The Wire

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


    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


    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


    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.

29 mins ago

Former Bama star Jalen Hurts befriends bullied boy — ‘It meant the world to me’


Former University of Alabama star quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to be an exemplary role model.

This past weekend, Hurts’ current team — the University of Oklahoma Sooners — hosted 12-year-old Rayden Overbay as their special guest.

Overbay, who has autism, Type 2 diabetes and is deaf in one ear, went viral recently — but not for a good reason. The boy made national headlines after being assaulted by bullies in two separate incidents, each recorded on video.


Hurts heard about Overbay’s story, and the Heisman contender spent time with him after the Sooners’ game against Iowa State on Saturday in the locker room.

In a video posted by ESPN, Hurts can be seen signing a football for the boy before telling him that he and his teammates are behind him.

Hurts also told OU Daily how important the experience was to him.

The quarterback said Overbay inspires him.

“I mean honestly, Rayden is an inspiration to me,” Hurts said. “I told him he was a soldier for just how he handled himself. It meant the world to me honestly to meet him. That whole meeting was great for me, and he has a friend in me.”

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

1 hour ago

Siegelman: Expect a Roy Moore-Doug Jones rematch in 2020

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (Photo: Mike Disharoon)

Now that former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is officially a candidate for U.S. Senate, many political prognosticators say he is a lock to regain the Senate seat he held for two decades, which is currently occupied by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook).

Not so fast, says former Democrat Gov. Don Siegelman.

During an appearance on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Siegelman predicted Sessions would fade and argued the race would be won by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. If that came to be, Moore would face Jones in a rematch of the 2017 special election.


“There are multiple reasons,” Siegelman, author of the forthcoming book “A Theft of Power: Stealing Our Democracy,” said. “Frankly, I think Jeff is in trouble. He is being branded and has been branded by some Trump supporters as a traitor to Trump, someone who turned his back on Trump. Whether that’s just in Trump’s mind or in all of those voters’ minds, it doesn’t matter. I think it has hurt him. And as I mentioned on MSNBC, I have a book coming out this spring where I detail my crossroads – where Jeff Sessions and I have met over time when I was secretary of state, attorney general, and on. Those are not particularly flattering compliments – when he opposed the lawsuit against Big Tobacco. Whether that impacts a Republican primary or not, I don’t know.”

“I do know this: Most of Donald Trump’s voters were evangelical,” he continued. “And I do know the constitutional amendment that passed in 2018 requiring that the Ten Commandments be posted in every public place received over a million votes in Alabama. And I do know that Roy Moore is branded as the Ten Commandments judge. I think Roy Moore has a silent Christian vote that is huge. And I think they’re going to come out and vote for him. This is a guy that gave up his seat on the Supreme Court because of his belief in the Ten Commandments. And you know, say what you want about Roy Moore – I think he has got a strong base.”

Siegelman indicated that Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill could be a sleeper in the race but pointed to constitutional amendments that passed in 2018 on the general election ballot as a strong indicator for Moore.

“John and Coach Tuberville I think have a statewide name recognition,” Siegelman added. “I think John Merrill has an advantage over all of the candidates except for Sessions and Moore, in that he has a city-by-city, county-by-county political base, which Tuberville does not have. If Merrill finds a way to gain traction, he could move ahead of Tuberville and be ready to enter a Republican runoff should Sessions fail. Those are the kinds of political maneuvers that we will see happening over the next several months. I think right now, the way I see it, and because of the silent Christian majority in Alabama, and say silent – let me explain why: Because there are 399,000 additional Republican votes that came out and came out and largely to vote for the two constitutional amendments, against abortion and for the Ten Commandments. That is a sizeable chunk of voters, and I think those voters will largely go to Judge Moore. So I think he has a place in the runoff.”

@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 hours ago

Living Life On Purpose with Matt Wilson Episode 12: Interview with Chris and Sophie Corder


Many marriages go through difficult situations and end in disaster. Addiction, infidelity, anger and deception are just a few of the things that Chris and Sophie Corder walked through in theirs. However, through the grace of God, and His miraculous life-changing power, their marriage has been restored and strengthened. Now, they want to encourage other people through their triumph. They have turned pain into purpose and want to show how God can do anything if we will get out of the way and let Him.

14 hours ago

Veteran helped by Alabama deputies could reconnect with son

(Morgan County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)

JASPER, ALA. (AP) — A social media post about a veteran wearing an oxygen mask while walking down a road may help connect the man to his estranged son.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that the Gulf War veteran attempted to walk about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Walker County to Huntsville for an appointment Wednesday because his car wasn’t working.


A Walker County deputy worked with other deputies to transport him to and from his appointment at the VA. News reports identify him as Gerald Baldwin.

The post has more than 150,000 shares. Baldwin’s son Lance in Pennsylvania saw the story and recognized his father. He told news outlets Sunday that the two hadn’t spoken in about five years. He now plans to reach out to his father.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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Editor’s note — The aforementioned Facebook post is as follows:

15 hours ago

Auburn’s famed golden eagle Nova possibly in early stages of heart failure

Nova takes flight (Photo: Auburn University)

Auburn University’s widely known golden eagle Nova, War Eagle VII, could potentially be in the early stages of heart failure, according to university veterinarians and a press release issued last week.

“The 20-year-old male eagle received a biannual checkup in early October at the College of Veterinary Medicine followed by another echocardiogram Oct. 31.,” the statement stated. “In 2017 he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart, and was sidelined from flying at football games to reduce stress.”


“Nova’s condition has been medically managed and he has remained stable during the past two years, however, during his October exam, we observed decreased systolic function and enlarged vessels in his liver,” said Dr. Seth Oster, faculty avian veterinarian for the college’s Southeastern Raptor Center. “This could be an indication of the early stages of heart failure.”

Veterinarians also said they increased Nova’s dosage in a new round of treatments and that they will monitor how he responds.

“We will know more after we see how Nova responds to his latest rounds of treatment,” Oster said.

According to Andrew Hopkins, the assistant director of raptor training and education, Nova’s appearance at the Southeastern Raptor Center’s educational programs will be limited as veterans continue to monitor his progress.

The statement released on Nova’s health also provided background information on Nova.

It read, “Nova was hatched in 1999 at the Montgomery Zoo and was non-releasable due to human imprinting. He came to Auburn in 2000, made his first pre-game flight in 2004 and was designated War Eagle VII in 2006. He has helped promote wildlife conservation and awareness at almost 2,000 educational programs at the raptor center and at schools and conservation events around the Southeast. Raptor center staff conduct almost 300 presentations annually.”

Aurea, a 5-year-old female golden eagle, and Spirit, a 23-year-old female bald eagle, have both made pregame flights this season in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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

15 hours ago

Final resting places for Alabama veterans

Todd Newkirk looks over the graves at Alabama National. The cemetery was built about a decade ago to provide a central location to serve the Birmingham metro area and beyond. (Jim Plott/Alabama Living)

Like soldiers at attention, battalions of white markers stretch out across the fields in perfect formation.

Below them are soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. They are compatriots linked by more than common soil. Some died in service; many others survived the decades before finally falling to old age. All sacrificed.

Alabama has four cemeteries dedicated to the men and women who have worn American military uniforms. They are shrines and places of reflection to the people who fought at places like Chateau-Thierry, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Incheon, Saigon, Baghdad and Kabul.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs oversees Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo and Fort Mitchell National Cemetery near Phenix City. The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs manages cemeteries under the same VA regulations in Spanish Fort and Mobile, although the one in Mobile is at capacity and open only to surviving spouses.


Burials and headstones at all the cemeteries are free for the veteran, spouse and dependent children. That includes in-ground casket or cremation burials or in a columbarium for urns containing cremated remains.

“Everything from the gate to the headstone is free. That saves a family anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 at a minimum,” said Todd Newkirk, assistant director at Fort Mitchell and interim director at Alabama National.

Newkirk, scanning the pristine grounds of Alabama National, believes there is a more plausible explanation why service members choose to call a veterans cemetery their final resting place.

“You are among your brothers and sisters at arms,” Newkirk said. “You are a veteran, and this is a place that honors veterans 24/7. And as long as there is a United States of America, this place is going to be taken care of. People are going to be here every day, all day, taking care of the cemetery.”

Reminders of sacrifice

Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth Bourland was the first active-duty serviceman to be buried at Alabama National, which was dedicated in 2008. The Birmingham native, who flew helicopter missions in Iraq, died in February 2010 when the hotel where he was staying during a humanitarian mission in Haiti collapsed during an earthquake. Bourland was survived by his wife and two sons, then ages 3 and 1.

“Our daughter-in-law was the one that made the decision whether he would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery (near Washington, D.C.) or here,” said Bourland’s mother, Adrienne Bourland. “I am very glad she made the choice for him to come back to Alabama. It has allowed us be involved in the ceremonies and the activities.”

Adrienne Bourland and her husband live in St. Clair County and are members of a volunteer support staff that helps conduct special ceremonies at the cemetery on veterans and memorial holidays. Kenneth Bourland’s family has moved back to the Birmingham area from Florida, where they were living at the time of his death.

Alabama cemetery headstones, carved from Sylacauga marble, include a person’s name, rank, branch of service, date of birth and death, and a symbol of religion.

“The last two or three spaces are for an optional inscription that the next of kin is able to select,” Newkirk said. “They can put whatever they want on those lines as long as it is appropriate.”

‘I see America here’

Fort Mitchell National was established 31 years ago at the urging of U.S. Rep. Bill Nichols and state Sen. Joseph Smith of Phenix City, both of whom contended that Alabama deserved a national cemetery. Their argument was fortified by Fort Benning, Georgia, being just across the Chattahoochee River from Alabama.

“Joseph Smith was actually the first person buried here,” Newkirk said. “He actually died before it opened, and his wife had him disinterred (from another cemetery) and reinterred here.”

Alabama National and Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery were created in 2008 and 2012, respectively, to meet the burial needs of World War II and Korean War veterans.

All three cemeteries adjoin historical grounds. Alabama National is adjacent to American Village, an educational facility that contains replicas of historical structures. Fort Mitchell National Cemetery abuts a replica of the early American outpost and link to the Federal Road that opened Alabama to settlers. The Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery is near Fort Blakely, which was the site of the largest Civil War battle in Alabama.

Each cemetery conducts commemorative ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and many volunteers lay wreaths on the headstones at Christmas. Those ceremonies are generally conducted by support committees, veteran groups and Scouts.

Newkirk, however, said he can’t help but reflect on the sacrifices of those entombed every time he drives in the cemetery entrance.

“This is the best job I ever had in my life,” he said. “I did 21 years active duty in the Air Force and 15 years as a civilian in the Army, and so it is special to me. I see America here. I see my brother and sisters. It’s just an honor to be here.”

This story originally appeared in Alabama Living magazine.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

Republican AL-02 candidate Jessica Taylor signs term limits pledge

(Jessica Taylor campaign/YouTube)

Prattville’s Jessica Taylor, a conservative Republican candidate in Alabama’s Second Congressional District, in recent days announced she has signed the U.S. Term Limits Congressional Pledge.

In signing the pledge, Taylor committed — if elected — to cosponsoring and voting for the U.S. Term Limits amendment, which would enact limits of three terms maximum for U.S. House members and two terms maximum for U.S. senators.

In a statement, Taylor said, “We will never drain the swamp if we keep sending the same old career politicians to D.C. election after election.”


“As a conservative, I am deeply frustrated by the out-of-control spending, backroom deals, and broken promises that are the status quo in Washington,” she concluded. “We need term limits to empower voters and return our government to citizen legislators who can bring fresh ideas and conservative reform to Washington. As your next congresswoman, I will go toe-to-toe with socialists like AOC, Ilhan Omar, and their liberal ‘squad’ to fight for our conservative Alabama values.”

Taylor is running in a crowded GOP primary to succeed U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02), who is not seeking reelection to a sixth term.

Other qualified candidates include Wiregrass businessman Jeff Coleman, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King and former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise).

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

17 hours ago

Byrne campaign rolls out veterans coalition on Veterans Day

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Congressman Bradley Byrne’s (AL-01) U.S Senate campaign on Monday — Veterans Day — announced the launch of their “Veterans for Byrne” coalition, which includes more than 400 veterans from across Alabama.

In a statement, Byrne said, “Nothing means more to me than having the support from those who have served our great country.”

“Our veterans have fought to defend the values that make America great, and I promise to do everything I can do to ensure those same values are protected and that the ones who have given so much to our country receive the benefits and support they deserve,” he added.

The statewide coalition chair is Lt. General Charles “Chick” Cleveland of Montgomery and the vice chair is Colonel John Reitzell of Huntsville.

Each branch of the U.S. military is represented by a chairman, and each region of the Yellowhammer State is represented by a veterans steering committee.


Cleveland is one of America’s “Fighter Aces,” the country’s most distinguished fighter pilots. He earned his “Ace” status in the Korean War, in which he shot down five enemy aircraft in the dangerous region known as “MIG Alley.”

“No one has been a stronger fighter for our Alabama veterans than Bradley Byrne,” Cleveland stated. “When it comes to supporting our troops and veterans, Bradley Byrne is the only man for the job.”

Reitzell added, “While some people in this race have attacked President Trump for not doing enough for our veterans, Bradley Byrne has been on the frontlines with President Trump to get better care and clean up the mess at the VA. Talk is cheap. Bradley is actually getting the job done for our veterans, and I’m proud to support him.”

You can read statements from the respective branch coalition chairs and view the members of each regional steering committee here.

Byrne is running in the crowded Republican primary to unseat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL). Other qualified GOP candidates include former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Byrne has previously unveiled a farmers coalition supporting his campaign, as well as a 67-county grassroots leadership team.

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

17 hours ago

Tide fans should practice saying these two words: ‘War’ and ‘Eagle’

(Auburn Football/Facebook, University of Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

There has never been a college football playoff without the Alabama Crimson Tide. So, one can imagine the collective shoulder shrug from Tide fans should they end up facing Baylor in the Sugar Bowl or Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl with a mere fifth-place ranking on the line.

Despite what happened in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, all is not lost for Tide fans. There is a distinct possibility Alabama does not drop out of the top 4 when the playoff rankings come out on Tuesday.

That would still amount to some pretty thin ice. The analytics site FiveThirtyEight is not particularly bullish on Alabama’s chances to make the playoff, placing only an 11% chance on that happening.


On the other hand, ESPN’s playoff predictor views the Tide’s chances favorably pegging them with a 41% chance of making the playoff.

The Tide now sit in the unenviable position of needing some help. Some teams will take unexpected losses. That type of chaos only helps. The more chaos across college football, the better for Nick Saban’s squad.

This unfamiliar predicament for the Tide gets even stranger when you consider one team which could help itself and Alabama this weekend: the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn is a 2.5 point underdog at home to Georgia this weekend. For a few reasons, a big Auburn victory could help Alabama navigate the treacherous playoff waters in the weeks ahead.

Don’t be surprised if the committee slots Alabama in the fourth spot in this week’s rankings. The committee said publicly how highly they thought of Alabama’s personnel. If that happens, then look for Georgia to be nipping at the Tide’s heels in the fifth spot. Maybe Georgia comes in at 4 and Alabama at 5.

Either way, Alabama needs Georgia to go away.

A one-loss Georgia SEC champion means Alabama is out of the playoff. LSU would still get in, but there would not be any room for a third SEC team. At least a sliver of hope would exist if Georgia were a two-loss SEC champion. There is precedent for this situation. Penn State was a two-loss Big 10 champ and failed to make the playoff over a one-loss Ohio State which did not play in its conference championship game. Plus, Georgia has an inexplicable loss to an awful South Carolina team on its record. And then there’s the certainty that a three-loss Georgia team goes away like Alabama would want it to.

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that Auburn beating Georgia sets up the opportunity for Alabama to pick up a much-needed victory over a top-10 team. A win on the road over a highly-ranked Auburn team would give the committee the cover it needs to tuck Alabama into that fourth position in the final rankings.

It would also help Alabama’s resume in direct comparison to one other team vying for the back end of the playoff seedings. Oregon dropped a close game to Auburn in the season opener and has been trying to play catchup ever since.

A one-loss PAC 12 champion Oregon would be looking to make its second college football playoff appearance. While the committee’s criteria calls for weight being given to conference championships, it also calls for the same consideration of common opponents.

Expect them to look closely at how Alabama handled Auburn compared to Oregon’s showing in Dallas.

The Iron Bowl is always better among top-10 teams. But this year, Alabama needs it to happen.

Come on, Tide fans, warm up the pipes for this weekend: “War Eagle!”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

18 hours ago

HudsonAlpha genetic testing initiative lets Alabamians know of their cancer risk

(PIxabay, YHN)

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville last week hosted its 11th annual Tie the Ribbons event where over 1,300 members of the community convened at the Von Braun Center to hear about the institute’s world-class breast and ovarian cancer programs.

Tie the Ribbons is an annual luncheon that supports breast and ovarian cancer research and programs like Information is Power, a free and reduced cost genetic cancer risk testing initiative launched in 2015.

Since then, 4,200 men and women have discovered more about their cancer risks through this initiative.

This includes Huntsville’s Charles Horton. After losing his daughter to breast cancer, Horton wanted to find out more about his cancer risk — and his grandchildren’s risk. He participated in Information is Power and learned he carried a mutation in the BRCA2 gene.


“My wife and I were both tested through Information is Power,” Horton said in a statement. “Cancer has been a common thing through the years in my family so we thought it was important to learn as much as we could about it. It’s a great service that HudsonAlpha provides and we are thankful for it.”

Of the 4,000+ participants, about 150 (3%) received a positive result, which means they have an increased risk of cancer. More than half of the participants with a positive test did not report a strong family history of cancer.

“That’s why this initiative is so important,” explained Sara Cooper, PhD, HudsonAlpha faculty investigator and program leader for Information is Power.

“This type of testing can help fill in those gaps for people who don’t know their family history and provide valuable health information for them and their loved ones,” she added.

The test screens for mutations in the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as several dozen other genes linked to breast, ovarian, colon and other cancers.

Thanks to support from the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation, as well as community partnerships and philanthropic support, 51% of participants have been able to take the test for free.

The test is available for free to men and women between the ages of 28 and 30 residing in Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan Counties. It is also available at a reduced cost of $129 to individuals 19 and older.

Thursday also marked year five of Information is Power kicking off. The latest continuation of the initiative will continue while supplies last, which means individuals in North Alabama still have the opportunity to take advantage of this groundbreaking genetic testing. To order or gift an Information is Power test, visit the website here.

Additionally, you can support HudsonAlpha’s breast and ovarian cancer programs here.

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

19 hours ago

UAH team to be presented with NASA medal for ‘one of the great defining missions of this generation’

(Michael Mercier/UAH, YHN)

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) continues to distinguish itself as an international leader in space-related research and collaboration with governmental and private sector juggernauts.

On Tuesday, the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons (SWEAP) team at UAH is part of the entire PSP team that will receive the NASA Silver Achievement Medal in Parsons Auditorium of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The prestigious medal is awarded to government and nongovernment individuals or teams by NASA Center directors for exemplary achievement that supports one or more of NASA’s core values when it is deemed to be extraordinarily important and appropriate to recognize such achievement in a timely and personalized manner.

“This is wonderful recognition of our efforts,” stated Dr. Gary Zank, director of UAH’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and the Aerojet Rocketdyne chair of the university’s Department of Space Science.


“The NASA Silver Achievement Award to the team is recognition of countless hours and late nights by all involved,” he added.

Leadership from NASA and the laboratory will present the award to the Parker Solar Probe team.

According to a release from the university, the PSP is streaming data from the SWEAP instrument suite to NASA and then to UAH, where the SWEAP team is analyzing it.

A Faraday cup that is part of PSP’s SWEAP array was designed, created and tested by a partnership including UAH and Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center to sample the solar wind while exposed directly and traveling closer to the sun than spacecraft from Earth have ever been.

Aboard as part of SWEAP are two Solar Probe Analyzer instruments known as SPAN-A and SPAN-B. With a wider area of coverage, the SPAN devices collect particles and sort them through a series of deflectors and voltages based on their mass and charge. SPAN-A measures electrons and ions. SPAN-B is dedicated to electrons only.

“With a team from UAH’s Department of Space Science and the MSFC (Marshall), I was fortunate to help lead a joint effort with Justin Kasper at SAO (Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) in proposing for the SWEAP instrument on the then Solar Probe Plus mission,” Zank, who is also a University of Alabama System Board of Trustees trustee professor and an eminent scholar and distinguished professor, added.

“After winning the proposal and then the lengthy development and its many ups and downs, the fantastic success of the instrument and the data returned has been one of the great satisfactions of my research life,” he explained.

Following the ceremony, each Parker Solar Probe team member will receive an individual NASA Silver Achievement Medal Certificate commemorating their significant contributions to this historic mission.

“Parker Solar Probe is fulfilling its promise of being one of the great defining missions of this generation,” Zank concluded. “It’s shedding light on numerous questions that have gone unanswered for over 50 years.”

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

20 hours ago

Alabama Power honors military service members

(Alabama NewsCenter)

It’s an honor to serve, and every year the men and women who answer that call are honored for their service to their country.

The Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) recently recognized military veterans who have made an impact both in their military careers as well as their business careers. These Veterans of Influence include CEOs, attorneys and professionals who have a strong record of innovation and outstanding performance in their work and are actively involved in the community.

Alabama Power Accounting Services Manager Charlie Cook was one of the 24 Veterans of Influence this year. Cook joined the U.S. Army and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also served in the Alabama National Guard while working for Alabama Power.

Cook said the most impactful lesson he learned in the military that has translated to his career at Alabama Power was the idea that “anyone is capable of achieving anything, provided they are given the appropriate training, motivation, encouragement, feedback and recognition for their dedication, hard work and accomplishments.”


“The leadership training I received and opportunities that were afforded to me formed the foundation of my leadership traits,” he added.

Alabama Power, Balch & Bingham LLP, Changing Spaces Moving Inc., Lightfoot, Franklin & White, StateServ/Hospicelink and Teksouth were named Veteran Friendly Employers by the BBJ.

Alabama Power honored its own military veterans, reservists, active duty service members and military spouses at a luncheon Nov. 4 in Birmingham, while other events were held at locations across the company.

Senior Vice President of Employee Services and Labor Relations Jeff Peoples hosted a panel discussion of employees who have served in the military. The panel discussed lessons learned from their time of service and how their experiences apply to their work at Alabama Power.

Tyea Pettway, chemical technician at E.C. Gaston Steam Plant and U.S. Army National Guard member, and other panelists highlighted the adaptability and flexibility taught in the military as well as the emphasis on diversity.

“The military builds you up to be leaders,” added Scott Wilson, a mechanic at E.C. Gaston Steam Plant and U.S. Marine Corpsveteran. “You learn to do what needs to be done with who’s around you, regardless of race or gender. You’re all focused on one goal.”

When asked what Veterans Day meant to them, the panelists agreed it gave them an opportunity to show their gratitude.

“It gives us an opportunity to thank everyone for all the support, prayers and letters reminding us that someone has our back,” said Brandon Sinquefield, lead lineman and veteran of the U.S. Marines. “Veterans Day is just as much an appreciation for the families of veterans for the sacrifices they’ve made too.”

Birmingham’s annual National Veterans Day Parade takes place at 1:30 p.m. Monday, starting downtown at Richard Arrington Boulevard and First Avenue South.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

21 hours ago

Looking back on Bama vs. LSU: Joe won the Heisman, but Tua won my respect

(LSU Football, Alabama Football/Facebook, YHN)

The end zone was but a few yards away. His eyes widened as over 100,000 fans held their breaths — after all, this was Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa not passing the football, but instead running toward paydirt.

Wasn’t the Crimson Tide signal-caller supposed to go easy on that ankle — the same ankle that was repaired just 20 days earlier by a team of surgeons from the Andrews Sports Medicine Institute? It certainly would have been understandable if Tua had chosen any option other than to scramble. But this was Tua Tagovailoa, a proud warrior who knew that an early score less than three minutes into such a monumental game would send an early message to the LSU defense. Suddenly, as Tagovailoa looked to finish off his touchdown run, he felt the football squirt out of his hands.

Something wasn’t quite right with Tua Tagovailoa in the first half of the monumental game, and it was in many ways the result of an ankle that was not quite back to 100%. When Tua later threw an interception and LSU held a 20-point halftime lead, Bama fans found their nails chewed and the name Mac Jones was trending on Twitter.


The hostile crowd only served to motivate him: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was out to prove that his team was going to show the world that eight was enough. After eight straight losses to the Crimson Tide, Burrow was set on silencing the home town crowd, and silencing them quickly. And oh, how he did just that, throwing for 252 yards and three touchdowns — in just the first half! Burrow could do no wrong, scorching the talented Alabama defense for 33 points and over 300 yards in only two quarters of play.

This was how the start of a Heisman-hyped football game began, as two quarterbacks, both expected to be invited to December’s Heisman dinner, displayed their talents for the nation — and the president — to see. By halftime, the “Joe Burrow has all but clinched the Heisman” talk had begun. Yet, as the name Joe Burrow was trending, the experts forgot to do one thing before they crossed all other Heisman candidates off their lists: Watch the entire football game.

We’ve all seen it too many times: Just when you think the Crimson Tide are in trouble, they fight back — and I’m here to tell you that there is no bigger fighter on the Alabama football team than Tua Tagovailoa.

A sore ankle and a gimpy leg? Forget about it!

Something magical was going on, and Bama fans sensed it: Tua was back, as that tight spiral and pinpoint passing had returned. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Tua threw a perfectly-placed football to Jerry Jeudy- the result? A Crimson Tide touchdown, and Bama trailed 39-34. After an LSU score, Tua showed that he still had gas in his tank: An 85-yard TD strike to Devonta Smith closed the LSU lead to 46-41. While LSU hung on to win the game, Tua’s courage and talent reminded voters that Tagovailoa was not to be forgotten in the Heisman conversation.

Joe Burrow had a game to remember, as he completed 31 of his 39 pass attempts for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was a performance that moved him to the front of the ESPN Heisman Watch List, overtaking Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. And guess who now stands second on the list, just one point behind Joe Burrow? Yep, a young man named Tua Tagovailoa (various ESPN experts vote weekly to give the public an idea of where the Heisman race stands. Burrow stands first with 44 points, Tagovailoa second with 43 points and Hurts third with 36 points).

In the moments that followed LSU’s 46-41 win, I was struck by a persistent thought: Was Tua’s performance on Saturday more impressive than Burrow’s? Call me crazy if you will, but the Bama quarterback threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns on what amounted to be one leg — he could barely walk after the game. Tua Tagovailoa was resilient and brave as he led nearly led his team back from a 20-point deficit.

I’ve been a Heisman voter for many years, and I know that voters like winners. I’m here to tell you that if the Heisman Trophy was awarded tomorrow, Joe Burrow would be the winner. And while there is plenty of time for Joe, Tua and Jalen to pad their stats, my gut feeling is that Burrow will win the trophy. Yet don’t count out the Bama star, as through sheer will and guts, Tua reminded Heisman voters that the voting margin may be closer than they think.

What a showcase it was: Two talented Heisman candidates poured out their hearts for their teammates. And the final verdict? Joe may have won the Heisman, but Tua won my respect. And it’s yet another reason why Heisman week in New York is going to be a whole lot of fun!

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

23 hours ago

7 Things: Trump cheered in Tuscaloosa, Senate rivals all staying in after Sessions’ entry, Democrats’ impeachment games continue and more …


7. ISIS bride is still trying to come back

  • The Alabama woman, Hoda Muthana, who joined ISIS back in 2014 is still trying to return to the United States with her son, saying that she “regrets every single thing.” She’s also spoken about how she and her son aren’t safe at the Syria refugee camp where they’re living.
  • While interviewing with NBC, Muthana said that “everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were.” In February, President Donald Trump said that he wouldn’t be allowing Muthana back into the country.

6. Tillerson and Kelly resisted Trump


  • Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley did an interview with “CBS Evening News” where she opened up about a conversation she had with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, where they told her that they “resisted the president.”
  • Haley said Tillerson and Kelly should’ve told the president what their issues were with what was happening, but their attempt “to undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing.” She added, “And it goes against the Constitution, and it goes against what the American people want. And it was offensive.”

5. A legend is born

  • Hoyt Hutchinson posted a video on Facebook declaring that he was going to make a scene at the “Baby Trump” balloon appearance in Tuscaloosa, and he surely did when he stabbed the balloon, deflating it and getting arrested in the process.
  • No good deed goes unnoticed, as a GoFundMe was set up to help pay Hutchinson’s legal costs with a $6,000 goal. The goal has been surpassed, and the amount donated currently sits at over $37,000.

4. Impeachment is dead in the Senate

  • Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” saying that “any impeachment in the House that doesn’t allow us to know who the whistleblower is to be invalid because without the whistleblower complaint we wouldn’t be talking about any of this.”
  • Graham also said that without being able to question the whistleblower, “it’s impossible to bring this case forward.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said this isn’t going anywhere.

3. Sessions hasn’t scared any foes off yet

  • Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is officially in the race to take back his former U.S. Senate seat, but so far, his announcement doesn’t seem to have shaken too many of the other candidates.
  • Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has already said that he’s not going anywhere just yet and staying in the race. FarmPAC, who has endorsed former Auburn Football coach Tommy Tuberville, has shown no indication of changing their endorsement to Jeff Sessions.

2. Trump shows restraint in U.S. Senate race — so far

  • During a TV interview, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke about entering the U.S. Senate race in Alabama and mentioned how he thinks President Donald Trump has indicated that “he’s certainly neutral in this race.”
  • Sessions went on to say that Donald Trump, Jr. and Vice President Mike Pence’s comments that whoever is elected is up to the people of Alabama is a good sign. Ultimately, Sessions still believes that Trump has “honored the promises he’s made to the American people.”

1. The Trumps were welcomed in Alabama

  • On Saturday, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended the University of Alabama vs. LSU game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. As expected, they were greeted with cheers and chants of “USA-USA-USA!”
  • Since the game, there have been a few people who criticized Trump for attending the game. Some attempted to downplay the support shown for Trump and exaggerate the minor protests that took place during the game.

1 day ago

The Waverly Local in Alabama is worth the drive for fresh, flavorful food

(Brooke Echols/Alabama Living)

Driving into Waverly, Alabama – population 185, give or take – harkens to a slower, simpler time, with its tiny post office and historic homes along the main thoroughfare that’s still a two-lane street (thankfully, U.S. Highway 280 was routed around the town).

Careful, or you’ll drive right by the Waverly Local, the Southern-cuisine eatery opened by executive chef Christian Watson and Andy Anderson, a partner in the company that makes Wickles Pickles. Watson and Anderson revived an old commercial space that was originally the home of one of the state’s first Ford dealerships.


Over the years, the space housed two restaurants – Peyton’s Place and then the Yellowhammer Cafe. When that restaurant closed, it sat vacant for five years, but Anderson, who lives across the street, kept his eye on the building. When the timing was right, the childhood friends decided to open their own restaurant.

It needed a good cleaning and some repairs, but they took care not to compromise the building’s historic integrity. The result is an atmosphere that is understated, but clean and comfortable. The booths and banquettes are custom-made, and the copper tables, bar and host stand are handmade by a local metalworks artisan. The floors were cleaned and sealed, but the remaining imperfections add character.

“We really just wanted to accentuate what was already here, not mask it and cover it up, but kind of revitalize it,” Watson says.


It was the rich history of the building that inspired Watson to start reading old cookbooks, some dating to the late 19th century. These cookbooks featured foods that were clean and real, and recipes that were simple and Southern – which is exactly what Watson and Anderson wanted their restaurant to be.

“You’ll never see microgreens or coconut foam here,” Watson says.

The menu is small, by design. Watson’s focus is on the execution of the cooking.

“This isn’t a fine dining restaurant, but we serve fine dining food. Our service is fine-dining style without the pretentiousness. We’re Waverly; there’s no pretentiousness here,” Watson said, with a laugh.

Before going to culinary school, Watson lived and worked on a farm for three years, an experience that gave him a deep appreciation for small farming operations and fresh, healthy food. He uses as much locally sourced food as possible, preferring to buy from local farmers and purveyors to keep money in the community while still using quality ingredients. The eggs, dairy products and most of the vegetables are locally produced, and Waverly only serves domestic Gulf seafood (except for a smoked salmon BLT at Sunday brunch, which is wild Alaskan).

“The food we put on the plate is what we’d feed our family,” Watson says. “It’s clean. No antibiotics, no growth hormones, organic as much as we possibly can.”

The menu is seasonal and is updated frequently to reflect the availability of the local and regional products. A mainstay is the best-selling ribeye, served with horseradish cream; coming in at a close second is the daily Gulf offering (barrelfish, on a recent day), served over caramelized mushrooms, peas, potatoes and asparagus with an orange rum vinaigrette.

The menu isn’t all upscale entrees. The tasty burger is a double stack, served with all the trimmings and an herb mayo – and the necessary Wickles Pickles.

The bar menu is seasonal as well. Watson and manager Spencer Bradley collaborate on the specialty cocktails and wine lists.

In the beginning, the restaurant was dinner service only; Sunday brunch was added earlier this year. In late July, they added Saturday lunch.

“We’ve done things at our own pace and our own comfort level, so we do it right and we don’t compromise our integrity,” Watson says.

The Waverly Local

1465 Patrick St. Waverly, Alabama 36879

4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday;
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday;
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday for brunch.

Visit The Waverly Local on Facebook for specials and live musical lineups.

This story originally appeared in Alabama Living magazine.

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

Alabama teenagers discover new job opportunities at Worlds of Work

Teenagers learn about career opportunities during Worlds of Work at Bevill State Community College in Hamilton. (Melinda Weaver/Alabama Power)

Nearly 1,000 teenagers from northwest Alabama learned about dozens of new and in-demand career opportunities Thursday night and Friday morning at Bevill State Community College in Hamilton.

The North Alabama chapter of AlabamaWorks! presented Worlds of Work, a hands-on career exploration event held at locations around Alabama each year. Stephanie McCulloch, assistant director of North AlabamaWorks!, said this was the first time Worlds of Work had been presented in Marion County.

“We’re really excited about it,” McCulloch said. “It’s really engaged the community and the local businesses. We hope this will become an annual event.”


Worlds of Work kicked off Thursday night with “Fired Up for the Future,” a two-hour event giving people in the community a chance to visit with some of the businesses and organizations taking part. Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington talked to the crowd about the growing number of job opportunities available to teens and adults in Alabama.

“There are a lot of jobs being recruited into the state of Alabama,” Washington said. “We’ve got to make sure we have a workforce that’s prepared to meet the demand of these new jobs that are coming in.”

Friday morning, more than 30 businesses and organizations set up booths and hands-on demonstrations, giving middle school and high school students from Marion and Winston counties chances to learn about job opportunities in construction, automotive, health care, public safety, energy and agriculture. Washington said events such as Worlds of Work educate students on the growing number of good-paying jobs available to them.

“There are a lot of in-demand, high-wage jobs out there,” Washington said. “Students and job seekers don’t necessarily have to have a four-year degree. If they can get a certification or a two-year degree, they can move right into a job and the company will train them.”

Worlds of Work is one of several events organized by AlabamaWorks! to fulfill the Alabama Workforce Council‘s Success Plus initiative, a plan created in 2018 by a group of high-level business leaders from across the state to address workforce shortages in Alabama. The plan offers suggestions on how Alabama can add as many as 500,000 high-skilled employees to the workforce by 2025.

“North Alabama is responsible for 125,000 of that,” McCullough said. “By reaching out to them in the eighth and ninth grades, we want to make sure they are able to make the best choices moving forward and understand the pathways to those high-wage careers.”

Washington said events like Worlds of Work demonstrate the team effort between business and government leaders to fill the needs of new businesses coming into Alabama.

“Alabama is open for business,” Washington said. “We’ve got a workforce that will satisfy any job description for any company that wants to land here in the state.”

The Worlds of Work event in Hamilton was sponsored by Bevill State Community College, Alabama Public Television, North Alabama Industrial Development Authority, Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance, Go Build Alabama, Cyber Huntsville, Alabama Power, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, University of North Alabama College of Business, Alabama Technology Network, CIS Home Loans and Northwest Medical Center. To learn more about Worlds of Work, visit

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

The good and bad economics of plea bargains


Plea bargains let persons accused of crimes plead guilty and receive reduced charges or a reduced sentence. Although some people find the reduced criminal incentives offensive, this bargaining makes economic sense. But our mass incarceration illustrates a limit of the economic argument.

Our criminal justice system extensively employs pleas; 97% of criminal convictions result from such bargains. Although TV dramas focus on jury trials (and particularly defense lawyers like Matlock or Perry Mason), trials are rare.

Plea bargains make economic sense because trials are costly. Trials require courtrooms, lawyers, judges, court reporters, bailiffs and juries. Witnesses must come to court to testify. A guilty plea saves these costs.


Why should defendants ever plead guilty and willingly agree to go to prison and waive their right to an appeal? A plea deal must offer defendants a better deal than conviction at trial. In a murder case, for example, prosecutors might agree not to seek the death penalty. A plea-bargained conviction ensures at least some punishment for a crime and helps deter crime overall.

This bargaining situation parallels labor strikes. Strikes are costly: workers miss paychecks, factories lie idle and businesses might permanently lose customers. Both labor and management are worse off than if they agreed to the same contract with no strike. Strikes represent bargaining failures.

The economic model of bargaining predicts that plea deals should reflect the strength of the evidence. The prosecution will not give much with an open-and-shut case, but the defense attorney should recognize this and counsel shaving a few years off the sentence. If important evidence gets suppressed or a witness recants their testimony, the shaky case makes prosecutors agree to a reduced charge.

Actual guilt or innocence is secondary in the bargaining model to the likelihood of conviction at trial. While we might hope that innocent defendants always get acquitted, wrongful convictions happen, especially with overworked and underfunded public defenders. An innocent person should consider a deal if they look guilty enough. Emotions, not logic, might explain an innocent person’s refusal to plead guilty. We must move past the fantasy that only a guilty person would ever plead guilty.

Building criminal justice almost exclusively around plea bargaining has negative consequences. These highlight the limits of the economic focus on trial costs. Plea bargains enable incarceration on the American scale, with over 2.3 million persons behind bars as of 2016. Whether you think our current incarceration rate is repressive or responsible for the significant drop in crime over the past three decades, mass incarceration could not happen without low-cost plea bargains. The constitutional right to a speedy trial would be violated without guilty pleas. Conversely, speedy adjudication would require many more judges, trial lawyers, and courtrooms.

Another negative of plea bargaining is adding charges to encourage a deal. This is largely necessary. Suppose that the fair sentence for a crime is ten years. If this is the max sentence at trial, a defendant will only accept a plea for a shorter sentence. Prosecutors need to threaten twenty years to induce a plea to ten years. This practice has received attention in the ongoing college admissions bribery case. Actress Lori Loughlin and the other parents refusing plea deals were recently hit with additional bribery and conspiracy charges.

Finally, pervasive plea bargaining might undermine the quality of criminal evidence generally. Cross-examination uncovers mistakes, lies, and bogus theories, but only at trial. If over 90% of convictions come from pleas, the evidence need only be strong enough to induce a deal, not to withstand cross-examination. Sloppy and faked drug tests in two different Massachusetts crime labs recently led to 47,000 convictions being thrown out. Weak evidence also increases the likelihood of innocent people being accused and forced to plead guilty.

We may wish to blame “the system” for plea bargaining’s problems, but ultimately we fail to provide sufficient resources for more trials. This makes prosecutors coerce pleas, inevitably producing miscarriages of justice. Economists contribute too, by overemphasizing the immediate cost savings from plea bargaining.

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

2 days ago

VIDEO: Sessions enters the fray, Trump comes to Tuscaloosa, impeachment moves to the public phase and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Does Jeff Sessions have a chance to reclaim his U.S. Senate seat, and what does a newly released poll tell us?

— With Trump coming to Alabama for the Alabama/LSU game, did the school’s student government try to silence their students or did the media jump the gun?

— What happens now that impeachment moves into its public phase?


Jackson and Burke are joined by a member of the Alabama Democratic Party’s executive committee Lisa Handback to discuss the latest attempts to resolve the issues that have plagued the party for years.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at AL(dot)com’s obsession with fake news.

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

2 days ago

University of Alabama to lead project to help reduce infant mortality rates in Alabama

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

University of Alabama School of Social Work researchers will soon expand a statewide drug and mental health screening program to address infant mortality in Alabama.

The School of Social Work’s Vital team, which oversees an $8 million AL-SBIRT contract, recently received $750,000 from the state to begin “Reducing Infant Mortality Through Improved Wellness,” an initiative to address substance use, depression and domestic abuse in women who are pregnant, attempting to conceive or have recently conceived.


The program will target three counties in Alabama – Montgomery, Macon and Russell, which, combined, had 650 preterm births and 45 infant deaths in 2016, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

From 2014 to 2016, these three counties had an infant mortality rate of 10.1 per 1,000 live births, significantly higher than the state average of 8.7 during that span.

This initiative is part of a state-appropriated $1 million plan to reduce IMR by 20% in these three counties by 2023.

“The IMR is an essential measure of the health of women of child-bearing age within a state, and Alabama, historically, has had a high IMR in comparison to the rest of the United States,” said Dr. David L. Albright, UA professor, Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health Research, and principal investigator for the project. “Health outcomes are molded by the environment in which people are born, live, work, play and age, and not simply by health behaviors of the individual. These factors, which contribute to health outcomes, are formed by the historical, social, political and economic forces in the individual’s environment.”

Leading causes of infant mortality in Alabama include birth defects, preterm births and sleep-related deaths, like accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. There are multiple causes of pre-term births and many known risk factors of birth defects, including genetic, environmental, socioeconomic, demographic and maternal health, among others, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The project’s approach will mirror AL-SBIRT’s model of integrating behavioral health into primary care settings. AL-SBIRT, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, incorporates alcohol and drug screenings, brief interventions and referral to treatment into these settings.

The Vital team will utilize this public health approach in OB-GYN practices in the three counties and will provide referrals to women experiencing substance abuse, domestic violence and/or depression.

The Vital team will spend the next six months cultivating relationships with care providers and building out the training program. Success of the project will hinge greatly on buy-in from OB-GYNs who “champion” the AL-SBIRT screening tools as part of a “continuum of care,” said Shanna McIntosh, vital project director in UA’s School of Social Work.

“As of right now, with our reimbursement structure in the state and how health is viewed as more privatized, it’s important that we’re looking at holistic ways to provide medical care, taking into consideration behavioral and mental health as it relates to depression and substance use,” McIntosh said. “This will have a long-term impact on the way our patients in these areas are receiving care.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

U.S. Sens. Doug Jones, Joe Manchin visit Alabama National Carbon Capture Center

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, speaks with the media during a visit to the National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama. (Michael Sznajderman/Alabama NewsCenter)

U.S. Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia were in Wilsonville Friday for a firsthand look at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) primary carbon capture research facility. While touring the National Carbon Capture Center, they praised the efforts of its Alabama-based team to advance emerging technologies to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-based power plants.

“The National Carbon Capture Center is focused on finding breakthroughs in next-generation carbon capture technologies that will reduce overall global carbon emissions. It’s a great example of how the Alabama business community is helping to move the green economy forward,” Jones said.

Located in Wilsonville, next to Alabama Power’s Plant E.C. Gaston, the National Carbon Capture Center – which is managed and operated by Alabama Power parent company Southern Company – is nationally and internationally recognized for its work to accelerate the development of next-generation carbon capture technologies.


“Experts have made it clear fossil fuels are projected to be part of our energy portfolio through 2040, and focusing on carbon capture technologies is one of the most critical technologies we can invest in,” said Manchin, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Touring the National Carbon Capture Center with Senator Jones was an exciting opportunity to see these important technologies up close,” Manchin said. “I’m working to ensure the Department of Energy can continue to advance these technologies to commercialization because they benefit the environment while also allowing us to maintain affordable and reliable electricity in the U.S. and lead globally.”

The National Carbon Capture Center tests innovative solvents, sorbents, membranes and other processes designed to remove CO2 from a power plant’s flue gas stream. Developers from seven countries have tested their technologies at the facility. And the center is constructing new infrastructure to expand carbon capture technology development for natural gas power plants, with testing to begin next year.

A key goal for the DOE is to significantly reduce the cost of carbon capture to make it widely deployable across the nation’s energy portfolio, as well as in industrial settings. The National Carbon Capture Center has already reduced the projected cost of carbon capture from fossil power generation by one-third, with further cost reductions expected as research continues.

“Having Senators Jones and Manchin take an interest in our research is extremely meaningful to our team,” said National Carbon Capture Center Director John Northington. “While our technology leadership continues to be sought after on a global stage, their confidence and support further signifies the importance of our mission in providing clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy for a low-carbon future.”

In addition to testing carbon capture for natural gas power plants, the center is also expanding its work into CO2 utilization – when carbon emissions are captured and used to manufacture value-added products like cement. A Carbon XPRIZEcontestant will test a utilization technology there next year.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Roby: We will always stand by our American heroes

(M. Roby/Facebook)

Each year on Veterans Day, Americans pause to recognize those who have served our country in uniform. Originally known as Armistice Day, Congress later passed a resolution signed by President Dwight Eisenhower that officially designated November 11 as Veterans Day. It is important that we honor these heroic men and women not only on this holiday but every day. We are indebted to the selflessness of those who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. This special day of remembrance is not simply just a day off work. It is a day set aside to acknowledge the servicemembers who sacrificed for the freedoms we may sometimes take for granted.


One way to show tribute to our heroes is by attending a local Veterans Day event. It is always an honor to be in the presence of those who fight to defend our nation, but it is especially humbling on this significant holiday. I highly encourage you and your family to attend a Veterans Day ceremony in your hometown. Many cities and towns throughout Central and South Alabama will hold special observances in which you and your family can attend. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity to express your gratitude, but it is also a great way for your children to meet servicemembers and better understand the endless sacrifices made on our behalf. If you cannot attend an event in person, please make sure you take time to thank the people you may know who have served our country in uniform.

It is my highest honor to represent the people of Alabama’s Second Congressional District and to fight for the men and women who serve us all. One of my top priorities since my first day in Congress is working on behalf of America’s service members and veterans, particularly because the Second District is home to a notable population of veterans and thousands of active duty and reserve personnel. My offices do the best we can to represent our veterans and provide them with adequate assistance every day because they deserve proper care and attention. If I can ever be helpful to you or someone you know, please do not hesitate to call my office or visit my website for more information on the assistance my office can supply.

It is imperative that we remain committed to honoring and caring for our veterans and military families more than just one day each year. We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to all members who have served in our Armed Forces. Thank you to every service member, young and old, across our nation. Your gracious devotion to our country and its people has never gone unnoticed, and it never will. America is great because of your willingness to make sacrifices on our behalf.

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

UAH alumna’s gap year program becomes dream career

Raeshaun Jones’ (’18, BA, Psychology) gap year was supposed to be a much-needed break from rigorous academic work. But, after hearing about the unique research opportunities being conducted at the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s (UAH) Psychology Department, Jones made a spur-of-the-moment decision to enroll in the academic program rather than setting off for gap year activities.

The Hartselle, AL, native earned her first undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Although Jones’ minor was in psychology, she never considered it a career choice until she heard about the innovative research being conducted at UAH. She remembers close friends boasting about how great UAH was for them.


“My academic interests continued to flourish after working in the UAH Lifelong Learning Laboratory directed by Dr. Jodi Price,” said Jones. “Dr. Price helped me to discover the physical and mental aspects of psychological problems that interested me the most.”

At UAH, Jones said genuine concern for students shown by the professors in the Psychology department changed her academic outlook. “I grew as a person and was able to fully understand my career path. Instead of attending medical school, I applied to the university’s graduate Psychology program. It is the best decision I ever made.”

Jones’ number one priority as a human factors analyst on the Redstone Arsenal is to make sure the human-machine interaction (communication and interaction) work together seamlessly.

“Working in the helicopter division, I am tasked with analyzing helicopters and humans that fly the aircraft. In addition, my tasks include reviewing tests that have been conducted, researching new ideas being implemented in the field, and even thinking of ways to better the experience of pilots throughout flights,” she added.

Jones said the most exciting part of her job is being able to help people. “The pilots are very appreciative of us listening to what they want, and figuring out a way to implement it quickly. Knowing that what I do directly helps the pilots is exhilarating and inspires me to be more innovative.”

Now a UAH graduate student, Jones sums up in two words the value of her education: unlimited potential.

“UAH prepared me well for my current position as a human factors analyst,” said Jones. “I use the academic knowledge I learned from UAH on a daily basis at work. I never expected to use strategic decision making from perception, development, and cognition on the job. But I use the information as a starting point and tailor it to the issue at hand in order to come up with relevant suggestions to fix, or at least mitigate, current or future problems.

“This position requires me to work in tandem with engineers from many disciplines. Going to UAH, an institution that has an international reputation for educating engineers has prepared me for this position even more.”

Jones said her favorite UAH experience will always be attending the Psychonomic Society’s 58th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

“It was the first conference of my academic career through research in the UAH Lifelong Learning Laboratory. People from all over the world attended the conference,” said Jones. “I presented a poster, and it was there I fell for the culture of the psychology community.”

Her advice to anyone seeking a career in the Liberal Arts — specifically psychology is to simply: “do not limit yourself.”

“There is so much to do in the field of psychology,” said Jones. “Find aspects of the field that excite you, and then find a career that utilizes those aspects. When you find a job that doesn’t feel like work, then you know you have found something special.”

In spring 2020, Jones will graduate from UAH with a Master of Arts in Psychology, with an Industrial and Organizational Psychology Specialization.

(Courtesy of University of Alabama in Huntsville)

2 days ago

Alabama universities tackling state’s economic growth challenges

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Representatives from several Alabama universities discussed their roles in economic development during a panel discussion Oct. 25 at the Alabama Economic Growth Summit in Hoover.

Anthony Hood, director of civic innovation in the Office of the President at UAB, moderated the discussion. He said Alabama’s universities have several ideas — some already implemented, in helping the state resolve its economic growth challenges.

“We are the workforce development engines in our respective communities,” Hood said. “The number one question we get from the startups is, ‘If we come to Birmingham, where am I going to get the people to work for my company?’ Workforce development is a key engine in business recruitment.”


Alabama universities actively growing state’s economy from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The panelists discussed a number of obstacles stunting Alabama’s economic growth, including:

  • Students and faculty worried a university will claim ownership of their startup idea
  • Need for more software developers in Alabama
  • Faculty not allowed enough personal time to invest in startup growth
  • 4-year college degree requirements on job applications exclude some qualified talent
  • Funding for viable startups

LaKami Baker, interim executive director of the Government and Economic Development Institute and professor at Auburn University, said the first step to solving these issues is better policies and funding.

“We need to have policies in place to help those brilliant minds we are educating,” Baker said. “At Auburn, we have a lot of researchers working on things, but at the end of the day, if they don’t have the funding to stay there, they take that talent and their know-how to other states. By having more programs like that, it’s going to help us.”

Theresa Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Alabama, said seed funding, mentoring and access to software developers are the three biggest challenges facing startups in Alabama.

“We can help provide some initial funding, but after that, there’s really a gap,” Welbourne said. “Those companies that have proven themselves, they need from $100,000 to $250,000. That level of capital is really hard for them to come by, and if they don’t get it, they leave. If we start them up and they go, that’s not helping any of us meet our goals.”

Saksham Narang, a licensing associate at UAB, said changing policies to encourage faculty investment in startups and protect a faculty or student’s business idea will encourage more startups to locate and stay in Alabama.

“People think a university is going to take 100% of my company and make me pay all of these milestones and royalties that I just can’t afford to do,” Narang said. “That’s hardly the case. If you are licensing from us, we want a couple of percentage points because we did all of this work — we provided the resources, the validation work, we offered the initial lab space, we filed the patents for you, we just want something for that work.”

Narang also wants universities to give faculty more time to invest in startups, much like faculty are encouraged to do with academic research.

“UAB currently allows for 20 days a year in external activities,” Narang said. “I’ve been advocating that number needs to go up to 52 — one day a week rather than five days a quarter, because in order to keep a company here, they need to be involved, but if they can only be involved for a few hours a week, why should anyone license something and keep it here? There are some policies we need to change, but I will say the university is listening and they are working to implement these changes.”

Hood said businesses should reevaluate their job applications to see if requiring four-year college degrees excludes qualified talent.

“If people can show up on time and do what they are supposed to do, we can train them and build them up, but you may not necessarily need a 4-year degree to do that,” Hood said. “Those are conversations our executive leaders are going to have to have with the HR departments.”

Investing in Alabama

Despite the challenges, the panelists celebrated a growing collaboration among private, public and education officials to grow the state’s economy. Narang pointed to the most recent data from the National Science Foundation, where it ranked Alabama 18th among states for its percentage of investment into research and development versus the state’s GDP.

“We’re making progress but we could be doing a whole lot more,” Narang said. “I’m very proud of what we’re doing and the progress so far.”

Del Smith, executive director for economic development at Alabama A&M University, said his university is finding success through developing relationships.

“We have found ways to connect with the local high schools,” Smith said. “We get both our professors as well as our current students in the local high schools to spark the interests of some of the high school students.”

Baker said Auburn University is encouraging startups and graduates to remain in Alabama through training and competitions.

“For the last five years we’ve been running a business idea competition, which has been the inspiration to create that entrepreneurial mindset, not only at Auburn University but also in the surrounding community,” Baker said. “We’re also making sure we put resources in place to keep them there once they take that business to the next level. That’s been one of the challenges is where students go when they graduate.

Welbourne said business mentors are helping by building bonds with students and faculty.

“Tuscaloosa is a really great community,” Welbourne said. “We don’t have a lot of businesses so we rely on our alums and friends of friends.”

Hood said Alabama’s universities are helping Alabama grow, but more needs to be done.

“We are the workforce engines of our communities, but our organizations are looking for talent,” Hood said. “We need to be able to complement our normal activities around business recruitment and expansion. Having incubators, accelerators and funding sources such as angel investors and venture capitalists to bring money in, to accelerate, to have that rocket fuel for our companies is important, as well as our corporate community giving contracts to our startup companies. We want these companies to stay here and grow.”

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

Alabama vs. LSU postgame — 4 takeaways

Saturday, No. 2 LSU handed the 3rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide its first loss of the season.

Here are four quick takeaways:


Two SEC teams showed up to Bryant-Denny, and a Big 12 game broke out. Defense was optional today. The teams combined for a total of 46 points – at the half. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa combined for 424 passing yards – at the half. When the smoke finally cleared, these teams put 87 points on the scoreboard and combined for 1,000 yards of offense. Mike Gundy and Lincoln Riley would have been proud.

The middle of the field was open for business for the LSU offense. Burrow feasted on the middle of the field. There was not a lot of help for Alabama defensive backs on any routes going over the middle. One adjustment we didn’t see until briefly in the fourth quarter was getting some pressure up the middle. Quarterbacks hate getting pressured up the middle. Bama effectively got some pressure from the outside but never up the middle in a way that would affect his vision and those throws he hit all night. And that was where LSU went when Alabama really needed to make a stop in the fourth quarter after getting within 5; LSU went across the middle to Ja’Marr Chase for a critical first down that thwarted the Bama rally.

Tide MVP: Najee Harris. At halftime, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said this to the CBS on-field reporter in response to her question about Tua’s health affecting Alabama’s play:

“I don’t think our whole offense looked like themselves. I don’t think you can blame it on Tua. I don’t think it has anything to do with his physical ability. We’re behind the 8-ball with penalties. We haven’t been able to run the ball effectively.”

The valuable piece of information in that interview was the last sentence. The Crimson Tide came out in the second half and committed to the run, and it opened up the whole offense. Harris played huge in the third and fourth quarters and nearly led Alabama to a come-from-behind victory. He finished with 146 yards on the ground and 44 receiving yards. His incredible touchdown catch was probably the play of the game for Alabama’s offense.

There is still a path to the playoff. Analytics gurus FiveThirtyEight now have the Crimson Tide with a 12% chance to make the playoff. Alabama needs for Ohio State to win out, especially against Penn State. The Tide do not need a Penn State upset over Ohio State so as to avoid them jumping in front of them as the highest-ranked one loss team at the end. Georgia may sneak ahead of the Tide this week but they may end up with a second loss by the end of the season. A little chaos in the Big 12 and PAC 12 would also be welcome. As difficult as it is to consider, fans of the Crimson Tide also need to become fans of LSU to win out for the same reason as Ohio State. It gets tricky, and they don’t control their own destiny anymore, but strange things can happen in college football during the month of November.