1 month ago

Alabama Bass Trail 100 registration opens June 1

Tournament bass anglers who are ready to step up in competition need to mark their calendars for June 1, 2020, and set the alarm clock to 6 a.m. That date and time is when registration opens for the newest bass trail in Alabama aimed at serious tournament anglers.

The creation of the Alabama Bass Trail 100 was announced last week at beautiful Lake Guntersville State Park, overlooking the site of one of the three tournaments on the Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) 100 for 2021. The new trail is open to only 100 boats.

Those anglers who are fortunate enough to grab a slot in the new series will vie for $100,000 in total prize money for each of the three events, with $25,000 going to the winning boat.

ABT Tournament Director Kay Donaldson said the entry fee per event is $1,000, and anglers must sign up for all three events to participate. No single entries are allowed.

The first ABT 100 tournament is scheduled for Lay Lake on the Coosa River on January 9, 2021. Lake Eufaula on the Chattahoochee River in southeast Alabama will be the site of the second event on June 5, 2021, followed by the trail finale at Lake Guntersville on the Tennessee River on November 20, 2021.

Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, represented Gov. Kay Ivey at the trail’s unveiling and conveyed the Governor’s love of the outdoors.

“Gov. Kay Ivey is a huge supporter of hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation,” Blankenship said. “As a matter of fact, we were at an event about a month ago, and right before it was my time to speak, she tugged on my shoulder and said, ‘Remind me to ask you something before we leave.’ She wanted to talk about bass fishing on Lake Jordan. She’s a huge supporter of fishing in our state.”

Blankenship said he is blessed to be the Conservation Commissioner of a state with such outstanding natural resources and fisheries.

“Outdoor recreation is a $14 billion industry throughout our state,” he said. “Alabama has great fishing, both saltwater and freshwater. Just fishing has a $2 billion economic impact on our state. That’s a lot of money from people out enjoying themselves. We have such a great bass fishery here in our state, from the lakes on the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, the Tennessee River lakes, like here at Guntersville, the Tombigbee River, Smith Lake, Lake Eufaula, the Alabama River, and the place I’m most familiar with, fishing for bass in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. We have unique bass fisheries from one end of our state to the other. That’s where I think the Alabama Bass Trail is so impressive. It allows people from our state and from out of state to experience the different kinds of fisheries and the different places that make up our great bass fisheries here in Alabama.”

The original Alabama Bass Trail started seven years ago with the idea of promoting bass fishing across the state with Northern and Southern divisions. That tournament trail has become so popular that the slots open for the 2020 ABT were filled in hours.

“The Department works well with the Alabama Bass Trail on multiple fronts,” Blankenship said. “The Alabama Bass Trail works with the Department to provide information for the B.A.I.T. (Bass Anglers Information Team) to provide a clear picture on what’s happening on the lakes where they hold the tournaments. Several of our staff members have been at Alabama Bass Trail events and have witnessed the extraordinary lengths the tournament officials go to to ensure the health and live release of thousands of tournament-caught bass. These efforts are important to maintain the healthy fisheries of our lakes.”

“Tournaments like this highlight the fisheries and bring more people to our state to buy fishing licenses and tackle and those type things,” Blankenship said. “That money is used by the Department to go back into building the high-quality fisheries and install boat ramps and public access areas around the state. We have more than 150 boat ramps in the state that the Department maintains or partners with cities and counties to manage. I really want to say thanks to those cities and counties that partner with us. Now we’re looking at building new ramps with big bass tournaments in mind. Kay has been very helpful in discussions about what works better for bass tournaments and helps get boats in and out of the water, parking and what helps facilitate attracting some of the largest fishing tournaments to our state. We appreciate the Alabama Bass Trail and its leadership. All that plays a role in attracting great tournaments to our state. We want everybody, when they come here, to have a good time and enjoy their fishing so they’ll want to come back and so they’ll tell other people about what great bass fisheries we have here in Alabama.”

When the ABT was just a lofty idea, Lee Sentell, Alabama Tourism Director, provided the catalyst to make the tournament trail a reality.

“I’m a member of an organization called Travel South USA, which is the 12 southern states’ tourism departments,” said Sentell, who recognized the ABT as the 2018 Tourism Organization of the Year in Alabama. “Every year I get more questions from my counterparts from throughout the South who will say, ‘Now, how did that Alabama Bass Trail thing get started?’ I tell them some people had a great idea and great vision. Great things happen when you have great talent, great resources and people who want to make a difference and bring more anglers into our state. I just want to say a big congratulations to the Alabama Bass Trail and Alabama Mountain Lakes (Tourist Association). It’s hard to believe this has been going on for seven years. But, it’s exciting.”

Sentell recalled a meeting with Don Logan, one of the people who brought BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsmen’s Society) back to Alabama, and Alabama Mountain Lakes about starting the Alabama Bass Trail. The meeting was not progressing well until Sentell stepped up.

“I said the Alabama Tourism Department will put $200,000 a year for three years into the Alabama Bass Trail, and Alabama Mountain Lakes is going to run it,” Sentell said. “They couldn’t say no to that. So, what you are doing and where you’re going next is thrilling. This is a state that is blessed with many natural wonders, and our lakes and rivers and fisheries are one of the most important aspects of the quality of life in our state.”

Donaldson said at a meeting in August 2019, the ABT board voted unanimously to pursue the idea of a new tournament series, which would become the Alabama Bass Trail 100.

“The popularity of Alabama Bass Trail was never more realized than last August, when we sold out the 225 boats for the Southern Division in three hours and our Northern Division with 225 boats in 17 hours,” Donaldson said. “People often ask how we pay back 100 percent. It’s because of our wonderful sponsors. Our title sponsor again is Phoenix Boats.”

Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar said she is excited that Guntersville was chosen as the final tournament of the 2021 season.

“The Alabama Bass Trail has always been a great asset to our community,” Dollar said. “They bring lots of people. It’s great publicity. We love our anglers.”

Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs, an avid bass angler who competes in the ABT South Division, echoed Dollar’s sentiments.

“The Alabama Bass Trail is a great tournament trail already,” Tibbs said. “This is just going to be an expansion of what they already do. It’s going to be great for Eufaula. We’re excited.”

Donaldson said registration is open to all anglers with no priority registration for current ABT anglers. Only one pro angler is allowed per boat. Visit www.alabamabasstrail100.org for details and rules. Tournament information will also be available on Facebook and Instagram at albasstrail100.

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.

21 mins ago

It’s time for Alabama legislators to end the wasteful practices of subsidizing newspapers to print public notices

Every year, Alabama’s various governments are required by law to take tax dollars collected from their citizens and hand them over to print newspapers to comply with public notice laws.

These laws force these entities to notify the public of matters facing them through the pages of these newspapers. There are no other options.

Local city governments? Yep.

Local boards of education? Yep.

State agencies? Yep.

With each of these requirements, a private entity is subsidized by tax dollars for a service that no one actually uses. To say this is a scam is an understatement.

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Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise and pay for legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

As I have pointed out before, this is not chump change.

  • The City of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

The real cost across the state is clearly into the multiple millions of dollars range.

Last week, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and explained that Madison County alone was forced to pay $75,000 to Alabama Media Group, the parent company of AL.com, which runs a sports blog with a liberal bias.

For what? A 112-page list of voters.

Strong says he knows no one is reading this list to see if they are eligible to vote.

“You’re printing a 112-page document that will be used to light fires in people’s burn pits,” he explained. “People don’t even look at it, they throw it in the garbage can.”

The Secretary of State’s Office has a phone number and a website where people can see if they are eligible to vote, so this is all completely unnecessary.

Keep in mind, this is one county. All 67 counties in the state had to pay for this “service,” and they all know it is a waste of their resources.

Strong noted, “I promise you $75,000 practically every two years over 10 years, that’s $375,000, and I can tell you Madison County has a bunch of needs that money could go toward a lot more beneficial than a list.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Multiple lawmakers have attempted to cut in on these legal notices over the years, with little success.

State Representative Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) tried last year. He said in 2019, “I think it’s really hard to make a case in Alabama that we need more taxes while we are not spending the money we have in an efficient manner.”

Sorrell is trying again this year:

Relating to public notices; to provide for electronic publication of public notices on a public notice website operated by the Secretary of State; to provide for fees for publication; to allow counties and municipalities to opt out under certain conditions; and to provide for delivery of public notices to the Secretary of State for publication on the public notice website.

Secretary of State John Merrill is all in on supporting this bill.

My takeaway:

The same challenges that came up in 2019 will come up again in 2019. No one wants to fight the newspapers on this because they know the newspapers will fight back.

We all know the old saying: “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

But it is time to pick this fight. The status quo is a scam that gives tax dollars to newspapers and citizens get little in return. It is time for other legislators to join him and get this done.

Listen:

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

3 hours ago

Greg Shaw releases first ad in Alabama Supreme Court reelection bid — ‘One of us’

Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Greg Shaw on Monday released the first television ad in his reelection bid to Place 1 on the court.

The spot, entitled, “Trump Tough,” lasts 30 seconds and opens with footage of Shaw driving a truck around a farm.

“Activist judges legislate from the bench, but not conservative Justice Greg Shaw,” a narrator says.

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“Justice Shaw is one of Alabama’s most conservative judges — fighting activism and interpreting the law,” the narrator continues. “A Christian fighting for our values, Justice Shaw has been married for 39 years, is of the highest character and never wavers from biblical principles. Justice Shaw is respected, Trump tough and, like the president, Greg Shaw is one of us.”

Watch:

Shaw is facing a tough Republican primary challenge from State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), the chairman of the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee.

As of last Monday, February 10, Shaw had approximately $252,000 cash-on-hand while Ward had $113,000. Ward to that point had spent about $106,000 in the cycle while Shaw had spent $38,000. Updated financial disclosures are due on Tuesday, February 18, two weeks before the March 3 primary.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Hightower campaign unveils ads featuring the candidate’s faith in God, pro-life values

Bill Hightower’s campaign for Congress released two new ads on Monday that play up the candidate’s conservative values.

One is a 30-second television spot and the other is a one-minute radio spot.

Both ads begin by asserting Hightower’s strong commitment to the sanctity of life, which the candidate believes begins at birth.

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Hightower has long been one of Alabama’s most vocal pro-life politicians. His new television ad mentions pro-adoption legislation he sponsored while a member of the Alabama Senate.

Hightower has also frequently mentioned his pro-life stance on the trail during his congressional run and his unsuccessful pursuit of Alabama’s governorship in 2018.

The radio piece goes deeper into Hightower’s faith in God. The candidate says, “I committed my life to Jesus when I was 16 years old, and since then I’ve been a student of the word.”

Hightower’s main competitors for Alabama’s First Congressional District are Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl and State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile). The seat is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Both Carl and Pringle have released ads recently. All three men have voiced their support of President Donald Trump and the ongoing construction of a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico.

Hightower is alone in choosing to promote his support for term limits in his ads, though Pringle has signed a pledge signaling support for a term limits proposal.

The Alabama Republican primary is March 3.

Listen:

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

5 hours ago

Matt Fridy releases ad showcasing citizen testimonials — ‘On Tuesday I’m voting Fridy’

State Representative Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) campaign for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an ad Monday that shows Alabama citizens vouching for the candidates’ character and legal abilities.

In the closing moments, the ad also features a clever turn of phrase, “Vote Fridy on Tuesday,” that the campaign hopes will stick with viewers.

The 30-second spot will begin airing on radio and cable this week.

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The individuals featured in the ad, who go unidentified, vouch for Fridy’s “brilliant legal mind” and his “integrity.”

Additionally, one man in the ad lauds Fridy as a “staunch conservative.”

The new piece is more conventional than the campaign’s first advertisement, which went for a humorous tone.

Fridy is widely considered the favorite to win the Civil Appeals Court race. His only opponent in the primary, Phillip Bahakel, has not been able to accrue much money for his campaign and has not released a television ad.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

5 hours ago

Ainsworth to unveil legislation shortening appeals process for capital murder death row inmates

Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth on Tuesday will unveil legislation that will reportedly shorten the appeals process and expedite the death penalty for individuals convicted of capital murder and sentenced to be executed in the state.

Originally inspired by the record number of Yellowhammer State law enforcement officers across the state who have been killed in the line of duty over the past 13 months, the legislation will actually apply to all capital murder convictions resulting in the death penalty that occur in Alabama.

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RELATED: State Rep. John Rogers calls for automatic death penalty with no appeals for convicted cop killers

Ainsworth will be joined by bill sponsors at an 11:00 a.m. press conference in the State House to make the announcement. The Republican lieutenant governor announced two months ago that he was working on this legislation.

“‘Back the Blue’ must be more than just a slogan. Actions must follow words,” Ainsworth has said in a tweet. “Murdering an officer who maintains law and order should quickly cost your own life.”

Last year, the Alabama legislature passed a bill by State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville) making it a capital offense to kill any on-duty first responder, not just policemen and corrections officers.

Killing an on-duty police officer has long been a capital offense in Alabama.

In Alabama, capital murder convictions result in either life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn