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.

11 hours ago

Are you afraid to answer the phone?

(Pixabay, YHN)

Millions of Americans fear answering their phone due to a plague of billions of robocalls. These calls have made a mockery of the national Do Not Call Registry and touch on several public policy questions.

We had seemingly ended the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls. Congress authorized the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 after more than a decade of calls disrupting the peace and quiet of our homes. Fines of $11,000 per violation largely put telemarketing companies, with hundreds of thousands of employees, out of business.

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Why have unwanted calls returned? VOIP technology (voice over internet protocol) allowed anyone with a computer and an internet connection to make thousands of calls. A handful of responses can make thousands of calls worthwhile when the cost is almost zero. Furthermore, technology makes robocallers mobile and elusive.

By contrast, telemarketing firms employed hundreds of people at call centers. The authorities could find and fine telemarketers. Firms had to comply with the Do Not Call registry, even if forced out of business.

Technology further frustrates the control of robocalls. Spoofing makes a call appear to be from a different number. Spoofing a local number increases the chance of someone answering, defeats caller ID, and makes identifying the calls’ source difficult.

By contrast, technology allowed the elimination of spam email. It’s easy to forget that fifteen years ago spam threatened the viability of email. Email providers connected accounts to IP addresses and eventually identified and blocked spammers. Google estimates that spam is less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users’ emails.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banned almost all robocalls in 2009 (political campaigns and schools were excepted). Yet the volume of calls and complaints from the public rise every year. And the “quality” of the solicitations is lower: legitimate businesses employed telemarketers, while most robocalls seem to be scams.

Telephone companies and entrepreneurs are deploying apps and services to block robocalls. The robocallers then respond, producing a technological arms race. The technology of this arms race, however, is beyond me.

I’d rather consider some issues robocalls raise. The root of the problem is some people’s willingness to swindle others. Although we all know there are some bad people in the world, free market economists typically emphasize the costs and consequences of government regulations over the cheats and frauds who create the public’s demand for regulation. People can disagree whether a level of fraud warrants regulation, but free marketers should not dismiss the fear of swindlers.

Robocalls also highlight the enormous inefficiency of theft. Thieves typically get 25 cents on the dollar (or less) when selling stolen goods. Getting $1,000 via theft requires stealing goods worth $4,000 or more. In addition, thieves invest time and effort planning and carrying out crimes, while we invest millions in locks, safes, burglar alarms, and police departments to protect our property. America would be much richer if we did not have to protect against thieves or robocallers.

Finally, having the government declare something illegal does not necessarily solve a problem. Our politicians like to pass a law or regulation and announce, “problem solved.” Identifying and punishing robocallers is difficult; the FTC had only brought 33 cases in nearly ten years. And less than ten percent of the over $300 million in fines and relief for consumers levied against robocallers had been collected. Government has no pixie dust which magically solves hard problems.

The difficulty of enforcing a law or regulation does not necessarily imply we should not act. The Federal Communications Commission, for instance, recently approved letting phone companies block unwanted calls by default, and perhaps this will prove effective. We should weigh the costs of laws and regulations against a realistic projection of benefits and laws failing to solve problems as promised should be revised or repealed.
Still, a law that accomplishes little can have value. Cursing robocalls accomplishes little yet can be cathartic. A law that costs little might provide us satisfaction until technology solves the problem.

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.

12 hours ago

VIDEO: Culverhouse vs. UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over 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:

— Why did the media get the story with Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. and Alabama so wrong?

— Is the Iowa slap-fight between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden a 2020 preview?

— Now that former ALEA head Spencer Collier has settled his case with the state over his firing, is the sordid Bentley saga over?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) to discuss medical marijuana, the prison special session and the lottery.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” that calls out Joe Biden for lying about the lack of lies and scandals in the Obama administration.

VIDEO: Culverhouse/UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, June 16, 2019

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

13 hours ago

Alabama team targets international connections at SelectUSA Investment Summit

(Made in Alabama/Contributed)

Alabama is home to a diverse lineup of international companies, and the state’s business recruiters are looking to expand those ranks.

The economic development team is in Washington D.C. at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which starts today and is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

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FDI is a significant part of Alabama’s economy. Last year alone, it came from 16 different countries, for a total of $4.2 billion in investment and 7,520 new and future jobs.

Since 2013, the state has attracted $12.8 billion in FDI, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s spread across a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and bioscience.

“Team Alabama is looking to capitalize on a record-breaking year for FDI in the state, by continuing to build partnerships with world-class international companies looking to grow in the U.S.,” said Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SHOWCASING ALABAMA

SelectUSA is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its annual summit regularly attracts top industry leaders and investors from around the globe. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 49 U.S. states and territories.

Participants of the past five summits have announced $103.6 billion in greenfield FDI in the U.S. within five years of attending, supporting more than 167,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to showcase Alabama’s vibrant business climate that’s been cultivated over the years through business-friendly policies,” Perez said.

“This year’s Investment Summit is very timely as we will be armed with the recently passed Incentives Modernization Act, which upgraded our already-strong incentive tool kit, making us more marketable than ever.”

The measure targets counties that have had slower economic growth. In particular, it expands the number of rural counties that qualify for investment and tax credit incentives. It also enhances incentives for technology companies.

Joining the Commerce Department at the SelectUSA Summit are PowerSouth, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co., and Spire.

Speakers at the summit will include key government and industry leaders who will discuss opportunities in a broad range of areas and industries, such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.

FDI supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and it is responsible for $370 billion in U.S. goods exports. The U.S. has more FDI than any other country, topping $4 trillion.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

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

(Serquest, YHN)

Christmas is the season of giving, helping others and finding magic moments among seemingly ordinary (and occasionally dreary) days. What better way to welcome this season than to share what Alabamians are doing to help others?

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

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

Already have a nonprofit in mind to nominate? Great!

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

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

Submit your nomination here.

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

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

Learn more about Serquest here.

15 hours ago

Alabama Power wins Electric Edison Institute awards for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael

(Wynter Byrd/Alabama NewsCenter)

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) awarded Alabama Power with the EEI “Emergency Assistance Award” and the  “Emergency Recovery Award” for its outstanding power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael hit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in October 2018.
The Emergency Assistance Award and Emergency Recovery Award are given to EEI member companies to recognize their efforts to assist other electric companies’ power restoration efforts, and for their own extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

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Alabama Power received the awards during the EEI 2019 annual conference.

Alabama Power’s extraordinary efforts were instrumental to restoring service for customers across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida quickly and safely,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “We are pleased to recognize the dedicated crews from Alabama Power for their work to restore service in hazardous conditions and to assist neighboring electric companies in their times of need.”

Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to make landfall during the 2018 hurricane season, was a Category 5 hurricane with peak winds of 160 mph. The storm hit Mexico Beach, Fla., on October 10 before being downgraded to a tropical storm and traveling northeast through Georgia and several Mid-Atlantic states. Alabama Power sent more than 1,400 lineworkers and 700 trucks to help restore service to customers over the course of two and a half months.

Hurricane Michael also resulted in 89,438 service outages in Alabama Power’s territory. Due to their tireless work, Alabama Power’s crews restored power to 100 percent of customers within four days after the storm, dedicating more than 124-thousand hours to the recovery.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 hours ago

Palmer on Trump investigations: ‘Constitutional crisis,’ ‘An attempt by the Democrats and the left-wing media to basically stage a coup’

(Screenshot / YouTube)

Although U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) says that he thinks there has been too much focus on congressional Democrats’ efforts to investigate and perhaps undermine the Trump presidency, which he argues distracts the American public from the left-wing Democratic Party agenda, he acknowledges the seriousness of those efforts.

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Saturday, Palmer explained to co-hosts Shannon Moore and David Pinkleton that the push for the so-called Green New Deal and other radical changes to the American health care system were Democrat objectives of which the public should take notice.

“I think that’s what we ought to be focused on,” he said on WVNN’s “Politics and Moore.” “It’s not that what’s going on with the president is not important. It certainly is.”

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On what is “going on with the president,” Palmer called it a constitutional crisis and an attempt to “basically stage a coup.”

“And it’s important in a lot of ways that people don’t fully appreciate in a sense that I think that this is a constitutional crisis. I think it was clearly an attempt by the Democrats and the left-wing media to basically stage a coup to take down someone elected to be president by the American people.”

The Jefferson County Republican noted, however, that while that was serious, it has distracted a lot of conservatives from the “real agenda.”

“If they wanted to impeach the president, they would have done it already,” Palmer said. “They’ve got the votes. I think they’ve got a lot of conservatives wrapped around the axle over this and distracted a lot of us from what their real agenda is. And their real agenda is taking over the health care system, taking over the energy sector and our economy. But all we can focus on is the impeachment.”

@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.

17 hours ago

Army’s next top enlisted leader is from Alabama

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Steven Lopez)

A highly decorated Jasper native will be the next sergeant major of the Army, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Command Sgt. Major Michael Grinston, currently serving as the senior enlisted leader of U.S. Army Forces Command, will be sworn in as the 16th command sergeant major of the Army on Aug. 16.

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“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve the great soldiers and families of the United States Army,” Grinston said.

The artilleryman has deployed as part of every major U.S. campaign since he enlisted in 1987, including two tours each to Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as Desert Shield, Desert Storm and to Kosovo. Grinston was the senior enlisted leader for the Army’s first deployment of a division headquarters, with 1st Infantry Division, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve from October 2014 to June 2015.

His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit medals, and five Bronze Stars (two with ‘V’ devices for valor). He has earned the Ranger tab, Master Parachutist badge, Air Assault badge, Drill Sergeant Identification badge and the Combat Action badge. He has attended every level of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System, and is a graduate of Ranger, Airborne and Air Assault schools. He’s also a graduate of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School and the Equal Opportunity Course.

“I look forward to working with Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston,” Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said. “The Army is in the midst of a renaissance, and he is a great choice to carry on our readiness, modernization and reform efforts.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley joined Esper in announcing Grinston’s promotion.

“Congratulations to Command Sgt. Maj. Grinston and his family,” Milley said. “He is a world-class leader who stands out among our exceptional Noncommissioned Officer Corps. He is the right noncommissioned officer to lead our Army into the future.”

Grinston will succeed Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey, who has served in that position since January 2015.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Grinston is the right leader,” Dailey said. “He possesses all of the character and leadership qualities necessary to lead our NCO Corps into the future, and he will continue to serve the best interests of our soldiers, their families and the Army.”

The sergeant major of the Army (SMA) serves as the Army chief of staff’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force. Much of the sergeant major of the Army’s time is spent traveling throughout the Army to observe training, and talk to soldiers and their families.

The SMA recommends quality-of-life improvements to Army leadership and sits on numerous councils that make decisions affecting Army families. The sergeant major of the Army routinely testifies before Congress on these issues. Additionally, Grinston will serve as the public face of the Army’s NCO Corps to the American people, in the media and through business and community engagements.

Grinston has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College. He is married and has two daughters.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

19 hours ago

Auburn University forestry professor comments on potential shortage of loggers in US

(Auburn University/Contributed)

Dr. Tom Gallagher, the Regions Bank Endowed Professor of Forest Operations in Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, commented recently on the potential shortage of loggers in the timber industry.

What is the national outlook for filling logging jobs?

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Gallagher: The national outlook is not positive at this time. The younger generation is not interested in working in the woods, partly because of not being aware and partly because it is a tough environment. Several programs are being implemented to address the first reason, such as one by the Alabama Forestry Association called ForestryWorks, which has free classes designed to recruit and train equipment operators. Several other states, especially in the Southeast, are also developing programs.

However, I do not know of any mills that are not receiving enough wood to meet their demands. We are just observing many loggers and equipment operators at the end of their careers, and the industry is concerned with who will step up and take over harvesting.

Has the timber industry faced this type of shortage in the past?

Gallagher: Not in modern times because mechanization has been very beneficial to our industry. Fifty years ago, three men working together toiled to produce maybe 25 tons a day. Now three men in harvesting equipment produce 300-plus tons a day of products. So we have greatly reduced the need for woods workers. But we have reached a peak on equipment efficiency, so that solution has somewhat played out. And we still need a new generation of operators and loggers, and the industry is not seeing the influx of people stepping up to the table.

How would a shortage of loggers affect timber production?

Gallagher: It would obviously hurt any timber consuming mill if they did not get the amount of timber needed to run (pulp mills, sawmills, oriented strand board (OSB) plants, pellet operations, pallet mills, etc.). A shortage of loggers will make prices rise, just like any commodity with a supply-and-demand situation. The fewer loggers would demand more payment for their services, which would be passed on to the consumer.

What types of equipment do loggers operate now compared to 20 or 30 years ago? Do they need more advanced skills?

Gallagher: In the Southeast, most loggers run a tree-length operation. They use a feller-buncher to cut the tree and place it in bunches; a skidder to pull those bunches to the deck or landing; and then a trailer-mounted, knuckleboom loader to process the trees for the market(s) they are delivering to and load them onto trucks. Jobs in the woods have become less laborious and more finesse. The controls to the machines are usually joysticks. So while I would not call it “advanced skills,” you do need to be able to multitask equipment capabilities into a productive machine flow. That is what the new ForestryWorksprogram is intended: to teach operators how to be productive with the equipment in a safe manner. While the class is only four to six weeks long (just enough time for the basics), it will usually take several months before an operator is proficient.

This story originally appeared on Auburn University’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

20 hours ago

House Speaker McCutcheon: ‘Dangerous’ to say prison special session coming in the fall, Could be after ‘first of the year’

(Screenshot/APTV)

As early as the end of April, signs were pointing to Gov. Kay Ivey calling a special session to deal with Alabama’s prisons this fall, especially as the Department of Justice said in a letter that conditions in Alabama’s prisons for men might violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

However, the legislature may not be ready for that special session by fall, according to Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia).

During an interview with Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” host Don Dailey, McCutcheon acknowledged the need for the special session, but not the timing of it.

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“[N]ow the timing of it is going to be up to the governor, and the information that we are able to put together leading up to the point,” McCutcheon said. “But the governor asked me personally would I support the special session from my opinion, not hers, but from my opinion. I told her I would. I told I felt like we needed a special session to address the issues. I mean, when it comes to the sentencing reform, when it comes to the buildings, the bricks and mortar of our facilities that we have, when it comes to the training and the amount of people we have hired as the correction officers, when we look at the treatment care of inmates – all of these things.”

“If we were just working on legislation, Don, there could be hundreds of pieces of legislation that could address all of those different issues,” he continued. “But at the end of the day, we need to focus down on what will point us in the right direction and try to accomplish the goals that we have set before us through the Department of Justice out of Washington. And once we can get focused like that, I think we will need a special session to keep us focused on what the real issues are and the legislation that will get us to that point.”

McCutcheon went on to add there was a lot of work to be done before the legislature was ready for a special session, and said it could be as late as next year until they were prepared for it.

“There’s got to be a lot of information – we need more data and more information to be gathered,” McCutcheon said. “There may be five or six pieces of legislation out there that either needs to be created and/or amended to get us to the point we need to be when it comes to sentencing reform. And because of that, it takes time, and we need to be investigating, researching, pulling all the information in do we can get to that point. And that’s why I say it’s kind of dangerous to try to say we’re going to have a special session in the fall. Well, we may not be ready in the fall. It may be after the first of the year before we’re ready. And because of that, I know the governor’s going to be working very hard with the legislature to work together, and that’s one of the things that I thought from the very beginning. Let’s take our prison reform commission, let’s take our group that was put together from that commission to work on a task force if you will – not necessarily an organized task force but a group of people that have expertise in this area in the House and the Senate to sit down and start looking at everything that we have. And because of that, let’s move forward and do it in a productive way.”

@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.

21 hours ago

Alabama leads effort to reduce youth sports injuries

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

A group of athletes, doctors and public health professionals from Alabama are leading a national effort to reduce sports injuries among youths.

That group, called the CoachSafely Foundation, hosted a panel discussion Friday at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham to discuss better ways to train youth coaches how to prevent and recognize sports injuries such as concussions, heat-related illnesses and overuse injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the rise of concussions in youth sports an epidemic, which was echoed by Orthopedic Surgeon & Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. James Andrews.

“There’s been a tenfold increase since the year 2000 in injuries in youth sports, and these are not just minor injuries — these are what we call adult sports injuries that used to only occur in college and professional athletes,” Andrews said.

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Andrews referenced a 2014 report conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide, which said:

  • 1.24 million children were seen in emergency rooms for sports injuries in 2013
  • 90 percent of athletes said they have been injured while playing a sport
  • 54 percent said they had played injured
  • Less than 50 percent of coaches said they have received certification on how to prevent and recognize sports injuries.

Margaret White, Public Relations director at Alabama Power, is one of those who played injured in high school and was later treated by Andrews. She told her story to the group Friday because she wants to see a bigger support system for youth athletes.

“It’s not just engaged parents, but it’s knowledgeable coaches, doctors, community leaders — certainly not the desires of stubborn, short-sighted young athletes,” White said.

Drew Ferguson, president of the CoachSafely Foundation and a director at Children’s of Alabama, said the group is committed to carrying this message nationally.

“We’ve got the nation’s attention by some of the people who are here today,” Ferguson said. “This foundation is going to give us a tremendous opportunity to create a standard of care both here in Alabama and throughout the country.”

Wayne Moss, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports, said he was “blown away” when he first learned about the work of the CoachSafely Foundation.

“I don’t think the people outside of these doors really know what’s going on,” Moss said. “I don’t think they get something miraculous has happened here. There will be a day that we look back and see that youth safety started in Alabama.”

Other panelists echoed the importance of the work.

“When I got the call about CoachSafely, it’s a no-brainer,” said Izell Reese, executive director of NFL Flag Football. “Youth safety in youth sports is just as important as a background check.”

“We want to be a part of this because these kids are what will feed into our middle schools and high schools,” said Alvin Briggs, associate executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association. “If they’re not taught right, then what do we have when they get to our programs?”

“We as Park and Rec professionals want to lead and we want to be difference makers as we move forward,” said Natalie Norman, executive director of the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association.

One panel participant who can speak from a position of success is Jimmy Robinson, the University of Alabama football team doctor.

“I live at the other extreme of what we’re trying to get going here: I live in the utopia,” Robinson said. “I’ve got all these resources around me and the ability to help talk care of our athletes at the highest level. At the coach safely level, at the youth sports level, it’s just the opposite, and that’s one thing we need to do. Preparedness and prevention is the key.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Birmingham students awarded scholarships to fuel their studies in technical fields

(Billy Brown/Contributed)

The Birmingham chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) recently awarded five students sholarships to further their studies.

The mission of the organization is to provide energy professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and students a pathway to learn more about the energy industry through education, mentoring, community service and business networking.

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Phillip Coffey, Marketing specialist for Alabama Power, helped organize the annual scholarship luncheon. He says the organization gives greater exposure and representation of the energy industry to students and professionals.

The chapter awarded $10,000 in scholarship funds – Iva B. Williams Endowment Scholarships – to five students:

  • Grant Sims.
  • Alexander Washington.
  • Adetola Koiki.
  • Micah Pruitt.
  • Amira Gilford.

The Birmingham chapter of AABE is made up of employees from Alabama Power, Southern PowerSouthern Nuclear Company and Southern Company Services.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

Tuberville’s warning on immigration: ‘We have more Middle Easterners coming across that border at times than we do people from Latin America’

(T. Tuberville for Senate/Facebook)

As was the case with several of the past elections, immigration will be a significant issue in the 2020 campaign cycle, especially with President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

The 2020 U.S. Senate GOP primary in Alabama will not be an exception, especially as many Republican base voters are growing restless with congressional Democrats stalling Trump’s effort to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2020 U.S. Senate race, decried the lax border security and added that in some cases Middle Easterners were exceeding the number of those from Latin America coming across the border.

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“The problem that we’re having, and people don’t understand this, is we do need workers,” he said. “We need people over here to work. I’m big on immigration, but we got to get them in there the right way. And we’ve got to know who is here. We have more Middle Easterners coming across that border at times than we do people from Latin America. We do not have a clue who is coming across, and a lot of these people aren’t coming over here to help this country out. They’re coming over here to tear this country down. They are not for the Constitution. They are not for our laws. They are not for the people in this country. They want to tear it down, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

“That’s the reason I’m running because I want the people in this country to have safe neighborhoods, safe streets,” Tuberville continued. “It sounds like a politician, but all you got to do is open up your eyes and look. That’s one of my mottos in this campaign: Open your eyes and look at what’s going on, and let’s get these people out of Washington that won’t do anything and put people up there that will make a decision and don’t care if they go back and get reelected.”

@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.

Roby: Honoring our symbol of freedom

(M. Roby/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

On June 14th, 1777, our country’s flag was officially adopted by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Many years later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that established June 14th as Flag Day, and on August 3, 1949, this day of observance was officially established by an Act of Congress.

Now, every year on June 14th, our country has a special opportunity to celebrate our flag and reflect upon what it symbolizes. The American flag displays 13 horizontal stripes alternating red and white with a blue rectangle, specifically referred to as the “union,” that bears 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine horizontal rows. As you may know, the 50 stars on the American flag represent our 50 states. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the United States.

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While the design of the American flag has been officially modified 26 times since its initial adoption in 1777, the symbolic meaning has remained the same. Whether flown on front lawns across Alabama, in front of schools, universities and businesses of all sizes, or proudly displayed at military installations across this great country, for centuries the American flag has been an inspiring emblem of pride, hope, and freedom for countless people throughout the world.

Whenever I see our flag, I am especially reminded of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have fought to defend it and all it represents. This year, Flag Day comes during an especially important time, as I recently was proud to announce my 2019 appointees to our United States service academies.

Each year, it is my distinct privilege and honor as a member of Congress to nominate students from the Second District to be considered for appointment to the United States Air Force, Naval, Military and Merchant Marine Academies.

This year, I am very pleased to announce that I nominated the following students who received official appointments to the service academies:

  • Daniel Brayden Banner is the son of Dan and Amanda Banner. He is a graduate of Providence Christian School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.Theodore Maxwell Dowd is the son of John and Donna Dowd. He is a graduate of Northview High School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Amore Jacarra Hardy is the daughter of Regina Hardy. She is a graduate of Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, and she received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Timothy Jurard McClendon is the son of Emma Lee McClendon. He is a graduate of Carroll High School in Ozark, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Johnny M. Montgomery, III, is the son of Johnny Montgomery. He is a graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Jackson Scott Parker is the son of Scott and Hannah Parker. He is a graduate of Abbeville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Isaac Taylor Sherman is the son of Jeremy and Morgan Sherman. He is a graduate of Prattville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Seth Cameron White is the son of Steve and Terri White. He is a graduate of Wicksburg High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

In the spirit of Flag Day, I believe these students from our communities are to be commended not only for their academic excellence, but more importantly, for their eagerness to serve our great country. I am incredibly proud to join their families, friends, teachers and hometowns in offering my sincerest congratulations and thanks. Our flag will continue to shine as a symbol of freedom because of young leaders like these men and women.

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

2 days ago

SEC Baseball Tournament at Hoover Met sees record crowds

(Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics)

Record crowds of more than 160,000 people attended the 2019 SEC Baseball Tournament.

The tournament, held annually at the Hoover Met Complex, had an estimated $15 million economic impact on the area.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the conference three years ago looked for a host site that would enhance the tournament experience for fans. “After reviewing numerous proposals and visiting a number of potential sites, it turned out that Hoover, our longtime home, could provide everything necessary to make it the right venue for SEC Baseball,” Sankey said.

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He said the city of Hoover stepped things up with the Finley Center to house the SEC Fan Fest, the construction of on-site practice fields and, this year, the addition of a new video board.

“We feel those changes in particular have been game-changers in providing the SEC with a ‘baseball campus’ that is unique to college post-season tournaments,” Sankey said.

From May 21-26, 12 teams competed in the double elimination tournament, which was won by Vanderbilt.

Throughout the week, 162,699 people attended the various baseball games and 32,000 of those attendees came through the SEC Fan Fest. The area included access to inflatables, arcade games, a zip line, climbing, miniature golf course, live entertainment, food and beverage options and more. Fans were able to watch the game from a giant flat-screen TV and couches in the large, air-conditioned facility.

“The 2019 SEC Baseball Tournament was a tremendous success at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex,” said Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato. “The city of Hoover was able to welcome a record-setting number of baseball fans throughout the week and attendees had many options for activities around the baseball tournament once they arrived at the complex. … It is certainly our privilege to have hosted this tournament for the past 22 years. We look forward to seeing everyone back in 2020.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

State Sen. Cam Ward: ‘I don’t think you bring back a lottery’ in proposed prison special session

Sen. Cam Ward, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

The Alabama legislature was not able to come to an agreement on a lottery this past general session, meaning the body will likely address it in the future.

Could that come as soon as later this year, when Gov. Kay Ivey will reportedly call a special session to address Alabama’s prison system? Given the state’s prisons are under the threat of a federal government takeover, some have suggested that a lottery could be used as a funding mechanism to fix the state’s ailing prisons.

During an appearance on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), who has been out in front of the prison issue, downplayed the chances of lawmakers addressing the lottery as part of any prison solution.

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“I just don’t see what has changed since the regular session until now that would make a lottery even feasible to bring up in a special session,” Ward said. “I mean, you look at our state. We’re one of four states that have two budgets. And the bulk of our money goes to the education budget, which has a $400 million growth fund this time, and that’s good. But at the same time, we had a lottery that we passed out of the Senate that money went to the general fund, which is constantly struggling with issues like prisons, Medicaid, and mental health. And it failed in the House because most people want to see it all go to education. I just can’t imagine why a lottery bill would come back during a special session because I’m not sure what has changed since it failed in the House this last time. I mean, unless something has changed that I’m not aware of, I don’t think you bring back a lottery in this special session.”

Ward said he did not see the need for increased revenue to solve the prison problem, noting the significant increase in funding for the Department of Corrections already.

“I think the money is already here,” Ward replied. “I really do. I don’t think you need any kind of increase in revenue. I mean, good gracious we gone from a $380 million budget for prisons just a few years ago. Today we’re at $560 million-$580 million. I don’t think you need to do any more revenue. I think it’s how you handle policy within the prison and how you handle the policy with sentencing.”

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

2 days ago

State Sen. Orr: Lottery could be on the November 2020 ballot

(Screenshot/APTV)

The 2019 legislative general session was a miss for lottery proponents. Despite the Senate’s narrow passage of a lottery bill, the House could not come together for passage of its own version.

For that reason, Alabamians will not get to vote on a lottery on the March 2020 primary ballots. However, it could be coming eight months later on the 2020 general election ballot.

During his weekly appearance on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) agreed with host Dale Jackson, who suggested the possibility that if the legislature could agree on a lottery proposal during the 2020 general session, a vote of the people could be forthcoming.

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“Absolutely, the November 2020, it would be a vote of the people,” Orr concurred.

One potential concern for the GOP raised was the possibility a lottery vote on a general election ballot could turn out more Democrats than usual. Orr said with President Donald Trump on the ballot, the lottery on the ballot should not be a significant factor.

“[Y]es, it could bring out votes that would maybe trend to also vote Democrat,” he said. “But being a presidential year, most people that are going to vote are going to vote anyway, and of the 140 legislators in the legislature – I don’t know how many are Republican, we’ll say 110 total – they’re not on the ballot. Then the statewide officers are not on the ballot in 2020. It wouldn’t affect any of them. It’s just the U.S. Senate race that would affect. And you would think that Donald Trump would certainly carry Alabama in the presidential race, it could impact that Senate race, but I think the Republican is going to wipe it up with [Doug] Jones.”

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

2 days ago

Captains treat Fallen Outdoors to Alabama’s great inshore fishing

(David Rainer/Contributed)

After a ride through the significant chop caused an unusual June north wind, Capt. Bobby Abruscato pulled back on the throttle and idled to one of his favorite fishing spots in Grand Bay, west of Dauphin Island.

Aboard were a couple of special guests, Derrick Warfield and Kyle McCleland, who were quickly hooking fish during the inaugural The Fallen Outdoors (TFO) inshore fishing trip that treated a group of active military and veterans to the beautiful outdoors paradise we call the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Warfield, who resides at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery with his active-duty wife, retired after 10 years of active duty.

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Since then, Warfield has taken up the cause that is TFO, which is a support group for active, retired, separated and medically retired military with a focus on the outdoors.

Before this week, TFO, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, hosted veterans and active military on mostly hunting excursions with only a little fishing mixed in.

“Most of our trips are done from Montgomery north,” Warfield said of the TFO’s Team Alabama. “We do a lot of hunting trips. Two weeks ago, we actually did a hog-hunting trip on a farm just south of Montgomery. We went out with three guys running dogs, and we got into about a 200-pound sow. The dogs caught the hog and we dispatched it.”

Needing to schedule events for the summer, Warfield reached out to several inshore fishing guides on the Alabama coast and quickly hooked up with Capt. Richard Rutland with Cold-Blooded Fishing.

“Richard said if there was anything he could do, he’d love to help,” Warfield said. “He said we could go out on his boat and make something happen. Then he said, ‘We need to make this big, something awesome.’”

Two weeks later, Warfield got a call from Rutland, who said, “I’ve got seven boats lined up. How many people can you get?”

Warfield posted the potential trip on The Fallen Outdoors Facebook page that reaches 14,000-15,000 veterans. Initially, Warfield got 25 takers, which whittled down to the 14 who enjoyed a day of fishing on the beautiful Alabama coast.

Rutland, a former president of the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, got commitments from seven other captains. He also got a donation from the Mobile Jaycees, where he currently serves as chairman of the board. Additional boat captains included Abruscato with A-Team Adventures, Patric Garmeson with Ugly Fishing Charters, Wesley Hallman with Bay Sound Charters, Terry Turner, Ben Raines, Joe Geil and Theo Atkinson with Spots, Dots and Scales.

“We just appreciate these captains being able to get these guys who are dealing with physical and mental issues out on the water,” Warfield said. “This gives them a chance to get out, get away from the real world and relax, whether it be hunting, fishing, camping or whatever we can do outdoors. This wouldn’t have been possible without Richard. Richard really pushed it. He wanted to make it really big, and he wants to make it an annual event.”

The Jaycees’ donation for the trip also provided lunch after a morning on the water. The guides took care of the equipment, and bait dealer Maurice Ryan donated the live shrimp.

The anglers hauled in a wide variety of Alabama’s inshore species, including the edible species of speckled trout, redfish, white trout, flounder and pompano. Mixed in for anglers’ enjoyment were the acrobatic ladyfish, croakers and the ubiquitous hardhead catfish.

“We’ve never had an event this big,” Warfield said. “Before, the biggest trip was with five or six guys. This was a huge, huge trip for us, and it wouldn’t be possible without all these captains. What I tell the captains is if you can help out, great. If you can’t, we understand because you have to make a living.”

Warfield said a good many TFO members want to take part in the outings, but time constraints limit the participation.

“Weekends are really, really busy for them, but today was a perfect day,” he said. “It was a Monday, and we had plenty of people who wanted to come.”

Warfield said the organization tries to get the message out about The Fallen Outdoors through outdoors trade shows and social media. Rutland lined up several media outlets to cover the Dauphin Island event, including the Mobile Press-Register and Mobile TV stations WALA and WKRG.

“This was the most media we’ve had for a TFO event,” Warfield said. “Hopefully this will get us out there more and let veterans know there are free or low-cost hunting and fishing trips available.”

TFO was started in the 2009 in Washington state and has grown to a membership of about 34,000 veterans. Warfield said between 13,000 and 14,000 veterans are signed up in the southern region. Visit thefallenoutdoors.com for more information.

“It’s just another way to reach out to veterans,” Warfield said. “Our focus is strictly on the outdoors, whether it’s hunting, fishing, hiking or just hanging out near the water. We just want to make the connections. All of us have our demons. Nobody understands what a vet is going through better than another vet. People look at you and think you’re normal, but inside you’re torn apart. It could be physical injuries. It could be PTSD. And making the transition from military to civilian is totally different. A lot of things in the military don’t translate to civilian life. This trip was amazing. We had veterans come from Florida and Louisiana as well as Alabama. These vets get to meet more people they can lean on. They can definitely make new friendships on trips like these.”

Because of the proliferation of veterans organizations in the past decade, Rutland admitted he was cautious when originally contacted by Warfield.

“I always like to do my homework before I put something on like this,” Rutland said. “After talking to Derrick several times, I looked at my books and realized I had June 10 open. He said he could probably get 15 to 20 vets to come, and I started calling my guide friends to see who might be available. It really came together nicely. This is my busy time of the year, and it kind of got here real quick, but everything came together as well as I could have expected.”

Although June is a busy month for charter captains, Rutland said he’s sticking with an early June date for next year’s event because it’s the best time for the veterans.

“Basically, the whole deal with Derrick reaching out to me is this is kind of a dead period for outdoors activities for the veterans,” Rutland said. “They have a lot of hunting in the fall and winter and a little fishing in the spring. By the time it gets into early summer, he has a slack period until the end of the summer. They really needed to experience the Alabama Gulf Coast. I’m planning to make it an annual event.”

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier dropped by the ADSFR site to share a lunch of fried fish with the veterans.

“First of all, anytime we can do something positive for our veterans, it’s a good thing,” Mayor Collier said. “When they can incorporate Dauphin Island into it, it’s even better. Who wouldn’t enjoy going out on a nice day and catching fish.”

The Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) provided support for the event, and MRD Director Scott Bannon also joined the group for lunch.

Warfield said the inshore fishing trip definitely exceeded expectations.

“We would have been happy if it had been two people, but it turned out to be a lot more,” he said. “We’re not going to argue with Richard about making it an annual event, because we would love to come back. I can’t say thank you enough to all the captains.”

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

2 days ago

Ivey leading delegation to Europe for business development mission — ‘The ideal location for new investment and jobs is Sweet Home Alabama’

Gov. Ivey delivered remarks at the Mercedes-Benz New Campus Update event Friday October 5, 2018 in Woodstock, Ala. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield will travel to next week’s Paris Air Show for scheduled meetings with high-ranking aerospace industry executives and to Germany for discussions with the leadership of Mercedes-Benz.

In Paris, Governor Ivey will lead a delegation of the state’s economic development specialists, elected officials, university representatives and others attending 2019’s premier global aerospace industry event.

The mission will begin Sunday with networking events connecting the Yellowhammer State team with industry officials.

Then, Ivey, Canfield and a small Alabama working team on Monday will engage in pre-arranged meetings with executives from aerospace companies such as United Launch Alliance (ULA), Raytheon and Blue Origin.

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“Alabama has long been a leading state for aerospace, and we have set a strategic goal of growing our base in this important industry,” Ivey said in a statement. “At the Paris Air Show, I want decision-makers in the aerospace industry to know one thing: The ideal location for new investment and jobs is Sweet Home Alabama.”

Canfield said the Paris Air Show represents a unique opportunity for Alabama’s economic development team to forge new relationships with industry titans and to strengthen existing connections through focused meetings in a single location.

“The aerospace sector is one of our key targets for growth, and the sky is our limit as far as opportunities,” he remarked. “While in Paris, we will have the opportunity to meet with C-suit executives for some of the world’s most notable aerospace companies and to position Alabama for future growth in this sector.”

The air show mission comes at a time of robust growth for Alabama’s broad-based aerospace industry, whose activities include aircraft assembly, rocket development, maintenance and overhaul, raw material production, research, flight training and much more.

Last year alone, aerospace and defense companies announced plans for over $650 million in new capital investment in the Yellowhammer State, spurring the creation of nearly 1,450 anticipated jobs, according to projections by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Already this year, Lockheed Martin and GE Aviation have announced new growth projects at their manufacturing facilities in the state.

On Tuesday, Ivey and Canfield, joined by representatives from Tuscaloosa County, will depart Paris and travel to Stuttgart, Germany, the global headquarters of Mercedes.

The visit is designed to renew relationships with key leaders at one of Alabama’s biggest corporate investors and to demonstrate the state’s commitment to the company at a time of global trade tensions.

Mercedes has invested over $6 billion in its Alabama operation, based around the massive Tuscaloosa County assembly plant that employs 3,700 workers and produces approximately 300,000 vehicles per year.

Additionally, Mercedes is developing a second campus in Bibb County anchored by a battery pack plant for future electric vehicle production as well as a global logics center and an after-sales parts hub.

“We’re proud to call Mercedes a partner, and we’re excited about the future that we are building together in Alabama,” Canfield emphasized. “Mercedes has been a great ambassador for Alabama, and we are fully committed to supporting the company and its hard-working employees in the state.”

Bob Smith, assistant director of business development-European strategy and Commerce’s point man on aerospace, will remain at the Paris Air Show for additional meetings with industry executives on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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

2 days ago

Flag Day busiest time of year for Homewood business

(Pixabay)

Held annually on June 14, Flag Day commemorates the day in 1777 that the Second Continental Congress adopted the United States flag.

For Lee Forrester, owner of American Flag Company in Homewood, it’s the busiest time of the year.

“We just can’t keep up almost. It’s a wonderful thing right now so we’re going to enjoy it while it lasts,” Forrester said.

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American Flag Company opened its doors about 100 years ago making flags. Forrester is the third owner and has turned the business into a flag distribution and installation company.

“We’re dealers,” Forrester said. “We provide whatever the public needs.”

American Flag Company owner talks about Flag Day and the flag business from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Forrester, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs, said it means a lot to him to own his own business, and he loves that it is a flag business.

“Having a flag business, since I didn’t serve in the military, gives me a feeling of giving it back,” he said.

Forrester said Alabama’s patriotism makes the state “a great place to have a flag business.”

Talking to him about Flag Day, Forrester gets excited: “It should get everybody excited. I mean, we’re talking about our national flag.”

American Flag Company doesn’t only sell American flags, though. It also sells all kinds of other flags, from military flags to college flags.

“Alabama, Auburn, UAB. Everybody is going to buy their flags. We offer custom flags, religious flags, patriotic flags. Just any type of flag that’s out there we can offer it. If we don’t have it, we can get it,” Forrester said.

The company also provides flag installation and repair services.

“If you have a hundred-foot flag pole you want to put in your commercial business, we can do that as well. We’ve got a bucket truck, so we can service the flag poles even if the rope is broken from the top. So, no job is too big or too small,” Forrester said.

Forrester shared a personal story about a time he saw a flag in disrepair at a small community cemetery.

“I have a place on Smith Lake, and we were on the way one day to the lake. There is this cemetery off to the side, nice church. The cemetery is well-maintained, military mostly, and a storm had blown the flag pole down,” he said.

“I saw it once, and the next week I saw it again. I showed up and put them up a new flag pole and didn’t let them know anything about it. It’s kind of like one of those angels that appeared out of nowhere, so I felt good about that,” Forrester said. “They still have their flag, and they keep flying that flag regardless; even if they don’t buy it from me, that’s OK.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 days ago

Domestic abuse complaint filed against retiring Selma PD Chief Spencer Collier

(WKRG/YouTube, Daphne PD/Contributed)

An ex parte protection order was granted in Baldwin County circuit court on Friday against former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) head Spencer Collier on behalf of his wife and two minor children.

The ex parte order, which in effect will act as a temporary restraining order issued until a hearing can be held in the next few days, came after Collier’s wife on Thursday filed a “petition for protection from abuse.” The petition alleges that Collier on Wednesday threatened physical violence against his wife, making her afraid of serious bodily injury.

The petition further states that Collier “is in an unstable state of mind” and that his wife “genuinely fear[ed]” “further abuse” due to purported mental problems he is having.

Collier’s wife is requesting custody of the two teenage children until he is able to seek “treatment…[and] is deemed not to be a risk to self or others.”

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Soon after Yellowhammer News obtained copies of the order and the petition on Friday, WKRG reported that Collier was arrested the same day in Daphne for allegedly filing a false police report.

These latest legal proceedings wrap up a whirlwind week for Collier.

First, he announced on Wednesday that his lawsuit with former Governor Robert Bentley and other named parties had been settled, with Collier set to receive $500,000.

Soon afterward on the same day, he announced his medical retirement as chief of the Selma Police Department and that he might be considering a run for the Alabama First Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).

Collier is currently on medical leave as Selma PD chief. His leave is scheduled to end upon his effective retirement date of July 30.

WKRG is reporting that the criminal charge in Daphne stemmed from an allegation Collier made of fraudulent credit card use at a local hotel.

Collier reportedly told the outlet that he filed the police report because his son used his card. Collier said that at the time of making the report, he was unaware that his wife had given the son permission.

“I have no doubt that I will be exonerated – but the entire episode is embarrassing,” Collier told WKRG. “I wish to apologize to the Daphne Police Department and also express my gratitude for their professionalism throughout the entire incident.”

In a text message to WSFA, he added, “My adult son, who is a recovering addict and multiple felon used my bank card. I filed a police report, being this is the 2nd time in a year that he has done this. I was unaware that my wife (we are currently estranged) [gave] him permission. He pressed charges because I listed him as the suspect.”

Collier, after being booked and released from the Daphne City Jail, is scheduled to appear in court July 30, the last day he is scheduled to be employed by Selma PD.

He served as a state representative from 2002-2010, when he was appointed to lead the Alabama Department of Homeland Security by Bentley. Collier was subsequently appointed head of the newly created ALEA in 2013 by the then-governor. Collier served in that capacity until his highly publicized termination in 2016 and became Selma PD chief in 2017.

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

3 days ago

Rumors and Rumblings, 2nd Ed. Vol. X

(YHN)

“Rumors and Rumblings” is a regular feature on Yellowhammer News. It is a compilation of the bits and pieces of information that we glean from conversations throughout the week.

Enjoy.

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1. Success has 1,000 fathers. President Donald Trump has held a special affinity for the state of Alabama since the early stages of his 2016 campaign. And the feeling has been mutual. Thirty thousand people turned out to his first rally in Mobile all the way back in August 2015. Then on Super Tuesday in March 2016, he received over 43% of the vote in the state’s Republican presidential primary. The next closest candidate was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with 21%. As recently as this week, polling showed that his favorability rating among Republicans in Alabama hovers around 80%.

Trump maintains a lofty perch in the state. There’s no doubt about that. What’s a little more unclear is who is responsible for getting him there. Alabama political observers have for some time marveled at the perpetual jockeying to stay at the front of the line of people representing Trump’s interests in the state.

Four stand out to us as being those most readily acknowledged as having a claim to the Trump throne in Alabama. All four evidently have, or had, the title “chairman” attached to their names in some form.

Two held visible roles from the beginning. State Rep. Jim Carns (R-Mountain Brook) and former State. Rep. Ed Henry. Both participated in the original Trump rally in Mobile and evidence would indicate that Carns carried the title “campaign chairman” while Henry carried the title “campaign co-chairman.” Considerable talk arose after Trump’s win that Carns could even fill an ambassadorship in Central America.

A third, Chess Bedsole, seemed to have held a hybrid role. Bedsole was both a paid political consultant for the Trump campaign and in leadership as “Trump’s Alabama campaign Chairman.”

Finally, former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper, Jr. is the man who — by at least one account — has risen to the top of the Trump leadership ladder in Alabama. For a time, Hooper shared the campaign chairman title with his peers. Perhaps  as a nod to his elevated status, however, Hooper somewhere along the line received the unique title “Trump 2016 Alabama Victory Chair.”

Hooper’s social media accounts document him becoming a fixture at the White House. According to his own account, he has been in the middle of West Wing meetings on fighter jets and trade and the Easter Egg Roll.

2. Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him. While Hooper has asserted himself as the unofficial Trump contact in the state, it has not happened without risk. It is fairly common in politics for someone to claim a significant piece of political real estate and then be the object of derision from others who aspire to occupy the same space. The key for someone in that potentially vulnerable position is to be ready and aware.

Opposition to Hooper’s role in Trump world came to a boiling point a few weeks ago following an NBC News article in which Hooper said he spoke to Trump about Alabama’s U.S. Senate race. The article quoted Hooper as saying that there was a “plan” in place for Trump to endorse former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Republican primary.

Yellowhammer News had picked up some rumblings earlier in the year that a certain amount of consternation existed regarding Hooper’s service as an unofficial spokesman for Trump in the state. Sources with knowledge of the situation told us that a conference call on the subject took place among Republican National Committee (RNC) officials, and on that conference call the phrase “restraining order” was used, at one point.

While those in Washington, D.C. continued to monitor, Hooper’s use of the national media to convey Trump’s purported thoughts on Alabama’s senate race may have sent some over the edge. One RNC official told us Hooper’s outspokenness on Trump’s views went from harmless to meddling to dangerous in light of the NBC News article. We were told that RNC Trump Victory Political Director Chris Carr spoke with Hooper to clarify some of the boundaries of his involvement in Trump world. We were also told that Carr directed Hooper to refrain from issuing statements to the press, holding press conferences and otherwise representing the thoughts and views of Trump.

Hooper told Yellowhammer News that the Trump comments he conveyed to NBC News occurred during a meeting he had with the president on tariffs. He said the president asked him about Tuberville and the state of the race, in general, and he simply offered his assessment. Hooper said he considers both Tuberville and Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) friends.

Whether any of this amounts to anything — or deters Hooper in any fashion — remains to be seen. Merely five days ago, Hooper posted a photo of himself attending a Chicago Cubs baseball game with Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

3. What are the odds? Scott Cooley of SportsBetting.ag has provided Yellowhammer News with some prop bets surrounding a number of current political storylines.

Bettors can wager on the blockage of a potential Mexico tariff, the possibility of a presidential impeachment, whether or not President Trump will attend a World Cup match and whether he will have to hand over his tax records.

The oddsmakers don’t anticipate an impeachment or Trump’s tax records to be made public, but the numbers do suggest Congress would block a tariff on Mexico.

Will the House of Representatives pass Articles of Impeachment against President Trump before end of his first term?

Yes 2/1 (+200)
No 2/5 (-250)
–Note: The odds imply a 71.43% probability articles will not be passed

Will the Democratic Party gain access to President Trump’s federal tax returns before the end of his first term?

Yes 3/2 (+150)
No 1/2 (-200)
–Note: The odds imply a 66.67% probability returns will not be accessed

Will Congress successfully block President Trump from imposing tariffs on imported Mexican goods? (disapproval vote must take place for action)

Yes 1/2 (-200)
No 3/2 (+150)
–Note: The odds imply a 66.67% probability a tariff would be blocked

Will President Trump attend a World Cup match?

Yes 20/1 (+2000)
No 1/100 (-10000)
–Note: The odds imply a 99.01% probability Trump will not attend

3 days ago

Alabama’s Rodney Smith, Jr. has mowed veterans’ lawns in all 50 states — ‘I remember asking God to use me’

(Rodney Smith Jr./Twitter)

Rodney Smith, Jr.’s mission has been accomplished, but his work is far from over.

Smith is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, which helps elderly citizens, single mothers and others in need with lawn care. He founded the free-of-charge service — with its motto of “Making a difference one lawn at a time” — in Huntsville, where he lives.

While he has often drawn well-deserved national attention for his main service, Smith recently embarked on a nationwide tour, vowing to mow veterans’ lawns in each and every state to honor and thank them. Thursday, he checked the last state off his list, arriving in Hawaii.

However, Smith’s journey will not stop there. As he explained to ABC’s Good Morning America, Smith’s amazing drive for service is powered by his faith in God.

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Smith explained that he was inspired to launch Raising Men Lawn Care Service about five years ago when he was pursuing his bachelor’s degree and searching for purpose in his life.

“I remember asking God to use me as his vessel,” he told GMA.

It was 2015, Smith said, and he was driving home in the Rocket City when he saw an elderly Huntsville man desperately trying to mow his lawn.

“It looked like he was struggling, so I pulled over and helped him,” Smith reminisced. “That’s when I got my goal to mow lawns for free for the elderly, single moms and veterans.”

This immediately became his mission, and when he realized the high-level of need just in his community alone, Smith began recruiting young people in the Huntsville area to get involved as well, helping give them a purpose bigger than themselves at an early age.

“We have boys and girls taking part in the program. We are trying to encourage boys and girls to get out there and make a difference, one lawn at a time,” Smith emphasized.

That recruitment has since expanded across the country.

Smith said that approximately 400 kids and teens nationwide are currently participating in the “50 Lawn Challenge,” which encourages young people to help those in their respective community who are struggling with their yardwork on their own by voluntarily mowing 50 lawns.

Smith estimates that he has mowed at least 2,500 lawns since 2015.

He went searching for his mission in life, turning to God, and Smith said he was shown the way.

“My true purpose in life is helping people,” he said.

You can read more about Smith here.

RELATED: Alabama Community Lifts Up Local Hero

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

3 days ago

Bradley Byrne: ALDOT officials declined federal funding for Mobile Bayway – They were set on tolls

(ALDOT)

One of the big mysteries regarding the new Mobile Bayway is how the Alabama Department of Transportation determine a toll and not federal money would be the best means of financing the badly needed thoroughfare’s construction.

Reportedly, at one time the federal component was as high as 50% of the bridge’s cost. Now it is much lower, perhaps less than 10% of the cost. That has a lot of local residents asking why a toll instead of federal money.

During an appearance on Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5 on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), elaborated on his earlier statements regarding his efforts to secure federal funding, which were met by state officials voicing their support for a toll bridge option.

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“In a meeting we had a couple of years ago now in Montgomery with the state Department of Transportation officials, and that’s who makes all these decisions – not the feds – they said, ‘Look, we’ve decided we’re going to go this tolling route, and we don’t need the federal money,” Byrne said to “Midday Mobile” host Sean Sullivan. “We’re going to do it without the federal money.’ I thought, ‘Gee, I’ve been working really hard on getting this federal grant for y’all.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, that’s nice and all, but we’re going to meet the financial needs we have here by doing this toll.’ And that’s how we got into this discussion about how they could at buy down the amount that Alabamians would pay on the toll by using this GOMESA money. And they just haven’t been very receptive to that, to be honest with you.”

Byrne said there was still an outstanding an INFRA [Infrastructure for Rebuilding America] Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which he said the award would be based upon the quality of the application the federal government received from the state of Alabama.

“Frankly, I was surprised,” Byrne said. “But you know, you have to realize that I’m a federal official, not a state official. I can’t tell them what to do. Certainly, you know we’ve been driving the bus and trying to get all of these federal approvals out of the way, which we should have in three weeks and get it set-up for them, and also put them in touch with the right people at the federal Department of Transportation for how this is going to be financed because there is a way to do that through the U.S. Department of Transportation. I think they are actively pursuing that. But at the end of the day, you got to have money to pay that financing back, and they were clearly on this ‘we’re going to use tolls’ path, and didn’t seem that interested in trying to get this federal money, although they have made the application.”

@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.

3 days ago

Community support required to inspire future generations of Army leaders

(J. Coleman/Contributed, YHN)

“Thank you for your service.” As the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for Alabama (South), I am always grateful for these words, which I hear often in this community.

What many people do not understand is that the United States Army is the one who is thankful.

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We are thankful for the camaraderie, the global understanding, the commitment made to our soldiers and their families and for the opportunity to dedicate every day to the people of this great country.

We are thankful for the education and cost-free healthcare we receive, the worldwide experiences we have had, the technical skills we have learned and the opportunity to be leaders in the most trusted organization in the world.

We are thankful to be part of history. On June 14, the Army celebrates 244 years of dedicated service. Generations of soldiers have inspired professionalism, honorable service and a commitment to the common good. For this, we are proud of our soldiers.

And now, we are part of the team inspiring the next great generation of soldiers to find their place in history.

That is no easy task, however, even though the majority of Americans have the highest levels of confidence in the U.S. Military.

We face many challenges when searching for the right people to fill our ranks. Yes, we need infantrymen and Special Forces soldiers, like you see in the movies, but we also need logisticians, nurses, engineers, truck drivers and IT specialists.

About 50% of today’s young people admit they know little to nothing about their nation’s military – the people who work daily to protect their freedom. They don’t understand the depth of the knowledge and technical skills they can learn in 150 different career paths. They don’t understand the degrees they can earn or that the benefits and perks often match or surpass those offered by civilian employers.

We see amazing young people desiring to serve their communities, and we believe that we are doing them a disservice if we are not encouraging them to explore the military as a potential career path.

The Army invests in its people, often to the benefit of outside organizations. Veterans are more likely to vote, volunteer and be involved in their communities. They have the maturity and self-discipline private industries are seeking.

Only 29% of today’s young people have the ability to meet our qualifications. We will work to find the right people, and we will compete to retain them for the good of our nation. But we need your help.

In honor of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6 and the Army’s 244th birthday on June 14, the Army is activating a nationwide “Call to Service”.

We challenge leaders, parents, educators and the community as a whole to step forward. Inspire the young people around you to be a part of something bigger, to be part of history. Inspire them to answer the call to serve their country through the United States Army.

Army Strong!!

Jeff Coleman works as a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for Alabama (South)