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’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.
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
Del Marsh doesn’t foresee renewed COVID-19 restrictions, statewide mask requirement
In recent days, there have been rumblings of a statewide mask requirement as coronavirus numbers continue to increase around the state.
Some speculate local officials may be reluctant or unwilling to enact mask ordinances given the potential for political ramifications. Therefore, it could be the state government that would take on the burden of imposing the requirement.
During an interview with Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, State Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) seemed to dismiss that possibility. He said it would have been his preference Gov. Kay Ivey relaxed restrictions even more so than she had during her press conference earlier this week.
“I’ve been of the position, probably since day one, to let people make reasonable decisions based on the facts,” Marsh said. “I’m for getting people back to work. I’m for getting the state back to normal as quickly as possible. I’m glad that there weren’t any more restrictions put on, and if it had been my choice, I wish they would have been lifted. But it is what it is, and we’ll move forward.”
When asked about the possibility of a return of prior COVID-19 restrictions or a mask requirement, he responded that he did not see that happening.
“I don’t,” Marsh replied. “I think by and large the people of the state really do want to try to get back to work, you know, being responsible based no their situation. Some people are more high risk than others. We know who the vulnerable groups are, and we can protect those groups. But I think it is important for Alabama to get back to normal as quickly as possible, and I think we can do that.”
U.S. Supreme Court restores normal Alabama election laws ahead of July 14 runoff
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday evening moved to block an appointee of former President Barack Obama from making last-minute changes to Alabama election laws ahead of the state’s July 14 primary runoff.
As previously reported by Yellowhammer News, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama Abdul K. Kallon issued a memorandum opinion striking down certain absentee balloting requirements for the runoff. Not only did he strike down the requirements only for certain demographics, but that aspect of the order only affects three of Alabama’s 67 counties: Jefferson, Mobile and Lee. The relevant requirements are viewed by many as safeguards against voter fraud.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, as the chief elections official in the state, was named as the lead defendant in the case. He told Yellowhammer News that the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the State and the rest of the defendants in the case, would appeal Kallon’s order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
The AG’s office did indeed appeal and also asked the 11th Circuit for a stay of Kallon’s order with the runoff quickly approaching.
Last week, it was announced that a panel of three judges from the 11th Circuit denied the request for a stay.
The attorney general’s office then took the same request to the Supreme Court, directly petitioning Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.
On Thursday, SCOTUS granted a stay, which blocks Kallon’s order from taking effect at least for the near future. Democrat-appointed Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.
The case itself is still pending before the 11th Circuit on appeal. The stay granted by the Supreme Court will be in effect “pending disposition of the appeal [in the 11th Circuit].”
Additionally, should the losing side of that disposition subsequently attempt to take the appeal to the Supreme Court, the stay shall still remain in effect pending “disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought.”
“Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court,” the Supreme Court concluded on Thursday.
Merrill celebrated the stay being granted in a statement to Yellowhammer News.
“With the news that we have received a Stay in this process, I am excited that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of those who believe in strict interpretation of the Constitution and has decided to grant the Stay and not endorse legislating from the bench,” the secretary of state said.
UPDATE 10:15 p.m.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement on the Supreme Court granting the State a stay.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court acted quickly to grant the State’s emergency stay request so that Alabama’s absentee voting laws remains in effect for the upcoming July , 2020 run-off election,” Marshall said. “Alabama is again able to enforce laws that help ensure the fairness and integrity of our elections.”
“As we argued in our stay request to the Supreme Court, the district court’s injunction undermined confidence in the ongoing election by altering the anti-fraud provisions related to absentee voting,” he concluded. “Though Alabama has undertaken extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of voters during the pandemic, including making absentee voting available to every eligible voter for the upcoming runoff and giving voters more than three additional months to obtain their ballots, plaintiffs sought more by demanding that the photo ID and witness requirements be shelved for the pandemic. But the Supreme Court has previously recognized the importance of ‘safeguards … to deter and detect fraud and to confirm the identity of voters.’ And the Court has cautioned lowered courts against altering election laws on the eve of an election. We made this case to the Court, and we are gratified that the Court agreed to our request for the stay.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
“By retiring Leo III, you could cement UNA’s legacy of compassion and respect for lions, who have long represented the school’s team and traditions,” the letter continues, before asking for the live mascot tradition to be permanently ended.
“In the wake of Netflix’s wildly popular series Tiger King, the public has never been more aware of and concerned about the issues surrounding big cats in captivity. Lions are the most social of the big cats and spend their days foraging and actively defending their large territory,” the letter states. “Since he was brought to UNA as a cub, Leo III has never had that opportunity, and with Una’s passing, he faces living the remainder of his life in solitary confinement.”
A release from PETA about the letter concluded that PETA “opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview.”
“PETA is eager to help Una’s brother live out the rest of his days in a vast habitat, with a chance to be surrounded by other lions,” PETA Foundation deputy general counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet added in a statement. “Retiring Leo and ending the live-animal mascot program would show enormous respect for lions—something UNA could take pride in.”
The habitat in which Leo lives on-campus at UNA has received 15 consecutive 100% ratings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture when they make unannounced visits for inspections, according to the university.
In 2012, Leo and Una were ranked the best live animal mascot in college football; UNA was the only non-Division I institution to make the list.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
HGTV says it received over 500,000 submissions from people in over 2,600 qualifying small towns across America. Only cities with less than 40,000 residents were eligible for entry.
Wetumpka has a population of around 8,300 residents and sits about 20 minutes north of Montgomery.
Willis detailed the process Wetumpka went through to become the selected city.
“When we saw the application HGTV had … we have a team of people between our Main Street Wetumpka/Main Street Alabama program that we have, and our chamber of commerce and economic development office of the city,” Willis stated.
“We just all came together and filled out the application and submitted a video of what we have and who we are,” he continued.
Home Town Takeover’s Wetumpka season, its first ever, is set to air in six parts sometime in the year 2021.
Willis told Yellowhammer that the exact dates when the series will be produced and the extent of the budget that will be put forth by HGTV have not yet been provided.
The mayor said he’d watched the host’s previous show and “now to realize that’s coming to our hometown, and the program will be run on national TV every week, that’s exciting in itself.”
Watch the moment Wetumpka found out it would be featured on “Home Town Takeover”:
Byrne gets additional Austal ship added to FY21 NDAA, joins Brooks and Rogers in advancing key defense bill
(Bradley Byrne, Congressman Mike D. Rogers/Facebook, Congressman Mo Brooks/Flickr, YHN)
All three of Alabama’s U.S. House of Representatives members who sit on the House Armed Services Committee voted to advance the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of committee on Wednesday night.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) touted an amendment he added to the bill that authorizes $260 million for the construction of an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel at Austal USA’s plant in Mobile.
Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05) sent out a statement alerting the public to negotiations on which he had worked that helped authorize millions in military aviation funding that would benefit Redstone Arsenal and the military community in North Alabama.
Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03) stated that he was “pleased the bill included several provisions to support the further set up of the Space Force, as well as language to further the use of commercial satellite capabilities and to prioritize the hypersonic and ballistic missile tracking space sensor.”
All three congressmen expressed some reservations with the bill, which was controlled by the committee chairman, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA).
The committee ultimately advanced the bill on a vote of 56-0.
Rogers was the most forthright in his frustrations, saying on Thursday, “This is not the bill I would have written… I have particular concerns about the shortsighted change to the national emergency authority. I shared my strong opposition with this provision because it would upend the progress President Trump has made to help secure our border.”
However, he added that he did “appreciate the hard work of Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry to get us to this place.”
On the subject of the additional ship authorized to be built at Austal, Byrne commented, “It is great news for Southwest Alabama and our entire nation that the committee accepted my amendment to authorize the construction of an additional EPF at the Austal shipyard in Mobile.”
“Passage of this amendment acknowledges the critical role the 4,000 men and women at Austal Mobile play in supporting our nation’s military readiness and moving us closer to our goal of a 355-ship fleet,” Byrne continued.
Brooks expressed pride in the work done by the committee, saying, “Despite COVID19 and shutdown disruption, the Armed Services Committee successfully produced an FY21 NDAA that strengthens national security.”
He also gave out a detailed list of 27 local policy requests he helped work into the bill, which can be viewed here.
Additionally, Brooks and Rogers both highlighted the 3% pay raise to be received by all American troops as something they were quite happy with in the bill.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration, and the NDAA will need to work its way through the Senate process as well. Items authorized by a final NDAA signed into law by the president have to be separately funded through the appropriations process, as well.
Ala. Supreme Court: Jefferson County Probate Court ‘egregiously violated’ due-process rights of philanthropist Joann Bashinsky
(Joann 'Mama B' Bashinsky/Contributed, YHN)
The Supreme Court of Alabama on Thursday released a unanimous, scathing opinion outlining that the Jefferson County Probate Court “egregiously violated” the “basic due-process rights” of Joann Bashinsky, heiress to the Golden Flake fortune and one of the state’s most beloved philanthropists.
As previously reported by Yellowhammer News, Bashinsky has been deprived of controlling her own assets, managing her own personal affairs and making her own legal decisions since October due to orders issued then by recently retired Jefferson County Presiding Probate Judge Alan King, a Democrat.
This came after former allies and employees of Bashinsky, the wife of Golden Flake’s founder, allegedly moved to try seizing the fortune – currently estimated to be worth $200 million – through having her declared mentally unfit to manage her finances.
King on October 17 granted an “emergency petition” and appointed a temporary conservator and guardian who took control of Bashinsky’s vast fortune and personal affairs. Affectionally known as “Mama B,” she was removed from being chairman of the board of directors of her family’s company and charitable foundation and has been living on an allowance dictated and controlled by the temporary conservator.
However, in their Thursday opinion, written by Associate Justice Brad Mendheim, the Supreme Court exposed the stunning legal errors that precluded King’s decision. Perhaps the top issue on which the justices focused their 56-page opinion pertained to King removing Bashinsky’s legal team — and not allowing her to replace them — before he made his October ruling.
The Supreme Court ultimately overturned King’s order granting the emergency petition. The justices voided the appointment of a temporary guardian and conservator for Bashinsky, as well as the order disqualifying Bashinsky’s counsel. The Supreme Court ordered the Jefferson County Probate Court “to require the temporary guardian and conservator to account for all of Ms. Bashinsky’s funds and property, and to dismiss the emergency petition.”
Among their disturbing findings, the Supreme Court advised “that no ’emergency’ was presented in [the October emergency hearing].” The opinion later added that “the allegations raised in the emergency petition and the facts presented in the hearing on that petition clearly did not constitute an ’emergency.'”
However, the manner in which the probate court handled the petition and hearing was scrutinized even more.
For example, although deemed an “ultimately harmless error” in the opinion, the Supreme Court noted that Bashinsky was not properly served with notice of the emergency petition.
Incredibly, King contended, according to the opinion, that no notice is even required to be provided to the person an emergency petition is filed against and that the subsequent emergency hearing on said petition may be held ex parte. This means that, in King’s view, not only does the individual not have to be present to have their livelihood taken away, that person is not entitled to representation by counsel at a hearing on an emergency petition, either.
“[Representation and case-presentation rights delineated by Alabama law], and Ms. Bashinsky’s basic due-process rights, were egregiously violated, as the probate court treated the proceeding like an ex parte hearing even though Ms. Bashinsky was present,” the opinion advised. “But the problems with the probate court’s disqualification of Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys extend even beyond basic constitutional due process and the procedures afforded [by specific Alabama law].”
The opinion continued to make a shocking conclusion: King had decided how to rule on the case before even hearing the case, violating “fundamental fairness” along the way.
The probate court disqualified Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys primarily based upon Rules 1.7 and 1.9 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. Both of those rules expressly state that the conflicts of interest described therein can be waived by the client if the client is made aware of the conflict and still elects to have the attorney continue the representation. Yet, there is no indication that the probate court asked Ms. Bashinsky at any point during the October 17, 2019, hearing whether she was aware of her attorneys’ alleged conflicts of interest. This fact suggests that the probate court had already decided that Ms. Bashinsky was not competent to make her own decisions because the court assumed for itself the duty of determining that the alleged conflicts could not be waived. In other words, the probate court’s disqualification of Ms. Bashinsky’s counsel at the outset of the October 17, 2019, hearing indicated prejudgment of the very question at issue in that hearing: Whether Ms. Bashinsky’s competence was sufficiently in question to warrant appointment of a temporary guardian and conservator.
Moreover, the manner in which the probate court handled the issue of the motion to disqualify Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys — granting the motion and then choosing to proceed directly with the hearing on the issue of Ms. Bashinsky’s competence — created an unnecessary complication that was highlighted by the probate court’s subsequent scheduling of a hearing in January 2020 to discuss how Ms. Bashinsky’s new attorneys were to be selected. That is, because the probate court disqualified Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys and then declared Ms. Bashinsky to be incompetent, it raised the specter that she cannot enter into a contract to hire new counsel to represent her interests in this matter. This complication would have been avoided if the probate court had followed basic procedures of due process and fundamental fairness with respect to Ms. Bashinsky.
The opinion further said that “Bashinsky’s constitutional and statutory rights of due process were also violated through a deprivation of counsel and a lack of opportunity to present evidence and argument before the probate court.”
It was not immediately clear if this was the first and only case in which King oversaw these types of due process violations. He was a probate judge for almost 20 years, just retiring this spring. His successor was appointed earlier this week by Governor Kay Ivey.
A permanent petition also attempting to declare Bashinsky not mentally fit to manage her own finances and affairs is still pending before the probate court; that petition has not been acted upon by the probate court since being filed, so the Supreme Court wrote that there was nothing they could possibly reverse regarding the permanent petition at this time.
It should be noted that Bashinsky previously released a letter from her personal physician, Dr. Robert Spiegel, stating that she does “does not have dementia nor psychiatric issue.”
“She has had a recent side effect to a medication. She is competent to make decisions for herself,” the doctor wrote.
According to a previous email from Bashinsky, she has additionally undergone psychological testing from renowned University of Alabama psychologist Dr. Rebecca S. Allen, who also reportedly concluded that Bashinsky does not suffer from dementia.
In a statement to Yellowhammer News reacting to the Thursday Supreme Court opinion, Bashinsky said, “I am happy and feel vindicated by the Supreme Court’s ruling. It’s sad that two former employees could use our court system to steal my freedom. It should have never happened and anyone who does this should be held accountable.”
(Barry Moore Republican for Congress, Jeff Coleman for Congress/Facebook, YHN)
Both competitors to be the Republican nominee in Alabama’s Second Congressional District to replace Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who chose not to seek reelection, have picked up a number of endorsements in recent days.
Former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) received support from one former and three current state legislators, along with the Alabama Republican Assembly.
Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman has recently received support from three mayors in the district along with a collection of over 50 farmers.
Coleman has now taken a wide lead among support from mayors across Alabama’s Second Congressional District, but Moore has received the first support from state legislators.
The district encompasses parts of the Montgomery area and most of the Wiregrass region in the southeast corner of the state.
Moore’s campaign was endorsed by State Reps. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka), Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery) and Terri Collins (R-Decatur) along with former Rep. Barry Mask (R-Alexander City).
Holmes and Meadows represent areas inside AL-02, and Collins is familiar to many conservatives across the state for being the lead sponsor on the Human Life Protection Act, Alabama’s strongest-in-the-nation abortion ban the legislature passed in 2019.
Coleman has been endorsed in recent days by Mayors Frankie Lindsey of Geneva, Terry Holley of Florala and Johnny Hammock of Tallassee.
Together, the three mayors represent around 15,400 Second District constituents.
Coleman adds this group of four mayors to a list that already included Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba, along with Mayors Dexter McClendon of Greenville, Bob Bunting of Ozark, Jayme Stayton of Daleville, Ed Beasley of Luverne, Jack Tibbs of Eufaula and Earl Johnson of Andalusia.
In addition to the mayors, Coleman this week added support from over 50 farmers across the district, including prominent ALFA leaders Steve Dunn and George Jeffcoat. ALFA’s political arm threw its support behind Coleman earlier in 2020.
Moore has also been endorsed by the Alabama Republican Assembly (ARA), a group that bills itself as the “the Republican Wing of the Republican Party,” in recent days.
Moore and Coleman face each other in the Republican Primary Runoff on July 14.
Update 1:10 p.m:
A previous version of this story said that Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley was endorsing Jeff Coleman. That information had been provided by the Coleman campaign, however Mayor Kelley contacted Yellowhammer News to say he had not in fact endorsed anyone in the race and was focusing on his own reelection. The story has been updated accordingly.
Alabama Futures Fund uses investment to recruit trucking tech company to Alabama
The Alabama Futures Fund (AFF) announced on Wednesday that the trucking technology company True Load Time will be relocating to Birmingham after the AFF made an investment in the firm.
True Load Time created and operates software that allows truck drivers, dispatchers, freight brokers and supply chain professionals to search for the average loading and unloading times at facilities before booking.
The company says the information on loading and unloading times provided by their platform allows members of the freight-moving industry to make better decisions that improve the efficiency of their operation.
The Alabama Futures Fund often makes seed and early-stage investments in “companies that are willing to relocate their headquarters and principal business operations to Alabama,” according to a release from the group.
Kevin Nadeau, founder and CEO of True Load Time, said in a statement that he and his team are “excited to enter the next phase of business development alongside the AFF team.”
“Their depth of knowledge, community connections, and sincere enthusiasm for our vision and product created the foundation for a great partnership. Birmingham’s geographic location on the southern end of one of the busiest freight corridors in the country, as well as its thriving entrepreneurial, technology, and supply chain ecosystem made relocating there a win-win scenario for the True Load Time team,” he added.
True Load Time was originally based in Greenville, South Carolina, before the relocation announced Wednesday.
Matt Hottle of RedHawk Advisory is currently serving as the investment manager for the Alabama Futures Fund.
Hottle said on Wednesday, “We recognize valuable technology targeting the fragmented and underserved owner-operator market represents a huge opportunity. Mostly, we are excited about the opportunity to partner with Kevin and his team who have leveraged their vast industry experience to solve an important problem. True Load Time is a compelling investment opportunity and we are excited to see them move to Birmingham as the newest AFF portfolio company.”
In a few days, America will celebrate her 244th birthday.
Traditionally, many towns and cities around the country light up the night with fireworks and music festivals. In 1776, John Adams predicted that Independence Day would be “celebrated by succeeding generations” with “pomp and circumstance … bonfires and illuminations.”
However, largely because of COVID-19, this year’s observance of our country’s birth will likely be a bit more subdued than previous years. While unfortunate, this is certainly understandable.
Today – and very likely in the days that will follow – instead of talking about what unites us as one nation – other conversations will occur that are, quite frankly, a bit more difficult and challenging.
My personal hope – and prayer – for this year’s 4th of July is that the marvel of our great country – how we started, what we’ve had to overcome, what we’ve accomplished and where we are going – isn’t lost on any of us.
We are all searching for “a more perfect union” during these trying and demanding days.
Over the past several weeks, our nation has been having one of those painful, yet overdue, discussions about the subject of race.
The mere mention of race often makes some people uncomfortable, even though it is a topic that has been around since the beginning of time.
Nationally, a conversation about race brings with it the opportunity where even friends can disagree on solutions; it also can be a catalyst to help total strangers find common ground and see things eye-to-eye with someone they previously did not even know.
Here in Alabama, conversations about race are often set against a backdrop of our state’s long – and at times – ugly history on the subject.
No one can say that America’s history hasn’t had its own share of darkness, pain and suffering.
But with challenge always comes opportunity.
For instance, Montgomery is both the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the cradle of the Confederacy. What a contrast for our Capital City.
The fact is our entire state has, in many ways, played a central role in the ever-evolving story of America and how our wonderful country has, itself, changed and progressed through the years.
Ever since the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, thousands of Alabamians – of all races, young and old – have taken to the streets of our largest cities and smallest towns in protest to demand change and to seek justice.
These frustrations are understandable.
Change often comes too slowly for some and too quickly for others. As only the second female to be elected governor of our state in more than 200 years, I can attest to this.
Most of us recognize that our views on issues such as race relations tend to grow out of our own background and experiences. But, fortunately, our views can change and broaden as we talk and learn from each other.
As a nation, we believe that all people are created equal in their own rights as citizens, but we also know that making this ideal a reality is still a challenge for us.
Even with the election of America’s first African-American president 12 years ago, racial, economic and social barriers continue to exist throughout our country. This just happens to be our time in history to ensure we are building on the progress of the past, as we take steps forward on what has proven to be a long, difficult journey.
Folks, the fact is we need to have real discussions – as an Alabama family. No one should be under the false illusion that simply renaming a building or pulling a monument down, in and of itself, will completely fix systemic discrimination.
Back in January, I invited a group of 65 prominent African-American leaders – from all throughout Alabama – to meet with me in Montgomery to begin having a dialogue on issues that truly matter to our African-American community in this state. This dedicated group – known as Alabama United – is helping to bring some very legitimate concerns and issues to the table for both conversation and action.
As an example, Alabama will continue to support law enforcement that is sensitive to the communities in which they serve. We have thousands of dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our state every single day. But we can – and must – make certain that our state’s policies and procedures reflect the legitimate concerns that many citizens have about these important issues.
I am confident all these conversations – and hopefully many more – will lead to a host of inspirational ideas that will lead to a more informed debate and enactment of sound public policy.
We must develop ways to advance all communities that lack access to good schools, jobs, and other opportunities. As governor, I will continue to make education and achieving a good job a priority – it distresses me that some of our rural areas and inner cities face some of the greatest challenges in education.
There are other critical issues that must be addressed, and I will continue to look for solutions along with you.
Everyone knows government cannot solve these problems alone. Some of the greatest solutions will come from private citizens as well as businesses, higher education, churches and foundations. Together, we can all be a part of supporting and building more inclusive communities.
In other words, solving these problems comes from leaning on the principles that make us who we are – our faith – which is embodied in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
My beliefs on how to treat people were shaped in Wilcox County and my faith was developed at the Camden Baptist Church.
The bible tells us over and over that our number one goal is to love God with all of one’s heart and then to love our neighbor as we love our self. That is what I strive to do every day.
When anyone feels forgotten and marginalized, compassion compels us to embrace, assist and share in their suffering. We must not let race divide us. We must grow and advance together.
Being informed by our past, let us now carefully examine our future and work towards positive change. Together, we can envision an Alabama where all her people truly live up to the greatness within our grasp. We cannot change the past or erase our history… But we can build a future that values the worth of each and every citizen.
So, in closing, my hope and prayer for our country as we pause to celebrate America’s 244th birthday, is that we make the most of this moment.
As for our state, let’s make this a time to heal, to commit ourselves to finding consensus, not conflict, and to show the rest of the nation how far we have come, even as we have further to go.
These first steps – just as we are beginning our third century as a state – may be our most important steps yet.
This is our time, Alabama. May God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama.
7 Things: Mandatory masks calls are growing for Governor Ivey, Trump is ‘all for masks,’ cases keep going up in Alabama and more …
7. Don’t worry, Adam Schiff is on the case
Today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) will be briefed on the reports that Russia put bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, which comes just after Democrats were briefed at the White House on this very issue.
The intelligence reports that have come out on the bounties have left unanswered questions, and while Russia has denied the allegations, there have still been conflicting reports on whether President Donald Trump was originally briefed on the issue because of the legitimacy of the intelligence was always in doubt.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has announced that the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington, has been disbanded, adding that “Seattle has been liberated.” She emphasized that “in President Trump’s America, autonomous zones will have no sanctuary.”
McEnany also said that “CHAZ was a failed four-week Democrat experiment by the radical left.” She added that “law and order” has been restored, and while the Democrat leadership in these areas let these issues drag on, President Donald Trump couldn’t let it go on any longer.
5. Doug Jones is campaigning on wearing a mask
A new reelection ad for U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has been released called “For Each Other,” where he encourages people to wear masks to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus throughout the state.
In the ad, he says, “Wearing masks and social distancing is about protecting each other.” He goes on to explain how wearing masks can help keep those with underlying health conditions from getting the virus and emphasized that we need to do this “so our small businesses open safely and get our economy moving.”
4. Children in Huntsville hospitalized
While the coronavirus tends to not affect children as severely as the elderly community, they’re still not immune to the virus as there are now five children at Huntsville Hospital fighting the virus.
Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers detailed that one of the children is a four-month-old infant and another is a four-year-old cancer patient. Spillers is encouraging people to wear face masks, adding that “it’s time to think about others when you resist wearing face coverings.”
3. Cases continue to rise
Alabama hospitalizations for the coronavirus have been at a record high for two days now, with the most recent number of people hospitalized reaching 776, which is 61 new hospitalizations in one day.
While disturbing news of parties in Tuscaloosa where kids tried to catch the virus made national news, there were 21 new deaths, making the total 947. There was a daily increase of 906 cases, making the overall case count 38,442. Since March 13, there have been 2,803 hospitalizations.
2. Trump says wearing a mask is good when needed
In what is a clear shift by President Donald Trump, the president is now saying he would have “no problem” with wearing masks at public events where it makes sense.
Trump also weighed in on the calls for mandatory mask ordinances, saying he doesn’t think they are needed but that he is “all for masks” and that he “thinks masks are good.”
1. “Face masks are coming”
Coronavirus cases continue to rise, and Madison County has seen a surge in recent days. Now, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is considering a mandatory mask ordinance to help prevent the spread of the virus. Battle simply said that “[f]ace masks are coming,” adding he hopes to see Governor Kay Ivey look toward a state requirement.
Mobile is getting in on the act early, but Councilman John Williams, the single “no” vote, made it clear that he is for masks but against making them mandatory. He advised, “I think you need to wear a mask. I just simply don’t think this ordinance is going to make people wear them.”
State Rep. Sorrell elected to chair Alabama delegation at the RNC; Says Gov. Ivey cited ‘potential’ special session as reason for not running
Last weekend at a meeting of those set to serve in the Alabama delegation for the Republican National Convention later this summer in Charlotte, N.C. and Jacksonville, Fla., State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) won an election over Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker to serve as the delegation chairman.
Although Sorrell’s selection to serve as chairman was a surprise to some, it has solidified his position as one of the Alabama Republican Party’s rising stars.
During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Sorrell reacted to the honor, adding it did help that one of the other delegates was also his wife, Hannah Sorrell.
“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have received the vote from the other 49 Trump delegates,” he said. “Of course, it always helps when you and your wife are two of the delegates. So you know you got two votes going in. It was a real exciting opportunity because Kay Ivey announced three weeks ago she was not going to run for delegation chairman. And typically, your delegation chairman is going to be a U.S. Senator or a governor or, at the very least, a congressman. So really, this was a unique opportunity for a little more of a normal guy like myself to be able to step up and run for this position. And I can begin to tell you how thrilled I am to have the opportunity to serve the other Trump delegates.”
Sorrell said he did not know the exact vote totals that led to his election as delegation chairman. However, he said some of the delegates recognized his conservative voting record as a state legislator.
The Colbert County Republican lawmaker said if Ivey were able to attend, he would instead introduce Ivey and may let her present the delegates. Otherwise, convention viewers will hear Sorrell as the voice of the Alabama delegation at the convention.
“In the absence of the governor showing, I’ll be the one who gets to announce — hopefully on national television, that Alabama is casting its 50 delegates for Donald J. Trump,” he said.
Later, Sorrell discussed the possibility of a special session of the legislature later this year. Sorrell revealed one of the reasons cited by Ivey for not seeking the position was because of the possibility of a special session.
“One of the reasons Ivey announced she was not going to seek the position of delegation chairman was because of a ‘potential upcoming legislative special session,'” he said. “I do think that she is leaning that way. I don’t have any kind of inside information on when or how long it will be or what the topics will be. I would be surprised if we don’t see at least one, if not two special sessions called before the year is out. The only caveat to that being — if coronavirus cases continue to escalate, I think that could force her to just put it off.”
The bus has been a staple of Tuberville’s “The People vs. The Swamp” campaign tour across Alabama during this election cycle.
In a statement to Yellowhammer News later in the evening, Tuberville campaign manager Paul Shashy said, “Coach Tuberville’s candidacy has obviously caught fire with voters…and our bus has, too. We are thankful that no one was hurt in the incident and for the remarkable first responders who assisted immediately. The fire occurred on a test drive shortly after maintenance.”
Tuberville will face former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on July 14 in Alabama’s Republican senatorial primary runoff. The GOP nominee will go on to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
Army secretary visits Dynetics facility in Huntsville — ‘What you do protects our way of life’
HUNTSVILLE — Secretary of the United States Army Ryan McCarthy visited a facility in Huntsville on Wednesday. He talked about the necessity of cutting edge military technology and thanked employees for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.
The location McCarthy visited, the Dynetics MidCity Aerospace Integration Facility, is a new satellite building of Dynetics in Huntsville that is still under construction.
The facility will construct Hypersonic Glide Body for missiles that will be able to travel the distance between Huntsville and Los Angeles in under 13 minutes according to Paul Turner, the project manager at Dynetics who oversees the facility.
McCarthy said the military needed weapons like the ones produced in part in Huntsville “to ensure that we have the technological margin on the battlefield to win for decades to come.”
Tuesday was the 46th anniversary of Dynetics’ founding. The company, purchased in 2019, is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leidos Incorporated.
The MidCity expansion is due to completed by year’s end, according to Turner. The exact details of the manufacturing and production that will take place inside is classified by the federal government.
Details provided to the press say that the building will have an environmental testing lab for examining the effects certain conditions have on manufactured materials. The facility will also see an amount of assembly, production and integration of some of the most advanced hypersonic weapons in the military’s arsenal.
Hypersonic weapons can travel at MACH 5, five times faster than the speed of sound, or about 13,000 miles per hour.
The building is 190,000 square feet and will be used entirely for classified manufacturing and assembly.
Displayed outside of the facility on Wednesday was the type of truck that would transport and provide launching capabilities for the hypersonic weapons manufactured in part at the new Dynetics facility.
Before the weapons assembled in Huntsville are ready for integration into the military’s arsenal they are shipped to a Lockheed Martin facility in Portland, Oregon, where they undergo a final set of integrations according to Turner.
The goal is to have them deployed on the battlefield by 2023, he added.
“The reason why I wanted to come down here was to thank all of you for enduring the hardships of this COVID-19 pandemic,” said McCarthy to the assembled Dynetics employees on Wednesday.
Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), who represents the district containing the new Dynetics plant, told Yellowhammer News he would like to “thank Secretary McCarthy for taking the time out of his busy schedule to see the Tennessee Valley’s important and exceptional national security work on missile defense, hypersonics weapons, directed energy and the like.”
Brooks said he was voting on defense bills in Washington so he could not be there in person, but Brooks added that he was glad that it was being acknowledged that “[m]any of the world’s best engineers, scientists, and professionals make up the Redstone Arsenal community” in Huntsville.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) tweeted, “[Secretary of the Army McCarthy’s] visit to Dynetics in Huntsville highlights the critical role Alabama plays in defending our nation. Proud the [United States Army] is prioritizing the development of hypersonic systems and pleased Secretary McCarthy saw firsthand the progress being made in our state.”
Secretary McCarthy himself was bullish on the United States’ fight against the coronavirus during his speech.
“Our researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Development Command are central to the vaccine development, and grinding towards an outcome where we’re going to have advance therapeutics and vaccines delivering at scale to the American people by the late fall of this year,” McCarthy told the audience.
McCarthy acknowledged that the wait between now and late fall was going to feel like a long time.
“Hard times don’t last, hard people do,” he said near his conclusion.
Alexander Shunnarah donates 777 pizzas to frontline workers at two Alabama hospitals
Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. recently participated in a national challenge to feed frontline heroes across the United States.
A release from Shunnarah’s firm outlined that many essential workers are frequently working long hours while risking their own health and safety during these difficult times — so the firm wanted to do something to show their appreciation.
The challenge – for law firms to purchase 777 pizzas from their local pizzerias to feed frontline workers — was initially started by Larry Nussbaum of Boston’s Nussbaum Law Group, PC.
The number is a nod to the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which codifies the right to a jury trial in certain civil cases and inhibits courts from overturning a jury’s findings of fact.
“Participating in this challenge was a true honor and small token of our firm’s appreciation for healthcare staff in our community and across the nation,” Shunnarah said in a statement.
“With this challenge we were able to help local restaurants and our frontline heroes who have been going above and beyond the call of duty throughout this pandemic,” he added.
Shunnarah accepted this challenge from Laborde Earles in Lafayette, Louisiana. After completing it in Birmingham, Shunnarah challenged Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki in New Orleans, as well as Disability Attorneys of Michigan.
Dale Jackson: Requiring cloth coverings is a violation of your freedom? No, please wear a mask when prudent
(Dale Jackson/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)
As a conservative commentator, columnist, TV host and radio host I have had my fair share of run-ins with callers, guests, friends and enemies alike who insist that wearing a cloth covering over their face is a violation of some non-existent right to not have their pie-hole covered.
Show me where it is in the Constitution — either the United States or 1901 Alabama Constitution — and we can talk.
You can’t, so we won’t.
What I will do is tell you where all of this is heading if we don’t pull our heads out of the sand and start wearing masks in larger numbers — like we did when all of this started.
Your city, town and the State of Alabama will at some point mandate the wearing of masks.
(a) A person commits the crime of public lewdness if:
(1) He exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act; or
(2) He does any lewd act in a public place which he knows is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed.
(b) Public lewdness is a Class C misdemeanor.
Is your nose the same as your genitals? No.
Is your mouth the same as your anus? No.
Now, I am not a simple small-town southern lawyer, but I think that I could probably rationalize a similar law for the part of your body that expels droplets that contain the coronavirus.
Should they? No.
Mandatory mask ordinances and orders are a bad idea because they are generally unenforceable, but the ignorant resistance to this is just as asinine.
I’ve been told masks cut oxygen and cause people to pass out.
This is clearly not true. The guy working at Walmart wears a mask eight hours a day, and he can power through it.
I’ve been told rape victims and people with autism can’t wear masks.
Let’s ignore that. Even if true, this has nothing to do with the science and is just a ridiculous red herring. This is not about 100% compliance.
I have been told that the surgeon general said not to wear masks early on in this pandemic.
1. The numbers
2. The understanding of the virus
3. The availability of PPE
The government shouldn’t be in the business of policing this, because it would require the police to make this work.
But what about our new socially conscious corporations? They are all about performative wokeness and their ham-fisted statements about “Pride” and #BlackLivesMatter this month, right?
If they really believe that #BlackLivesMatter (or #AllLivesMatter), they should require people to wear masks inside their stores. Obviously, this puts the enforcement on an hourly retail employee and places their employees against an army of people who don’t know what they are talking about.
Go on social media, and see how reasonable those people are.
But if they believe this is important, make these people act out. Shame them.
Here is the bottom line: All the people who refuse to wear masks in indoor public-settings have nothing on their side except the willingness to be stubborn.
The anti-mask crowd and the folks rioting in the streets are very similar in attitude, but the anti-mask crowd doesn’t have the guts to actually do anything.
They express it online and on social media, but they are an obnoxious minority, and anonymity breeds stupidity. But the Internet is not real life.
Overall, 65% of U.S. adults say that they have personally worn a mask in stores or other businesses all or most of the time in the past month, while 15% say they did this some of the time. Relatively small shares of adults say they hardly ever (9%) or never (7%) wore a mask in the past month, and 4% say they have not gone to these types of places.
Polling shows most Americans support wearing masks, but more should be doing it. Unfortunately, those that need to be convinced are unwilling to be reasoned with.
This attitude only drags out this issue, makes it worse, and damages our state further.
Also, President Donald Trump disagrees with this line of thinking, and agrees with me.
Trump to Fox Business Network, amid rising Republican pressure: "I’m all for masks. I think masks are good." Says he has worn them on occasion and thinks he looks good in them
As we continue to be without sports, hopefully for not much longer, the guys talk about their favorite Auburn nicknames from “Smoke” to the “Round Mound of Rebound.” They also discuss some of the recent happenings in recruiting, Auburn transfer news and Jared Harper’s new team.
Please note: As usual, this episode was recorded right before something newsworthy happened in the Auburn realm, so Cam Newton to the Patriots will be addressed in the next one.
Birmingham’s Lee Styslinger praises Trump’s USMCA taking effect — ‘Historic chapter for North American trade’
Altec Chairman and CEO Lee Styslinger III on Wednesday announced his endorsement of the formal implementation and “Entry Into Force” of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the historic trade deal negotiated by President Donald Trump’s administration that replaces NAFTA.
Altec, headquartered in Birmingham, is a leading equipment and service provider for the electric utility, telecommunications, contractor, lights and signs and tree care markets. The Alabama company provides products and services in more than 100 countries across the globe.
Not only does Styslinger bring his experience running Altec to the table, but the respected businessman also currently serves as a member of the Business Roundtable, a board member of the National Association of Manufacturers and a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Additionally, he was a key member of President George W. Bush’s Export Council and was responsible for advising Bush on government policies and programs that affected U.S. trade performance and export expansion opportunities.
Styslinger is a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), providing policy and procedural advice on trade to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Trump administration. For the past 18 months, Styslinger has been working closely with USTR Robert Lighthizer and ACTPN members to help finalize USMCA.
He was previously vocal in calling on Congress to ratify the important trade deal, which they soon thereafter did. USMCA went into effect on Wednesday, July 1.
“The formal implementation and ‘Entry Into Force’ of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is an important milestone and historic chapter for North American trade,” Styslinger said in a statement.
“USMCA will provide more balanced, reciprocal trade along with a modernized approach to market access, intellectual property, manufacturing, digital trade, financial services and labor,” he explained. “These enhancements will create more jobs, expand market access and generate new opportunities for American workers. The implementation of this trade agreement comes at a critical time as the U.S. economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill on Wednesday also released a statement of his own lauding USMCA taking effect.
“Alabama’s international engagement fuels job growth and increases exports. The success of Alabama businesses depends on the participation and competitiveness of our global counterparts. Alabama totaled $6.6 billion in exports to Canada and Mexico in 2018, supporting families and businesses across the state,” Merrill said. “I was delighted to join President Donald J. Trump in January of this year as he signed this mutually beneficial agreement, and I look forward to its future success.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
Doug Jones releases campaign ad urging Alabamians to wear masks, social distance — ‘Our health depends on each other’
(Doug Jones for Senate/YouTube)
U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) 2020 reelection campaign on Wednesday posted a new video ad entitled, “For Each Other.”
The 30-second spot encourages Alabamians to wear masks and social distance amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Jones narrates the entire ad himself, saying, “The COVID crisis has shown how our health depends on each other, on our neighbors, our loved ones, our co-workers.”
“Wearing masks and social distancing is about protecting each other, our parents and grandparents, the friend who has diabetes or a heart condition we didn’t know about, the front-line workers who put themselves at risk, and so our small businesses open safely and get our economy moving,” he continues.
“[I]n Alabama, we do this for each other,” the senator concludes, while putting on a mask.
This comes after Jones last week released his first TV ad of the cycle; that spot centered on racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.
The Jones campaign is currently running TV ads across all of the state’s media markets. Public FCC filings showed that “For Each Other” was at least scheduled to traffic for a portion of Jones’ latest ad buy.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
Special unit to treat nursing home patients with COVID-19 to serve Jefferson County
The University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Jefferson County Commission, in conjunction with NHS Management, will establish a special 25-bed unit to treat patients from nursing home facilities who have COVID-19. The unit will be housed in a wing of the Aspire Physical Recovery Center at Hoover, operated by NHS Management. The establishment of the unit is the first step in a larger plan to assist the community in managing and mitigating the pandemic.
The unit is designed to isolate nursing home residents who test positive and are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, while providing the appropriate level of skilled nursing care that those patients require.
“The unit will continue our mission to provide evidence-based care for these vulnerable patients across the care continuum,” said Kellie Flood, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care. “Our goal is to provide them with the same care elements they receive regularly in their skilled nursing environments, such as rehabilitation, during these unprecedented times. We are also partnering with our infectious disease, infection prevention and PPE experts to provide this unit’s team with best practices for COVID-19 management and processes to keep team members safe.”
The Aspire facility has a separate wing that will be used for the unit, with a separate entrance and ventilation system. Nursing staff for the unit will be coordinated and trained by UAB.
“Nursing home residents have special needs, and for those with mild illness from the virus, an acute care hospital is not necessarily the right environment,” said Tony Petelos, Jefferson County manager. “This program will blend the hospital and skilled nursing environments to make sure all their needs are met.”
The unit will also ease pressure on hospitals that are facing a surge in COVID-19 patients by freeing up beds for acutely sick patients. It will also help reduce the potential spread of infection within a skilled nursing facility by providing a transition of care for patients who cannot be isolated in their home facility.
The unit will begin accepting patients in early July. On June 25, the Jefferson County Commission voted to allocate up to $1.9 million of its Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation — money received through the CARES Act — in support of this initiative.
“Our team at NHS Management is excited about this cooperative venture with one of the nation’s flagship health care institutions,” said Nick Beckham, regional director of NHS. “This effort will bring new resources to the fight our dedicated staff members have been waging against this virus and will provide additional options for the residents in our care. With the virus so prevalent in our community, this program allows us to be proactive instead of reactive in our fight. NHS believes this collaborative venture can become a best-practices model for the nation.”
“This unit is the first step of a broader collaboration between the UAB Health System, the Alabama and Jefferson County health departments, local area hospitals, and our affiliated nursing homes, to create a care continuum structure to develop a prevention and mitigation plan to respond to potential nursing home outbreaks of COVID-19 in Jefferson County,” said Brian Spraberry, chief administrative officer for the UAB Health System.
That plan will establish a line of communication with representatives from acute care, post-acute care, public health, the Alabama Nursing Home Association and Alabama
Hospital Association with the following goals:
Coordinate consistent infection-control practices and provide practical guidelines for PPE utilization and conservation for both the COVID unit and community collaborative.
Create a centralized process to track and test nursing home residents and employees to help inform and implement surveillance protocols for persons under investigation (PUI) by using a reporting structure through the county EMA or other such monitoring protocols as available.
Create a four-stage response plan to mitigate any resurgence occurring in the Jefferson County region to include exposure notification, PPE utilization, infection control, testing protocols and staffing.
UAB proposes to create an assessment team to provide consulting services to any facility needing expertise in the development of infection-control policies and procedures, staff education, and the development of other strategies related to prevention and mitigation of COVID cases.
Dr. Barbara Cooper takes helm at Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education
(Office of Governor Kay Ivey/Contributed, YHN)
Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced the appointment of Dr. Barbara Cooper as secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (DECE), effective immediately.
The position was vacated effective June 1 by the retirement of longtime DECE Secretary Jeana Ross. Dr. Trellis Smith has been serving as acting secretary of the department since then.
According to a release from the governor’s office, Cooper brings significant experience and expertise to the role, and she has previously held senior level positions with both DECE and the Alabama State Department of Education.
“Dr. Barbara Cooper has spent her professional career dedicated to helping students achieve their greatest potential. She and I share the same goal, and that is to make Alabama a better place, which begins with our youngest citizens,” Ivey said in a statement.
The appointee has more than 30 years of education experience and most recently has served at DECE since 2018. She previously served as the department’s director of the Office of School Readiness and the Birth to Grade 12 advisor for the Ivey’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation. Notably, she was appointed by the Alabama State Board of Education to serve as the chief administrative officer during the Montgomery Public Schools intervention, where she worked to improve leadership and governance.
Additionally, Cooper’s administrative experience includes prior service as deputy state superintendent/chief academic officer of the Alabama State Department of Education, deputy superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, chief equity and engagement officer of Aurora Public Schools (Colorado) and a principal with Denver Public Schools. She has teaching experience ranging from elementary to teacher instruction.
“With her vast experience in various administrative positions, Dr. Cooper is more than qualified, and I have no doubt that she will continue the impressive work of the Department of Early Childhood Education. I am confident that Alabama will continue leading the nation with the best early childhood education system,” Ivey concluded.
Among other important programs, DECE runs Alabama’s world-class, voluntary First Class Pre-K program.
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recently ranked First Class Pre-K as the nation’s highest quality state pre-kindergarten program for the 14th consecutive year.
Last year, a major study concluded that students who participate in the voluntary pre-k program are more likely to be proficient in math and reading, with no evidence of fade out of the benefits over time. These long-term results hold true even after the study controlled for student demographics and other variables such as poverty.
Cooper is currently in the process of earning a certificate in Early Education Leadership from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She has a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Innovation and a Master of Science in Administration, Supervision & Curriculum Development from the University of Colorado at Denver and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Western Illinois University.
“Education is the greatest profession and the work we do in our calling as educators will last beyond our lifetime,” Cooper stated. “I look forward to serving Alabama’s children and families for many years to come. I appreciate Governor Ivey’s confidence in selecting me to serve in this new capacity and I look forward to hitting the ground running.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
“Some days are better than others and today was a great one. One of our longtime, hardworking employees was rewarded today with some of God’s grace,” the restaurant said in a Facebook post sharing the video.
Taco Casa of Tuscaloosa added that the customer “felt led to anonymously reward our employee with a fully paid for vehicle … that he surprised him with today. God is good.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
7 Things: ‘Safer at Home’ order extended in Alabama, one in nine seniors who get the coronavirus die, Trump won’t rally for Tuberville and more …
7. Two old white guys are excited to show us what level of cognitive ability they have
For the first time in about three months, former Vice President Joe Biden held a press conference, and in response to a question about cognitive ability, Biden said he “can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”
President Donald Trump is 74-years-old and Biden is 77-years-old, so questions coming up about either’s cognitive ability are not unexpected, but Biden is more known for his frequent gaffes. Trump isn’t exempt from these stumbles either.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has already said that his running mate will be female, but now he’s making even more promises about potential Supreme Court picks, saying that he hesitates to “follow anything the president does at all, because he usually does it all wrong.”
Biden went on to say that he’s “putting together a list of a group of African-American women who are qualified and have the experience to be in the court,” but he added that the list won’t be released for a while.
5. New York wants to defund the police as AOC tells you what it means
Attempting to bow down to the insane demands of the “Black Lives Matter” movements, such as calls to defund the police, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing through a $1.5 billion dollar cut to the city’s $6 billion budget for police that everyone knows will disproportionally hurt people of color and the poor.
Dismissing this huge cut to the police in the nation’s largest city isn’t enough. Progressive darling and standard-bearer U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ()D-NY) reminded white liberals and the media that “Defunding police means defunding police.”
4. NYT sources: “There were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community”
The non-stop flow of questionable information from unnamed sources continues to say that the Trump administration knew about Russian attempts to get the Taliban to kill American soldiers, even though the same sources acknowledge that “disagreement among intelligence officials about the strength of the evidence about the suspected Russian plot and the evidence linking the attack on the Marines to the suspected Russian plot.”
Lawmakers briefed on the matter said the “the underlying intelligence was conflicting.” The White House press secretary said, “There was not a consensus among the intelligence community,” adding, “[T]here were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community, and it would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.”
3. Trump isn’t coming to campaign for Tuberville anymore
Earlier reports said that President Donald Trump had planned to visit Mobile to hold a campaign rally for former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville before the runoff election on July 14, but CNN is now reporting that Trump’s campaign has canceled the plans.
Technically, the Tuberville campaign never confirmed the reports that Trump would be holding a rally for him, but as the news made headlines, the campaign never said otherwise.
2. High fatality rate for seniors in Alabama with coronavirus
Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, while at a press conference with Governor Kay Ivey, brought attention to the high fatality rate of those over 65 who get the coronavirus in Alabama, with about one in nine diagnosed dying.
Harris explained, “About three-quarters of all of [Alabama’s] deaths have occurred in our seniors, even though they’re only about 17 percent of our cases.” He described this as “a tragedy” as 926 people in Alabama have passed away from the coronavirus, with 726 of those being 65 years and older.
1. “Safer at Home” order extended
On Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health added 854 cases to the coronavirus count, making the total case count 37,536. Governor Kay Ivey’s “Safer at Home” order has now been extended until July 31 but there are no major changes to the order.
During the press conference to announce the extension, Ivey did say that she will “reserve the right to come back and reverse course,” adding, “When you’re in public, for goodness sake, wear a mask.”
Port of Mobile sets record for single-vessel export tonnage, ties record for largest bulk carrier
(Contributed/Alabama State Port Authority)
The Alabama State Port Authority this week welcomed the NSU VOYAGER, which loaded a Port of Mobile record 135,484 short tons (122,909 metric tons) of export metallurgical coal at McDuffie Coal Terminal.
This Newcastle Max class bulk carrier also matched the previous record bulk ship to call the port, tying the MARAN COURAGE in measuring 984.2 feet (300 meters) in length overall with a width of 164.3 feet (50 meter beam). The MARAN COURAGE, another Newcastle Max, called on Alabama’s seaport earlier this year.
During their respective McDuffie calls, both vessels exclusively loaded Alabama met coal bound for Asian markets.
Alabama’s met coal market, already in high global demand, is on the upswing with approximately $1.4 billion in Yellowhammer State mining investments being announced recently. Currently, the state holds about four billion tons of economically recoverable coal reserves, with 80% of those reserves comprised of met coal, according to an economic impact study conducted by an expert at Auburn University Montgomery.
And, as previously reported by Yellowhammer News, Alabama’s met coal industry and the Port of Mobile enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.
Rick Clark, deputy director and chief operating officer for the port authority, noted in a Tuesday release that the increased Newcastle Max calls match growing Post-Panamax vessel calls into Mobile, in part due to ongoing infrastructure investments.
The port authority, its partners and the federal government have recently invested over $1.2 million combined in further shore-side and channel improvements to service growth in the region’s mining, manufacturing, agriculture and retail distribution industries.
The crown jewel of these continuing improvements at the Port of Mobile is now on the horizon and is expected to bring even further record-shattering growth. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the port authority in recent weeks signed the project agreement to complete the historic deepening and widening of the Mobile Harbor Ship Channel by late 2024 or early 2025.
“We’re rapidly achieving our goal to deepen the channel to -50 ft. draft, and shippers are seeking ports where they can soon leverage capacity opportunities,” Clark advised in a statement.
“When our channel is deepened, the Newcastle Max will be able to load far more tonnage, generating more capacity and better rates to service international market opportunities,” added Clark.
The harbor improvements, along with the port authority’s recent terminal investments, technology and personnel training, primarily serve coal and containerized shippers using the larger bulk and container vessels.
“The ability of the Port team to handle this larger class of vessel in an efficient and effective manner is a tribute to our customers, assets and staff,” concluded Bernard Scott, manager of McDuffie Terminal. “It takes a team effort, and in today’s challenging markets, this is something to celebrate.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
You can now pay for parking in Birmingham with your smartphone
(City of Birmingham/Contributed, YHN)
The City of Birmingham has entered into an agreement with a tech company that will allow anyone parking in the downtown area to pay for their spot with an app.
The company, ParkMobile, provides their app for free, and it is available on both the Android and iPhone platforms.
Consumers create an account in the app where they enter the license plate of their vehicle. They then enter the information that is posted on the parking meter to indicate where their car is located, and pay for the time they need.
ParkMobile then communicates with the Birmingham police which vehicles have paid for their spot.
The company already has a presence in Alabama, where cities Montgomery and Mobile both preceded Birmingham in partnering with ParkMobile.
The firm, founded and headquartered in Atlanta, says it has over 600,000 monthly users.
Payment methods that allow customers to make a purchase without interacting with another human or public surface, often termed “Contactless payment options,” have increased in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The City of Birmingham, Alabama is happy to partner with ParkMobile to provide our downtown with a contactless payment option for parking,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin in a statement.
“As a result of COVID-19, we’re seeing a rise in contactless parking payments in cities across the country as people and it is good to see that people in Birmingham will now have this option,” remarked Jon Ziglar, CEO of ParkMobile.