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.

Byrne: Alabama the Beautiful

(B. Bryne/Facebook)

As the weather continues to warm and summer temperatures approach, I am reminded of the incredible natural beauty that lies here in Alabama.

For many schools throughout Southwest Alabama, April marked Spring Break for students and teachers, and so many families take advantage of that time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors throughout our state.

As a hunter and outdoorsman, I know the importance of managing our wildlife areas and natural resources – private, family-owned and public lands – to ensure they are around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy for decades to come. That is why I have once again joined the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus to protect and advance our national heritage of hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and trapping.

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As anyone who lives here knows, along the Gulf Coast we are blessed with an amazingly diverse and important ecosystem.

This week, I will be visiting the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge along the Fort Morgan Peninsula to celebrate the completion of a significant land conservation effort within the Little Point Clear Unit. Bon Secour is home to countless species and is a favorite outdoor spot for many Southwest Alabamians.

Just across Mobile Bay, I’ll also have the privilege of participating in the Lightning Point Restoration Project groundbreaking in Bayou La Batre, another successful coastal restoration project made possible by local leadership and public-private partnerships.

With miles of trails and plenty to do and see, I am committed to preserving these important resources and habitats for future generations.

Just here in our backyard of Southwest Alabama, we also have Gulf State Park, Meaher State Park, Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines, Frank Jackson State Park, dozens of walking trails, outdoor spaces and campgrounds.

It is up to us to take care of our area. Just a few weeks ago, Orange Beach was named the cleanest town in Alabama. What an accomplishment for Orange Beach residents!

It is also up to Congress to ensure that we take care of our natural resources as well. That is why I have continued to fight for just compensation in cases of natural disaster or human error.

The RESTORE (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States) Act has provided funds for the cleanup from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that greatly impacted our shores and communities. It is important that the entirety of those funds are distributed as intended to the impacted communities and that such a disaster is not repeated in the future.

Similarly, I am grateful to President Trump for maintaining the funding for the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA). This legislation provides for fair compensation to Alabama by creating revenue sharing provisions used for coastal conservation, restoration and hurricane protection.

Enjoying the beauty of mother nature along the coast also means having to recover when she turns violent.

We are unfortunately all too familiar with hurricanes and other violent storms in our area. Being prepared goes a long way to riding out the storm, but it is how we recover that defines the spirit of resilience that we have here in Alabama. When the worst does happen, I always fight to ensure that the people of Alabama have access to the necessary funds and resources to recover from those natural disasters.

I have lived my whole life in Alabama, and I believe we live in the most beautiful state in the country. Whenever I am out in nature with my kids and grandkids, hunting, fishing, or simply enjoying God’s creation, I understand why we call it “Alabama the Beautiful.”

This year, as the Spring turns into Summer, make sure you take time to enjoy nature and get out and enjoy our parks, history and everything Alabama has to offer.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

2 hours ago

Rebuild Alabama projects keep coming: Hwy 82 in Prattville and Hwy 411 in Cherokee County

(YHN, Pixabay)

Announcements of Rebuild Alabama infrastructure projects are starting to become an everyday occurrence.

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday outlined that the Alabama Department of Transportation has selected major transportation projects in Autauga and Cherokee counties as part of the Rebuild Alabama First Year Plan 2020.

“Drivers across Alabama have experienced the troubles of the state’s crumbling infrastructure for far too long. In selecting these projects in Autauga and Cherokee counties, we’re showing that stagnation is no longer the case in Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement. “For the ease of our drivers, for the safety of our drivers and for the future of our state, it’s finally time we Rebuild Alabama!”

This comes after announcements of significant projects for the Huntsville area and Tuscaloosa in recent days.

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In a cluster of Rebuild Alabama First Year Plan projects, ALDOT will widen U.S. Highway 82 in Prattville, a project that this area has long been awaiting for over 60 years. These enhancements to US 82 will shorten the daily commute of over 17,000 drivers and also complete the Prattville Bypass, according to the governor’s office.

Additionally, the widening of US 82 will improve access for loggers traveling to the International Paper plant from 18 Alabama counties. Six hundred workers from 23 Alabama counties will reportedly find increased ease in their work commutes, as this project improves access to the James Hardie Building Projects Facility and the other companies in the area.

State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), who carried the Rebuild Alabama Act in the Senate, lauded the announcement as a huge win for jobs and the community. He also emphasized that these types of projects will ultimately be transformational for the Yellowhammer State.

“These are the first steps of many that will begin the process of Rebuild Alabama. Industry is a backbone of our economic engine, and I am pleased that Governor Ivey is moving Alabama forward with these improvements,” Chambliss remarked. “I firmly believe that we will look back on 2019 as a turning point in the history of our state.”

State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville), who represents this project’s district in the House, voted against the Rebuild Alabama Act. A freshman legislator, he is currently considering a run for the U.S. Senate, as reported by Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “The Insider.”

‘Long-awaited’ project for a rural part of Alabama

In Cherokee County, ALDOT will widen U.S. Highway 411 as part of the Rebuild Alabama First Year Plan.

“The widening of US 411 has been long-awaited by the folks of Cherokee and Etowah counties, and it is vital for the economic development of this area,” State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre) said. “As we begin to see dividends from the Rebuild Alabama Act, I once again thank Governor Ivey for her leadership in its passage and look forward to continually working together in the future.”

Cherokee County is one of 16 Alabama counties currently not served by a four-lane route to an interstate. This Rebuild Alabama project will fulfill a promise that the people of this area have waited for since the early 1960s.

“I appreciate and support Governor Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama plan, including investing in rural districts,” State Rep. Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) said. “Four lane access to the interstate will greatly increase economic development opportunities for new and existing industry in our area. The people have been waiting decades for this project to be completed, and Governor Ivey is the one who is getting it done!”

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

2 hours ago

Ivey to introduce book published by Alabama nonprofit dedicated to health and literacy

(Pixabay, YHN)

As part of its HEAL Day celebration in Montgomery, an Alabama nonprofit advocating for health and literacy will host Governor Kay Ivey for the introduction of a new book written by its founder.

Ivey will read the book, written by HEAL founder and CEO Christy Swaid, to 200 children in the state capitol auditorium.

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The Ultimate Treasure Hunt is a book that Swaid hopes will help children better understand the connection between health and literacy.

HEAL is an acronym summarizing the group’s mission: Healthy Eating Active Living. According to HEAL, it is “dedicated to unifying Alabama to reverse the trend of chronic disease and poor literacy.” The organization works with 30,000 students and 85,000 family members in 153 schools across the state.

Ivey’s book reading is part of an event the group is calling “HEAL Day: A day of education & celebration of health, academic achievement and literacy in the great state of Alabama.”

Where: Alabama State Capitol
When: May 1, 10:30am-1:00pm — Governor’s presentation is set for 11:00am with book reading to follow
Watch:

HB352 seeks to save the American Dream for Alabama small business owners

(Alabama Franchisee Association/Contributed)

The American Dream.

It is woven into the fabric of our nation’s success and yet, at some point, for small business owners across Alabama, the dream of small business success that drives hardworking Alabama men and women to work 70 hour weeks, to pour their hearts and souls into building small businesses the vision of leaving something behind for their children, began to be threatened by large out of state corporate interests and under current Alabama law, there were no legal protections for those that saw their hard work, sweat, tears and dollars taken away.

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The Bush family spent nearly three decades building a successful small business in rural Elmore County. Twenty-six years ago, Darrel Bush’s parents purchased a Huddle House franchise and began the grueling task of opening a new restaurant. The restaurant grew into a success and, as they became ready, the next generation of the Bush family joined the business. Two generations of a single family were living the American Dream until the Huddle House corporation decided they wanted the profits that the Bush’s were making for themselves – cut out the small business owners that built the Huddle House name in Wetumpka.

Once the corporation had their eyes set on the Bush’s business, they used corporate bullying to drive the Bush’s out of business so that the corporation could build a company-owned Huddle House just a mile down the road. Alabama law had no protections for the Bush family and they lost the dream they had devoted their lives to achieving.

Unfortunately, the Bush family is not alone. Time after time, Alabama’s small business owners find themselves at the mercy of large out of state corporations due to our state’s weak franchisee protection laws.

Under current statute, the out of state franchisors hold all of the cards while Alabama small business owners are largely powerless to defend themselves. It is not uncommon for these franchisors to come back year after year and demand changes to franchise contracts. If the franchisees balk at agreeing to the changes, their businesses are threatened. They are often forced to purchase products at far above the fair market value, forced to make investments of their profits into systems and programs that benefit the corporation, not their small business. If a location gets too successful, they are at risk of being shut down so that a corporate owned store can open up down the street and usurp the profits for the corporation. Often, franchise owners are told that they can’t leave their businesses to their children.

Many Alabama franchisees lives in a constant state of fear.

Representative Connie Rowe (R-Walker County) is hoping to give Alabama’s small business men and women a fair playing field in the State of Alabama with HB352, the Alabama Small Business Act. The legislation, which will be heard in committee in the Alabama House of Representatives this week, will protect the rights of the state’s business owners and the 125,000 jobs they provide.

The bill gives franchisees the rights to have disputes heard in Alabama’s court system, rather than being forced to go to court in the franchisor’s home state. It would also require that franchisor corporations negotiate in good faith in their dealings with Alabama’s franchise owners.

This legislation is about more than protecting the rights of business owners. This legislation is about protecting the American Dream and that is something we should all be able to support.

4 hours ago

Alabama’s Coach Saban undergoes hip replacement surgery

(University of Alabama Athletics/Facebook)

Alabama coach Nick Saban has undergone hip replacement surgery.

Dr. Lyle Cain said Monday the 67-year-old Saban is expected to make a full recovery and “should be able to return to work in the very new future.”

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Cain says the right hip replacement was “robotic assisted” at Andrews Sports Medicine, with hip specialist Benton Emblom.

Cain says Saban could now have “a few more yards off the tee” in his golf game.

Saban said after Alabama’s spring game that his hip problems would be evaluated and that he could need six to eight weeks of recovery.

He said he wanted to get it fixed “because I don’t want to coach for one more year, I want to coach for a lot of more years.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 hours ago

Jefferson County ending misdemeanor marijuana arrests

(Jefferson County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)

Alabama’s most populous county will immediately end arrests for misdemeanors including the possession of small amounts of marijuana, officials announced Monday.

Officers will begin issuing tickets for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses rather than taking people to jail, Capt. David Agee, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, told a news conference.

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“People are always talking about criminal justice reform,” he said. “Well this is more than talk, this is action. This is big.'”

People could still wind up in jail if misdemeanor offenses are tied to more serious crimes.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway advocated curtailing arrests for small amounts of marijuana during his campaign last year.

The change will save jail space and supplies and allow officers to concentrate on more serious offenses, Agee said.

He also questioned whether young people caught with a small amount of marijuana should have to spend a night in jail.

“I think this is going to help a lot of people and get a lot of people back on track. Those who want help will be able to get help,” he said.

The state attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the change in Jefferson County, which has a population estimated by the Census at 659,300.

The change in Jefferson County came as the Alabama legislature is considering a measure that would reduce the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana meant for personal use.

The bill would make possession of less than 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana punishable by a fine instead of jail time.

An offense would be classified as a violation, a step below a misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $250.

The measure would also allow for charges to be expunged in some cases.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 hours ago

7 Things: Marsh out of U.S. Senate race as Tuberville moves up, SSN in big trouble, court battle over Trump’s financials begins and more …

(D. Marsh/Facebook)

7. “Homophobic” Facebook post leads to suspension of Madison County Sheriff’s deputy

— Madison County Deputy Jeff Graves is being disciplined for a series of comments on Facebook about the suicide of a high school student which include a meme about LGBTQ/BBQ. The more controversial comment on a Huntsville TV station’s Facebook page about a story involving a group of drag queens holding an anti-bullying event reads, “I’m seriously offended there is such a thing such as the movement. Society cannot and should not accept this behavior.” This isn’t a hateful comment. It’s rather milquetoast, but local and national media outlets have jumped on the story calling the comments “homophobic.” The Madison County Sheriff Office has launched an “audit” and stated, “The Sheriff’s Office holds all its employees to [a] high standard.” The office added, “The involved employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the audit.”

6. Surprising poll shows a majority of Alabama voters oppose removing permit requirement to conceal carry

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— Results of a poll show that 87 percent of Alabama voters support requiring a background check to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun, while 71 percent of voters oppose removing the permit requirement. If passed, Senate Bill 4 would allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit or a background check. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America released the poll and had 100 volunteers from across the state travel to the Capitol last week to voice their opinion. Judy Taylor, one of the volunteers, said, “As a responsible gun owner, I know that when we remove the permitting system that keeps our communities safe, no one wins.”

5. The U.S. will no longer exempt any countries from sanctions for importing oil from Iran

— On Monday, the Trump administration announced that sanctions waivers that expire on May 2 for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey won’t be renewed. The White House released a statement that said the intent of this decision is to bring Iran’s oil export to zero. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that they want to remove Iran’s main source of cash. U.S. officials claim not to expect a significant reduction in oil supply since the U.S. and other top oil producers have agreed to take action to assure that global demand is met as Iranian oil is removed from the market.

4. Bus driver who skipped stops fired

— The general manager of Apple Bus, which has a contract with Huntsville City Schools, announced on Monday at a school board meeting that the driver who skipped stops and was accused of refusing to let kids off the bus has been fired. The driver claimed that he skipped stops because the children were misbehaving, and he told the children that he wouldn’t stop unless they behaved. The driver also told the children that he was “taking them home to be disciplined.” The children got off the bus when the driver stopped at a red light, and police were called by witnesses who said the children were crying and scared. The driver’s name has not been released, and he will not be charged with a crime.

3. President Trump sues to block subpoena for his financial records

— On Monday, President Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit naming Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Peter Kenny, the chief investigative counsel of House Committee, as its plaintiffs. Cummings has said that he would subpoena the accounting firm Mazars USA LLC for Trump’s annual financial statements, periodic financial reports and independent auditor reports, as well as communications with Trump. Trump’s lawyers have asked the court to declare the subpoena invalid and unenforceable. They also requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prohibit Mazars from providing the requested information. Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on the issue saying that Democrats can’t get President Trump’s financial records “because they want to torment him” and went on to say that “Congress will have to state for what purpose they want this.”

2. Social Security won’t be solvent to by 2035 and will be in the red in 2020

— An annual report was released by trustees of the government’s two largest entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare. The report stated that Social Security’s trust funds will be gone by 2035. Retirees will still receive checks, but the program will only have enough funds to pay three-quarters of benefits from 2035-2093. Of course, the trustees urged lawmakers to make sure that Americans will be able to receive their full benefits. Lawmakers have avoided addressing Social Security because fixing the funding issue will likely result in higher payroll taxes, curtailing benefits or a combination of both. It’s also expected that Social Security’s cost will be higher than its income in 2020.

1. Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh says he is out of the U.S. Senate race — new poll has Tommy Tuberville in the lead

— In a move that surprises those watching the U.S. Senate race in Alabama, Marsh announced he is out, telling The Anniston Star “I’m not running, and I’ve not made any plans to run. This comes on the heels of a poll showing Marsh polling around 4 percent and trailing announced candidate Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), unannounced candidates, including two other congressmen, and Judge Roy Moore. Another poll included Tommy Tuberville that featured the former Auburn head coach leading with 23 percent of those polling choosing him. With Marsh and Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) out, this race could be far less crowded than most people expected it to be.

 

 

7 hours ago

Ad challenges Doug Jones on assertion that Boston Marathon Bomber should be allowed to vote while in jail

(Doug Jones for Senate/Facebook)

Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) partisan pledge to back whomever the Democrats nominate against President Donald Trump in 2020 is already manifesting itself as a major political – and policy – blunder by the incumbent from Mountain Brook as Jones seeks re-election of his own.

Hours after the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) erected an Alabama billboard tying Jones to far-left “socialist” healthcare plans, a new video ad was released challenging Jones to answer whether he agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), two leading contenders for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination, when they said during a CNN town hall Monday evening that the Boston Marathon Bomber and all other U.S. citizens currently serving domestic prison sentences should be allowed to vote.

Watch:

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This is not the only radical policy issue that Jones has tacitly promised to support with his blanket presidential pledge, nor could it be the last.

Expect to see Republicans continue to tie Jones to national Democratic ideas that the clear majority of Alabamians disagree with. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton 62.9 percent to 34.6 percent, which was a difference of almost 600,000 votes.

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

8 hours ago

Major bills to get committee hearings on Tuesday

(State of Alabama)

MONTGOMERY — Tuesday is expected to be an interesting day in the Alabama legislature, as respective bills dealing with the lottery and constitutional carry are set to receive committee consideration.

State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Range) lottery bill – SB 220 – and State Sen. Gerald Allen’s (R-Tuscaloosa) bill eliminating firearm permit requirements – SB 4 – are on the Senate Tourism Committee’s meeting agenda for 2:00 p.m. You can listen live here.

Additionally, State Sen. Cam Ward’s (R-Alabaster) open records reform bill, SB 237, is on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s meeting agenda for 1:00 p.m. Listen live to that here.

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Both meetings are in room 825 of the State House.

SB 220 and SB 4 have each received a public hearing in recent weeks.

SB 4’s public hearing was in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 220 is the only clean lottery legislation that has been filed this session.

SB 237 is known as the “Alabama Open Records Act.” State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) is carrying the bill in the House.

The House will gavel in at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, while the Senate will begin its legislative day at 3:00 p.m.

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

Another state legislator looking at 2020 U.S. Senate bid

(YHPN)

Episode five of “The Insider with Sean Ross” has the scoop on a new potential candidate looking at mounting a Republican 2020 U.S. Senate bid. This time, it is a state legislator who voted against the Rebuild Alabama Act, Gov. Kay Ivey’s infrastructure package that will raise the state fuel tax 10 cents over three years.

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Join Sean Ross for the inside scoop on all the latest from Goat Hill to Capitol Hill as he hosts “The Insider,” a podcast on the new Yellowhammer Podcast Network.

Episodes will be released as news breaks, so subscribe now to stay in the know on all things political in Alabama.

20 hours ago

Del Marsh not running for U.S. Senate in 2020

(Del Marsh/Facebook)

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has confirmed to Yellowhammer News that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

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This came after The Anniston Star published an interview Monday evening with Marsh saying, “I’m not running.”

Marsh, who has been one of Alabama’s most powerful people since the Republican takeover of the state legislature in 2010, was rumored for months to be a leading contender for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination this cycle.

However, Yellowhammer News had reported in recent weeks online and on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that Marsh had become significantly less likely to mount a bid.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) also confirmed recently that he will not run for Jones’ seat in 2020.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are the only announced Republican candidates thus far.

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

20 hours ago

Report: Doug Jones hires prominent pro-choice adviser as campaign manager

(J.Poor/YHN)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has picked a campaign manager for his 2020 re-election bid.

According to National Journal’s Zach Cohen, Jones has hired Cory Warfield, a Democratic operative known best perhaps for being a former adviser to Emily’s List.

Based in Washington, D.C., Emily’s List succinctly describes its mission as, “We ignite change by getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office.”

The group lobbies for “abortion rights,” spending tens of millions in major election cycles to advance its cause.

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Warfield confirmed the report on Twitter, while also using the opportunity to fundraise for Jones.

The new campaign manager also formerly ran Nevada’s 2016 Democratic presidential caucus.

This comes after Jones only raised 12 percent of his funds from Alabama donors in the first quarter of 2019.

The incumbent junior senator continues to draw heavy criticism for his coziness with D.C. special interest groups and national Democrats.

RELATED: Doug Jones touts support of abortion rights — ‘I am in favor of a woman’s freedom to choose’

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

21 hours ago

Neeysa Biddle is a 2019 Woman of Impact

(UAB/Contributed)

Neeysa Biddle is uniquely familiar with the level of sacrifice and dedication required to leave a substantial legacy. She has spent her career focused on advancing the care of the chronically ill and compromised. At an early age, she fell in love with healthcare as a radiology report transcriber and worked hard to finance her education to progress in the field.

Biddle spent the first 25 years of her career in health information management. She received her B.S. degree in Health Administration from the University of Alabama, a decision she says left a definable impact on her family.

“Sacrifices were made so that I could go back to school full-time and the jobs that followed were miles away from the home base.  But the sacrifices were evidence to our sons of the value of and appropriate timing of one’s college education,” Biddle shared with Yellowhammer News.

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Following graduation from graduate school and completion of the required residency, Biddle’s career skyrocketed, as she was named the vice-president of operations at Medical Center East in 1992 and later progressed to chief operating officer of St. Vincent’s Healthcare System in 2005.

In 2011, Biddle attempted to retire by working from home for Ascension – St. Vincent’s Health System’s parent. During that time, she helped create the National Ascension Leadership Academy, a highlight of her career as she had always wanted to be a teacher.

“This period was just so much fun!  I enjoyed interacting with national thought leaders on healthcare reform to shape the curriculum of the Academy and interacting with young executives from across the nation as they completed that course of study,” Biddle shared.

In 2014, she received an unexpected phone call from Ascension asking if she would return to St. Vincent’s in the CEO position, due to an unanticipated vacancy. She served as CEO for three years working to stabilize the leadership team and recruit a new leader. After orienting the new CEO, Biddle went to the 13-hospital system in Austin, TX, where she provided interim leadership during a period of transition and change.

As an advocate for others, Biddle is familiar with battling limitations in the corporate world. She promises not to give up her fight to ensure a brighter tomorrow for career women in our state and beyond.

“Being an encourager and supporter of women is extremely important to me, and I feel I have the responsibility to continue in the role of advocate.  I survived in a male-dominated field and did see some growing acceptance of women and the gifts they bring to leadership.  But, there is still much to do to bring about equality both personally and professionally, and it is my responsibility to make that happen,” Biddle shared.

Mrs. Biddle has been married to her high school classmate, Tommy Biddle, for 53 years. They share two sons and are overjoyed with their expanding family. It is one of her greatest joys to watch her four grandchildren grow up. Aside from spending time with her family, Biddle enjoys gardening – calling it her passion – especially in the beautiful Spring weather.

Biddle spends a great deal of time using her talents to inspire others. The American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society and the Komen Foundation are a few of the organizations very dear to her heart.

“The gift of being able to impact the lives of others in a positive way is, in my opinion, is the most meaningful of all contributions,” she told Yellowhammer News.

She loves volunteering at her church by teaching Sunday School, chairing the Administrative Council and leading the Discipleship Team. She also sings on the church’s music team and in Snead State Junior College’s Community Choir. She serves on the District Operations Team for the Mountain-Lakes District of the United Methodist Church and was a member of the inaugural class of Momentum, a women’s leadership group that continues to promote growth in leadership of the women across the state.

When reflecting on what she wishes to leave as a legacy for future generations, Biddle shared the following inspirational words: “Go for it!  Many of the limitations I experienced were self-imposed and resulted, to a large degree, from my lack of self-confidence.  My advice would be to stay open to possibilities.  Do not assume that you ‘can’t do something.’  One can do more than ever imagined if only willing to step through the door of possibility.  Be bold and prepare.  Become your very best self and the world will come to you!”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Neeysa Biddle a 2019 Woman of Impact.

The 2nd Annual Women of Impact Awards will celebrate the honorees on April 29, 2019, in Birmingham. Event details can be found here.

22 hours ago

Montgomery wins international ‘Smart City’ competition

Savio Dias, the Montgomery City/County IT Manager accepted the honor on behalf of the team during the Smart Cities Council’s annual conference and awards ceremony in San Diego. (Contributed)

The City of Montgomery last week was named one of five winners of the prestigious Smart Cities Readiness Challenge competition thanks to the collaborative efforts of Alabama Power Company, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, the city, the county, Montgomery Public Schools and military and other national defense partners.

The international competition was hosted by the Smart Cities Council and will garner global recognition, new development opportunities and access to a special year-long technology program for Alabama’s capital city

“This is another special moment – a watershed day – for our community signifying our success in capitalizing on the opportunities for growth and economic development that come through the advancement of technology across our city,” Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said in a statement Monday announcing the win.

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“But what’s even more important is our resolve to adopt practical high-tech solutions that better serve residents, add to our quality of life and expand access to the tools and technology needed for future success. We are grateful to our partners who raised their hands to join us in this venture,” the mayor added.

Montgomery formed a Smart City Committee specifically to steer the application process for the competition. The city’s application provided an overview of up-and-running projects, like the Smart City Living Lab, Star Watch, Rubicon and Open Data Montgomery, as well as future plans to use technology to impact residents – including providing free Wi-Fi access to all Montgomery students by upgrading infrastructure at local community centers.

“This award underscores recent technology and data-driven initiatives advancing Montgomery as a major player in the Smart City movement,” City IT Manager and Smart City Committee Coordinator Savio Dias said. “It also builds on our current momentum in the Smart City space, carrying it forward into the future through strategic planning.”

TechMGM, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s initiative to connect and leverage the city’s unique technology assets, was proud to partner with the entire team that worked for weeks to put the application together. TechMGM and the local chamber said that they are eager to continue to promote and invest in smart city initiatives with their many community partners.

“Montgomery is maximizing and refining the region’s existing infrastructure and physical and intellectual resources to establish innovation strategies that continue to drive demand for the city as a long-term sustainable location for investment,” TechMGM Executive Director Charisse Stokes said. “Receiving this honor reinforces our strategy to make Montgomery a smarter place to live and work.”

While vying with more than 100 major cities — as large and geographically diverse as Dallas, TX, and Jersey City, NJ — Montgomery impressed the Smart Cities Council by demonstrating a concise vision for incorporating innovative data-driven approaches in multiple projects, as well as shoring up efforts to enhance communication and collaboration with its team of regional stakeholders and community partners.

As a winner, Montgomery will receive a full-year Readiness Program, including mentoring, an outcome-oriented Readiness Workshop, a Readiness Roadmap based on its priorities and regular progress calls and follow-up workshops. Montgomery will also receive nationwide publicity as a great place to live and work, plus travel scholarships to Smart Cities Week twice per year to continue learning. To top it off, the city and its partners get access to financiers who can structure public/private partnerships and other forms of alternative financing.

Officials see this competition result as essential to attracting potential job creators and expanding the city’s high-tech workforce, according to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

The four other winners were Baltimore, MD; Edmonton, Canada; Racine, WI, and Cleantech San Diego (San Diego, CA).

This competition victory and award marks yet another technology honor for Montgomery this fiscal year. The city earned two Smart 50 Awards from Smart Cities Connect in January and the Digital Cities Survey Award by the Center for Digital Government in November.

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

22 hours ago

Does Tommy Tuberville have the inside track on the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in Alabama?

(T. Tuberville/Facebook, WH/Flickr)

A man with no political experience but a ton of name recognition won the presidency in 2016 and created a roadmap for candidates all over the country (maybe the world) to do the same thing.

Obviously, there is no comparison between President Donald Trump’s fame and that of ex-Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, but Tuberville is better known in Alabama than almost any of his would-be opponents in the race to take on U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

This could be one of the reasons we saw a poll, which did not include Tuberville, released that showed Roy Moore leading the pack that includes three congressmen and the Alabama Senate leader.

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Now, another poll is making the rounds in Alabama politics.

It shows the following:

Tommy Tuberville – 23 percent
Mo Brooks – 21 percent
Roy Moore – 20 percent
Bradley Byrne – 19 percent

Tuberville’s campaign launch appears to be based on telling people how much he loves Donald Trump.

SPOILER: He loves him a lot.

Maybe this is a solid strategy, but Luther Strange and Roy Moore both said they loved Trump and got his endorsement, but they both went on to lose.

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

Steve Harvey congratulates Alabama radio host on the launch of ‘The Joe Lockett Show’

(J. Lockett/Facebook, Wikicommons)

For Joe Lockett, the phrase “chase your dreams” is more than a cliché — it’s reality. Six years ago, inspired by comedian Steve Harvey, Lockett left his job in the construction industry with aspirations of becoming a radio host, which are now fully realized.

After years of hard work and preparation, he launched “The Joe Lockett Show” this April on WJXC 101.FM

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Lockett took to Facebook on the day of the show’s launch to thank Steve Harvey for his encouragement and inspiration.

He wrote, “I stood by Steve Harvey’s picture six years ago and said never be afraid to dream BIG. Who knew what God had in store for me and my company? I’m asking all my listeners, friends, viewers and social media followers to help me get this message to Steve Harvey or someone on his team. Why? Because I wanted to shake his hand and give him a hug and say thank you.”

The team heard about Lockett’s message and congratulated him live on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show.”

“Way to go, Joe Lockett, congratulations,” Harvey said.

Harvey followed his commendation with advice for anyone wishing to follow in Lockett’s footsteps and pursue their passion. His message? Do something you love.

“Run the race that you love to run. Wake up and chase something you love to chase. Go to bed realizing that when I wake up in the morning God willing, man I’m going to get another opportunity to get another day closer,” Harvey said.

In hopes his story will inspire others, Lockett is taking the second hour of his show, “Six 2 Six’ to help his audience take action and find their calling.

In challenging his listeners to dream, Lockett says, “I want you to think of the biggest thing that you have ever wanted to do in your life.”

Check out “The Joe Lockett Show” on WJXC 101.1, Monday to Friday from 3 – 5 p.m. Not near a radio? Listen live online at the station’s website.

1 day ago

Student anglers rescue others during fishing tournament

(Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association/Facebook)

Two young anglers competing in a high school fishing tournament rescued two other competitors whose boat was sinking on a lake in northwest Alabama.

Sardis High School 10th graders Garrett Howington and Issac Darden are being called heroes for their actions during an Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association tournament at Pickwick Lake.

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Howington and Darden were fishing on Saturday when they heard another fishing team calling for help.

They tell the TimesDaily of Florence that the back of the other boat was filling up with water.

They got close to the sinking boat and helped two students and an adult from Arab High School to safety.

No one was injured.

Kevin Walls, the coach of the fishing team Arab High School, says a boat malfunction caused the vessel to sink.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 day ago

Another Rebuild Alabama Act project confirmed: Tuscaloosa’s McFarland Blvd to be expanded

(Rebuild Alabama/Twitter)

Major infrastructure projects made possible by the recently passed Rebuild Alabama Act continue to solidify, as what used to be pipe dreams are now becoming reality.

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that the Alabama Department of Transportation is purchasing the right of way for the expansion of McFarland Boulevard (US 82) in Tuscaloosa from State Route 69 to Rice Mine Road, as part of the Rebuild Alabama First Year Plan 2020.

This is one of west Alabama’s busiest stretches of roadway, with the governor’s office advising that over 50,000 trips per day are made on this main east/west corridor through Tuscaloosa.

“Enhancing this particular section of US 82 will provide safer and more efficient travel on one of Alabama’s busiest four-lane roads,” Ivey said in a statement. “Tuscaloosa is a city known for how it has rebuilt itself, and with these necessary infrastructure projects, we will see this area thrive even more. Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas will certainly have a better future for it.”

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This is a two-phase project. Following the acquisition in the first year, construction will begin in the second year.

State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), who sponsored the Rebuild Alabama Act in the legislature, thanked the governor for her leadership, as did Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. Maddox, as the Democrats’ nominee, faced off against Ivey in the 2018 general election.

“I would like to thank Governor Ivey for her leadership to help our state improve its public safety, offer a better quality of life for our citizens and provide opportunities for future prosperity,” Poole said.

He emphasized, “This infrastructure investment will have a positive impact for not only ourselves, but also our children and grandchildren. Tuscaloosa and the surroundings areas will benefit greatly from this project on Highway 82.”

Maddox highlighted the overwhelming, bipartisan manner in which the legislation passed.

“Governor Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama Act passed with bipartisan support because job creation requires roads and bridges with the capacity to connect the present to the future,” Maddox said. “Tuscaloosa appreciates the governor’s leadership in securing this critical investment in the First Year Plan, and we look forward to working with her in strengthening our city.”

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

1 day ago

Billboard slams Doug Jones’ pledge to support ‘socialist’ Dem candidates against Trump

Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate election is off and running.

On Monday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) put up the first billboard in the Yellowhammer State during this important cycle, as they look to oust the incumbent from Mountain Brook, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL).

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The billboard can be found in Birmingham along I-59, near Roebuck Plaza where the interstate crosses over Highway 11.

It reads, “Doug Jones silent as 2,472,100 Alabamians would lose their private health insurance.”

This builds off of Jones’ blanket pledge to support the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nominee, despite many of the candidates embracing far-left policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. The billboard specifically references Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) plan that would end private health insurance for 2,472,100 Alabamians.

“Doug Jones will not get a pass from voters as he has pledged to support socialist candidates for president who would eliminate private health insurance for 2,472,100 Alabamians,” NRSC spokesperson Nathan Brand told Yellowhammer News. “Alabama voters will retire Doug Jones because they know he has consistently opposed President Trump and his agenda when it matters most.”

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are currently the only announced Republican candidates against Jones.

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

True or False: Tax dollars from Rebuild Alabama can be used to build prisons, expand state government?

(Wikicommons, YHN)

The funding raised through Rebuild Alabama is deposited in a new, separate fund called the Rebuild Alabama Fund. This fund will be audited annually by the examiner of Public Accounts to ensure there is no mismanagement.
Learn the facts.  #fixALroads

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1 day ago

Tuberville to ‘Fox & Friends’: I’m the only candidate in this race who supported Trump in this last election

(Screenshot/Fox News Channel)

During an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Monday, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate, revealed part of his strategy when asked to do so by show host Steve Doocy.

Much like he did on a radio interview on Saturday, Tuberville pledged his support for President Donald Trump.

However, Tuberville went out of his way to claim he was the “only candidate” to support Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

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“Well, first of all – you know, on I’m going to support President Trump,” Tuberville said. “I supported him from day one. I’m the only candidate in this race who supported him in this last election. I believe in him. He has a great work ethic. You know, the guy is a winner. And the things that he’s done – we need people to stand behind him – in the Senate, in Congress to help him get his agenda through.”

“But I want to help this state and Alabama,” he added. “You know, Alabama is going to grow. It’s going to really grow.”

Tuberville was likely referring to the only other formally announced candidate currently in the race, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope). The day after audio of then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump boasting about sexual misconduct surfaced in October 2016, Byrne was among a number of high-profile Republicans to call on Trump to step aside.

@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.

1 day ago

7 Things: Easter terror attack kills over 200 Christians, lottery vote may be up this week, Tuberville loves Trump and more …

(DW News/YouTube)

7. Confederate Memorial Day

— Today, some state offices will be taking the day off for Confederate Memorial Day. Alabama is one of three states that still observe a Confederate Memorial Day, along with Mississippi and South Carolina. Georgia still celebrates something on this day, calling it “State Holiday.” State offices, courts and license and car tag offices will all be closed, but most city and county offices and courts will remain open. Those with a problem with the holiday can strike a blow against this injustice by going to work.

6. Birmingham councilman Darrell O’Quinn to introduce an ordinance that would ban plastic bags

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— This month, a state legislator proposed a ban on plastic bag bans and this has motivated a city to propose one. Councilman O’Quinn’s ordinance would ban single-use containers from Birmingham retailers, including plastic bags. O’Quinn said, “We want to let the state legislature know we don’t want them to pass an unfunded mandate forcing us, the city of Birmingham, to deal with this type of waste. Plastic bags, Styrofoam cups and other forms of single-use containers are a majority of the litter that you see in the city.” How this represents an unfunded mandate is unclear.

5. State Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) wants more Alabamians to care about the conditions in our prisons

— It’s not unknown that Alabama has poor prison conditions; only a few weeks ago it was said that the conditions might be incantational. Cam Ward has been a longtime advocate for justice-system reforms, and now he wants people in Alabama to not just roll their eyes at the conditions in prisons. “It’s a disgrace to our state,” Ward said. “I know everyone says, ‘They are criminals’ and ‘Who cares?’ We profess to be the most Christian state in the country, but no Christian would allow their fellow man to be treated the way that they are said to be treated. That may not be the popular view, but it’s the truth.” However, Scott Dawson, who is a youth pastor and ran for governor last year, thinks the “eye rolling” has more to do with the cost of new prisons. Dawson stated, “The masses may ‘roll their eyes’ at the conditions of our prisons, but there’s not a group of people involved in prisons greater than Christians. The promotion of building $800 million of new prisons causes our eyes to roll, not about the conditions of the prisons.”

4. President Trump takes to Twitter to continue celebrating his win with the Mueller report

— President Trump has gotten a new boost of confidence after the Mueller report was released to the public, and he had even more confirmation that there was no collusion or obstruction. On Saturday, he tweeted, “Despite the fact that the Mueller Report should not have been authorized in the first place & was written as nastily as possible by 13 (18) Angry Democrats who were true Trump Haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself, the end result is No Collusion, No Obstruction!” Trump went on to accuse the “Fake News Media of doing everything possible to stir up and anger the pols and as many people as possible” and then declaring the Russia hoax as dead. While Democrats are still calling for further investigations or impeachment, President Trump will likely continue to celebrate his win while the media will continue to brag that their misinformation campaigns are effective.

3. Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville explains why he thinks he should be a U.S. Senator and, not surprisingly, it is because he loves Trump

— In an interview on Saturday, Tuberville didn’t explain any policy positions or goals for his potential time in office, but he did explain what motivated him to run against U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL). His motivation is based on the fact that Jones doesn’t back President Donald Trump. Citing the economy, Tuberville said, “President Trump has got the economy going.” He added, “He changed all the regulations that the previous administration had done. He has done so much for many people. He has got people working again and feeling good about themselves.” Loving Trump may sound like a good campaign strategy but both former Senator Luther Strange and Roy Moore expressed their admiration for Trump and had his endorsement, but they both lost.

2. A lottery vote is coming

— The state of Alabama is promised a vote on a lottery this week. Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has apparently picked his favorite lottery proposal and is ready to move the bill through the Tourism and Marketing Committee and before the whole Senate on Thursday. Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) proposed the bill that would limit a lottery to paper tickets, scratchers and multi-state lottery. The bill offered by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) is probably dead for the session, which means there are probably no options for “virtual lottery terminals” for existing gambling entities in operation but under scrutiny. The VLTs would replace “electronic bingo,” both of which are really just slot machines with extra steps.

1. Easter Sunday explosions in Sri Lanka at churches and hotels kill at least 290 people

— In and just outside of Sri Lanka’s capital, three churches and three hotels were bombed on Easter Sunday. At least 290 people were killed and around 500 were injured in the attacks that targeted foreigners and Christians. There were at least 27 foreign nationals killed, including people from the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already condemned the bombing as terrorist attacks, saying, “Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security.” The bombings happened almost simultaneously, and then hours later two more explosions followed. So far, 24 suspects have been arrested; officials also believe that they have found the vehicle used for transport and a safe house used by the attackers. Some in the media used this to attack Trump. Oddly, some can’t bring themselves to acknowledge who was even attacked here, Christians remain the most persecuted people on the planet.

 

University of Alabama’s CCN to create vital learning opportunities with Nursing Kid

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

Nursing Kid Simulator is a skills-based, child-sized manikin designed to train nursing students for the care and management of a variety of pediatric patients. The simulator represents a 6-year-old child and will allow students to practice numerous skills, including IV insertion, tracheal and nasogastric suctioning and wound assessment, among others.

The current pediatrics manikin at the University of Alabama’s Capstone College of Nursing, known as Pedia, has several cords that connect to a control panel to program various scenarios and can be used only in the simulation lab. Nursing Kid, on the other hand, is a standalone manikin that is portable and controlled by a computer tablet.

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“We want our faculty to be able to bring simulation-type experiences into the classroom,” said Dr. Megan Lippe, assistant professor and simulation specialist at the Capstone College of Nursing. “The new simulator will provide us more teaching flexibility and opportunities with our students.”

Being able to provide ample training opportunities for those who want to go into pediatric care is vital because many pediatric units limit what nursing students can do during clinical rotations. Nursing Kid will allow UA nursing students to hone their skills before joining the workforce.

“Pediatrics is a very specialized field,” said Jessica Johnson, clinical instructor at the Capstone College of Nursing. “While a lot of the skills translate from adults to children, the way they are implemented is very different. I feel that Nursing Kid is going to allow our students to experience that and prepare them for what they will see in the future.”

According to Johnson, about one-third of each nursing class wants to pursue a career in pediatric care. One key advantage of Nursing Kid is that it will allow more students to cycle through to practice various skills.

“Nursing Kid is designed for rapid-fire clinical techniques and it will allow us repeat skills for multiple students,” Johnson said.

The Capstone College of Nursing capitalized on a recent Universitywide crowdfunding event called Bama Blitz to help raise money to purchase Nursing Kid to meet the needs of nursing students. Dean Suzanne Prevost was thrilled with the support shown to the Capstone College of Nursing during Bama Blitz.

“We were seeking to raise $6,500 for the Nursing Kid Simulator, but were excited that individuals also supported various areas that interested them,” she said. “Now, not only will CCN be able to purchase a new pediatric simulator, but the college will also benefit in numerous additional ways because of the generosity of our donors.”

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

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Alabama House passes bill to toughen sexual abuse sentencing

(S.Ross/YHN)

The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed State Rep. Matt Simpson’s (R-Daphne) bill that would alter certain sexual abuse sentencing in the Yellowhammer State.

HB 237 deals with second-degree sexual abuse, which is currently a Class A misdemeanor. Simpson’s bill would elevate the crime to a Class C felony if the victim is 12 to 15 years old and is at least 15 years younger than the offender. A Class C felony carries with it a penalty of between one year and 10 years in jail.

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As a former assistant district attorney for Baldwin and Mobile Counties who dealt with child sex crimes, Simpson explained that his bill came from his full, firsthand understanding of the necessity for stricter sentencing for those who commit sexual abuse on young people.

“This is a simple bill to understand – if you commit sexual abuse on someone 15 years younger than you, there are going to be serious additional consequences,” he said in a statement.

“This bill helps protect our children and makes sure we’re punishing people who would seek to harm them,” Simpson added. “Keeping them behind bars for the crimes they’ve committed against children keeps our streets safer and helps give all of us greater peace of mind.”

The bill is on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s meeting agenda for Wednesday. Simpson said he is working with senators from around the state to make sure the bill passes through that chamber.

“This is common sense legislation that helps keep all of our children and grandchildren safe,” Simpson concluded.

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