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6 months ago

Construction industry positions Alabama for future success

Alabama’s construction industry is built on a foundation of customer service, integrity and work ethic. As CEO of Bailey-Harris Construction and board chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama (ABC), I have experienced firsthand the value a career in commercial construction has on our state’s economy and future leaders.

Commercial construction is vital to Alabama’s economic footprint and touches every aspect of our residents’ lives. A study recently conducted by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama found that commercial construction stimulated nearly $13 billion of business in our state and generated 156,000 full-time jobs in 2015 alone.

According to the study, the economic impact of commercial construction has also generated a payroll of more than $6 billion a year and made a direct impact of $444 million into the state Education Trust Fund.
These numbers showcase the impressive impact the construction industry has in our state. Because of this, we must continue to build on its success and invest in efforts that enhance education initiatives and craft training skills to create a pipeline of opportunities for future industry leaders.

Two years ago, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama and Alabama’s K-12 education system joined together to establish the Academy of Craft Training to recruit, educate and employ high school students through construction careers. The Academy gives students the opportunity to build relationships and learn from industry leaders and prospective employers. It has quickly become a model for public-private partnerships with the Associated Builders and Contractors, the State Department of Education and the Department of Commerce hitching wagons to better our workforce product and our state.

While just two years old, the Academy has quickly become a model for all-in workforce development. Within its first year of operation, the Academy of Craft Training placed 94 percent of participating seniors in a job after graduation.

By equipping students with the necessary skills and real-world experience, the Academy provides opportunities for students to learn craft skills, make a good living and eventually advance into a supervisory level with long-term career benefits. For example, our teachers are industry trained; our classrooms resemble construction jobsites with rules and regulations to which we adhere; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn at all times and other practices that emulate actual job conditions are employed.

Upon the course completion, we are finding our student graduates have a positive infection. Infection? Yes, a positive infection that translates to a passion for the industry. It was last a fall Saturday afternoon at an Auburn University campus jobsite and I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Jacob, a recent graduate of the Academy. “Jacob, what in the world are you doing here?” I asked. He had come to see the site crane operator, Tommy. He and Tommy had developed a working mentor relationship on a Tuscaloosa jobsite. Jacob immediately inquired, “Mr. Harris, where can I get a vest and glasses? I need to help walk the rig out.”

Late on Saturday afternoons, most young men would be hanging out with friends or relaxing. Jacob just wanted to be around the work. Passion is something our instructors talk and cultivate often at The Academy. Yes, work cures most ills.

Through stories like this, we see how Alabama’s construction industry touches lives. I encourage the Alabama legislature to continue supporting this important initiative.

By teaching students hands-on trade skills and requisite soft skills, paired with values of integrity and work ethic, we can ensure that future leaders will continue to build upon Alabama’s construction industry that supports our communities.

Allen Harris is Founder and CEO of Bailey-Harris Construction, a leading industrial and commercial contracting firm based in Auburn, Ala. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama.

12 mins ago

Public Policy Foundation: ‘Amendment 4 would save Alabama taxpayers millions’

The Alabama Public Policy Foundation (APPF) issued a press release on Thursday in an effort to educate voters about the virtues of voting “yes” on Amendment 4 on the November 6 general election ballot.

Rosemary Elebash, an APPF board member and state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), explained that the amendment would save Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars by eliminating costly special elections when a regularly scheduled election is already imminent.

“Under current law, the governor must call a special election to fill legislative seats vacated due to death or resignation, even if there are only a few months remaining in the term,” Elebash outlined. “Each legislative special election costs from $90,000 to $900,000 per county, based on the number of voters and polling locations. These sometimes occur when candidates already have qualified for the next general election or when the Legislature is not scheduled to meet again before the end of the term.”

APPF noted that money spent on late-term special elections could be used for other services important to Alabama taxpayers. In addition to the wasteful cost, Elebash said back-to-back balloting can create fatigue and confusion for voters.

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“In recent years, we’ve seen candidates win special elections and immediately begin campaigning for a regular primary election a month or two later,” she said.

Amendment 4 would allow Alabama Senate and House of Representatives seats to remain open if vacated on or after Oct. 1 of the third year of a four-year term. The longest a seat would remain vacant would be 14 months. The amendment only applies to these state legislative seats, and the governor would still be required to schedule special elections for vacancies occurring earlier in a term.

You can read the objective Fair Ballot Commission’s explanation of Amendment 4 here.

APPF is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization “created to promote educational, social, financial and economic policies to enhance the well-being of Alabama citizens.”

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

1 hour ago

Kay Ivey: Walt Maddox ‘misguided’ on calls to expand Medicaid

FAIRHOPE – Gov. Kay Ivey isn’t necessarily buying into the notion that the expansion of Medicaid could be a win-win for Alabama, as her Democratic opponent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has portrayed it.

Medicaid expansion has been a key component of Maddox’s campaign, and it has been something Republican lawmakers have resisted given its potential future cost to state taxpayers.

Thursday night, before taking the stage at Baldwin County’s Oak Hollow Farms for a political rally, Ivey fielded questions from reporters, one of which dealt with the expansion of Medicaid.

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She expressed her support for quality health care, but described Maddox’s push as “misguided.”

“It’s important that we have the availability of quality health care for our people,” she said to Yellowhammer News. “That’s for sure. But at the same time, we’ve got to be sure we’re doing all we can with the Medicaid program, and nobody has come up with how we’re going to pay back the high cost if we expand it. So, I think my opponent is misguided again.”

In recent weeks, Maddox has been pushing Medicaid expansion on his bus tour of Alabama, and on Thursday, his second TV ad began airing across the state that doubles down on the proposal.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 hours ago

7 Things: Illegal immigration argument in the WH, libs complain about pot enforcement costs, Maddox demands Ivey prove his smear, and more …

7. 2020 is definitely underway, with Sen. Kamala Harris proposing a straight-up giveaway to every person making less than $100,000 a year.

— Sen. Harris says she wants to provide Americans whose wages haven’t increased a “basic income” to “keep up with cost of living increases.”

— The proposal has absolutely no chance of becoming law, but this is more about her appealing to the Democrat base before she enters the primary for President.

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6. As Canada legalizes marijuana, a new report tells how much marijuana costs Alabama.

— The Southern Poverty Law Center is claiming the enforcement of pot laws cost the state $22 million dollars a year, clogs up forensic labs, and as a kicker, they also claim that drug laws are racist.

— Madison County District Attorney dismisses the claims of racism and says law enforcement is just doing their jobs, “I can tell you law enforcement officials on the street do not care what color you are, they do not care whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’re breaking the law, they’re going to address it.”

5. Nick Saban endorses an old friend in West Virginia; Alabama liberals want him to endorse Walt Maddox here.

— Sen. Joe Manchin’s campaign in a red state looked to Saban, a native son and life-long friend, for a boost to swing voters in the state President Donald Trump won big.

— Every election year people wonder if Nick Saban will wade into Alabama politic; he never does even though some people fake it.

4. A Speaker Nancy Pelosi would make you pay if you disagree with her; an Alabama Democrat won’t support her if she is elected.

— Former Speaker Pelosi knows there is a good chance she will get her hand on the gavel again, and if she does there may be some pain. Pelosi said, “If there’s some collateral damage for some others who do not share our view, well, so be it, but it shouldn’t be our original purpose.”

— In what is becoming a bit of a ploy for Democrats looking to distance themselves from the national Democratic Party, Mallory Hagan who is running for Congress in Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers 3rd District, has declared she isn’t voting for Pelosi. Hagan said, “Sixteen years is too long for Mike Rogers and too long for Nancy Pelosi.”

3. George Soros involvement in Alabama elections is not as complicated as some are pretending.

— After a report that George Soros donated $200,000 to Tuscaloosa PACs this week, PACs that have given Mayor Walt Maddox $600k+ overall this cycle, people are equivocating, saying the PACs donated to Ivey in the past.

— The fact is PAC funding is a mess, the pass-through process is a joke, but the idea that Soros is giving Ivey money is comical deflection that no one with any scruples would try to make and Ivey’s response is perfect: “Bottom line is [if] George Soros puts $200 [thousand] in Alabama elections, for sure it’s not for conservatives like I am.”

2. Phase two of “The Governor is sick” rollout is underway, Maddox allies allege a cover-up, and he then demands it be explained.

— Phase one of this sad charade included revisiting a previous smear that Governor Kay Ivey is secretly-ill, but adding a twist of a grudge-holding former state employee who is also Maddox’s friend.

1. There was a shouting match at the White House over the plan to actually enforce our borders.

— White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton got into an argument over a proposed policy to step up border enforcement in the lead up to the election. Trump sided with Bolton and threatened to send the military to the border to stop a caravan of future illegal aliens.

— Trump’s threats of military action and cutting foreign aid payments have apparently pushed Mexico into attempting to stop the flow at their southern border; they are sending federal police and reaching out the UN for help.

Passion and purpose: How an Alabama based software company is helping the United Cajun Navy organize Hurricane Michael relief efforts

When Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida panhandle and parts of the Carolinas last week, Alabama native Hammond Cobb didn’t waste any time helping those tragically devastated by the storm.

Cobb called the United Cajun Navy, a well-known Louisiana volunteer group and immediately got to work mobilizing their team’s volunteer efforts with the help of his software company, Serquest.com

Cobb says Serquest is a “software system that is designed to put people into action faster.”

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Essentially a LinkedIn for nonprofits, Serquest gives organizations the ability to create an online ‘resume’ for their organization where they can list current volunteer opportunities and donation needs.

The United Cajun Navy has their urgent needs listed on Serquest.com. Groups of volunteers, individuals or corporations who want to assist Florida residents affected by Hurricane Michael can sign up or donate here.

Cobb says the United Cajun Navy a “democratic and lean volunteer network of people who save lives first, ask questions later and don’t ask for compensation for doing the right thing.”

He said government agencies can often be slow when it comes to helping people get what they need and by partnering with the Cajun Navy, he knew people would get the assistance they needed, and quickly.

“We help people now and do paper work later,” Cobb said.

In addition to hosting volunteer needs on his organization’s website, Cobb created inspirational video ads and public service announcements to encourage people to volunteer.

At the end of the day, Cobb said his mission for Serquest revolves around, “connecting people to people.” A nonprofit for nonprofits, he sees Serquest as a personal network centered approach to helping volunteer organizations.

4 hours ago

Sessions conducting ‘most aggressive campaign against leaks’ in DOJ history

After 39-year-old former FBI Special Agent Terry J. Albury was sentenced on Thursday to 48 months in the District of Minnesota in connection with his unauthorized disclosure and retention of classified national defense information, Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed the DOJ is in the process of “conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks in Department history.”

“We are conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks in Department history,” Sessions said in a release. “Crimes like the one committed by the defendant in this case will not be tolerated—they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and punished … Today’s sentence should be a warning to every would-be leaker in the federal government that if they disclose classified information, they will pay a high price.”

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According to court documents, Albury worked as a Special Agent in the FBI’s Minneapolis field office at the time of the disclosures, held a Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance and his daily duties provided him access to sensitive and classified FBI and other U.S. government information.

The court documents also say that, beginning in 2016 and continuing through August 2017, Albury knowingly and willfully disclosed national defense information, classified at the Secret level, to a reporter. Albury employed methods to avoid detection, including printing documents that he created by cutting and pasting portions of an original document into a new document so as to avoid leaving a record of having printed the original, classified document. Albury also accessed documents on a classified computer and took pictures of the computer screen in order to photograph certain classified documents. Those additional classified documents were recovered on an electronic storage device found during a search of his home.

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