3 months ago

Alabama company encounters obstacles to creating jobs, renovating Fort McClellan buildings

A contentious legal dispute between the McClellan Development Authority (MDA) and defense contractor Xtreme Concepts has led to concerns that the MDA has allowed personal issues to distract them from their core mission to drive investment and economic growth for the local community, according to numerous Yellowhammer News sources involved in the dispute, including on the MDA board.

Background:

In 2009, then-Alabama Governor Bob Riley authorized the creation of local “development authorities for the purpose of developing real and personal property of closed military installations” around the state. Among those installations was Fort McClellan, a famed, century-old military facility that was shuttered in 1999.

Since that time, the local area has struggled to find private sector suitors to fill parts of the property, including a large, concrete barracks facility known locally as the Starship. But in recent years, Xtreme Concepts, a defense contractor, leased the property with an option to buy. The property houses an Xtreme subsidiary called iK9 that trains dogs for military and law enforcement entities, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Yellowhammer News previously reported on Xtreme CEO Landon Ash’s commitment that his company would make $1.4 million in improvements to the facility. Ash categorized the expenditure as a win for the community because, prior to Xtreme’s arrival, taxpayers were facing the likelihood of having to spend $3 million to tear down the buildings.

But in recent months, as Xtreme moved to purchase the property a stalemate emerged between the company and the McClellan Development Authority (MDA), ultimately resulting in the MDA rejecting Xtreme’s purchase agreement. The dispute spilled into the public, with the editorial board of the local paper urging the two sides to come together and patch up their differences. Roughly three-dozen local jobs hang in the balance after a nine-hour court hearing resulted in Circuit Court Judge Debra Jones allowing Xtreme to stay on the property as the court battle proceeds.

New Developments:

In recent weeks, Yellowhammer News has spoken to numerous individuals on both sides of the issue, including members of the MDA board, Xtreme Concepts and iK9 employees, as well as local officials and private citizens with first-hand knowledge of the ongoing dispute.

The MDA board has remained publicly unified in its intent to have Xtreme’s iK9 division removed from the property, but behind the scenes, some members of the board have grown weary of fighting a legal and PR battle that does not appear to have any upside for local taxpayers.

“Some folks got crossways with [Xtreme Concepts CEO] Landon [Ash] and decided they wanted to do something else with that land,” said one member of the MDA board on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. “Whether or not that’s the best thing for the community–it comes up in conversation but I don’t think that’s the primary concern. It’s just gotten personal.”

Another member of the board disputed that characterization and said there were legitimate concerns about Xtreme’s business operations on the land.

“They’ve done military-style simulations on the property and other things that were outside the terms of our agreement,” the second board member said. “They’ve been late on their rent payments. There are a lot of things going on here and it’s not as simple as us turning down millions of dollars and losing local jobs. There’s more to it than that.”

When asked about the military-style simulations during the court proceeding, Xtreme Concepts CEO Landon Ash testified that what they had done was the equivalent of a Hollywood movie set, allowing them to create an authentic-feeling combat simulation without actually blowing anything up. According to him, that would not run afoul of the agreement.

And a spokesperson for Xtreme said they only stopped making lease payments as they moved to purchase the property, per the terms of the agreement, which they never anticipated to take more than a couple of weeks.

For now, the dispute will continue to play out in court, with stakeholders and the community having to consider the risk of evicting a job-creator without any clear alternative.

28 mins ago

Ryan Blaney wins Talladega Superspeedway’s 1000Bulbs(dot)com 500 in photo finish

It took 27 hours to get from the green flag to the checkered flag, but when it was all said and done, Ryan Blaney, the driver of Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford Mustang, earned the win on Monday afternoon in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Blaney edged out veteran NASCAR driver Ryan Newman by a margin of .007 seconds, which is reportedly only the sixth-closest Talladega margin of victory ever.

The win advances Blaney in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff to determine the 2019 champion.

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“We got together a little coming through the trioval,” Blaney said of his run for the start-finish line with Newman. “He pushed me below the yellow line, but I wasn’t going below there after what happened in the truck race.”

Blaney was referring to Saturday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Talladega, when Johnny Sauter lost the win after being ruled out of bounds by NASCAR and demoted from first to the last truck on the lead lap.

“Now we don’t have to worry about next week,” Blaney explained, given that he advances in the championship hunt by virtue of his race win. “We can go and fight for another win.”

The race did not end without the traditional “big one” crash. Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet launched into the air during the escapade.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 hour ago

Rick Karle: Saban has a point about ‘rat poison’; Let’s start calling Bama players mediocre

There’s no need to tell you that the Alabama Crimson Tide are playing great football — and one of the best ways to tell that coach Nick Saban knows it as well?

He uttered those two familiar words: “Rat poison.”

It was two years ago when these words went viral, as Saban attempted to squelch the rave reviews about his players that were coming from the media.

His message?

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If his players kept hearing that they were great, they’d believe it — and those words could act as rat poison to his team.

A few days ago, Saban brought up the words again, this time after his team beat the Aggies 47-28.

What does this all mean? Allow me to explain as I’m coming in hot, giving you my take!

Watch:

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

2 hours ago

Ivey announces ID Plastics to open manufacturing operation in Auburn, creating 50 jobs

Governor Kay Ivey announced Monday that ID Plastics LP, a manufacturer of a variety of technical plastic products, is set to open its first operation in Auburn, investing $9.8 million.

“Our continued efforts and partnerships with local communities have led to another great manufacturer coming to Alabama,” Ivey said. “ID Plastics’ decision to select Alabama will create 50 jobs for families in East Alabama over the next three years.”

At first, the company will produce the ID PACK sleeve, a foldable, returnable transportation container system used in various industries.

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A press release noted, “Brothers Martin and Andreas Hartl formed the Alabama-based business operation with the plan to bring various products of their companies, DUROtherm Plastics, a thermoforming specialist, and the Infinex Group, an extrusion specialist, to a production center in the U.S. The two companies are headquartered in the Black Forest in Southwest Germany and have approximately 600 employees.”

“Transport containers have always had downsides of one kind or another,” Martin Hartl said. “We responded with an innovative collapsing container system that eliminates these problems. The ID PACK is a truly problem-free sleeve pack system.”

Andreas Hart also discussed his vision for the company as it relates to the parts and manufacturing required.

“German technology made in the U.S.A. with state-of-the-art, customer-oriented manufacturing — that’s the perfect combination, the way we see it,” Hart said. “This was the foundation for the ID PACK collapsible container system and the big advantages it offers in a wide range of logistics applications.”

Auburn Mayor Ron Anders expressed his support for the German operation in a statement.

“We are grateful to be the U.S. headquarters and manufacturing location for ID Plastics,” Anders said. “Through our partnership with Auburn University, Southern Union Community College and our existing industries, the City of Auburn has created an excellent environment for technology-based, value-added manufacturing operations like ID Plastics. We welcome Andreas and Martin to the Auburn family.”

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, released a statement on the project and reflected on the strong economic ties between Alabama and the German industry.

“German companies have directed around $10 billion in new capital investment to Alabama in the past two decades because these companies have learned they can find success in our state,” Canfield said. “We welcome ID Plastics and look forward to helping another German business enterprise prosper in Alabama.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

3 hours ago

Mondays for Moms: Confessions of a fluorescent mac-n-cheese lover

What happened to the days when we could saunter down the aisles of the grocery store without being bombarded with 500 options for each item in the store?

Organic. Non-dairy. GMO-free. No artificial flavors. Lite. Fat-free. Gluten-free. Taste-free.

My head is spinning.

Retailers should start labeling packages with the following disclaimer: “Will need nutritionist to assist with purchase.”

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Instead of greeters, could nutritionists begin to welcome us at the entrance of the grocery store and offer to accompany us down the aisles?

And while we’re on this topic, could someone for the love of Jesus and all the goodness in the world explain to me what the heck GMOs are? Are they kin to UFOs? Is it a military operative slogan? Are they little cancer pellets hidden away in every bite of my Cheetos? I’m getting worried over here. If you can provide some useful information, could you shoot me a quick message at HelpErinUnderstandGMOs@gmail.com? This is real; send help. Thanks in advance.

Seriously, why can’t we go in the store and throw two boxes of Cheerios, a couple gallons of milk and a box of the latest flavor of Oreos in our carts without enduring relentless stares from other shoppers? Rather than accosting the produce stocker about the origination and growth habits of Hass avocados, you will find me filling my cart with items that do not require such intense, interrogative research. You know items we’ve all been existing on since the beginning of time.

Confession: I’m the momma that occasionally serves up hot dogs and dinosaur-shaped chicken tenders. You know why? Because my kids love them.

I’m going to be real with you guys for a second. My momma, bless her sweet soul, fed me Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, M&M’s and orange soda. And guess what? I’m still alive! With the exception of the obligatory seasonal cold, I’m kickin’ it just fine, folks.

Pre high-fructose-corn-syrup-hysteria, our world was such a wonderful place. We reveled in our blissful ignorance and we survived. We made it. The corn syrup centaurs didn’t come devour us in our sleep, people!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen a scientifically backed theory indicating that occasional hot dog consumption leads directly to immediate death. But please send that report in if I’m missin’ it.

Get prepared to gasp because I’m not done yet. I’ve also got mac-n-cheese in the ole pantry, too! And, no, not the organic-handmade-by-tiny-food-angels kind. Nope. No way. Not up in here! If you open my cupboard, you are going to find the glorious, fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark orange kind that we all fell in love with in our dorm rooms decades ago. You know, the kind we now crave at 2:00 a.m. after waking up to the baby monitor a few times.

All joking aside, I do think that nutrition is very important. And I completely agree with teaching our kids about the importance of clean eating, healthy food boundaries and coaching them towards a life of fitness.

But I think we walk a fine line. I’m all about providing our babies with the healthiest food options available, but let’s do so without engaging in discussions that result in righteous condemnation.

To the precious mommas who manage to serve pediatric-approved meals on your tables three times a day, you are awesome and superhuman. Could you help a sister out? Show me your ways. And, if any of you wants to write a book summarizing all of these “uber-healthy” options exposing all the superfoods in a graph-like format for ease of reference, that’d be great. (Quick request: provide a dictionary in the back.) I’ll be your first buyer.

Rather than tormenting over the origination of the foods that enter our children’s bodies, let’s spend time focusing on the words they hear, the things they see and the places they go. If we spend more time focusing on that version of input in our child’s lives, we will be doing them and our world a much greater service.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: Consumption is vital. Nutritional, spiritual, emotional, all of it. But I’m afraid we are spending so much time diagramming the sugar content of granola bars, that we are neglecting to measure the growth habits or our children’s patience, kindness and respect for others.

In our final days, it’s not going to matter how many marathons our babies ran or how awesome their homemade compost piles were in their backyards.

What will matter is the lasting legacy they leave and the lives they touched while here on this earth.

So, pardon me if I chunk a few fluorescent mac-n-cheese buckets in my buggy as I saunter through the pasta aisle. No harm. No foul.  Just placing my primary focus on a tad bit different intake at our house.

To receive encouragement and read more about thriving rather than simply surviving in motherhood, check out Erin’s book, Cheers the Diaper Years: 10 Truths for Thriving While Barely Surviving here.

Erin Brown Hollis is Yellowhammer’s lifestyle contributor and host of Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “Cheers to That” podcast. An author, speaker, lawyer, wife and mother of two, she invites you to grab a cup as she toasts the good in life, love and motherhood. Follow Erin on Instagram ErinBrownHollis or Twitter @ErinBrownHollis

4 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Trump is trying to put an end to endless war

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has a clear approach to the evolving situation in Syria: Leave it alone.

Brooks’ premise is that both Turkey and the Kurds are American allies, so getting involved on either side puts us in conflict with the other.

During a Monday interview on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Brooks explained that this situation was seemingly inevitable, saying, “I wish that the Turks and the Kurds would get along peacefully, but they have got ill-will harboring and simmering for at least a hundred years.

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He added, “To me, it was inevitable that whenever America reduced its presence in the Middle East, as we should, because we cannot afford to be the police cop on every corner, that violence would break out.”

The congressman acknowledged the role that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy played in the current situation, especially in the creation of ISIS. This is the same argument Trump used in 2016 and the then-candidate promised to end our “endless wars.”

Brooks went on to say that America does not need to involve itself in these issues any longer.

“I support any kind of decision to reduce our presence in these countries that do not appreciate our loss of life, our financial expenditures, in their countries,” he explained.

Brooks acknowledged this could be a situation the United States has to revisit in the future, but warned of a “war caucus that wants to be more aggressive int he Turk/Kurd fight.

“We’ve got a ‘war caucus,’ for lack of a better term, that does believe that the United States of America should be the cop on every corner of the planet, no matter the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, no matter that every penny we spend on these efforts is borrowed money, money we can’t afford to pay back,” he advised.

My takeaway:

Again, Trump made this clear and Brooks appears to agree: We can’t afford to keep doing this forever. Even the most adamant war hawks from the post-9/11 period think we have been at this long enough. Many seem to see little more to gain from new and prolonged conflicts.

The president made it a campaign promise to end these foreign wars, and he is following through on that promise.

Like in everything else, he will be opposed by both sides of the political aisle. No matter what the president does, it has to be wrong — even if nobody else has any better solutions to offer.

But that does not make him wrong.

Do any of the Democratic presidential candidates advocate re-entering Syria if they win? How about sending more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan?

Only time will tell how this decision affects American interests. But unless something drastically changes in the region, we are better off by letting those with regional interests handle the issues in the Middle East.

Listen:

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