5 days ago

Alabama Power employees help disadvantaged have happier holidays

As the holidays loom and temperatures slide downward, many Alabama Power Plant Miller employees are warming the hearts of less fortunate folks. That’s the case for members of all 10 chapters of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO), who pull out all the stops to assist during the Christmas season.

The unwavering focus of Miller APSO’s board and 300 chapter members is helping meet community needs in one of Alabama’s poorest areas.

“The need is real,” said Miller APSO President Kevin Chappell. Indeed, about 22% of Walker County’s 64,000 residents live below the poverty line.

In freezing weather, the homeless seek a warm place to stay at the City of Lights Dream Center in Dora. In January, the center opened 20 beds to the public, along with providing hot meals and showers. Miller APSO members volunteered for 400 hours in helping prepare the center for opening.

Jamie Massey, founder of City of Lights, said that volunteer hours and donations by Miller APSO members are making life more bearable for the center’s homeless and needy clients. When temperatures go below freezing two or more consecutive nights, the center opens its warming stations.

Adding touch of home for the hurting

“It’s not just the homeless,” said Massey, who operates the center with her husband, Sumiton Church of God Pastor Victor Massey. “We have families that are cold and don’t have running water, for instance. With it being this cold, we want to make sure it’s for anybody that needs to get warm.”

In August, Miller APSO provided a donation for school supplies to assist with the center’s Back 2 School Bash for needy families. More than 800 families picked up free paper, pens, pencils and backpacks before school started. The City of Lights Dream Center provides free day care services to approved families and a Celebrate Recovery program for people fighting addiction.

“It’s our dream to make life better for people in Walker County,” Massey said. “I can’t thank Miller APSO enough for their kindness.”

Working for others

When APSO members met for the 2019 APSO Convention, Miller board members assembled 150 hygiene bags to give to the Walker County Coalition for the Homeless in Jasper.

“Our board is so dedicated, they make it really easy to accomplish what we’re working to do in our community,” said Chappell, electrical and instrumentation journeyman.

The chapter holds several “big earning” fundraisers annually: cake auctions on Halloween and Valentine’s Day; a Sporting Clays Shoot; the Miller Open Golf Tournament at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, Oxmoor Valley, that earned $19,000; and a bowling tournament at Vestavia Bowl that earned $1,700.

Miller elves scramble to fill Christmas lists

Miller APSO members know that Christmas holidays can be a sad time for the less fortunate. That is why, throughout November, Miller APSO puts a heavy emphasis on its Adopt A Child program, Project Coordinator Beth Shumate said. Miller members give Christmas gifts to Salvation Army Angels for Jefferson County and children sponsored by the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) for Walker County.

“We always do two days of Christmas shopping for the kids,” Chappell said.

In Sumiton, Miller APSO will sponsor 200 children, spending $75 for each child. Project coordinators Shumate, manager – SCM Transactions Procurement, and Tina Valles, buyer – Generation, lead shopping sprees for Angel kids. Miller APSO will write a $15,000 check to the Salvation Army. In Jasper, employees will spend $150 each on Christmas gifts for 100 needy kids.

Miller APSO took part in the West Jefferson Festival of Trees earlier this month. The proceeds benefit West Jefferson Elementary School. The theme of Miller’s APSO tree was “Night before Christmas,” and displayed organizations the chapter has supported throughout the year, Miller APSO Project Coordinator Rachel Edgil said.

Miller APSO has a long-standing relationship with area senior citizen centers. Project Coordinator Jamie Driver said members will fill more than 250 bags for seniors who visit the center, as well as homebound seniors.

“Gifts include personal hygiene items, paper, pens, candy and seniors’ favorite item, which is postage stamps,” Driver said. Each year, APSO members wear their red logo shirts and Santa hats while delivering bags at each center.

“For some, our smiling faces and the Christmas bag may be the only gifts they receive this year,” Driver said.

Paying good forward

Thirteen years ago, Chappell recognized APSO as the perfect avenue to make a difference. He joined the employee volunteer group during his first month at Gaston.

“In my own life, so many people have helped me along the way,” Chappell said. “When I started working here, I knew that Alabama Power would be a great job for me and my family. I knew I’d be able to help others.”

Longtime Power Generation Analyst Edgil said serving in APSO has given her the means to “pay it forward” in life. She’s enjoyed many opportunities to meet people inside and outside work.

“Being in APSO is my way of giving back for what I’ve received,” Edgil said. “I love helping people.”

This story originally appeared in Powergrams.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

43 mins ago

This weekend’s comprehensive college football TV schedule

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

1
52 mins ago

Rogers: Senators seeking the presidency should recuse themselves from impeachment trial

U.S. Rep Mike Rogers (AL-03) announced Friday that he was co-sponsoring Rep. Jason Smith’s (R-MO) legislation urging the Senate to alter its rules so sitting U.S. Senators would be forced to recuse themselves from the removal trials of impeached presidents.

Currently, four Democratic senators are vying for their party’s presidential nomination: Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ), Michael Bennett (CO) and Amy Klobuchar (MN), plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“This is just common-sense and fair. Clearly, none of the Democrats running for president will be impartial during an impeachment trial and they will all use their involvement in the trial to ramp up their campaigns.  As unfair as the House witch hunt has been all along, I am hopeful the upper chamber will be just in their treatment of President Trump,” Rogers said.

129

The bill comes in response to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The inquiry will end with the U.S. House voting on the articles of impeachment that are currently being drafted. If a majority of the House, 216 members, vote to impeach, then a removal trial will be held in the U.S. Senate.

At present, there are 233 Democrats in the U.S. House.

Most observers expect the House vote in late December, followed by the Senate trial in January.

Smith’s legislation claims that a “United States Senator actively seeking to unseat the incumbent President of the United States cannot claim impartiality in his or her political opponent’s impeachment trial.”

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

3 hours ago

2019 Alabama Theatre holiday movie schedule

“White Christmas”
December 6, at 7:00 p.m.; December 15, at 2:00 p.m. (sing-along);
December 17, at 2:00 p.m.; December 22, at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
December 7, at 7:00 p.m.; December 16, at 7:00 p.m.;
December 18, at 7:00 p.m.; December 21, at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

261

“Miracle on 34th Street” 
December 8, at 2:00 p.m.; December 21, at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

“Elf”
December 8, at 7:00 p.m.; December 12, at 7:00 p.m.;
December 17 at 7:00 p.m.; December 22 at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

“It’s a Wonderful Life” 
December 9, at 7:00 p.m.; December 16, at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

“Home Alone”
December 10, at 7:00 p.m.; December 15, at 7:00 p.m.;
December 20, at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

“The Polar Express” 
December 10; 10:00 a.m.
Tickets start at $12; for tickets click here

“A Christmas Story” 
December 13, at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

Cartoon Triple Feature
The movies to be shown include: “A Charlie Brown Christmas;” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer;” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
December 14, at 2:00 p.m.; December 19, at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” 
December 19, at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click here

“Die Hard” 
December 20, at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $9; for tickets click 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

3 hours ago

Finding Baghdadi: Why protecting space assets is vital to national security

On Oct. 27, the world learned of a raid that culminated in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. U.S. special forces and intelligence officials were able to succeed in their mission to take down a brutal murderer — one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists — through the use of sophisticated satellites that the U.S. currently has in orbit.

Control of space and protected assets in orbit are vital to American security here on Earth. Space was once thought to be a peaceful environment for scientific advancement, but as national security objectives have evolved, space has transformed into a potential battlefield. With countries increasingly concerned about deterrence and conflict strategies, the importance of assured and reliable access through mission-specific launch services has become clear, and the Pentagon’s new combatant command, SPACECOM, must move quickly to secure U.S. assets.

Years ago, space changed from a place of discovery into a necessity for American life — and for military operations. From the Air Force-managed GPS satellites that run mapping programs with the touch of a button to billion-dollar National Reconnaissance Office spy satellites that keep our intelligence community informed on what our adversaries plan to do next, it is clear that space is a potential war-fighting domain.

War fighting, when it comes to both established adversaries and emerging terrorist threats, has changed along with technology. Now it is time for America to fundamentally change its approach to space.

542

In World War II, technology did not allow us to pinpoint the location of our enemy with the click of a button. In order to defeat the enemy, the U.S. knew that our imperative was to first locate the enemy in a vast region. For example, the Battle of Midway, which is considered a major turning point, occurred because U.S. Navy pilots were able to successfully locate the Japanese fleet before the American fleet was discovered. These types of naval engagements, where surprise and miscalculation dominated, are unimaginable today because of America’s assets in space. As technology has improved, so has situational awareness.

As our space assets play increasingly vital roles in keeping us safe, it is essential that we have the capability to launch these assets and protect them once they are in orbit. Our military’s access to space, with state-of-the-art rockets that are purpose-built for national security and have a legacy of precision, is a necessity as we work to protect ourselves. Since its creation, SPACECOM has both understood the threat of unprotected space assets and discussed this new war-fighting domain with industry partners.

Our assets in space have increasingly become a target for enemies and adversaries. Based on the history of space being an uncontested sphere, and due to the extreme difficulty operating there, our satellites and communications devices are relatively unprotected. Earlier this year, the U.S. intelligence community reported that Russia and China both have the capability to interfere with and destroy these critical assets.

China’s well-known aspirations in the Pacific Rim, as well as Russia’s objectives in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, are driving them to both innovate and expand their offensive capabilities in space. Their motivations to change the geopolitical status quo could be hastened by taking action against U.S. national security space assets. These actions could range from jamming a communications satellite to operations rendering assets inoperable.

The U.S. government currently has 78 satellites in orbit, which serve a variety of key functions. These assets give troops in the field the ability to communicate with each other, provide intelligence officials with information on North Korea’s missile launches, and even power the GPS on civilian devices. An interruption in these communications could have devastating consequences for the U.S.

As adversaries continue to more aggressively test these weapons, it is clear that U.S. national security space assets are necessary for our intelligence community to both see and understand the threat to U.S. military personnel and assets, civilians, and our allies. However, if an adversary has compromised our assets in space, the U.S. could be left in the dark when it comes to the threat and its impact.

What are now essential parts of our economy have been built around fragile national security space assets. It is well past time to assure that these assets, and the American operations behind them, are properly protected. As nations continue to invest in their national defense through war-fighting capabilities in space, it is imperative that the United States remain at the forefront of this new chapter in space.

Tory Bruno is the president and CEO of United Launch Alliance (ULA), which manufactures rockets at its world-class facility in Decatur, Alabama. He has a background in aerospace engineering and is a member of the U.S. president’s National Space Council.

4 hours ago

Alabama task force on veterans suicide holds ‘productive and encouraging’ inaugural meeting

Wednesday saw the first meeting of the Alabama Task Force on Veterans Suicide. The organizational meeting saw testimony from subject matter experts and was complimented as impactful by its chairperson.

The task force originates from a resolution sponsored by State Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham). The goal of the task force is to investigate what is causing the elevated rate of suicide among Alabama’s veterans and figure out how to prevent more vets from taking their own lives.

According to the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, “In 2016, the veteran suicide rate in Alabama was 60 percent higher than the rate for civilians and nine percent higher than other southern states.”

249

The members of the task force were appointed by the governor, speaker of the Alabama House, minority leader of the Alabama House, president of the Senate, Alabama Senate minority leader, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, state health officer and commissioner of the Department of Human Resources.

The task force has two years before it must present a report on its findings to the state legislature.

“This first workshop was productive and encouraging.” Paulette Risher, task force chair said. “Participants gained a better understanding of each member’s background and why they are willing to serve in this important work.”

Two experts on veterans’ mental health, Dr. Joe Currier and Dr. Karl Hammer, presented at the meeting to establish a gound level vocabulary and level of knowledge among the participants.

Currier, according to the ADVA, “discussed suicide fundamentals such as terms used for those contemplating suicide. He also highlighted the risk factors and red flags for suicide.”

Hammer “discussed Operation Deep Dive, a four-year research study that examines the potential causes involved in suicides among military veterans.”

“My sensing is that every person in attendance, many veterans themselves, are fully committed to helping Alabama demonstrate our genuine concern and commitment to our citizens who have worn, or are wearing the cloth of the nation,” Risher stated. “It is such an honor to help guide this effort. This is clearly work of the head and the heart.”

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