville courthouse steps that day, “My friends, there was dancing here in the streets of Huntsville when our first satellites orbited the Earth. There was dancing again when the first Americans landed on the Moon. I’d like to ask you, “don’t hang up your dancing slippers.”

Von Braun’s words remind us that mankind’s greatest achievements are yet to come, that America will continue to accomplish the unimaginable in space for the benefit of all humanity.

As we reach for the stars, I have confidence that the Tennessee Valley, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Huntsville, where we say “The Sky is NOT the Limit,” will be instrumental in carrying American astronauts back to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond!

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

2020 U.S. Senate hopeful State Rep. Mooney: ‘We’ve lost the 10th Amendment’ — ‘The federal court system is out of control’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

ATHENS — In this early going of the 2020 election cycle, the declared U.S. Senate candidates for the seat up next year are starting to make their ways around the state of Alabama and are defining their stances on ideology and policy.

On Tuesday, North Alabama Republican voters got one of their first glimpses of State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), who announced he was seeking the seat currently occupied by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) back in May.

Mooney, speaking at a meeting of the Limestone County Republican Party, warned Americans were losing their freedom and explained that the “liberal socialist left” under the banner of the Democratic Party had their designs on further intrusions.

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“I think it is very simple as you have watched what was has gone on in relation to the whole concept of what we’re seeing and changing of our nation,” Mooney said. “We used to talk about Republicans and Democrats and independents. Then we had a Constitutional Party. Then we had the Libertarian Party and all of that. But now we’re talking about the liberal socialist left. They’re destroying freedom. They’re attacking the foundations of everything we believe in. You know, they wear a banner and say they’re a Democrat. I am sure there are Democrats turning over in their grave at some of the things that are being said.”

“My view is very simple: Conservative is a great word,” he continued. “It’s a positive word. I’ve heard people say it’s a racial term. It’s not a racial term. It talks about a people who believe in foundational values, constitutional principles – that are determined to stand on those values and principles and see our nation governed on them. The rule of law is significant, and we need to follow it.”

The Shelby County Republican pointed to the federal court system as an enabler of the expansion of government, resulting in deterioration of freedoms. He also declared the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution for the states and the people.

“We’ve lost the 10th Amendment, folks,” Mooney added. “The 10th Amendment existed to reserve everything to the states, including abortion decisions, because there is nothing in the Constitution about abortion. But all of those things were supposed to be reserved to the states. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see much that’s being reserved to the states. The federal court system is out of control even with the massive number of people we have appointed, and that is something I can say the United States Senate has done well. But, I’d be concerned that that is the only thing that is being done.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

Palmer on Trump’s ‘Squad’ tweets: ‘Ill-timed and insensitive, but not racist’

(WH/Flickr, G. Palmer/Facebook)

All six Republican members of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation on Tuesday voted against a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for tweets he made over the weekend calling on four prominent Democratic freshman congresswoman, known as “The Squad,” to “go back” to the countries from which they came.

With the resolution passing mostly on party lines (235 Democrats were joined by only four Republican supporting the measure), Congressmen Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Mo Brooks (AL-05) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) released statements explaining their positions.

Palmer did not embrace Trump’s tweets but emphasized Democrats were not in the right.

“President Trump’s comments on Twitter were ill-timed and insensitive, but not racist, as the Socialist Democrats have hypocritically claimed,” Palmer said.

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He continued, “The hypocrisy is glaringly apparent when you consider that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently tweeted, ‘This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants,’ and that Representative Ilhan Omar recently tweeted that support for Israel was ‘all about the Benjamins.’

“The Founders envisioned the House floor as a place where the people’s business is conducted,” Palmer advised. “It was not designed for hypocritical, political grandstanding. The House could conduct no other business if we responded to every unbecoming comment of elected officials on social media.”

He concluded that the Democrats were wasting time when real issues were going unresolved at the expense of scoring cheap partisan points.

“Instead of wasting time on comments made on a Twitter account, we should be focused on addressing the issues that are of greatest concern to Americans, including the crisis at our southern border. This is what we have been elected to do. We have not been elected as the social media police,” Palmer emphasized.

‘Socialist Squad’

In his statement, Byrne referenced his standing offer to pay the airfare for “The Squad” to go live in Venezuela, which was first reported by Yellowhammer News.

“Today’s vote is a transparent and ineffective attempt to distract from the open warfare inside the Democratic Party,” he commented. “The long histories of anti-Semitic and un-American comments from the so called ‘Socialist Squad’ deserve universal condemnation, and Democrats’ overnight transition from a circular firing squad to a circle of support is the height of hypocrisy.”

“Since ‘the Squad’ thinks America is such a terrible place, I’ve offered to fly them to the socialist paradise of Venezuela,”Byrne added. “In the meantime, we should stop wasting time on show votes like this and finally take action to secure the border and solve the immigration crisis.”

‘Hatred for America’s foundational principles’

In his statement, Brooks forcefully pushed back on the charges of “racism” against Trump, saying the tweets had nothing to do with race.

“President Trump hammered various Socialist Democrats for their support for evil Socialism; repugnant, non-stop invective and hatred shown for the foundational principles which have made America the greatest nation in world history; open disdain and dislike of Israel; and religious prejudice against the Jewish people,” the north Alabama congressman outlined.

“Socialist Democrats have no legitimate defense of Socialism, hatred for America’s foundational principles, open disdain and dislike of Israel, and religious prejudice against the Jewish people so, instead, they do what Socialist Democrats candidate schools train them to do: divert public attention by hollering racism despite the facts being crystal clear that President Trump was motivated by a lot of things, but none of them had anything at all to do with race or skin pigmentation,” Brooks continued.

Brooks said Democrats should not have “falsely” brought race into the equation.

“Just as a person’s skin pigmentation should not be wrongly used as a sword against him, a person’s skin pigmentation should also not be wrongly used as a shield that deflects from proper political discourse,” he added. “Socialist Democrats are wrong, sinister and insidious to interject race as a motivation for President Trump’s tweets when those very same tweets show on their face a variety of motivations that have nothing to do with race or skin pigmentation.”

“The Socialist Democrats’ imputing false, racial motive to President Trump without supporting evidence and in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is malicious and vile conduct that insidiously divides America on racial grounds while undermining the credibility of legitimate racist claims made in American society,” Brooks concluded. “Revolting and malevolent conduct that promotes racial division for political gain must be condemned and opposed. With my vote, I do both.”

Update 2:20 p.m.:

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) released a statement on voting against the resolution.

“The House Democrats are in total disarray and yesterday’s events on the House Floor were an embarrassment,” he said.

“Today’s expected vote to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump is completely baseless and ridiculous,” Rogers added. “Democrats are still delusional and in denial about the 2016 election. They are so blinded by their hate for President Trump, that they would rather make cheap political points with their radical Socialist base than do their jobs. I am disgusted by it. I strongly stand with President Trump and his America First agenda.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

7 Things: House Democrats vote to declare Trump racist, Jones keeps pulling in national money, Alabama’s abortion ban may need to wait until 2020 and more …

(WH/Flickr)

7. Donald Watkins and his son go down hard for fraud

  • Donald Watkins and Donald Watkins, Jr. were both sentenced to jail time and will be forced to pay restitution for defrauding a number of investors as part of a non-existent $1.5 billion bio-fuel scheme involving turning trash into ethanol.
  • The case involved Martin Luther King III, Condoleezza Rice, Charles Barkley and other professional athletes who were defrauded, and it included testimony from former NBA player Damon Stoudamire’s wife Natasha Taylor-Stoudamire also spoke at both sentencings saying, the Watkins duo took money from “victims that were trying to have generational wealth for our children’s children.” 

6. No federal charges in chokehold case

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  • In 2014, Eric Garner passed away after an altercation with police in New York where a chokehold was used, and now the Justice Department has declined to federally charge any of the police officers involved.
  • During the altercation with police, Garner famously said, “I can’t breathe” multiple times, which became a rallying cry for those advocating for officers to be charged. But a Staten Island grand jury declined to press charges.

5. More jobs for Alabama

  • Motus Integrated Technologies will be building a new $15 million manufacturing plant in Gadsden that will provide 90 new jobs.
  • It’s planned that the plant will be opened in mid-2020, and automotive interior parts and headliners will be produced at the plant. This further destroys the idea that there is a boycott on Alabama over an abortion ban.

4. Everyone “The Squad” disagrees with is racist

  • U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is “complicit in advancing racism” in the United States because he didn’t speak out against President Donald Trump’s comments.
  • This isn’t the first leader they have described as racist. The Squad called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for singling out women of color, which Trump rejected out of hand.

3. Both sides want Alabama’s abortion bill put on hold

  • Both the attorney general’s office and those suing the state of Alabama want Alabama’s abortion bill put on hold until May of 2020. The issue is one of discovery and legalese, but it will delay the implementation of the law if a judge grants the request.
  • Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood’s CEO had to step down because she was more interested in women’s healthcare than all-out political advocacy and abortion activism, further disproving a popular media narrative about this organization.

2. Doug Jones doesn’t actually have that much support in Alabama

  • Sure, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) reported that he raised $2 million in the second quarter, but 87.78% of those donations came from out-of-state. Almost half, 45.35%, of his donations came from California, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
  • Jones has to convince Alabamians that he represents their values. His votes and his party’s most outspoken members are going to make that a pretty hard sell.

1. I guess it is official, Trump is a racist … or something

  • On Tuesday, the House passed a resolution that condemns President Donald Trump’s remarks on Twitter about four progressive House Democrats, which has been deemed racist.
  • The resolution passed in a 240-187 vote. It claimed that “Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color,” but in reality, it means nothing just like the claim Speaker Pelosi broke House rules by calling the president “racist.”

 

 

2 days ago

Huntsville celebrates Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, looks to create next ‘giant leap’ — ‘Alabama is clearly in the lead, and we’re going to stay there’

(Gov. Ivey/Twitter)

HUNTSVILLE — A sea of people packed out the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center on Tuesday evening to celebrate the Rocket City’s past, present and future leadership in the space industry.

Among the crowd at the Apollo 11 50th anniversary dinner were famed astronauts and local and state officials.

However, with a scaled-down Saturn V rocket replica standing immediately beside the stage and the famed full-size replica Saturn V looming over the building, it was the behind-the-scenes work of scientists, techs and engineers that drew special praise throughout the evening.

Many of these unsung individuals were in attendance, and the enormous crowd gave them a resounding standing ovation for their innovation and dedication during the Space Race in the 1960s that made it possible for Apollo 11 to experience a perfect launch on July 16, 1969, and then land on the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969.

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Fifty years to the day from that launch, which was powered by the Huntsville-built Saturn V, all three of Dr. Wernher von Braun’s children were in attendance on Tuesday. He, of course, led the team of innovators in Huntsville that made Apollo 11 possible.

Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the Space and Rocket Center and 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, served as the master of ceremonies for the evening.

She called Tuesday “the best day” of her life, thanking all of the individuals who made the momentous anniversary possible.

Following her opening remarks was Hal Brewer, co-founder and president of Huntsville’s INTUITIVE Research and Technology, who explained that he grew up in the Rocket City during the 1960s.

“I will certainly never forget watching the television in 1969 as the United States became the first country to land on the Moon,” he said. “I’ll never forget the awe, the excitement and the many questions I had surrounding that day. Those many questions — the one that grew in my mind was, ‘How? How had we been able to accomplish the unthinkable?’ Behind those famous first steps there was a group of engineers, technicians and scientists that designed, developed and tested the Saturn V rocket that launched into space. … This 300-foot engineering marvel sent man traveling at [almost] 25,000 miles per hour to the Moon, 240,000 miles away, and safely back.”

In later comments, Barnhart recounted that people were dancing in the streets of Huntsville after Apollo 11 successfully completed its mission in 1969.

Speaking of the Space Launch System (SLS), which is under development at Marshall Space Flight Center and slated to be NASA’s most powerful rocket ever, Barnhart quipped that Huntsville will be dancing again when its innovation powers Americans back to the surface of the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

Jody Singer (an Alabamian, 2019 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact and the first female to ever lead Marshall Space Flight Center) took to the stage and reinforced this. In fact, on the side of the stage opposite from the replica Saturn V towered a model version of the SLS.

Singer advised that SLS will allow for “the next giant leap” in human space exploration.

“From launch to landing, it’s coming through Huntsville, Alabama,” she emphasized, after sharing that Apollo 11 inspired her to pursue a career in the space industry.

“So just like Apollo inspired a generation, we will inspire the next generation through the Artemis program,” Singer added.

Not only will Artemis put the first woman on the surface of the Moon and help establish a sustainable American lunar presence, but the Alabama-driven program will also open the door for the first human trip to Mars — and beyond.

“I am confident, that in 50 years from now, we’ll be talking all about Space Launch System, what has happened in Huntsville [with Artemis] and how we’re [still] going forward… with the same awe that we hold today for Apollo 11 and the pride that we’re celebrating tonight,” she concluded.

Dr. Margrit von Braun, daughter of the space legend, is herself an environmental engineer who has dedicated her life to scientific pursuits. She delivered an impassioned address to the crowd on Tuesday, talking about journeying from “dreams to reality.”

Referencing Barnhart’s earlier comments, von Braun concluded her speech by saying, “Get your dancing slippers ready.”

‘We are celebrating the American spirit’

Governor Kay Ivey delivered an energetic keynote speech at the dinner on Tuesday, also touting Alabama’s historic role in Apollo 11’s success while emphasizing that the best is yet to come.

Speaking of the tumultuous time in American history in which the Space Race unfolded, Ivey took the crowd “down memory lane,” reminiscing on how many people doubted that President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to send man to the Moon within a decade could be accomplished.

“Now ladies and gentlemen,” Ivey continued in trademark fashion. “We are here tonight to celebrate that accomplishment and the significant role that Alabama has played in making this dream a reality.”

“As we have often done, Alabamians responded [to the challenge] by doing what we do best,” she explained. “We put our heads together, and we began working for a cause that is bigger than ourselves. So, as we celebrate this 50th anniversary of the Moon launch, we are celebrating the American spirit — and we are also celebrating the importance of collaboration.”

Speaking of the team of innovators led by Dr. von Braun, Ivey praised the development of Saturn V in Huntsville.

“It’s a good reminder that Americans — Alabamians — can accomplish just about anything when we put our mind to it,” Ivey stressed.

She said this type of “ingenuity and greatness of the people of our state” is fittingly celebrated as Alabama commemorates its bicentennial.

The governor added, “And just as we recognize the richness of our past, we must always be looking forward to new opportunities and new challenges. President Trump has issued his own challenge for us to return to the Moon and then eventually on to Mars.”

“While the possibility of going to Mars might seem unachievable to some people, remember: at one point in time so did landing on the Moon,” Ivey continued. “It’s good to know that Alabama and Alabamians will once again be at the launchpad for this new space frontier.”

This reflected sentiments Ivey recently expressed to Yellowhammer News in an exclusive interview.

She expressed optimism that the resurgence in national prioritization of human space exploration under the Trump administration will mean bright days for Alabama, highlighting how private and public entities in the state are at the forefront of various space initiatives.

“You’ve got ULA (United Launch Alliance) that’s building their new Vulcan [Centaur] rocket, and Marshall Space Flight Center is leading NASA’s effort [with SLS],” she said. “So, I think Alabama is clearly in the lead — and we’re going to stay there.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 days ago

Birmingham’s Southern Research, Southern Company help put Alabama on cutting edge of renewable energy future

(S.Ross/YHN)

BIRMINGHAM — Southern Research on Tuesday held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Energy Storage Research Center, which is the first of its kind in Alabama and is indicative, industry experts said, of the Yellowhammer State positioning itself at the forefront of next-generation energy needs.

The ceremony was held in collaboration with Southern Research’s partners on the important project: Southern Company, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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The Energy Storage Research Center will serve as an industrywide resource for testing chemical, mechanical and thermal energy storage systems under actual conditions while offering increased reliability and resiliency; better management of peak load demand; and increased integration and value of intermittent renewable resources such as wind and solar.

The center will allow third-party innovators from the electric utility industry, academia, government and technology the ability to research, develop and demonstrate energy storage solutions.

At the end of the day, the goal is for this energy research to turn into real-world uses for utilities, as well as the commercial and industrial sectors. This is something that Southern Research and Southern Company have both long excelled at as partners, speakers during the ceremony said.

In fact, Southern Research’s senior director for energy & environment, Corey Tyree, explained that this is no accident, as Southern Research’s founder was a former CEO of Southern Company. Tom Martin founded Southern Research in Birmingham in 1941.

Since then, the independent, nonprofit, scientific and engineering research organization that supports clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries has grown into a national gem. Southern Research’s staff of nearly 400 now works across four divisions in the pursuit of entrepreneurial and collaborative initiatives to develop and maintain a pipeline of intellectual property and innovative technologies that positively impact real-world problems.

Market forces

One of these problems for the energy sector in modern times is reducing carbon emissions. While renewable energy research has been underway across the world for some time now, solutions are still not ready for renewables (solar, wind, hydropower, etc.) to overtake traditional sources such as natural gas and coal.

Yet, the market is demanding increased renewable energy usage — and fast, Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield advised during the ceremony.

He said he was present to speak to the fact that “the state of Alabama, through the Alabama Department of Commerce, has been focused on being a facilitator for the accelerated growth of renewable energy options and the research, testing and validation of the future generation of energy storage technologies that are necessary to scale renewables at the utility level.”

Canfield stressed this growth was being driven by market forces. He also emphasized that it is important to develop and implement the technology in a scalable way so “that renewable energy can be brought into reality at a cost-effective and truly market-sustainable fashion.”

“In just four years, we’ve participated in economic development activities across this state which have seen renewable energy for power production increase by three-to-four fold,” Canfield explained.

He said this growth in renewable energy use throughout the state’s grid has been made possible by the efforts of utilities such as Alabama Power Company, PowerSouth and TVA.

Canfield pointed to new Google, Facebook and Walmart facilities as being specific examples of economic development projects in Alabama that called for increased renewable energy usage.

“All of these companies, as well as many others that we are recruiting into our state and helping build the business environment to expand in our state, we’re finding that more and more every day [are] demanding green, sustainable, renewable energy as part of their operation in Alabama,” Canfield stated.

He outlined that the recent significant growth in renewable energy capacity is going to “continue to accelerate.”

“The demand for sustainable energy in our state, as well as worldwide, will continue to accelerate,” the commerce secretary added. “And it will come from customer demand.”

He explained that utilities in the state are “reacting to” this market demand, and projects like the new Energy Storage Research Center will help them do this as effectively and economically as possible.

Canfield said the state had provided seed money for this project going back to 2016 or 2017 and is a proud partner in the endeavor.

“This center really… is about the future of our state [from an economic development perspective],” Canfield noted. “It’s about the future of our nation, it’s about energy independence. But it’s also about how do we make capturing energy produced from renewable sources more readily available on a cost-effective basis. And ultimately that cost equation is what we’ll need for widespread adoption in the marketplace.”

“I can’t wait to see the future work that comes from this research center,” he concluded.

‘Clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy’

Roxann Walsh, director of reduced carbon, renewable and distributed energy research and development for Southern Company, also spoke during the ceremony.

She spoke on behalf of Southern Company and its subsidiary, Alabama Power, expressing that innovation is in the “DNA” and “spirit” of both entities.

Walsh said that this week’s celebration of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary is an especially fitting time to announce this forward-looking endeavor. This year also marks a half-century of Southern Company’s modern energy research and development efforts.

The company has grown into the nation’s second-largest utility company, with innovation as a staple.

“[P]roviding clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy” is the core goal, Walsh advised.

The company’s “robust” research and development efforts help them keep up with market demands and actually get ahead of consumer needs.

Today, much of that focus is on renewable energy solutions and smart home/neighborhood projects, according to Walsh.

She said part of their success in these endeavors comes from collaboration with diverse partners across various sectors, just like the new Energy Storage Research Center.

The partner-leaders involved in the project affirmed Southern Company’s commitment to collaboration, innovation and renewables during the ceremony, including Charlie Vartanian of the U.S. Department of Energy and Mark McGranaghan of EPRI.

“We’ve always had a great relationship with Southern Company,” McGranaghan said. “Southern Company is kind of the model of establishing the participation and collaboration [across sectors for turning research into practical uses and technologies].”

Through this public-private partnership, led by Southern Research and Southern Company, the future is bright for the Yellowhammer State.

Canfield concluded, “[T]his facility puts Alabama at the forefront of some of the most important research being done for renewable energy in the U.S.”

RELATED: Rebuild Alabama bill puts state on cutting edge of electric vehicle infrastructure

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn