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.

46 mins ago

Milestone: AIDT celebrates 50 years of shaping Alabama’s workforce

(AIDT/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – AIDT, Alabama’s primary workforce development agency, marked 50 years as a central player in the state’s economic growth through its mission of connecting and training Alabama workers with companies across the state.

The milestone was marked with a ceremony at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, attended by Governor Kay Ivey and representatives of companies assisted by AIDT.

“Fifty years is an incredible milestone,” said Ed Castile, director of AIDT and deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “A group of people had a vison to modernize the workforce development model.

“Fifty years later and we must be doing something right,” he added.

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The event featured a fly-over by an Airbus A321 aircraft, made at the company’s factory in Mobile, and an Alabama debut for the Toyota Corolla Cross, an all-new sport utility that is being produced at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility in Huntsville. AIDT has assisted both companies with workforce development support.

“Simply said, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing would not be able to recruit, assess, hire and train up to 4,000 team members without the partnership with AIDT,” Mark Brazeal, vice president of administration for Mazda Toyota, told Business Alabama.

“It is a partnership built on mutual respect and mutual trust,” he added. “It is a great partnership and we are so lucky to have AIDT in the state of Alabama.”

FAR-RANGING IMPACT

Since 1971, AIDT has trained approximately 1 million job-seekers for 5,200 companies across the state. In addition to the main office in Montgomery, AIDT operates seven training centers plus several additional satellite locations throughout Alabama. The organization maintains a fleet of mobile training units that can bring training classes to remote locations in the state.

AIDT, whose economic impact on Alabama is calculated at $7 billion annually, provides training in a wide variety of fields, from aviation to robotics.

“One of Alabama’s key advantages in economic development is our workforce training programs, which provides a foundation for the support system we have in place to help companies in many different industries find and develop the skilled workers they need to achieve success,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“AIDT is at the core of our workforce development efforts, and its contribution to the state’s economic growth over the decades has been immense,” he added. “Fortunately for us, AIDT’s culture of innovation will carry that impact forward far into the future.”

MEETING TOMORROW’S NEEDS

Consistently ranked as one of the top workforce development programs in the nation by industry and workforce publications, AIDT continues to stay at the forefront of workforce development through a willingness to evolve.

“Part of the key to our success is that we are constantly looking for ways to improve upon our processes,” Castile said. “AIDT not only delivers what companies need to meet their demands today but continues to innovate and develop ways to deliver what companies will need in the future.”

AIDT merged with the Alabama Department of Commerce in 2012.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 hours ago

Lakepoint Community Archery Park opens June 24

(Alabama State Parks/Contributed, Annie Spratt/Unsplash, YHN)

Alabama’s newest community archery park will hold its grand opening at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Lakepoint State Park, 104 Old Highway 165, in Eufaula, Alabama. The Lakepoint Community Archery Park is located near the park’s campground and day use area. The public and media are invited to attend the grand opening ceremony.

The archery park will be open year-round during normal park hours for recreational shooting, competitive tournaments and outdoor educational programming. The facility features an eight-target adult range from 15 to 50 yards and a four-target youth range of 5 to 20 yards.

Use of the archery park is free for those under 16 years of age or over 65. Lakepoint entry fees still apply. Alabamians ages 16 to 64 must have a hunting license, Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license, or Wildlife Heritage license to use the range. For non-residents, an annual WMA license or non-resident hunting license is required. Licenses are available from various local retailers or online at outdooralabama.com.

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Lakepoint joins several other community archery parks currently in operation throughout the state. These facilities are one component of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) effort to increase awareness and participation in the life skill of archery. To find a community archery park nearest you, visit www.outdooralabama.com/activities/archery-parks.

The new archery park was made possible by the following agencies and organizations: Alabama State Parks, the Archery Trade Association, and ADCNR’s Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries with funding through license sales and federally matched Pittman-Robertson Act funding.

Additional recreational opportunities available at Lakepoint State Park include fishing, boating, swimming, wildlife and bird watching, camping, dining, picnic areas and playgrounds. The Park also features a Resort Lodge and Convention Center. In addition to the lodge, Lakepoint offers 29 cabins and 10 lakeside cottages. Handicap-accessible and dog-friendly units are available.

For more information about the Lakepoint Community Archery Park, call the park office at (334) 687-8011. For more information about Lakepoint State Park, visit www.alapark.com/parks/lakepoint-state-park.

17 hours ago

Live HealthSmart Alabama celebrates phase one improvements in Kingston

(Michael Sznajderman/Alabama NewsCenter)

Live HealthSmart Alabama, a University of Alabama at Birmingham initiative, celebrated phase one improvements in the Kingston community at Stockham Park. These improvements are the culmination of a yearlong implementation project to improve the community’s infrastructure, including new and improved sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant street ramps, trees and flowers in Stockham Park, painted murals, new bus shelters, improved lighting in hard-to-see areas, and more.

“Live HealthSmart Alabama aims to advance healthy eating, physical activity and prevention and wellness in underserved neighborhoods throughout Birmingham and the state,” said Dr. Mona Fouad, principal investigator of Live HealthSmart Alabama and director of the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center. “To help achieve these aims, we started by making community improvements. This was especially evident in the built environment. We’re excited to show everyone what has been accomplished.”

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To reenergize the community and encourage walkability, Live HealthSmart Alabama – in partnership with Brasfield & Gorrie and subcontracted through AG Gaston – knew sidewalks in Kingston needed to be either repaved or built from scratch. To contribute toward this initiative, Kirkpatrick Concrete donated all the concrete used to make these improvements.

Other partners that contributed to the accomplishments in Kingston include O’Neal SteelCoca-Cola United, the city of BirminghamAlabama PowerSteward MachineBirmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority MAXGoodwyn Mills CawoodBlank Space BhamNAFCOBirmingham Parks and Recreation, and Watkins Trucking Company.

“It has been a great and rewarding experience working with the city of Birmingham and Alabama corporations to accomplish the built environment improvements in Kingston,” said Fouad Fouad, Ph.D., director of the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center. “I believe these strong partnerships between academia and industry are built to last forever.”

Food deserts: A mobile solution

While each community’s needs are unique, a consistent issue Live HealthSmart Alabama has found in underserved areas is that these neighborhoods fall within areas that either have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables or are food deserts.

According to the USDA, a food desert is a place where one-third of residents live more than one mile from the nearest grocery store. Using this definition and census tracts, the USDA estimates that roughly 19 million people (or 6.2 percent of the U.S. population) live in a food desert.

To bring healthy and affordable food to Birmingham residents, Live HealthSmart Alabama introduced its new Mobile Market at the Kingston ribbon-cutting – which will run in partnership with Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources (P.E.E.R.) and East Lake Market. Each week, the Mobile Market will visit communities in Birmingham, starting with their demonstration areas (Kingston, East Lake, Bush Hills and Titusville). Shoppers can purchase proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains and a variety of other healthy food options using cash, card, EBT or Double-Up Bucks.

“Currently, Alabama has some of the worst health outcomes in the nation,” said Mona Fouad. “The goal of Live HealthSmart Alabama is to move our state out of the bottom 10 in national health rankings. To do this, community members have to have access to healthy food options and the tools to be successful. The Live HealthSmart Alabama Mobile Market helps to provide that.”

In addition to its weekly route, the Live HealthSmart Alabama Mobile Market will also host monthly evening events in June and July where community members can shop and watch chef Chris Hastings of Hot & Hot Fish Club conduct a demonstration using food pulled directly from the market.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, UAB President Ray L. Watts, Myla Calhoun of Alabama Power and other UAB and community leaders also attended the event.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

21 hours ago

Birmingham Black Barons among Negro League teams getting more play in online stats

(Negro Southern League Museum in Birmingham/Contributed)

Barbershop banter about the greatest baseball players ever has more ammunition after Baseball-Reference.com, a Sports Reference website, dramatically expanded its coverage of the Negro Leagues and historical Black major league players.

Following the website’s launch on June 15, Major Negro Leagues from 1920-1948 – including the Birmingham Black Barons – are listed with the National League and American League as major leagues.

“Our view is that these players always were major league players, and it was an oversight on our part that we did not list them as major league players,” said Sean Forman, president of Sports Reference. “Such was the quality of play in the Negro Leagues. Just saying the term major league, we’re implying that they’re at the top league, in the top echelon of baseball being played. Certainly counting Willie Mays and Satchel Paige among your alumni for (the Birmingham Black Barons) lends it a certain level of quality.”

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Paige is No. 2 on the website’s list of all-time Birmingham Black Barons, behind Sam Streeter. Following Paige are Harry Salmon, Ray Parnell, Poindexter Williams, Artie Wilson, Piper Davis, Robert Poindexter, Ed Steele, Tommy Sampson, Sandy Thompson and Bill Powell.

A release on the website said Baseball Reference is “not bestowing a new status on these players or their accomplishments. The Negro Leagues have always been major leagues. We are changing our site’s presentation to properly recognize this fact.”

The website acknowledges the work of Gary Ashwill, Scott Simkus, Mike Lynch, Kevin Johnson and Larry Lester on the Seamheads Negro League Database, where the data was acquired. The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and its members were credited with being instrumental in researching and publishing the history of the Negro Leagues.

Lester, chairman of SABR’s Negro League Committee, said adding Negro Leaguers to the lists of statistics isn’t going to change the leaderboard of baseball greats because Negro Leaguers played fewer career games.

“But we can still quantify their greatness by showing that Satchel Paige struck out almost one batter every inning, which is very close to what Nolan Ryan and other ballplayers have done,” Lester said. “We can show that Josh Gibson hit a home run every 13 or 14 times at bat, which is right in line with Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. Across the board, we can take statistics and show how great these Black players were.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

23 hours ago

Why Peach Park in Clanton is a must-stop on summer road trips

(Peach Park/Facebook)

It’s that time of the year, again, when beach vacationers traveling on Interstate 65 stop for peaches in Clanton.

For nearly 40 years, the farm stand, restaurants, and gift shop at Peach Park have been prime destinations for travelers wanting to take a break with some peach ice cream, possibly buy a jar of peach butter to enjoy back home, and certainly pick up a basket of Chilton County’s much-loved fuzzy fruit.

Some of those freshly-picked, perfectly-ripe peaches will stay in the state. But a fair amount wind up in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana—states further north on I-65, which bisects Alabama.

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Alabama’s peach season, which basically runs from May through Labor Day, is just starting to hit its peak. Over the summer, Peach Park will sell more than 70 varieties that ripen at different times, guaranteeing a steady supply.

More than two-thirds of the peaches grown in Alabama come from Chilton County. The 74-year-old annual Peach Festival—which includes a pageant, music, fun run, art, and parades—is set for June 19-26 in Clanton.

Like Durbin Farms, its older competitor across I-65 at Exit 205, Peach Park started as a farm stand. Gene and Frances Gray opened it in 1984 to sell fruit from their own orchards and become an outlet for other area fruit and vegetable farmers.

Frances created the recipe for the much-loved peach ice cream, which premiered in 1988. She still helps make the frozen treat, some of the 10,000 gallons per year produced at Peach Park.

The family-owned business now is run by a second generation, the founders’ son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Robin Gray.

Peach Park’s seven-acre footprint boasts a barbecue restaurant (“Peach Pit Bar-B-Que”), meat-and-three, bakery, clothing boutique, playground, gardens, RV park, rental space for events, and other amenities.

Peach Park is generally open from mid-February until Christmas, operating seven days a week.

But during the summer it’s famous in tourist guides as a one-stop shop for all things peach. Ice cream flavors include peach caramel and peach cheesecake, along with straight-up peach (it graces a frozen yogurt there, too). You can order a scoop to top a piece of the peach cobbler made in the bakery.

The bakery also uses peaches in bread and cakes, and to fill its legendary fried pies—one of the state Tourism Department’s “100 Dishes to Eat and Alabama.” You can buy jars of peach preserves to take home, or order some congealed peach salad to eat there.

Don’t forget to get snaps by the giant peach replica out back, a smaller cousin to the peach-shaped water towers that mark prime producing areas in the Southeast, including Chilton County (that water tower is off Exit 112 on I-65).

Of course, we Alabamians don’t need a beach trip as an excuse to drop in to Peach Park. But with Sunday the busiest day; a weekday is the best time to relax in a rocking chair on the porch at Peach Park, working on an ice-cream cone or fried pie, and then pick up a basket of fruit for home.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

24 hours ago

Birmingham leaders launch new Prosper collaborative

(Marika Gray/Contributed)

Birmingham-area leaders on Monday announced the launch of Prosper, an initiative focused on creating a more prosperous and equitable Birmingham by investing in opportunities that grow the area’s economy in an inclusive way.

Prosper intends to be the table where everybody has a seat, setting regional priorities for job growth and retention, job access and job training.

Its mission statement reads: “Prosper is a coalition of community, civic and business leaders committed to creating a more productive economy that is inclusive of all races and genders.”

The launch, which opened with a speech by Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, included the introduction of Prosper’s board of directors and its CEO J.W. Carpenter, who most recently was executive director of the Birmingham Education Foundation.

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Birmingham leaders launch Prosper initiative from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“On the heels of a recession, a worldwide pandemic and a social justice movement, we hope to do something transformative in Jefferson County and the city of Birmingham,” Carpenter said. “We will bring together business, educational, civic and entrepreneurial interests to create and grow economic opportunities for all, focusing specifically on our Black community and women.”

A recent Brookings Institution study reveals that the Birmingham area is creating fewer quality jobs and less access to economic resources than its peer cities. Those findings are a driving force for Prosper.

“This region can do better in providing opportunities to its residents, especially the Black community,” said Alabama Power President and CEO Mark Crosswhite, who is chairman of the Prosper board. “Prosper will work to align key priorities: growing quality jobs, preparing workers and investing in communities. We know that – together – our impact can be exponentially greater.”

Prosper is committed to helping transform the way Birmingham and Jefferson County create jobs in the innovation economy and the way the region prepares its people of color to thrive in those jobs, with a focus on ensuring that all residents, regardless of race, gender or ZIP code, have access to those jobs and can fully contribute.

Prosper will concentrate on four initiatives: Health Tech Industry; Business Advisory Services; Birmingham Promise; and Black-owned Business Acceleration.

In addition to Crosswhite and Carpenter, Prosper stakeholders – including Mike Kemp of Kemp Management Solutions, Rachel Harmon at Birmingham Promise and Tiffany Whitlow at Acclinate Inc. – discussed their support for the initiative and the need for inclusive economic growth in Birmingham.

“Elevating our city’s Black- and women-owned businesses while increasing job access for Black and women residents will ultimately lift all of Birmingham,” Woodfin said. “We must remain vigilant in eliminating any obstacles to inclusive growth in our city.”

Carpenter said he will seek input from Prosper partners, stakeholders and its board of directors.

“Prosper must be collaborative, bringing a diverse group of people to the table to solve problems,” he said. “I don’t want to dictate a path forward. I want to absorb the best ideas from the brightest and most passionate minds around lifting Birmingham in a way that’s equitable and inclusive.”

The highlight of the event may have been a passionate speech by 20-year-old Jarvis Prewitt, one of the first students to intern as a Birmingham Promise student. He credited that internship at BBVA with giving him the financial literacy that opened the door to his pursuit of a college degree. He’s now a rising junior majoring in mechanical engineering at Alabama A&M with a 3.91 GPA.

“Why not Prosper? Why not the Magic City?” Prewitt said, pointing out that when he earns his degree, he plans to come back home to Birmingham. “Not Texas. Not Atlanta. I want to give back to the people and the community that has given so much to me.”

For more information, including a list of board members, visit the Prosper website. For all media inquiries, contact Jasmine Phillips at jphillips@lrymediagroup.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Power Moves: Stillman College President Cynthia Warrick creates partnership, impact and legacy

(Moments with T. Giles/Contributed)

Culture is defined by its leadership. At Stillman College, Cynthia Warrick is the “rudder,” so to speak, in setting the course for the students and staff, alumni and others.

As the seventh president of Stillman and the first female president, Warrick’s vision has changed the path of the college.

“I have the opportunity to put in place a vision that will move the college from survival mode to a transformation into an institution that is sustainable throughout the 21st century,” Warrick said.

She daily proves this statement, setting a stage that will have an impact on the entire college for generations to come.

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Stillman has received a grant from Alabama Power and Southern Company to provide technology and dual-enrollment opportunities for high school students in three Black Belt school districts. This grant extends an existing U.S. Department of Agriculture telehealth grant and places state-of-the-art distance-learning equipment in the school districts connected with Stillman to provide courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), cybersecurity and ACT preparation.

“COVID-19 has made a significant impact on higher education and demonstrated that flexibility and change is needed,” Warrick said. “The use of technology is critical to sustainability.”

The pandemic has shown that dependence on traditional sources of revenue, including tuition and fees, is not sustainable for future growth and success. Warrick’s vision embraces technology and seeks to create public-private partnerships for economic development that benefit Stillman and west Tuscaloosa.

She said “providing everyone a seat at the table” and involving them in decision-making will help improve lives and quality of life, so that all people can succeed.

Historically Black colleges and universities like Stillman brought people from slavery to be entrepreneurs, community leaders, educators, health care professionals, engineers, builders and other successful Americans. The impact has included creating more opportunities for students of color and for students from marginalized backgrounds and environments, positively affecting not only the students but entire families and communities.

“We need everyone’s intellectual capital to solve today’s problems … to ensure a better tomorrow,” Warrick said.

“Stillman looks for opportunities to expose students to business and cultural opportunities. We want professional development partnerships to enhance our students’ communications and soft skills,” Warrick said.

As an accredited institution, Stillman is required to have a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Stillman’s QEP focuses on intergenerational communication.

“We want to ensure that our graduates are able to communicate effectively across the five generations in the workplace,” Warrick said.

Warrick seeks to make Stillman a place of community that partners with others, including businesses, schools, nonprofit and community organizations, and local and state governments.

“We want to be a service to west Tuscaloosa and provide educational and recreational programs for youth and the elderly,” she said.

 As Stillman grows and creates more opportunities for its students and the community, the vision Warrick is working to put in place is building a legacy designed to stand the test of time.

“The major lesson I have learned throughout my career is not to focus on what I want, but to focus on what my organization, students and community need to be successful. Their success makes me successful,” Warrick said.

“My legacy is the development of future leaders who take the baton and carry on the work that I’ve started,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to make a difference in so many young people’s lives, and those professionals are now serving their families and communities. That legacy keeps on giving.”

Power Moves, an ongoing series by Alabama NewsCenter, celebrates the contributions of multicultural leaders in Alabama. Visit AlabamaNewsCenter.com throughout the year for inspiring stories of those working to elevate the state.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Secretary of State hopeful State Rep. Allen says John Merrill-era home-visit voter ID policy to remain in place if elected

(Screenshot/APTV)

One of the talking points used by opponents of voter identification at the polling precinct is that some voters may not be able to obtain a photo ID and could be denied the ability to vote in a particular election.

To limit that as a possible hurdle for eligible voters, Secretary of State John Merrill has offered to send a staffer to that individual’s residence if they for whatever reason were unable to obtain the proper identification elsewhere and create one that met Alabama’s voter identification criteria for them.

State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), who is currently the Republican frontrunner to succeed Merrill said if elected, he would keep in place the policy to ensure such individuals would continue to be able to obtain a required ID to exercise the right to vote.

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“Secretary Merrill had instituted that policy where if somebody doesn’t have an ID, they will send someone to the house to make sure they have an ID,” Allen said during an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.” “If someone says they just can’t get an ID, they’re not looking very hard. They’re not trying. If you want an ID, you can get an ID in Alabama.”

“Sure, sure — listen, we want everybody to make sure they got an ID,” he continued, affirming he would keep Merrill’s policy in place. “I mean, my goodness – no doubt.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

1 day ago

Big show back at Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

(ADSFR/Contributed)

The big show will be back for the 88th annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR), scheduled July 15-18 at the rodeo site on Dauphin Island.

Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, a long weekend of fun, fishing and entertainment awaits those who venture to Alabama’s barrier island for the event that attracts more than 3,800 anglers to the state’s fertile waters and Gulf of Mexico.

“We’re very much looking forward to it,” said Ryan Schumann, 2021 Rodeo president. “That’s not to say I’m not proud of everything we accomplished last year. Being in the middle of COVID, we were still able to put on a fishing tournament and have right at 3,800 anglers. But we’re looking forward to getting back to the full of it. What that means is a sponsorship tent with our vendors to allow our sponsors to interact with the spectators. I’m looking forward most to getting back to the entertainment, having spectators and having people at the event outside of just our anglers.”

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Schumann said one aspect of the ADSFR he really appreciates is that it exemplifies what Dauphin Island is about – community fellowship, fun and entertainment.

“It’s an annual event that everybody looks forward to and comes together to participate,” he said. “People from out of town who have family at Dauphin Island always come to town for the rodeo. I’ve got friends who grew up on Dauphin Island and moved away. But the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is a signature event that they always come back for. The rodeo has always been a label for the community, a staple for the community.

“We are happy that people will be able to see the culture on Dauphin Island. I’m excited that we will see people out and about, having fun again.”

Rodeo festivities kick off on Thursday, July 15, with the Captain T-Bone’s Liars Contest at 6 p.m., followed by music from Yellowhammer, featuring former Major League Baseball Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. The music theme this year is “Reelin’ in the Years” with 70s music on Thursday, 80s music on Friday and 90s music on Saturday.

Fishing begins at 5 a.m. on Friday, July 16, with the traditional cannon blast. The weigh station will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The musical entertainment will start at 7:30 p.m. with The Molly Ringwalds.

Mustache, The Band will be Saturday’s entertainment at 5 p.m. The weigh station will again be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Sunday, the final day of competition, the weigh station will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., any rodeo participant who weighed in a legal fish will be eligible for random drawings for a Contender 25 Bay boat and Yamaha 250hp SHO outboard package and a Seakeeper boat stabilizer. The awards ceremony will be at 6 p.m. Monday at The Grounds in Mobile.

Anglers will compete in 30 regular fish categories as well as the Yamaha Speckled Trout Jackpot, the Synergy Laboratories King Mackerel Jackpot and the Raymarine Big Game Jackpot. Cash Prizes categories are available for several species. Visit www.adsfr.com for details.

Schumann said the rodeo decided not to have red snapper as a regular category because of the uncertainty of when the season will close.

“As everybody knows, the most popular fish along the Alabama Gulf Coast is red snapper,” he said. “Currently, we do not have it in the 30 open categories or as a jackpot. For the past few years, red snapper has not been available for fishing come rodeo weekend. The red snapper season is based on a quota. Based on projections, we don’t see us having red snapper this year for the rodeo. But, if it is in season, we will add it back to the tournament as a jackpot category.”

Swordfish has been added as a category for the 2021 rodeo with a minimum length of 50 inches measured from the lower jaw to the fork in the tail.

The grouper category will include yellowedge, gag and red grouper.

The speckled trout jackpot entries will be limited to fish in Alabama’s speckled trout slot limit of 15 to 22 inches, measured with a pinched tail. A cash prizes lunker category is available in speckled trout with a minimum size of 26 inches, pinched tail.

In the live weigh-in category, the rodeo will have a “Race to 18” for anglers who weigh in a daily limit of six live speckled trout in the slot limit. The first angler who weighs in a three-day total of 18 live slot fish wins the prize.

Capt. Richard Rutland, past rodeo president and co-chairman of the rodeo rules committee, said a new method will be used to measure speckled trout and redfish.

“We’ll be using a measuring device called a Check-It Stik on a tilted board with a Perfect Pincher that is a hands-free way of measuring the fish,” Rutland said. “The Perfect Pincher will pinch the tail, and then the fish will be called by the judge. This way, we will have consistency during the weigh-in process. This will be used for speckled trout and redfish, the only two slot species.”

Last year’s restricted rodeo was a flashback to rodeos past, when the only extra people on Dauphin Island were anglers. Despite the extra workload at the contemporary rodeo’s return, Schumann said the rodeo is ready to rock and roll.

“Last year, for the organization and the Mobile Jaycees who work the rodeo, we had fun,” he said. “It was a lot less work. We were able to breathe a little bit. We got back to our roots as just a fishing tournament, which is at our core. And it was an extremely successful one. We had almost 3,800 anglers participate.

“But this year, we’re going be nonstop the whole tournament. That’s a good thing. We’re glad we’re going to be able to provide the full entertainment and spectator package. We’ve grown fond of everything we do to attract people to the island. We’re excited about that.”

The weekend preceding the big rodeo, the Jaycees will hold the annual Roy Martin Young Anglers Tournament. The tournament begins at 5 a.m. on July 10, and the weigh station will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Roy Martin event is open to all anglers 15 years old and younger. The young anglers will be competing in 31 fish categories. All proceeds will benefit the Mobile Jaycees Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour.

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

2 days ago

Jim Zeigler considering ‘exploratory’ effort for Alabama governor in 2022

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

After much speculation, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her intentions to seek another term as governor in 2022 earlier this month.

Despite what were perceived to be controversial positions on pushing the Rebuild Alabama Act that raised the gasoline tax, her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in determining what could remain open and closed and a failed Mobile Bay/I-10 toll bridge proposal, Ivey is still riding high in polling with strong approve-disapprove numbers.

However, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, whose term as auditor will be over after 2022 and is ineligible to run again because of term limits, told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Friday that he was considering a run for governor in 2022.

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“I believe it’s very important for Alabama taxpayers, for the state government, for our future to have a viable opponent who has been raising issues and trying to hold the Ivey administration accountable,” he said. “And that is why I am considering myself setting up an exploratory campaign to test the waters for a gubernatorial run. Who else is there — who else took the lead in blocking the toll bridge over Mobile Bay? Who else took the lead in blocking Amendment One that would have taken away your right to vote for school board members and have them all appointed by the Governor? Who else took the lead in blocking this prison rental plan that would have had us paying over $3 billion over 30 years and then owning zero equity in the prisons, a terrible business plan?”

“I don’t know,” Zeigler continued. “If not me, then who?”

If Zeigler runs against Ivey in 2022, it would not be the first time the two of their names appeared on a ballot in a race against one another. In Alabama’s 2020 Republican primary, Zeigler took on Ivey in a race for state delegate for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Ivey prevailed with 7,182 votes to Zeigler’s 1,729 votes — a margin of 80.6% to 19.4%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 days ago

Alabama’s May unemployment rate drops to 3.4% — Post-pandemic rate at lows; Record high wages

(Pixabay, YHN)

Alabama’s post-COVID pandemic economic recovery seems to be humming along based on data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington revealed Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%.

The 3.4% rate tops the May 2020 number of 7.9%.

“May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020,” the release said. “May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.”

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(ADOL)

“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Data showed that wage and salary employment grew last month by 4,700.

“Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others,” the release said.

Average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year, according to the Department of Labor.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” Washington added. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

Broken down by county, Shelby County led the way with a rate of 1.8%, followed by Blount, Marshall, Franklin and DeKalb Counties.

Wilcox County topped the highest in the state with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.

When broken down by municipalities, Alabaster had the lowest rate at 1.7%. Selma had the state’s highest, coming in at 7.0%, followed by Prichard at 6.5% and Bessemer at 5.2%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 days ago

Shelby warns Biden on defense cuts — ‘Military investments in China and Russia … outpace U.S. investment’

(Sen. Shelby/YouTube)

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) fired his own warning shots over what he views as an inadequate defense budget proposal from President Joe Biden.

During a full Senate Committee on Appropriations review of Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense budget request, Shelby expressed his concern that the administration’s defense spending plan placed the nation at a disadvantage compared to its adversaries.

“The National Defense Strategy provides a road map for what the Department of Defense needs – at a minimum – to meet the challenges posed by a re-emergence of long-term strategic competition with China and Russia,” explained Shelby. “Anything less jeopardizes readiness, the recapitalization of capital assets, and necessary investments in new and emerging technologies.”

Shelby, who currently serves as vice chairman of the powerful Senate committee, believes that not meeting current national defense demands sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.

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“This year, the budget proposal signals to the world that this administration is not committed to investing in readiness, training, state of the art equipment, and technological overmatch,” Shelby stated. “With military investments in China and Russia continuing to outpace U.S. investments, I find it hard to believe that the requirements outlined by General Dunford just four years ago are no longer instructive.”

This critical assessment from Alabama’s senior senator comes less than a month after the highest-ranking U.S. military officer described the nation’s relations with China and Russia as “fraying.”

In an address to graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia. And we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”

Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Shelby addressed both officials in his remarks, stating, “The world is a complex and dangerous place and I know that you both understand the magnitude of the challenges we face from our near peer adversaries who seek to undermine the United States’ position as a world leader and dominant military power. China and Russia are formidable adversaries and China, as you have acknowledged Secretary Austin, is proving to be a true pacing threat. China seeks hegemony – militarily, technologically, economically, and geopolitically – and is making unprecedented investments to see that to fruition.”

“Meanwhile, Russia is nearing the end of a massive military modernization program that saw its defense spending increase 30 percent in real dollars over the last 10 years,” he added.

Shelby concluded that he could not support an effective cut in defense spending in 2022.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 days ago

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl urges Biden to undergo tests for ‘mental impairment’

(Congressman Jerry Carl, President Joe Biden/Facebook)

U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) joined 13 of his congressional colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to undergo an examination to determine his mental fitness to serve.

The group cited a string of embarrassing verbal gaffes by the president as the basis for their request.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, the Republican members of Congress explained, “We write to you today to express concern with your current cognitive state. We believe that, regardless of gender, age, or political party, all Presidents should follow the precedent set by former President Donald Trump to document and demonstrate sound mental abilities.”

They continued, “Unfortunately, your mental decline and forgetfulness have become more apparent over the past 18 months. In March, you forgot the name of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Secretary, though you had said ‘Secretary Austin’ just a few minutes prior.”

In addition, the letter cites Biden’s telling of an Amtrak story with an inexplicable timeline, forgetting the first line of the Declaration of Independence and obvious disorientation during a visit to Texas as examples for why they believe Biden is in need of cognitive testing.

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The list of gaffes attributable to his mental acuity seems to be piling up for the 46th president.

During the G7 Summit in England recently, he asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce the South African president.

RELATED: Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce has questioned whether Biden’s cognitive state is a national security liability.

Biden has received criticism in the early stages of his administration for calling on only a predetermined list of reporters during press conferences. The most recent instance of this occurred while Biden was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carl and the other letter signers pushed for transparency with any medical assessments being made, as well.

“We encourage you to follow the example set by President Trump by undergoing a cognitive test as soon as possible and immediately making the results available for the American people,” they concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 days ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

(ALGOP)

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.

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“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 days ago

Ainsworth scores Tuberville endorsement

(Tommy Tuberville campaign/contributed)

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has thrown his support to Will Ainsworth as the first-term lieutenant governor ramps up his reelection bid. Ainsworth announced Tuberville’s backing in a release from his campaign on Thursday.

The former college football coach offered that his endorsement of Ainsworth was an easy play call for him.

“I’ve spent most of my life recruiting,” Tuberville explained. “When you run across leadership it stands out, and I’ve seen firsthand that’s especially true in the political arena. Alabama is a gritty, hardworking,
conservative state that puts God and family first.”

He continued, “I’m proud to endorse Will Ainsworth for Lt. Governor as the leader that reflects the work ethic and values of the great state of Alabama!”

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After announcing in front of 3,000 people during the first week in June that he would seek reelection, Ainsworth has now picked up the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association in addition to that of Tuberville.

Ainsworth welcomed the support from Alabama’s newest U.S. Senator.

“I am proud to have Senator Tuberville’s endorsement as I seek a second term as lieutenant governor to continue building a 21st century Alabama in which our people can earn a good living at a high-paying job and raise their families in safe, strong communities,” he remarked. “I’m focused on taking our Christian conservative values to Montgomery every day, ensuring we preserve and better the Alabama we all know and love for future generations to enjoy.”

Ainsworth’s first term has been marked by his heavy involvement in the state’s economic issues.

He has overseen the Alabama Small Business Commission, a panel tasked with recommending policies and legislation benefiting small businesses operating across the state.

During last year’s COVID-19 crisis, Ainsworth formed an emergency task force within the commission to focus on the reopening of Alabama’s economy. Most of the task force’s plan was implemented by the state during the reopening process.

Ainsworth has also served as chairman of the Aerospace States Association, a national group whose mission is to support and promote the interests of the aerospace industry in Alabama and across the nation.

Ainsworth has outlined that his focus moving forward would be to preserve Alabama values while improving opportunities for future generations.

“The main reason I’m running is for my kids, your kids, your grandkids’ future,” he stated. “It is a huge time commitment, but I want to say this: I want our kids, your kids, everybody in here to always be proud to call Alabama home. I don’t want our kids to have to move to Atlanta or Nashville or Austin or another state. I want them to be able to live right here in Alabama and have the same opportunities as any kids in the world. We’re going to do that.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 days ago

Dale Jackson: Governor Kay Ivey may have some challengers after all

(Wikicommons, Hal Yeager/Governor's Office, YHN)

The conventional wisdom is that Governor Kay Ivey is an unbeatable juggernaut.

The idea was if Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth was to challenge Ivey, he would have a shot yet still probably lose while no one else would even have a shot.

But recently, the rumor mill is out here running and churning out a couple of possibilities for candidates that are considering challenging Kay Ivey.

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Under intense questioning on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” former State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) offered up clues on the identities of these names that are being suggested.

The clues?

Candidate 1:

  • A candidate in the 2022 U.S. Senate race
  • She won’t get 10 points against U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)
  • Could get a Trump endorsement

Candidate 2:

  • A candidate who ran for the office before and had a stumble
  • “This is Alabama. We speak English.”

The clues lead us to two very distinct candidates.

Candidate 1 is the former ambassador to Slovenia under Trump, Lynda Blanchard.

Candidate 2 is a son of former Gov. Fob James and third-place 2010 GOP primary-finisher Tim James.

Could either of these individuals mount a challenge against Kay Ivey?

Maybe, but what is the argument that the state needs new leadership?

Gas tax?

Lockdown?

Mask mandate?

Soon to be new prisons?

Do these issues motivate people?

Altogether, it may move the needle, but Governor Ivey is a well-known and well-liked politician overseeing a recovering economy on the heels of a global pandemic.

Those in the political world will say she isn’t being seen enough, but that is an inside baseball complaint.

Neither of these individuals have a groundswell of support from people clamoring to enter the fray, but if Alabamians are given another choice for governor, maybe it will turn into a race that ends up surprisingly competitive.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

3 days ago

Real estate firm Audubon makes $32.7 million investment in Alabama multifamily property

(Audubon/Contributed, YHN)

ATLANTA – Audubon, an Atlanta-based real estate firm specializing in the acquisition, development and management of multifamily properties, announced it has closed on the purchase of Parks at Wakefield & Wellington, its first acquisition in Alabama. The total cost of the transaction was $32.7 million, or $80,147 per unit. Audubon’s portfolio of owned-and-operated multifamily assets now includes 6,200 units in 22 properties across five states.

The newest property, located just outside Birmingham in Hoover, Alabama, has been renamed Cadence at Bluff Park. The 408-unit property was originally built in 1973 and covers just under 24 acres, creating an open and accessible garden-style community within the Bluff Park neighborhood. The location also offers a plethora of walkable restaurant and retail destinations, including an adjacent shopping center undergoing a $10 million renovation.

“The outskirts of Birmingham have proven to be a hot spot for those who want to be near a metro area, but prefer to live outside of the hustle and bustle of the city itself,” said Myles Cunningham, chief investment officer for Audubon. “We relished the opportunity to further grow our footprint into Alabama and continue bolstering our portfolio across the Southeast.”

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Specializing in full-scale overhauls, Audubon is planning significant upgrades throughout Cadence at Bluff Park. The changes will be evident for those passing through and around the community, with updated exteriors on all buildings, fresh landscaping, a conversion of the tennis courts into a grilling area and dog park, the installation of a new playground, the transformation of the pool to a splash park for kids, and improvements to the parking lot and streets within the complex.

The same level of attention will be paid to interior upgrades, with Class-A finishes planned for every unit. Additionally, the leasing office and fitness center will be renovated and a new amenity building will be constructed.

“We know these are ambitious plans, but it was important to us to show existing and future residents we are committed to making Cadence at Bluff Park one of the premier multifamily communities in Birmingham,” added Cunningham.

The $14.7 million capital improvement program will begin immediately and is expected to be completed within the next two years.

Audubon is an Atlanta-based firm specializing in the acquisition and management of multifamily properties throughout the Southeastern region of the United States. With a senior staff that has collectively acquired, managed and renovated more than 50,000 apartment units, Audubon has a wide range of experience and expertise in repositioning multifamily assets. For more information, please visit http://www.acmapts.com.

3 days ago

Alabama Power Service Organization, Leadership Autauga County unveil new playground

(Sara Herman/Alabama NewsCenter)

Children and families served by the Autauga County Department of Human Resources (ACDHR) now have a safe, fun place to play and spend time together during their visits to the facility. It’s thanks to a partnership between the 2020-2021 class of Leadership Autauga County and the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO).

On June 9, the organizations revealed a new playground, along with an overflowing outdoor toy box, at a presentation ceremony at ACDHR. Leadership Autauga County, with help from the Southern Division APSO chapter, Prattville and Montgomery sub-areas, transformed a previously bare patio area and yard at the ACDHR into the playground.

“The support of the Autauga Leadership class and the Alabama Power Service Organization is very important and is very much appreciated as this allows our families to experience a sense of normalcy,” said Onya Johnson, Autauga County DHR director. “Also, their support in renovating the patio area and providing toys for all ages will allow the parents to play outdoors with their children in an area that is safe and has been specifically designed for them.”

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Danna Patterson, a member of this year’s Leadership Autauga County class, pitched the playground idea to the group when they were working together to select a community project that would best serve the county.

Leadership Autauga County is designed to develop people who are informed, committed and qualified to serve the community. It works to cultivate and train leaders who are concerned about the future of the county. Each class chooses a service project as the focal point of their efforts to put what they are learning to work in the community.

“What people don’t realize is that families rely on the patio space at the ACDHR when they come for their supervised visits with their children, particularly those who are in foster care,” said Patterson, personnel manager of the Montgomery County DHR. “These families rely on the DHR to help them maintain connectivity with their children. The space was not conducive for family-friendly visits. I’m so grateful to everyone who assisted us with making this project a reality.”

Alabama Power Service Organization helps build Autauga County playground from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The Leadership Autauga County class began by installing a new fence, which enlarged the area to give children more room to play. Students in Prattville Christian Academy’s art class then decorated the fence with paintings of animals and flowers.

With the help of other volunteers in the community, Leadership Autauga County pressure-washed the patio and sidewalk, added new sod, flowers and shrubs, refurbished the barbecue grill and installed two ceiling fans. They equipped the area with a swing set, seesaw, slide and other playground equipment.

Realizing that other outdoor toys were needed for the playground, Lisa Knight, Alabama Power Montgomery Business Office supervisor and another Leadership Autauga County class member, enlisted help from APSO members.

The Prattville APSO sub-area purchased a 230-gallon plastic deck storage box and filled it with a tricycle and bicycle, miniature tractors, balls and a variety of outside games. The Montgomery sub-area added to the pile of outdoor toys, with cornhole and ring toss games; T-ball, kids bowling and scoop ball sets; a basketball goal; a slide; and a paddle toss game. When APSO members delivered the toys to the ACDHR in April, they filled the back of a pickup truck, Knight said.

“Participating in this project has been a humbling experience for me,” said Knight. “Seeing how all the people in our Leadership Autauga County group came together to use their skills and talents has been touching. It means a lot to know that the kids and their families will be out there enjoying themselves because of our efforts.”

Jesse Beavers was proud to be a part of the project.

“I have never had any experience with the DHR until we got involved with this project,” said Beavers, practice administrator, Prattville Primary Medicine, Baptist Health. “Knowing that we have been able to brighten up that facility and make it more comfortable for the families to meet has truly been inspiring.”

Knight, Patterson, Beavers and Casey Ferrell headed the Leadership Autauga County project. Several Prattville-area companies and individuals contributed to the effort, including Lowe’s, Home 2 Suites, Fuller Landscaping, Durbin Auto Parts and electrician Randy Whitt, who installed the fans.

“It really was a team effort,” said Ferrell, youth minister at Prattville First United Methodist Church. “When I heard there was an opportunity to help impact the lives of students in the school system and perhaps in my youth group through this project at the DHR, I had to jump on it. I know that supervised visits can’t replace life at home, but supervised visits can provide a place where second chances can happen and relationships can be restored. It was a rare opportunity for our leadership class to give back to Prattville and invest in the lives of these families.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 days ago

7 Things: Biden vs. Putin, AG Marshall latest to lobby for more prisons, Congress votes to make Juneteenth a holiday and more … 

7. Comedian claims he was banned from Alabama mall after a child cried

  • An incident that has gone viral occurred at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover when TeJuan Dennis was removed from the property. Now, Dennis is claiming that he was racially profiled in an encounter that was captured on Facebook Live.
  • Mall spokeswoman Lindsay Kahn has said that Dennis wasn’t removed from the mall for his race, but rather he was “being very loud and disruptive.”Kahn added, “I understand there were profanities being yelled so that disruptive behavior is actually a violation of our code of conduct.” Apparently, the loud altercation occurred between Dennis and another man, and Dennis has claimed that security only approached him and asked him, “What are you doing to this man?”

6. Governor Ivey endorsed by Manufacture Alabama

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  • Governor Kay Ivey has not drawn an opponent, although there is some talk of a challenger with President Donald Trump’s support emerging, but she is getting the support of business leaders in the state with an endorsement from Manufacture Alabama, which represents manufacturing in the state.
  • George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, explained the endorsement, saying, “[Governor Ivey] has always been committed to make Alabama an even better place to live and conduct business and leads with a common-sense approach. Her tireless leadership has brought positive outcomes to our manufacturers and we couldn’t be prouder to give her our full endorsement.” Ivey gladly accepted the endorsement and touted the growth of manufacturing in the state. She stated, “It has been our mission over these last four years to cultivate a thriving business climate not just by Alabama standards, but to set the bar across all fifty states. We reached that goal – even amidst exceptionally uncertain and trying times.”

5. WHO is ‘compromised’

  • Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield has spoken out about speculation that the coronavirus may have originated as a lab leak in Wuhan, China. Redfield explained that the initial theory of a bat transferring the virus to a human is “not consistent with how other coronaviruses have come into the human species.”
  • Instead, Redfield said that one of the most likely scenarios is that the virus was produced in a lab. Redfield also took aim at the World Health Organization, claiming that they’re “too compromised” by China to investigate the issue with integrity.

4. Arrest warrant issued for the process server in Eric Swalwell/Mo Brooks case

  • When U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) was served notice of U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell’s (D-CA) lawsuit against him, Brooks’ wife Martha was actually served. Video surveillance shows the process server entering the Brooks residence by going into the garage.
  • Now, that server, Christian Seklecki, has been charged with first-degree criminal trespass. It’s alleged that Seklecki “accosted” Martha. Mo Brooks said of the incident, “Swalwell lied in his politically motivated, meritless lawsuit against President Donald Trump and me when he falsely claimed I incited the January 6th Capitol violence.”

3. Congress votes to make Juneteenth a holiday 

  • Juneteenth, until recently, was a little-known holiday that originally commemorated the announcement by Union Army General Gordon Granger that gave slaves freedom in Texas, but the federally recognized Juneteenth holiday will celebrate the day commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States. Congress has now passed a bill declaring it a national holiday. The U.S. Senate passed the bill unanimously and the U.S. House passed the bill 415-14.
  • Of the 14 representatives that voted against the holiday, two were from Alabama — U.S. Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Saks) and Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville). Brooks said he believed there should be a larger celebration of the emancipation of the slaves, not a date tied to one state, and he raised fiscal concerns as well.

2. Marshall: New prisons are still necessary

  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has addressed the idea of new prisons being built in the state and if it actually helps remedy the U.S. Department of Justice’s belief that prison conditions are unconstitutional. Alabama already owns the land the prisons could go on.
  • Marshall said that new prisons are “definitely important in the pending case we have against the Department of Justice,” and further explained that building these new facilities could satisfy conditions of the lawsuit and that just more space could limit inmate-on-inmate violence. He went on to say that the state will be “able to show the judge factually that the evidence is there that Alabama has met its responsibilities under the Constitution with regard to how it is we handle our correction system.”

1. Biden claims he laid down the law, but he seems to be more upset at the media

  • Not much was accomplished at the meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, except the return of the two nations’ ambassadors. Biden said that he made “no threats” but instead warned Putin of “consequences.” According to Biden, the meeting was “positive.” He said he warned Putin that he would not allow cyberattacks on 16 American sectors.
  • In talking about the meeting, Biden emphasized that he was focused on being for America rather than against Russia, but he did say that he was “just letting him know where I stood, what I thought we could accomplish together, and what, in fact, if there is a violation of American sovereignty, what we would do.” When pressed on holding Putin accountable, Biden lashed out at Alabama native and CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins. He complained about how negative the press was and how Collins, herself, was “in the wrong business.”

3 days ago

Mo Brooks calls al(dot)com, other media attacks ‘one of the best endorsements’ for a GOP candidate; Says Katie Britt using fifth-grade tactic with ‘Mo’ lies’ claim

(Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

The sparks continue to fly in the very early stages of the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat on next year’s general election ballot.

Although it has been just over a week since former Business Council of Alabama president Katie Britt formally announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate, she and her opponent U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) have already traded remarks publicly.

During an appearance on Wednesday’s broadcast of “Alabama Morning News” on Birmingham’s News Radio 105.5 WERC, Brooks took on his critics, including Alabama’s local political and Britt.

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Brooks first sounded off on attacks from specific media outlets in Alabama, AL.com and Alabama Political Reporter. However, he said those attacks were positive for him and his campaign.

“I think that AL.com, the Alabama Reporter, all those groups that want to attack me — that’s one of the best endorsements a Republican candidate can get,” he said, “because that should signify to every Republican voter that this is the person who the fake news media is most concerned about, the kind of person who will actually do what they say they will while they’re campaigning. So, some people get kind of perturbed about all the lies, distortion at AL.com or some of these other smaller website blogs launch against me on a regular basis. But I take them as compliments, and I hope that Republican primary voters will, too.”

Later in the segment, Brooks responded to comments Britt given in a statement responding to the announcement of his Club for Growth PAC endorsement.

In that announcement, Brooks referred to Britt as a “professional lobbyist,” to which Britt said Brooks was engaging in “Mo’ lies.”

Brooks called that response from Britt a “fifth-grade tactic” and suggested her previous association with the BCA called into question her conservative values.

“[I] want to emphasize something,” Brooks said. “Katie Britt, on the one hand, tries to act like she’s all nicey-nicey. But on the other hand, she accuses her opponent of being a liar with zero specifics that can be rebutted and zero supporting evidence. As you noted in my comment, she just calls me a liar, but she does not disagree with any that I said. So, it’s kind of a fifth-grade tactic where you just start throwing names at other people, and when you do that, you’ve already lost the argument. And she’s lost the argument. She is a registered lobbyist. She’s a registered lobbyist for the Business Council of Alabama whose number one agenda item has been to import cheap foreign labor. She’s for these taxes, and we haven’t even gotten into the moral values issues that she, as president of the BCA, has caused the BCA to take positions on that are directly contrary to what most Alabama Christian voters would be able to stomach.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

4 days ago

Manufacture Alabama endorses Kay Ivey for governor

(Hal Yeager/Governor's Office, YHN)

It’s 510 days until Alabamians go to vote for governor. However, the campaign is underway for Gov. Kay Ivey, who made her intentions to seek reelection known earlier this month.

This week, she picked up one of her first major endorsements of the campaign cycle from Manufacture Alabama, a trade association dedicated to the interests and needs of manufacturing in Alabama.

George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, touted Ivey’s commitment to the concerns of manufacturing with the endorsement.

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“Manufacture Alabama is endorsing Governor Ivey for re-election due to her commitment to our state, her deep understanding of industry’s needs and her unwavering support for our manufacturers across Alabama,” he said in a statement. “Governor Ivey has long been a friend to our association and a passionate advocate for the manufacturing industry.  She has always been committed to make Alabama an even better place to live and conduct business and leads with a common-sense approach. Her tireless leadership has brought positive outcomes to our manufacturers and we couldn’t be prouder to give her our full endorsement.”

Ivey applauded endorsement and reiterated Alabama’s manufacturing sector was one of her priorities.

“The manufacturing industry is a critical sector of our state’s growing economy, and it is a particularly proud moment for our campaign to have earned the support of its leaders,” Ivey said in a statement. “It has been our mission over these last four years to cultivate a thriving business climate not just by Alabama standards, but to set the bar across all fifty states. We reached that goal – even amidst exceptionally uncertain and trying times – thanks to our working partnership with industry leaders like those at Manufacture Alabama. We know there is more work to be done to ensure that Alabama’s best is still yet to come.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

4 days ago

Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

(CNN)

President Joe Biden on Wednesday got into a verbal sparring match with Alabama native and CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins over Biden’s approach to his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The exchange between Biden and Collins took place while Biden was attending a summit with the Russian leader in Geneva, Switzerland, and ended with the leader of the free world wagging his finger scoldingly at the University of Alabama graduate and telling her that she was “in the wrong business.”

During a brief press avail, Collins asked Biden about his previously stated confidence in getting Putin to make concessions regarding Russia’s track record of bad behavior both at home and abroad.

Transcript of the back and forth between Biden and Collins as follows:

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COLLINS: Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior, Mr. President?

BIDEN: Yeah, I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior. What the hell? What do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident?

COLLINS: You said in the next six months you would be able to determine that.

BIDEN: What I said, what I said was, let’s get it straight. What I said what will change their behavior is the rest of the world reacts to them and diminishes their standing in the world. I’m not confident of anything, I’m just stating the facts.

COLLINS: But given his past behavior has not changed, and in that press conference after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks, he downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say Alexei Navalny’s name, so how does that account to a constructive meeting as president, President Putin framed it?

BIDEN: If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business.

Interactions between Biden and his administration could thus far be classified more easily as cordial rather than challenging in nature, so the exchange between Collins and Biden today was noteworthy.

The exchange instantly sparked discussion on social media.

In the days leading up to the summit, Time magazine received criticism for its heroic portrayal of Biden on its cover. That portrayal has been contrasted with its depiction of former President Donald Trump under similar circumstances.

Joe Concha, media columnist for The Hill, remarked that the two magazine covers revealed something significant about the media’s approach to the two administrations.

“If I’m teaching a class in media bias, I’m putting this at the top of the syllabus,” said Concha during an appearance on Fox News. “This is all you need to know about not even bias but it’s activism.”

Watch Concha’s full reaction here:

Collins, a Prattville native and member of Yellowhammer’s D.C. Power and Influence list, was promoted to her current role for the network earlier this year.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 days ago

Guest: Leaders of Birmingham should use stimulus funds to make the city ‘magic’ again for all citizens

(City of Birmingham Government/Facebook, API/Contributed, YHN)

The City of Birmingham will use nearly a quarter of its first round of federal stimulus payments from the American Rescue Act to provide one time bonuses to all full and part-time city employees. The bonus payments received final approval from the Jefferson County Personnel Board last week. Full-time employees are set to receive $5,000 each while part-time workers will get $2,500. In total, the bonuses will cost the city nearly $17 million in fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1st.

But with the myriad of issues facing Birmingham, providing bonuses to city employees raises numerous questions.

First, is it an appropriate use of federal stimulus funding aimed to help alleviate the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic? The City’s 2021 budget faced a $63 million revenue shortfall, with about one-third of that being made up for through the use of surplus funding. However, only 7% of Birmingham’s full and part-time employees were furloughed as a means to save money. The other 93% of the city’s workforce did not see their salaries impacted by the pandemic, yet they will all receive bonuses.

Beyond the question of whether or not it is a permissible use of federal stimulus funds, is it the best use of those funds?

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The proposed fiscal year 2022 budget is $455.5 million, the largest in Birmingham’s history. That doesn’t include the more than $148 million, made in two separate payments, that the city will receive from the American Rescue Act. The proposed city budget already provides a 1.5% cost of living raise for all employees, as well as merit and longevity pay increases. While Birmingham did experience a budget shortfall in fiscal year 2021, Mayor Randall Woodfin projects a full recovery over the next year.

With Birmingham’s projected recovery, as well as the fact that state government actually saw increased revenues in 2020, the argument could be made that state and local governments didn’t need the additional $350 billion bailout from the federal government. But the money is coming regardless, and it’s up to elected officials to ensure that it is used in a way that will benefit all citizens.

Birmingham has a number of serious issues that it could be using American Rescue Act funding to address. One is a shrinking population. Preliminary 2020 Census projections show that Birmingham is number eight on the list of Alabama’s fastest shrinking cities. Providing a one-time bonus to citizens already employed by the city, and who may or may not actually live within its limits, will do nothing to attract new residents.

As Mayor Woodfin has acknowledged himself, Birmingham has also continued to see an increase in homicides over the past several years. From 2017-2020 the city recorded 446 murders. Through June 7, 2021 the city has already added another 51. According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, Birmingham’s murder rate outpaced Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Detroit, among others, in 2019. In 2020, the city saw the highest number of murders in a quarter century.

While these problems can’t be laid solely on the mayor and other officials, leadership and the priorities identified by those leaders certainly play a role. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen leadership failures in Birmingham. Last year, API Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel Phil Williams wrote about how Birmingham may be on its way to being known as the “Tragic City” rather than the Magic City. Leadership decisions have not only impacted the economic well being of Birmingham, but also the safety and civil liberties of its citizens.

Birmingham has received a $148 million gift from the federal government, but that doesn’t mean it should be free money. Mayor Woodfin and other elected city leaders owe it to taxpayers to use that money in a way that will improve the lives of all citizens, not just those that happen to work for the city. The money could be used to transform Birmingham, creating a safer city and attracting new businesses that will give people a reason to want to stay or move to Birmingham, rather than fleeing.

Federal stimulus funds could go a long way toward achieving that goal and making this great city “magic” again, but that will only happen if citizens demand real leadership from Birmingham’s elected officials.

Justin Bogie serves as the Alabama Policy Institute’s Senior Director of Fiscal Policy. API is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to free markets, limited government, and strong families, learn more at alabamapolicy.org.

and 4 days ago

Remembering former Regions CEO Stan Mackin

(Regions/Contributed)

Brian Mackin spent four days sorting through a tidal wave of texts, phone calls and emails remembering his father, Stan. The messages were constant: everyone had good memories to share of the former Regions Bank CEO.

“He touched so many people,” Brian said. “He was a Godly man, first, and he was a family man. Integrity and character mattered to him, and he lived that way every day.”

A Birmingham native, Stan Mackin passed away June 11 at the age of 88 after a distinguished career in banking, business, community service and military service. He was laid to rest June 15.

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A graduate of Auburn University, Mackin continued his studies as a grad student at Rutgers and Oklahoma while also serving his country. He retired as a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1961 before returning home and beginning a business career that would eventually lead him into banking.

John Turner, Regions’ President and CEO, called Mackin a “banker’s banker.”

His impact remains viable today, thanks to the name he gave to the growing bank nearly 30 years ago.

“He selected the name ‘Regions’ when the bank replaced the First Alabama name in the early ‘90s,” Turner added. “Stan knew ‘Regions’ was the perfect fit to reflect the company’s expansion into other states. Today, Regions Bank serves people and businesses across the Southeast, Texas, the Midwest, and beyond. We appreciate the legacy Stan left, and we will always work to uphold his commitment to quality service as we continue to build on our growth.”

Mackin began his banking career with Birmingham’s Exchange Security Bank, which later became First Alabama Bank (and, eventually, Regions), in 1966. In 1986, he became Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of the bank as well as Central Region President of Regions Financial Corporation, an office he held until 1990.

Then, Mackin was named President and Chief Operating Officer of the corporation. In August of the same year, he was elected Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Regions Financial Corporation. Mackin retired as Regions’ CEO in 1998 and retired from the board in 2001.

Mackin’s tenure marked a period of unprecedented change. Regions grew eight times its size, while maintaining a reputation as a customer service leader despite constant change and acquisitions.

“We did it, I think, properly,” Stan Mackin said previously. “It wasn’t a helter-skelter thing. Everything we did we pieced together where we got all of the economies out of the deal.”

It was under Mackin’s leadership that another move was made that continues to reverberate –becoming the official bank of the Southeastern Conference.

“It was very much forward thinking on his part,” said Bill Ritter, head of Wealth Management for Regions.

Ritter remembers meeting Mackin when he first joined the team.

That people-first mentality helped establish a culture that remained as Regions quickly morphed from a state bank to a regional fixture.

“We continued to grow organically and bring on other banks to be a part of Regions,” Ritter said. “There was a lot of change going on here, and throughout the industry. It was not only wonderful for Regions, but it was wonderful for the state of Alabama to have an emerging regional bank.”

Mackin’s son Brian, the deputy commissioner of Conference USA and former UAB athletics director, said it initially was an era of uncertainty.

“First Alabama, then Regions, was one of the ‘Big Four’ banks in town, and he took over as interstate banking opened up competition,” Brian Mackin added. “Despite that, there was also a deep amount of respect between the banks. He took a lot of pride in giving Regions its new name, and in the growth that followed. Regions was very important to him, and Regions’ legacy remains very important to our entire family.”

Auburn’s J. Stanley Mackin Eminent Scholar Chair in the College of Business was established in his name by the bank’s board of directors in 1996.

He was a recipient of the Auburn College of Business’ “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year” award, the highest alumnus honor given by the college. Mackin was also inducted into three prestigious halls of fame: the Alabama Academy of Honor, Birmingham Business Hall of Fame and Alabama Business Hall of Fame.

And his community service included work with schools, churches and service organizations, including leadership positions with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama, Alabama Public Television and Birmingham Operaworks.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Mary Jo Mackin; children, James S. Mackin, Jr. (Koko), Brian W. Mackin and Leah M. Taylor (Bo); grandchildren, Lewis C. McKinney III (Jessica), James S. Mackin III (Melanie), Mackin M. Thompson (George), Charles B. Mackin; K. Ragland Mackin, Margaret M. Ratliff (Philip), Brian W. Mackin, Jr. (Mallory), Will G. Mackin and Mary.

(Courtesy of Regions)