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.

10 hours ago

Brooks: ‘I oppose the Socialist Democrat and racist efforts to deface and destroy Mount Rushmore’

(Congressman Mo Brooks/Facebook, YHN)

Count Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) as a steadfast supporter of Mount Rushmore.

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s planned Friday trip to the national memorial in South Dakota for a pre-Independence Day fireworks show and patriotic tribute, Brooks released a statement emphasizing his cosponsorship of H.R. 7358.

This bill, known as the Mount Rushmore Protection Act, was authored by Congressman Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and would prohibit federal funds from being used to alter, change, destroy or remove, in whole or in part, any name, face or other feature on the namesake memorial.

Liberal organizations in recent days have begun to target Mount Rushmore, with the Democratic National Committee even claiming the monument is “glorifying white supremacy.”

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Brooks pushed back on this, saying, “Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are exceptional American heroes. Each contributed monumentally to America’s greatness and share a common legacy of spreading freedom and liberty throughout the world. Their places on Mount Rushmore are well-deserved as exemplars of what it took to make America great, and efforts to denigrate their contributions are beyond reprehensible.”

The North Alabama Republican also outlined the contributions of each American icon memorialized on Mount Rushmore.

“Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, the document that officially kicked off America’s quest for independence,” he continued. “George Washington won the Revolutionary War, served as America’s first president, and set the high standards of honor and leadership that have molded the republic to this day. Teddy Roosevelt protected America’s beautiful and special lands for public enjoyment forever. Abraham Lincoln held our young nation together through the most tumultuous period in American history, freed the slaves and gave his life perfecting of union. These men represent the best of us. Generations of Americans have celebrated their contributions to our nation. They embody American exceptionalism, freedom and liberty.”

Brooks said this issue exemplifies larger societal issues that are ongoing in America.

“With the exception of the Civil War, America has never faced greater internal threats,” the congressman warned.

“Socialist Democrats and racists, as evidenced by a recent Democrat National Committee tweet that said Mount Rushmore is ‘glorifying white supremacy’, are dead set on undermining American’s freedom and liberty,” Brooks continued. “In a frenzy of delirious ‘wokeness’, Socialist Democrats and those who promote racial division are hellbent on destroying the very fabric of our republic.”

“I oppose the Socialist Democrat and racist efforts to deface and destroy Mount Rushmore,” he stressed to conclude his statement.

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

12 hours ago

Auburn University gets $3 million grant to increase innovative conservation practices

(Auburn University/Flickr)

AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn University College of Agriculture research and extension faculty will be using a $3 million grant to help forge a future for Alabama agriculture by encouraging the use of innovative conservation practices among the state’s row crop farmers.

The grant comes from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials), a new component of the Conservation Innovation Grants first authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Auburn’s $3 million grant is the largest to a single entity of the more than $24 million awarded. The grants are designed to help partners implement and evaluate innovative approaches that have demonstrated conservation benefits on farmland.

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These conservation practices are sorely needed on Alabama farms for several reasons, said Rishi Prasad, assistant professor and Alabama Extension specialist in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences and leader of the research project.

“Many soils in Alabama are severely degraded and have low organic matter content,” Prasad said. “It is important to rebuild soil health to conserve soil for use by future generations. Increased adoption of cover crops by Alabama farmers can create sustainable row-crop production systems while protecting the state’s soil and water resources.”

Another aspect of the grant will be the demonstration of water-smart irrigation practices, he said.

“Summer droughts in Alabama are very common, often causing yield losses,” Prasad said. “The adoption of water-smart irrigation in Alabama is considered one of the most important strategies for mitigating the negative impacts of drought. This project will demonstrate the use of these technologies and help increase the adoption of irrigation in Alabama.”

The project also will help farmers evaluate nutrient losses and demonstrate the agronomic, economic and environmental benefits of improved conservation practices compared to farmers’ “business-as-usual” practices, he said.

“Fertilizer is one of the major inputs used in crop production,” Prasad said. “However, more than 50 percent of the purchased fertilizers ends up getting lost in air or water. This project will help farmers evaluate those losses.”

Three Alabama farms have been selected as cooperators for this project: Posey Farms in north Alabama, Lazenby Farms in central Alabama and L.C. Farms in south Alabama. These farms will be used to demonstrate the innovative conservation practices.

“The interesting part of this project is that any farmer who wants to adopt cover crops or smart irrigation technologies will receive incentive payments that include assistance for cover crop seed, planting and termination costs, labor charges and forgone income,” Prasad said. “Farmers also can borrow inter-seeder, roller crimper and soil moisture sensors from selected NRCS offices as a part of this project.”

A network of learning sites will be established at the extension offices located in Lawrence, Geneva and Lee counties, said Audrey Gamble, assistant professor and Alabama Extension specialist in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, who also is involved in the grant. Project meetings with cooperating farmers and neighboring farmers will be organized, and information on the project will be presented.

“Farmers will be called for face-to-face meetings, dinner meetings, workshops and field days where information on topics related to cover crops, water-smart irrigation strategies, nutrient budgets and nutrient-use efficiencies will be presented,” Gamble said. “As project data becomes available, information will be shared with farmers at learning sites. The project already is underway, and we will be instrumenting these demonstration farms in the fall of 2020.”

For Brenda Ortiz, professor and Alabama Extension specialist in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, the grant marks the continuation of on-farm irrigation projects she initiated in 2017.

“The important thing about this project is that we will look at the whole system—the impact of cover crops on soil health and soil structure that will impact soil water storage and movement which, in the end, will impact water availability for the crops and improved nutrient and water-use efficiency,” Ortiz said.

While technological changes take time, there is a greater awareness in Alabama now of what technology can do to increase irrigation efficiency, she said.

“Farmers and consultants have gained knowledge on the use of soil sensors for irrigation scheduling, and we have been able to demonstrate the impact of variable-rate irrigation at some sites,” Ortiz said. “However, more work is needed.”

Ortiz hopes the innovation grant will increase the adoption of practices such as irrigation scheduling.

“If we can accomplish this, it will be a great success story and will result in possible environmental and economic benefits,” she said. “The other piece of the puzzle is nutrient management. This project has a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship.”

Leah Duzy of the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory is working on the economic aspects of the grant. Innovation grant awardees are required to evaluate the economic and conservation outcomes from these practices and systems, giving NRCS critical information to inform conservation work in the future. That’s where Michelle Worosz, professor of rural sociology in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, will play a role in implementing the grant.

“Production agriculture by its very nature is sociological—there is nothing that is not a product of human activity and/or social interaction,” Worosz said. “In the case of our grant, I will examine the conservation-based decision-making processes that take place on the three selected farms. These farms will serve as case studies of technological change, adoption and adaptation.

“I also will observe the extension team as they interact with a broader range of participants during workshops and field days. It is hoped that data from the case studies and the observations can be used by the team to improve conservation technology. In other words, this feedback loop is a means of co-developing knowledge about conservation strategies, particularly smart irrigation and cover cropping.

The grant’s implementation on “real” farms is important to its success, Worosz said.

“Understandably, producers can be quite skeptical of experimental plots on research farms,” she said. “Because research plots are often smaller, they may receive an unrealistic amount or type of care, they may not be subject to the same rules or regulations, the farm manager and researchers might have access to more or different resources such as advanced technologies, the plots are not required to produce the same yields or produce the same return on investment, and they may be located in a place that is not comparable to producers’ farms.”

It’s also important that the conservation technologies will be co-developed by faculty and extension specialists working alongside farmers, Worosz said.

“This is a way to develop a more robust set of bundled technologies—technologies that will be more user-friendly and better able to meet the needs of the user while also meeting larger environmental goals,” she said. “If the user has input, it will help with a broader buy-in of these conservation technologies by other producers.”

(Courtesy of Auburn University)

13 hours ago

Lara Trump: ‘We actually had never confirmed a rally in Alabama’

(White House/Flickr)

Senior campaign adviser Lara Trump has rebutted reporting from CNN that the president’s reelection campaign canceled a July 11 rally in Mobile, Alabama.

Trump — who is married to the president’s son, Eric — told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum this week that the rally was never finalized.

Rumors had been swirling in previous weeks that President Donald J. Trump would come to the state to campaign in person for his endorsed Republican Senate candidate, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

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RELATED: Watch: Trump, Tuberville depart Air Force One together

MacCallum asked Lara Trump if the Alabama rally was canceled and, if so, why it was canceled.

“Well, we actually had never confirmed a rally in Alabama,” she responded. “We never talked about it, never announced anything. So, I’m not sure why everybody got so excited about an Alabama rally.”

The show host then interjected to followed up with, “So there never was an Alabama rally? That’s what you’re saying?”

Shaking her head to indicate a negative response, Trump added, “There was nothing official from the campaign. We never announced anything on that.”

It should be noted that the Tuberville campaign never confirmed the rally, either.

He will face former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Alabama’s July 14 Republican primary runoff.

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

17 hours ago

New public pavilion opens at Smith Lake

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Anglers and tournament staff now have a shaded place on Smith Lake to host their weigh-ins.

A new public weigh-in pavilion is open at the Lewis Smith Lake Dam boat ramp in Walker County. The pavilion was funded through a partnership between B.A.S.S. and Alabama Power, and constructed with the help of many others.

“Our great partnership with Alabama Power continues with this pavilion,” B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin said. “It was exciting to see this come together, and we look forward to future tournaments that will benefit the local community.”

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New fishing weigh-in pavilion opens on Smith Lake from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The pavilion provides shade for fish holding tanks during tournament weigh-ins, which reduces stress and increases survival rates of the fish.

“This facility was designed to make setting up for weigh-ins easier and more efficient for all sizes of tournament organizations,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “Having the pavilion close to the water, the boat ramp and the courtesy docks will improve the survival of fish released following weigh-ins – and that means more bass for everyone to catch in the future.”

Construction began in January and was initially scheduled to be completed by April but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer labor was coordinated by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance that provided apprentices for all phases of the build.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance was privileged to be a part of this great partnership to benefit local anglers and the community,” said Robert Stroede, conservation manager for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Our union volunteers donated more than 1,000 hours of their time and trade skills to help make this facility possible and benefit not only the community but also the valuable resources of Smith Lake. Partnerships like this one between corporate, public and nonprofit organizations are now, and will continue to be, a huge asset to the future of conservation.”

The new pavilion is the latest in a growing list of amenities offered at Alabama Power’s 65 public recreation sites. It is the second pavilion Alabama Power and B.A.S.S. have worked together to build. In 2014, B.A.S.S., Alabama Power, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Shelby County and volunteers from Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation teamed to open a similar weigh-in pavilion at Beeswax Landing on Lay Lake.

“We were thrilled to work with B.A.S.S., the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the local community to construct this pavilion,” said Zeke Smith, Alabama Power executive vice president of External Affairs. “Not only does this pavilion enhance this access point on Smith Lake, it also helps showcase the state of Alabama’s beautiful waterways.”

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources donated engineering expertise to the project, and added a ramp and docks to the nearby boat launch.

“We are very excited about the pavilion and the upgrades we have made to the access point at Smith Dam,” said Alabama Department of Conservation Deputy Commissioner Ed Poolos. “It all works together nicely and will offer a great experience for anyone interested in visiting this beautiful lake.”

Project leaders said the pavilion will boost the Smith Lake community.

“I have been involved with high school fishing for a number of years and the sport is rapidly growing,” said Casey Shelton, business manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council U-19. “This has been a great partnership to see come together and will benefit the local community for years to come.”

Community leaders said the pavilion will attract more fishing tournaments, especially among high schools and amateurs.

“I am pleased to be involved in this project alongside Alabama Power and know that those that enjoy bass fishing, especially high school anglers in our community, will enjoy this pavilion and the facilities,” said Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed. “This partnership with B.A.S.S., IBEW, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Alabama Power is a wonderful opportunity for Smith Lake and will promote the sport of angling for many years to come.”

“We so appreciate the investment Alabama Power has made in the Smith Lake Dam Pavilion,” added State Rep. Connie Rowe. “For several years this area has been utilized by The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County for fishing tournaments, which bring thousands of visitors and their tax dollars into our area. This pavilion will serve as a hub for those tournaments and other events.”

For up-to-date information about Alabama lakes, download the Smart Lakes app to your smartphone at smartlakes.com. For more information on this or other Alabama Power public recreation sites, visit apcshorelines.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 hours ago

7 Things: No confirmed ‘coronavirus parties’ in Tuscaloosa, Tuberville’s handling of a 2nd-degree rape case becomes political fodder, Ivey open to changing Confederate holidays and more …

(YHN)

7. Pelosi is just out here ‘trying to save the world’

  • Recently, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for not commenting on protestors who have taken to tearing down statues like the one of St. Junipero Serra at the Golden Gate Park in Pelosi’s district.
  • Pelosi said that McCarthy “hasn’t had the faintest idea of our dynamic in our district,” and that she’s “trying to save the world from coronavirus.” Now, as coronavirus cases have increased across the country, the Senate will take up the relief package HEROES Act, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called a “liberal wish list.”

6. Coronavirus cases in Madison County jail, Clanton mayor also positive

  • In Madison County, an employee at the jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, which is the first case at the facility, and Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner has said that they are taking “precautions” within the facility “concerning the affected employee’s contact with the inmates prior to the positive test result.”
  • Mayor Billy Joe Driver in Clanton has also tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently at St. Vincent’s Birmingham for treatment. At 84-years-old, the mayor is at higher risk regarding the virus.
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5. More than 1,100 coronavirus cases in one day

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health has added 1,162 coronavirus cases in the state in just one day. There were also 22 more hospitalizations bringing the total currently to 797, and there were 14 people who died, bringing total deaths to 961.
  • Ten counties have 57% of the new cases, which includes Mobile, Madison, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Marshall, Morgan, Baldwin, DeKalb and Montgomery counties. There were 5,788 tests conducted across the state in one day.

4. Record jobs numbers as economy continue to recover

  • The headlines screamed of June numbers far better than the experts expected. Much to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s chagrin, there were 4.8 million jobs created and an unemployment rate that fell to 11.1%, with President Donald Trump saying, “Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back. It’s coming back extremely strong.”
  • But tens of millions are still out of work as the American economy continues to reel from the effects of rising coronavirus numbers and a patchwork of economic lockdowns that seem to be increasing in number again.

3. Ivey open to making changes

  • Governor Kay Ivey’s spokesperson Gina Maiola said that “Ivey is certainly open to the discussion” of changing Confederate holidays, but those decisions have to go “through the Legislature.”
  • Maiola added that Ivey “believes that while we cannot change the past or erase our history, she is confident that we can build a future that values the worth of each and every citizen,” and the holidays in question would be Robert E. Lee’s birthday, Confederate Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis Day.

2. Tuberville attacked for his handling of a player’s rape case from Auburn

  • With less than two weeks to go before the run-off for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, voters are starting to see what type of attacks former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville could see in November from U.S. Senator Doug Jones and the media.
  • The attack stems from the 1999 season when wide receiver Clifton Robinson received a one-game suspension after pleading guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor (a misdemeanor) as a plea deal following being charged with the second-degree rape of a 15-year-old girl. Robinson would later be arrested on assault charges and subsequently convicted for the battery of an off-duty police officer years after leaving Auburn.

1. No, there were not coronavirus parties in Tuscaloosa

  • A Tuscaloosa City councilwoman repeated a stupid rumor that students at Alabama colleges and universities were hosting parties with bowls full of money as prizes for getting the coronavirus, and the national media ran with the story as if it was fact, but don’t expect a retraction.
  • There is obviously no evidence that any such events actually took place — not a single Facebook post, tweet or Instagram story supports this narrative, but the narrative was helpful for the media and the desires for a mandatory mask ordinance from Tuscaloosa’s leaders.

18 hours ago

Alabama Office of Apprenticeship plans for growth with fresh funding

(AOA/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Alabama’s apprenticeship effort is primed for additional growth after the U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday awarded the state a $450,000 grant to expand registered apprenticeship programs.

The funding will allow the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship to enhance its activities in working with employers to develop skilled workers in many industries across the state, according to Josh Laney, the AOA’s director.

Laney said the grant will help the agency provide resources for employers on how to run high-performance apprenticeship programs and allow it to develop mentor programs so skilled workers can pass on their knowledge to the next generation. The grant will also help AOA collect useful data to improve its efforts.

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“The top line metric of performance for the AOA is how well employers are served. The AOA will use the resources provided by this grant to expand our regional presence by locating project managers in the areas closest to the employers they serve,” Laney said.

“Even in times of COVID and social distance, proximity to the clients and a deep integration with the workforce entities in an area allow relationships to be built and joint efforts to flourish,” he added.

FUELING GROWTH

The funding arrives at a time for growth for Alabama’s apprenticeship effort, which has been expanding into new industries as part of the COVID-19 recovery. In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded Alabama a $1.3 million, three-year grant to support the expansion of apprenticeship efforts among members of difficult-to-serve special populations.

The new funding comes through the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Building State Capacity to Expand Apprenticeship through Innovation” program.

“We are extremely proud of the work our apprenticeship staff are doing as they work tirelessly to stand up our state apprenticeship agency, the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship,” said Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and head of its Workforce Development Division.

“Receiving this grant at this moment in time is extraordinarily important to the work and will help expedite the development of our Alabama program,” added Castile, who also serves as director of AIDT.

At AOA, Laney teams with industries and education providers across the state to develop and expand traditional and industry-recognized apprenticeships for youth and adults.

He also leads the AOA’s support of larger workforce development infrastructure for Alabama to identify and promote the recognition and use of valuable credentials.

“The AOA is very pleased to be able to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Labor for the expansion of apprenticeship in Alabama,” he said.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

18 hours ago

Significant boating traffic, trooper presence expected on Alabama waterways July 3-5

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Marine Patrol anticipates heavy boating traffic July 3-5 and troopers will be out in force on state waterways to maintain safety during the holiday weekend.

“Marine Patrol troopers will be working shifts to coincide with traffic patterns and will be targeting areas where we’ve received complaints or experienced issues,” said Deputy Chief Matt Brooks. “We will be conducting a number of enforcement details around the state to coincide with the national Operation Dry Water campaign, which specifically targets operators impaired by alcohol or drugs.”

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Brooks said troopers are reporting higher-than-normal weekday boating traffic for this time of the year. He said recent weekend and holiday traffic has been heavy, noting that nice weather contributes to the waterway influx.

ALEA officers have used and encouraged social distancing guidelines the past three months and will continue to promote “personal responsibility” and hygiene protocols, said Brooks. Health guidelines recommended by state and federal experts are effective in protecting boaters and the Marine Patrol Division, which has had no officers test positive for COVID-19, he said.

Despite the pandemic, many boaters went onto Alabama’s 1,600 miles of rivers and 53 miles of Gulf coastline during the May 23-25 Memorial Day holiday. The 2020 red snapper fishing season has been closed early because so many private anglers and charter vessels went after the prized fish. Brooks doesn’t expect a boating slowdown this weekend and urged taking steps to ensure proper boat maintenance and sobriety for pilots.

“Most of our crashes that occur during the 4th of July holiday period occur at night, and many of those involve alcohol,” he said. “It’s absolutely critical that each vessel have a sober operator – and no one unfamiliar with night-time operation should pick this particular weekend to be on the water after dark. Operators who do choose to boat at night should check, double-check and re-check their navigation lights to make sure they’re within code and in good working order. Navigation light requirements will be strictly enforced.”

Boaters should ensure that they have required safety equipment on board before leaving a dock or shore, Brooks said. While one safety vest for each passenger is required, children younger than 8 must at all times wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).

Exceptions that require boaters age 8 and older to wear a life vest:

  • Any person being towed on water skis, tubes, etc.
  • Any person operating or riding on a personal watercraft.
  • Any occupant of a boat within 800 feet below a hydroelectric or navigational lock and dam.

Every operator should check boat safety equipment to make sure it is serviceable and easily located, Brooks said. A list of required equipment is at www.alea.gov under the Marine Patrol section.

Brooks urged boaters to take their time on the waters and keep their wits in dealing with others in what will surely be crowded and hot holiday conditions.

“Be courteous,” he said. “Even when you feel like you have the right of way or the other operator has made a mistake – be courteous. Slow down, avoid heavily congested areas and pay attention. Always maintain a proper lookout. Know and follow the rules of the road.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

19 hours ago

Del Marsh doesn’t foresee renewed COVID-19 restrictions, statewide mask requirement

(Screenshot/APTV)

In recent days, there have been rumblings of a statewide mask requirement as coronavirus numbers continue to increase around the state.

Some speculate local officials may be reluctant or unwilling to enact mask ordinances given the potential for political ramifications. Therefore, it could be the state government that would take on the burden of imposing the requirement.

During an interview with Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, State Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) seemed to dismiss that possibility. He said it would have been his preference Gov. Kay Ivey relaxed restrictions even more so than she had during her press conference earlier this week.

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“I’ve been of the position, probably since day one, to let people make reasonable decisions based on the facts,” Marsh said. “I’m for getting people back to work. I’m for getting the state back to normal as quickly as possible. I’m glad that there weren’t any more restrictions put on, and if it had been my choice, I wish they would have been lifted. But it is what it is, and we’ll move forward.”

When asked about the possibility of a return of prior COVID-19 restrictions or a mask requirement, he responded that he did not see that happening.

“I don’t,” Marsh replied. “I think by and large the people of the state really do want to try to get back to work, you know, being responsible based on their situation. Some people are more high risk than others. We know who the vulnerable groups are, and we can protect those groups. But I think it is important for Alabama to get back to normal as quickly as possible, and I think we can do that.”

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

1 day ago

U.S. Supreme Court restores normal Alabama election laws ahead of July 14 runoff

(SCOTUS)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday evening moved to block an appointee of former President Barack Obama from making last-minute changes to Alabama election laws ahead of the state’s July 14 primary runoff.

As previously reported by Yellowhammer News, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama Abdul K. Kallon issued a memorandum opinion striking down certain absentee balloting requirements for the runoff. Not only did he strike down the requirements only for certain demographics, but that aspect of the order only affects three of Alabama’s 67 counties: Jefferson, Mobile and Lee. The relevant requirements are viewed by many as safeguards against voter fraud.

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Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, as the chief elections official in the state, was named as the lead defendant in the case. He told Yellowhammer News that the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the State and the rest of the defendants in the case, would appeal Kallon’s order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

The AG’s office did indeed appeal and also asked the 11th Circuit for a stay of Kallon’s order with the runoff quickly approaching.

Last week, it was announced that a panel of three judges from the 11th Circuit denied the request for a stay.

The attorney general’s office then took the same request to the Supreme Court, directly petitioning Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.

On Thursday, SCOTUS granted a stay, which blocks Kallon’s order from taking effect at least for the near future. Democrat-appointed Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The case itself is still pending before the 11th Circuit on appeal. The stay granted by the Supreme Court will be in effect “pending disposition of the appeal [in the 11th Circuit].”

Additionally, should the losing side of that disposition subsequently attempt to take the appeal to the Supreme Court, the stay shall still remain in effect pending “disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought.”

“Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court,” the Supreme Court concluded on Thursday.

Merrill celebrated the stay being granted in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

“With the news that we have received a Stay in this process, I am excited that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of those who believe in strict interpretation of the Constitution and has decided to grant the Stay and not endorse legislating from the bench,” the secretary of state said.

UPDATE 10:15 p.m.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement on the Supreme Court granting the State a stay.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court acted quickly to grant the State’s emergency stay request so that Alabama’s absentee voting laws remains in effect for the upcoming July [14], 2020 run-off election,” Marshall said. “Alabama is again able to enforce laws that help ensure the fairness and integrity of our elections.”

“As we argued in our stay request to the Supreme Court, the district court’s injunction undermined confidence in the ongoing election by altering the anti-fraud provisions related to absentee voting,” he concluded. “Though Alabama has undertaken extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of voters during the pandemic, including making absentee voting available to every eligible voter for the upcoming runoff and giving voters more than three additional months to obtain their ballots, plaintiffs sought more by demanding that the photo ID and witness requirements be shelved for the pandemic. But the Supreme Court has previously recognized the importance of ‘safeguards … to deter and detect fraud and to confirm the identity of voters.’ And the Court has cautioned lowered courts against altering election laws on the eve of an election. We made this case to the Court, and we are gratified that the Court agreed to our request for the stay.”

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

1 day ago

Citing ‘Tiger King’ documentary, PETA calls on Univ. of North Alabama to end live mascot program

(UNA/Contributed, YHN)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is asking the University of North Alabama (UNA) to send their live mascot, Leo III, to an off-campus sanctuary.

Leo’s twin sister, Una, passed away earlier this week. The two lions have lived at the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat on the UNA campus since 2003.

In a letter to UNA’s president, Dr. Ken Kitts, PETA offered “condolences” on Una’s death while offering to help place Leo in “an accredited sanctuary.”

The letter makes no allegation of specific mistreatment of the animals, saying that “even in the best conditions, a busy campus is no place for a lion.”

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“By retiring Leo III, you could cement UNA’s legacy of compassion and respect for lions, who have long represented the school’s team and traditions,” the letter continues, before asking for the live mascot tradition to be permanently ended.

“In the wake of Netflix’s wildly popular series Tiger King, the public has never been more aware of and concerned about the issues surrounding big cats in captivity. Lions are the most social of the big cats and spend their days foraging and actively defending their large territory,” the letter states. “Since he was brought to UNA as a cub, Leo III has never had that opportunity, and with Una’s passing, he faces living the remainder of his life in solitary confinement.”

A release from PETA about the letter concluded that PETA “opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview.”

“PETA is eager to help Una’s brother live out the rest of his days in a vast habitat, with a chance to be surrounded by other lions,” PETA Foundation deputy general counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet added in a statement. “Retiring Leo and ending the live-animal mascot program would show enormous respect for lions—something UNA could take pride in.”

The habitat in which Leo lives on-campus at UNA has received 15 consecutive 100% ratings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture when they make unannounced visits for inspections, according to the university.

In 2012, Leo and Una were ranked the best live animal mascot in college football; UNA was the only non-Division I institution to make the list.

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

1 day ago

Wetumpka to be subject of HGTV’s ‘Home Town Takeover’

(Wikicommons, YHN)

The central Alabama city of Wetumpka has been selected to receive a renovation courtesy of the HGTV program “Home Town Takeover.”

The program will be hosted by Ben and Erin Napier, who have previously hosted several seasons of the show “Home Town” in which they renovate a single house.

The Napier’s new project in Alabama is their biggest yet. HGTV says on its website the town’s renovation that will be done on the program is to be “extensive and far-reaching.”

“It is a tremendous blessing for a city like us to be chosen,” Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis told Yellowhammer News on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re anticipating great things to happen … we’re very excited,” he added.

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HGTV says it received over 500,000 submissions from people in over 2,600 qualifying small towns across America. Only cities with less than 40,000 residents were eligible for entry.

Wetumpka has a population of around 8,300 residents and sits about 20 minutes north of Montgomery.

Willis detailed the process Wetumpka went through to become the selected city.

“When we saw the application HGTV had … we have a team of people between our Main Street Wetumpka/Main Street Alabama program that we have, and our chamber of commerce and economic development office of the city,” Willis stated.

“We just all came together and filled out the application and submitted a video of what we have and who we are,” he continued.

Home Town Takeover’s Wetumpka season, its first ever, is set to air in six parts sometime in the year 2021.

Willis told Yellowhammer that the exact dates when the series will be produced and the extent of the budget that will be put forth by HGTV have not yet been provided.

The mayor said he’d watched the host’s previous show and “now to realize that’s coming to our hometown, and the program will be run on national TV every week, that’s exciting in itself.”

Watch the moment Wetumpka found out it would be featured on “Home Town Takeover”:

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

1 day ago

Byrne gets additional Austal ship added to FY21 NDAA, joins Brooks and Rogers in advancing key defense bill

(Bradley Byrne, Congressman Mike D. Rogers/Facebook, Congressman Mo Brooks/Flickr, YHN)

All three of Alabama’s U.S. House of Representatives members who sit on the House Armed Services Committee voted to advance the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of committee on Wednesday night.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) touted an amendment he added to the bill that authorizes $260 million for the construction of an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel at Austal USA’s plant in Mobile.

Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) sent out a statement alerting the public to negotiations on which he had worked that helped authorize millions in military aviation funding that would benefit Redstone Arsenal and the military community in North Alabama.

Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03) stated that he was “pleased the bill included several provisions to support the further set up of the Space Force, as well as language to further the use of commercial satellite capabilities and to prioritize the hypersonic and ballistic missile tracking space sensor.”

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All three congressmen expressed some reservations with the bill, which was controlled by the committee chairman, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA).

The committee ultimately advanced the bill on a vote of 56-0.

Rogers was the most forthright in his frustrations, saying on Thursday, “This is not the bill I would have written… I have particular concerns about the shortsighted change to the national emergency authority. I shared my strong opposition with this provision because it would upend the progress President Trump has made to help secure our border.”

However, he added that he did “appreciate the hard work of Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry to get us to this place.”

On the subject of the additional ship authorized to be built at Austal, Byrne commented, “It is great news for Southwest Alabama and our entire nation that the committee accepted my amendment to authorize the construction of an additional EPF at the Austal shipyard in Mobile.”

“Passage of this amendment acknowledges the critical role the 4,000 men and women at Austal Mobile play in supporting our nation’s military readiness and moving us closer to our goal of a 355-ship fleet,” Byrne continued.

Brooks expressed pride in the work done by the committee, saying, “Despite COVID19 and shutdown disruption, the Armed Services Committee successfully produced an FY21 NDAA that strengthens national security.”

He also gave out a detailed list of 27 local policy requests he helped work into the bill, which can be viewed here.

Additionally, Brooks and Rogers both highlighted the 3% pay raise to be received by all American troops as something they were quite happy with in the bill.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration, and the NDAA will need to work its way through the Senate process as well. Items authorized by a final NDAA signed into law by the president have to be separately funded through the appropriations process, as well.

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

1 day ago

Ala. Supreme Court: Jefferson County Probate Court ‘egregiously violated’ due-process rights of philanthropist Joann Bashinsky

(Joann 'Mama B' Bashinsky/Contributed, YHN)

The Supreme Court of Alabama on Thursday released a unanimous, scathing opinion outlining that the Jefferson County Probate Court “egregiously violated” the “basic due-process rights” of Joann Bashinsky, heiress to the Golden Flake fortune and one of the state’s most beloved philanthropists.

As previously reported by Yellowhammer News, Bashinsky has been deprived of controlling her own assets, managing her own personal affairs and making her own legal decisions since October due to orders issued then by recently retired Jefferson County Presiding Probate Judge Alan King, a Democrat.

This came after former allies and employees of Bashinsky, the wife of Golden Flake’s founder, allegedly moved to try seizing the fortune – currently estimated to be worth $200 million – through having her declared mentally unfit to manage her finances.

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RELATED: Bashinsky decries ’evil plan’ to seize Golden Flake fortune, warns Alabamians of threat to elderly

King on October 17 granted an “emergency petition” and appointed a temporary conservator and guardian who took control of Bashinsky’s vast fortune and personal affairs. Affectionally known as “Mama B,” she was removed from being chairman of the board of directors of her family’s company and charitable foundation and has been living on an allowance dictated and controlled by the temporary conservator.

However, in their Thursday opinion, written by Associate Justice Brad Mendheim, the Supreme Court exposed the stunning legal errors that precluded King’s decision. Perhaps the top issue on which the justices focused their 56-page opinion pertained to King removing Bashinsky’s legal team — and not allowing her to replace them — before he made his October ruling.

The Supreme Court ultimately overturned King’s order granting the emergency petition. The justices voided the appointment of a temporary guardian and conservator for Bashinsky, as well as the order disqualifying Bashinsky’s counsel. The Supreme Court ordered the Jefferson County Probate Court “to require the temporary guardian and conservator to account for all of Ms. Bashinsky’s funds and property, and to dismiss the emergency petition.”

Among their disturbing findings, the Supreme Court advised “that no ’emergency’ was presented in [the October emergency hearing].” The opinion later added that “the allegations raised in the emergency petition and the facts presented in the hearing on that petition clearly did not constitute an ’emergency.'”

However, the manner in which the probate court handled the petition and hearing was scrutinized even more.

For example, although deemed an “ultimately harmless error” in the opinion, the Supreme Court noted that Bashinsky was not properly served with notice of the emergency petition.

Incredibly, King contended, according to the opinion, that no notice is even required to be provided to the person an emergency petition is filed against and that the subsequent emergency hearing on said petition may be held ex parte. This means that, in King’s view, not only does the individual not have to be present to have their livelihood taken away, that person is not entitled to representation by counsel at a hearing on an emergency petition, either.

“[Representation and case-presentation rights delineated by Alabama law], and Ms. Bashinsky’s basic due-process rights, were egregiously violated, as the probate court treated the proceeding like an ex parte hearing even though Ms. Bashinsky was present,” the opinion advised. “But the problems with the probate court’s disqualification of Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys extend even beyond basic constitutional due process and the procedures afforded [by specific Alabama law].”

The opinion continued to make a shocking conclusion: King had decided how to rule on the case before even hearing the case, violating “fundamental fairness” along the way.

The probate court disqualified Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys primarily based upon Rules 1.7 and 1.9 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. Both of those rules expressly state that the conflicts of interest described therein can be waived by the client if the client is made aware of the conflict and still elects to have the attorney continue the representation. Yet, there is no indication that the probate court asked Ms. Bashinsky at any point during the October 17, 2019, hearing whether she was aware of her attorneys’ alleged conflicts of interest. This fact suggests that the probate court had already decided that Ms. Bashinsky was not competent to make her own decisions because the court assumed for itself the duty of determining that the alleged conflicts could not be waived. In other words, the probate court’s disqualification of Ms. Bashinsky’s counsel at the outset of the October 17, 2019, hearing indicated prejudgment of the very question at issue in that hearing: Whether Ms. Bashinsky’s competence was sufficiently in question to warrant appointment of a temporary guardian and conservator.

Moreover, the manner in which the probate court handled the issue of the motion to disqualify Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys — granting the motion and then choosing to proceed directly with the hearing on the issue of Ms. Bashinsky’s competence — created an unnecessary complication that was highlighted by the probate court’s subsequent scheduling of a hearing in January 2020 to discuss how Ms. Bashinsky’s new attorneys were to be selected. That is, because the probate court disqualified Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys and then declared Ms. Bashinsky to be incompetent, it raised the specter that she cannot enter into a contract to hire new counsel to represent her interests in this matter. This complication would have been avoided if the probate court had followed basic procedures of due process and fundamental fairness with respect to Ms. Bashinsky.

The opinion further said that “Bashinsky’s constitutional and statutory rights of due process were also violated through a deprivation of counsel and a lack of opportunity to present evidence and argument before the probate court.”

It was not immediately clear if this was the first and only case in which King oversaw these types of due process violations. He was a probate judge for almost 20 years, just retiring this spring. His successor was appointed earlier this week by Governor Kay Ivey.

A permanent petition also attempting to declare Bashinsky not mentally fit to manage her own finances and affairs is still pending before the probate court; that petition has not been acted upon by the probate court since being filed, so the Supreme Court wrote that there was nothing they could possibly reverse regarding the permanent petition at this time.

It should be noted that Bashinsky previously released a letter from her personal physician, Dr. Robert Spiegel, stating that she does “does not have dementia nor psychiatric issue.”

“She has had a recent side effect to a medication. She is competent to make decisions for herself,” the doctor wrote.

According to a previous email from Bashinsky, she has additionally undergone psychological testing from renowned University of Alabama psychologist Dr. Rebecca S. Allen, who also reportedly concluded that Bashinsky does not suffer from dementia.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News reacting to the Thursday Supreme Court opinion, Bashinsky said, “I am happy and feel vindicated by the Supreme Court’s ruling. It’s sad that two former employees could use our court system to steal my freedom. It should have never happened and anyone who does this should be held accountable.”

You can read the full opinion here.

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

2 days ago

Coleman, Moore pick up endorsements in AL-02

(Barry Moore Republican for Congress, Jeff Coleman for Congress/Facebook, YHN)

Both competitors to be the Republican nominee in Alabama’s Second Congressional District to replace Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who chose not to seek reelection, have picked up a number of endorsements in recent days.

Former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) received support from one former and three current state legislators, along with the Alabama Republican Assembly.

Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman has recently received support from three mayors in the district along with a collection of over 50 farmers.

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Coleman has now taken a wide lead among support from mayors across Alabama’s Second Congressional District, but Moore has received the first support from state legislators.

The district encompasses parts of the Montgomery area and most of the Wiregrass region in the southeast corner of the state.

Moore’s campaign was endorsed by State Reps. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka), Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery) and Terri Collins (R-Decatur) along with former Rep. Barry Mask (R-Alexander City).

Holmes and Meadows represent areas inside AL-02, and Collins is familiar to many conservatives across the state for being the lead sponsor on the Human Life Protection Act, Alabama’s strongest-in-the-nation abortion ban the legislature passed in 2019.

Coleman has been endorsed in recent days by Mayors Frankie Lindsey of Geneva, Terry Holley of Florala and Johnny Hammock of Tallassee.

Together, the three mayors represent around 15,400 Second District constituents.

Coleman adds this group of four mayors to a list that already included Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba, along with Mayors Dexter McClendon of Greenville, Bob Bunting of Ozark, Jayme Stayton of Daleville, Ed Beasley of Luverne, Jack Tibbs of Eufaula and Earl Johnson of Andalusia.

In addition to the mayors, Coleman this week added support from over 50 farmers across the district, including prominent ALFA leaders Steve Dunn and George Jeffcoat. ALFA’s political arm threw its support behind Coleman earlier in 2020.

Moore has also been endorsed by the Alabama Republican Assembly (ARA), a group that bills itself as the “the Republican Wing of the Republican Party,” in recent days.

The ARA endorsement is one of a number of conservative Alabama organizations that have endorsed Moore, including the Eagle Forum and religious group Conservative Christians of Alabama.

Moore and Coleman face each other in the Republican Primary Runoff on July 14.

Update 1:10 p.m:

A previous version of this story said that Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley was endorsing Jeff Coleman. That information had been provided by the Coleman campaign, however Mayor Kelley contacted Yellowhammer News to say he had not in fact endorsed anyone in the race and was focusing on his own reelection. The story has been updated accordingly.

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

2 days ago

Alabama Futures Fund uses investment to recruit trucking tech company to Alabama

(Pixabay, YHN)

The Alabama Futures Fund (AFF) announced on Wednesday that the trucking technology company True Load Time will be relocating to Birmingham after the AFF made an investment in the firm.

True Load Time created and operates software that allows truck drivers, dispatchers, freight brokers and supply chain professionals to search for the average loading and unloading times at facilities before booking.

The company says the information on loading and unloading times provided by their platform allows members of the freight-moving industry to make better decisions that improve the efficiency of their operation.

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The Alabama Futures Fund often makes seed and early-stage investments in “companies that are willing to relocate their headquarters and principal business operations to Alabama,” according to a release from the group.

Kevin Nadeau, founder and CEO of True Load Time, said in a statement that he and his team are “excited to enter the next phase of business development alongside the AFF team.”

“Their depth of knowledge, community connections, and sincere enthusiasm for our vision and product created the foundation for a great partnership. Birmingham’s geographic location on the southern end of one of the busiest freight corridors in the country, as well as its thriving entrepreneurial, technology, and supply chain ecosystem made relocating there a win-win scenario for the True Load Time team,” he added.

True Load Time was originally based in Greenville, South Carolina, before the relocation announced Wednesday.

Matt Hottle of RedHawk Advisory is currently serving as the investment manager for the Alabama Futures Fund.

Hottle said on Wednesday, “We recognize valuable technology targeting the fragmented and underserved owner-operator market represents a huge opportunity. Mostly, we are excited about the opportunity to partner with Kevin and his team who have leveraged their vast industry experience to solve an important problem. True Load Time is a compelling investment opportunity and we are excited to see them move to Birmingham as the newest AFF portfolio company.”

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

2 days ago

Ivey: This is our time, Alabama

(Office of Governor Kay Ivey/Contributed)

My fellow Alabamians:

In a few days, America will celebrate her 244th birthday.

Traditionally, many towns and cities around the country light up the night with fireworks and music festivals. In 1776, John Adams predicted that Independence Day would be “celebrated by succeeding generations” with “pomp and circumstance … bonfires and illuminations.”

However, largely because of COVID-19, this year’s observance of our country’s birth will likely be a bit more subdued than previous years. While unfortunate, this is certainly understandable.

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Today – and very likely in the days that will follow – instead of talking about what unites us as one nation – other conversations will occur that are, quite frankly, a bit more difficult and challenging.

My personal hope – and prayer – for this year’s 4th of July is that the marvel of our great country – how we started, what we’ve had to overcome, what we’ve accomplished and where we are going – isn’t lost on any of us.

We are all searching for “a more perfect union” during these trying and demanding days.

Over the past several weeks, our nation has been having one of those painful, yet overdue, discussions about the subject of race.

The mere mention of race often makes some people uncomfortable, even though it is a topic that has been around since the beginning of time.

Nationally, a conversation about race brings with it the opportunity where even friends can disagree on solutions; it also can be a catalyst to help total strangers find common ground and see things eye-to-eye with someone they previously did not even know.

Here in Alabama, conversations about race are often set against a backdrop of our state’s long – and at times – ugly history on the subject.

No one can say that America’s history hasn’t had its own share of darkness, pain and suffering.

But with challenge always comes opportunity.

For instance, Montgomery is both the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the cradle of the Confederacy. What a contrast for our Capital City.

The fact is our entire state has, in many ways, played a central role in the ever-evolving story of America and how our wonderful country has, itself, changed and progressed through the years.

Ever since the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, thousands of Alabamians – of all races, young and old – have taken to the streets of our largest cities and smallest towns in protest to demand change and to seek justice.

These frustrations are understandable.

Change often comes too slowly for some and too quickly for others. As only the second female to be elected governor of our state in more than 200 years, I can attest to this.

Most of us recognize that our views on issues such as race relations tend to grow out of our own background and experiences. But, fortunately, our views can change and broaden as we talk and learn from each other.

As a nation, we believe that all people are created equal in their own rights as citizens, but we also know that making this ideal a reality is still a challenge for us.

Even with the election of America’s first African-American president 12 years ago, racial, economic and social barriers continue to exist throughout our country. This just happens to be our time in history to ensure we are building on the progress of the past, as we take steps forward on what has proven to be a long, difficult journey.

Folks, the fact is we need to have real discussions – as an Alabama family. No one should be under the false illusion that simply renaming a building or pulling a monument down, in and of itself, will completely fix systemic discrimination.

Back in January, I invited a group of 65 prominent African-American leaders – from all throughout Alabama – to meet with me in Montgomery to begin having a dialogue on issues that truly matter to our African-American community in this state. This dedicated group – known as Alabama United – is helping to bring some very legitimate concerns and issues to the table for both conversation and action.

As an example, Alabama will continue to support law enforcement that is sensitive to the communities in which they serve. We have thousands of dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our state every single day. But we can – and must – make certain that our state’s policies and procedures reflect the legitimate concerns that many citizens have about these important issues.

I am confident all these conversations – and hopefully many more – will lead to a host of inspirational ideas that will lead to a more informed debate and enactment of sound public policy.

We must develop ways to advance all communities that lack access to good schools, jobs, and other opportunities. As governor, I will continue to make education and achieving a good job a priority – it distresses me that some of our rural areas and inner cities face some of the greatest challenges in education.

There are other critical issues that must be addressed, and I will continue to look for solutions along with you.

Everyone knows government cannot solve these problems alone. Some of the greatest solutions will come from private citizens as well as businesses, higher education, churches and foundations. Together, we can all be a part of supporting and building more inclusive communities.

In other words, solving these problems comes from leaning on the principles that make us who we are – our faith – which is embodied in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

My beliefs on how to treat people were shaped in Wilcox County and my faith was developed at the Camden Baptist Church.

The bible tells us over and over that our number one goal is to love God with all of one’s heart and then to love our neighbor as we love our self. That is what I strive to do every day.

When anyone feels forgotten and marginalized, compassion compels us to embrace, assist and share in their suffering. We must not let race divide us. We must grow and advance together.

Being informed by our past, let us now carefully examine our future and work towards positive change. Together, we can envision an Alabama where all her people truly live up to the greatness within our grasp. We cannot change the past or erase our history… But we can build a future that values the worth of each and every citizen.

So, in closing, my hope and prayer for our country as we pause to celebrate America’s 244th birthday, is that we make the most of this moment.

As for our state, let’s make this a time to heal, to commit ourselves to finding consensus, not conflict, and to show the rest of the nation how far we have come, even as we have further to go.

These first steps – just as we are beginning our third century as a state – may be our most important steps yet.

This is our time, Alabama. May God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama.

Kay Ivey is the 54th governor of Alabama.

2 days ago

7 Things: Mandatory masks calls are growing for Governor Ivey, Trump is ‘all for masks,’ cases keep going up in Alabama and more …

(YHN)

7. Don’t worry, Adam Schiff is on the case

  • Today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) will be briefed on the reports that Russia put bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, which comes just after Democrats were briefed at the White House on this very issue. 
  • The intelligence reports that have come out on the bounties have left unanswered questions, and while Russia has denied the allegations, there have still been conflicting reports on whether President Donald Trump was originally briefed on the issue because of the legitimacy of the intelligence was always in doubt. 

6. CHAZ/CHOP is over

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  • White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has announced that the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington, has been disbanded, adding that “Seattle has been liberated.” She emphasized that “in President Trump’s America, autonomous zones will have no sanctuary.”
  • McEnany also said that “CHAZ was a failed four-week Democrat experiment by the radical left.” She added that “law and order” has been restored, and while the Democrat leadership in these areas let these issues drag on, President Donald Trump couldn’t let it go on any longer. 

5. Doug Jones is campaigning on wearing a mask

  • A new reelection ad for U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has been released called “For Each Other,” where he encourages people to wear masks to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus throughout the state. 
  • In the ad, he says, “Wearing masks and social distancing is about protecting each other.” He goes on to explain how wearing masks can help keep those with underlying health conditions from getting the virus and emphasized that we need to do this “so our small businesses open safely and get our economy moving.”

4. Children in Huntsville hospitalized

  • While the coronavirus tends to not affect children as severely as the elderly community, they’re still not immune to the virus as there are now five children at Huntsville Hospital fighting the virus. 
  • Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers detailed that one of the children is a four-month-old infant and another is a four-year-old cancer patient. Spillers is encouraging people to wear face masks, adding that “it’s time to think about others when you resist wearing face coverings.”

3. Cases continue to rise

  • Alabama hospitalizations for the coronavirus have been at a record high for two days now, with the most recent number of people hospitalized reaching 776, which is 61 new hospitalizations in one day. 
  • While disturbing news of parties in Tuscaloosa where kids tried to catch the virus made national news, there were 21 new deaths, making the total 947. There was a daily increase of 906 cases, making the overall case count 38,442. Since March 13, there have been 2,803 hospitalizations. 

2. Trump says wearing a mask is good when needed

  • In what is a clear shift by President Donald Trump, the president is now saying he would have “no problem” with wearing masks at public events where it makes sense.
  • Trump also weighed in on the calls for mandatory mask ordinances, saying he doesn’t think they are needed but that he is “all for masks” and that he “thinks masks are good.”

1. “Face masks are coming”

  • Coronavirus cases continue to rise, and Madison County has seen a surge in recent days. Now, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is considering a mandatory mask ordinance to help prevent the spread of the virus. Battle simply said that “[f]ace masks are coming,” adding he hopes to see Governor Kay Ivey look toward a state requirement. 
  • Mobile is getting in on the act early, but Councilman John Williams, the single “no” vote, made it clear that he is for masks but against making them mandatory. He advised, “I think you need to wear a mask. I just simply don’t think this ordinance is going to make people wear them.”

2 days ago

State Rep. Sorrell elected to chair Alabama delegation at the RNC; Says Gov. Ivey cited ‘potential’ special session as reason for not running

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Last weekend at a meeting of those set to serve in the Alabama delegation for the Republican National Convention later this summer in Charlotte, N.C. and Jacksonville, Fla., State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) won an election over Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker to serve as the delegation chairman.

Although Sorrell’s selection to serve as chairman was a surprise to some, it has solidified his position as one of the Alabama Republican Party’s rising stars.

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Sorrell reacted to the honor, adding it did help that one of the other delegates was also his wife, Hannah Sorrell.

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“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have received the vote from the other 49 Trump delegates,” he said. “Of course, it always helps when you and your wife are two of the delegates. So you know you got two votes going in. It was a real exciting opportunity because Kay Ivey announced three weeks ago she was not going to run for delegation chairman. And typically, your delegation chairman is going to be a U.S. Senator or a governor or, at the very least, a congressman. So really, this was a unique opportunity for a little more of a normal guy like myself to be able to step up and run for this position. And I can begin to tell you how thrilled I am to have the opportunity to serve the other Trump delegates.”

Sorrell said he did not know the exact vote totals that led to his election as delegation chairman. However, he said some of the delegates recognized his conservative voting record as a state legislator.

The Colbert County Republican lawmaker said if Ivey were able to attend, he would instead introduce Ivey and may let her present the delegates. Otherwise, convention viewers will hear Sorrell as the voice of the Alabama delegation at the convention.

“In the absence of the governor showing, I’ll be the one who gets to announce — hopefully on national television, that Alabama is casting its 50 delegates for Donald J. Trump,” he said.

Later, Sorrell discussed the possibility of a special session of the legislature later this year. Sorrell revealed one of the reasons cited by Ivey for not seeking the position was because of the possibility of a special session.

“One of the reasons Ivey announced she was not going to seek the position of delegation chairman was because of a ‘potential upcoming legislative special session,'” he said. “I do think that she is leaning that way. I don’t have any kind of inside information on when or how long it will be or what the topics will be. I would be surprised if we don’t see at least one, if not two special sessions called before the year is out. The only caveat to that being — if coronavirus cases continue to escalate, I think that could force her to just put it off.”

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

2 days ago

Tuberville campaign bus catches fire; No one injured

(DeKalb County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s campaign bus caught fire on an interstate in Northeast Alabama on Wednesday.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office at 8:26 p.m. posted two pictures of the bus ablaze at the 227-mile marker of I-59 northbound.

Tuberville was not aboard the vehicle at the time.

The only occupant, a volunteer driving the bus, escaped unharmed. The exact cause of the fire was not immediately known.

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The bus has been a staple of Tuberville’s “The People vs. The Swamp” campaign tour across Alabama during this election cycle.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News later in the evening, Tuberville campaign manager Paul Shashy said, “Coach Tuberville’s candidacy has obviously caught fire with voters…and our bus has, too. We are thankful that no one was hurt in the incident and for the remarkable first responders who assisted immediately. The fire occurred on a test drive shortly after maintenance.”

Tuberville will face former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on July 14 in Alabama’s Republican senatorial primary runoff. The GOP nominee will go on to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

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

2 days ago

Army secretary visits Dynetics facility in Huntsville — ‘What you do protects our way of life’

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

HUNTSVILLE — Secretary of the United States Army Ryan McCarthy visited a facility in Huntsville on Wednesday. He talked about the necessity of cutting edge military technology and thanked employees for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The location McCarthy visited, the Dynetics MidCity Aerospace Integration Facility, is a new satellite building of Dynetics in Huntsville that is still under construction.

The facility will construct Hypersonic Glide Body for missiles that will be able to travel the distance between Huntsville and Los Angeles in under 13 minutes according to Paul Turner, the project manager at Dynetics who oversees the facility.

McCarthy said the military needed weapons like the ones produced in part in Huntsville “to ensure that we have the technological margin on the battlefield to win for decades to come.”

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“The work you do here will affect our future,” added the secretary.

“Know what you do protects our way of life,” he told the Dynetics employees.

RELATED: Alabama leads development of U.S. Army’s hypersonic weapons — ‘A critical priority’

Tuesday was the 46th anniversary of Dynetics’ founding. The company, purchased in 2019, is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leidos Incorporated.

The MidCity expansion is due to completed by year’s end, according to Turner. The exact details of the manufacturing and production that will take place inside is classified by the federal government.

Details provided to the press say that the building will have an environmental testing lab for examining the effects certain conditions have on manufactured materials. The facility will also see an amount of assembly, production and integration of some of the most advanced hypersonic weapons in the military’s arsenal.

Hypersonic weapons can travel at MACH 5, five times faster than the speed of sound, or about 13,000 miles per hour.

The building is 190,000 square feet and will be used entirely for classified manufacturing and assembly.

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

Displayed outside of the facility on Wednesday was the type of truck that would transport and provide launching capabilities for the hypersonic weapons manufactured in part at the new Dynetics facility.

Before the weapons assembled in Huntsville are ready for integration into the military’s arsenal they are shipped to a Lockheed Martin facility in Portland, Oregon, where they undergo a final set of integrations according to Turner.

The goal is to have them deployed on the battlefield by 2023, he added.

“The reason why I wanted to come down here was to thank all of you for enduring the hardships of this COVID-19 pandemic,” said McCarthy to the assembled Dynetics employees on Wednesday.

(The secretary stayed for a few minutes after his remarks to thank personally several assembled employees.) (Henry Thornton/YHN)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), who represents the district containing the new Dynetics plant, told Yellowhammer News he would like to “thank Secretary McCarthy for taking the time out of his busy schedule to see the Tennessee Valley’s important and exceptional national security work on missile defense, hypersonics weapons, directed energy and the like.”

Brooks said he was voting on defense bills in Washington so he could not be there in person, but Brooks added that he was glad that it was being acknowledged that “[m]any of the world’s best engineers, scientists, and professionals make up the Redstone Arsenal community” in Huntsville.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) tweeted, “[Secretary of the Army McCarthy’s] visit to Dynetics in Huntsville highlights the critical role Alabama plays in defending our nation. Proud the [United States Army] is prioritizing the development of hypersonic systems and pleased Secretary McCarthy saw firsthand the progress being made in our state.”

Secretary McCarthy himself was bullish on the United States’ fight against the coronavirus during his speech.

“Our researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Development Command are central to the vaccine development, and grinding towards an outcome where we’re going to have advance therapeutics and vaccines delivering at scale to the American people by the late fall of this year,” McCarthy told the audience.

McCarthy acknowledged that the wait between now and late fall was going to feel like a long time.

“Hard times don’t last, hard people do,” he said near his conclusion.

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

2 days ago

Alexander Shunnarah donates 777 pizzas to frontline workers at two Alabama hospitals

Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. recently participated in a national challenge to feed frontline heroes across the United States.

A release from Shunnarah’s firm outlined that many essential workers are frequently working long hours while risking their own health and safety during these difficult times — so the firm wanted to do something to show their appreciation.

The challenge – for law firms to purchase 777 pizzas from their local pizzerias to feed frontline workers — was initially started by Larry Nussbaum of Boston’s Nussbaum Law Group, PC.

The number is a nod to the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which codifies the right to a jury trial in certain civil cases and inhibits courts from overturning a jury’s findings of fact.

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Shunnarah purchased more than $8,000 worth of pizzas from Slice Pizza and Brewhouse and Pizzeria GM for health care workers at UAB Hospital and St. Vincent’s Hospital.

“Participating in this challenge was a true honor and small token of our firm’s appreciation for healthcare staff in our community and across the nation,” Shunnarah said in a statement.

“With this challenge we were able to help local restaurants and our frontline heroes who have been going above and beyond the call of duty throughout this pandemic,” he added.

Shunnarah accepted this challenge from Laborde Earles in Lafayette, Louisiana. After completing it in Birmingham, Shunnarah challenged Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki in New Orleans, as well as Disability Attorneys of Michigan.

RELATED: Alexander Shunnarah wins national Golden Gavel Award

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

2 days ago

Dale Jackson: Requiring cloth coverings is a violation of your freedom? No, please wear a mask when prudent

(Dale Jackson/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

As a conservative commentator, columnist, TV host and radio host I have had my fair share of run-ins with callers, guests, friends and enemies alike who insist that wearing a cloth covering over their face is a violation of some non-existent right to not have their pie-hole covered.

Show me where it is in the Constitution — either the United States or 1901 Alabama Constitution — and we can talk.

You can’t, so we won’t.

What I will do is tell you where all of this is heading if we don’t pull our heads out of the sand and start wearing masks in larger numbers — like we did when all of this started.

Your city, town and the State of Alabama will at some point mandate the wearing of masks.

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Just wait. If the numbers continue to rise, the restrictions will return.

You will whine, “But … Dale! They can’t make me wear a piece of cloth over a part of my body.”

They can.

Alabama Code 13A-12-130

(a) A person commits the crime of public lewdness if:

(1) He exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act;  or

(2) He does any lewd act in a public place which he knows is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed.

(b) Public lewdness is a Class C misdemeanor.

Is your nose the same as your genitals? No.

Is your mouth the same as your anus? No.

Now, I am not a simple small-town southern lawyer, but I think that I could probably rationalize a similar law for the part of your body that expels droplets that contain the coronavirus.

Should they? No.

Mandatory mask ordinances and orders are a bad idea because they are generally unenforceable, but the ignorant resistance to this is just as asinine.

I’ve been told masks cut oxygen and cause people to pass out.

This is clearly not true. The guy working at Walmart wears a mask eight hours a day, and he can power through it.

I’ve been told rape victims and people with autism can’t wear masks.

Let’s ignore that. Even if true, this has nothing to do with the science and is just a ridiculous red herring. This is not about 100% compliance.

I have been told that the surgeon general said not to wear masks early on in this pandemic.

What changed?

A lot.

1. The numbers
2. The understanding of the virus
3. The availability of PPE

The government shouldn’t be in the business of policing this, because it would require the police to make this work.

But what about our new socially conscious corporations? They are all about performative wokeness and their ham-fisted statements about “Pride” and #BlackLivesMatter this month, right?

If they really believe that #BlackLivesMatter (or #AllLivesMatter), they should require people to wear masks inside their stores. Obviously, this puts the enforcement on an hourly retail employee and places their employees against an army of people who don’t know what they are talking about.

Go on social media, and see how reasonable those people are.

But if they believe this is important, make these people act out. Shame them.

Here is the bottom line: All the people who refuse to wear masks in indoor public-settings have nothing on their side except the willingness to be stubborn.

The anti-mask crowd and the folks rioting in the streets are very similar in attitude, but the anti-mask crowd doesn’t have the guts to actually do anything.

They express it online and on social media, but they are an obnoxious minority, and anonymity breeds stupidity. But the Internet is not real life.

Overall, 65% of U.S. adults say that they have personally worn a mask in stores or other businesses all or most of the time in the past month, while 15% say they did this some of the time. Relatively small shares of adults say they hardly ever (9%) or never (7%) wore a mask in the past month, and 4% say they have not gone to these types of places.

Polling shows most Americans support wearing masks, but more should be doing it. Unfortunately, those that need to be convinced are unwilling to be reasoned with.

This attitude only drags out this issue, makes it worse, and damages our state further.

Also, President Donald Trump disagrees with this line of thinking, and agrees with me.

If this petulant attitude keeps up and numbers of cases keep rising, you will see more ordinances, and a state-wide mandate will follow.

Wear the stupid mask in public, or the government will attempt to make you.

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

Season 2 Episode 2: Best Auburn athlete nicknames

(YHPN)

As we continue to be without sports, hopefully for not much longer, the guys talk about their favorite Auburn nicknames from “Smoke” to the “Round Mound of Rebound.” They also discuss some of the recent happenings in recruiting, Auburn transfer news and Jared Harper’s new team.

Please note: As usual, this episode was recorded right before something newsworthy happened in the Auburn realm, so Cam Newton to the Patriots will be addressed in the next one.

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2 days ago

Birmingham’s Lee Styslinger praises Trump’s USMCA taking effect — ‘Historic chapter for North American trade’

(Altec/Contributed, YHN)

Altec Chairman and CEO Lee Styslinger III on Wednesday announced his endorsement of the formal implementation and “Entry Into Force” of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the historic trade deal negotiated by President Donald Trump’s administration that replaces NAFTA.

Altec, headquartered in Birmingham, is a leading equipment and service provider for the electric utility, telecommunications, contractor, lights and signs and tree care markets. The Alabama company provides products and services in more than 100 countries across the globe.

Not only does Styslinger bring his experience running Altec to the table, but the respected businessman also currently serves as a member of the Business Roundtable, a board member of the National Association of Manufacturers and a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Additionally, he was a key member of President George W. Bush’s Export Council and was responsible for advising Bush on government policies and programs that affected U.S. trade performance and export expansion opportunities.

Styslinger is a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), providing policy and procedural advice on trade to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Trump administration. For the past 18 months, Styslinger has been working closely with USTR Robert Lighthizer and ACTPN members to help finalize USMCA.

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He was previously vocal in calling on Congress to ratify the important trade deal, which they soon thereafter did. USMCA went into effect on Wednesday, July 1.

“The formal implementation and ‘Entry Into Force’ of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is an important milestone and historic chapter for North American trade,” Styslinger said in a statement.

“USMCA will provide more balanced, reciprocal trade along with a modernized approach to market access, intellectual property, manufacturing, digital trade, financial services and labor,” he explained. “These enhancements will create more jobs, expand market access and generate new opportunities for American workers. The implementation of this trade agreement comes at a critical time as the U.S. economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill on Wednesday also released a statement of his own lauding USMCA taking effect.

“Alabama’s international engagement fuels job growth and increases exports. The success of Alabama businesses depends on the participation and competitiveness of our global counterparts. Alabama totaled $6.6 billion in exports to Canada and Mexico in 2018, supporting families and businesses across the state,” Merrill said. “I was delighted to join President Donald J. Trump in January of this year as he signed this mutually beneficial agreement, and I look forward to its future success.”

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