4 weeks ago

Alabama Power Gadsden employee enlists friends’ help to feed kids, neighbors during pandemic

In the midst of the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Misty Kerr has found joy by helping to feed hungry kids in her community.

“With all the bad news on TV, I had to have something to smile about,” said Kerr, an automotive market specialist at Alabama Power’s Gadsden Office. “When all this is over and I think back on the pandemic, I wanted to be able to think about the good that came out of it. There is nothing more fulfilling than feeding children.”

When schools abruptly closed in March, Kerr became concerned. Knowing that many of the children in her Gadsden community depend on free or reduced-priced lunches at school, she turned to Facebook to see how she could help. That was the start of a fast friendship among Kerr and four Gadsden-area women who share a passion for making sure kids’ bellies are full.

“We decided that action was the only option,” said Kerr. “We started with a food drive at Noccalula Falls and, to our surprise, droves of neighbors came out and donated food and, more surprisingly, they made monetary donations.”

Their success led Kerr, Serena Gramling, Stacey Yates, Stacy Harris and Krista Ashley to launch the Titan Community Food Pantry, named for the mascot at Gadsden City High School.

The night of the food drive, Kerr began researching how to form a nonprofit. Later that week, the five friends distributed the 225 bags of food they had collected to students at Emma Sansom and Litchfield Middle schools – two of the Gadsden schools that had not yet restarted their food distribution program.

“In the first week, we held a food drive, started filling out the paperwork and developing the articles of incorporation for our nonprofit, opened a bank account and handed out food,” Kerr said. “Behind every decision concerning the food bank, serving others was our mission.”

The women then reached out to principals at schools across Etowah County and set up the Titan Community Food Pantry Facebook site to raise awareness and offer assistance. As word spread, they learned of more needs both at schools and in the community.

Kerr said one request came from a pastor in east Gadsden. Tymetric “Ty” Dillon, of Living Truth Christian Center, said people were coming to the church to ask for food for their families, but he couldn’t find any businesses or people who could help. When the women offered to bring 150 bags of food, Dillon was amazed.

“I reached out to Misty to see if we could replicate the things they were doing,” Dillon said. “But she was so gracious to say we would love to partner with you and feed the kids in your community. They have really embraced us. It means so much to us. The east Gadsden area can be overlooked because of the demographics. When you have people take a genuine interest, it means a lot to me and to the community.”

Since then, the women have continued to keep the church supplied with food for the community.

Chance Goodwin, principal at C.A. Donehoo Elementary School, was overwhelmed by the women’s generosity. During their food giveaway at the school, they handed out 190 bags of food to students.

“That was huge,” Goodwin said. “A lot of our parents were not working at the time, and the ladies were giving away a lot of food that could be used to feed their families. It really made a difference in their lives.”

Kerr said her friends have involved their children in the mission. Noa Yates; Riley Kerr; Kaelyn, Ethan, Dalton and Kendall Harris; Emma and Tommy Gramling; and Anna Kate and Carson Ashley helped pack bags and distribute food.

“Our kids’ lives had changed as well,” Kerr said. “On distribution days, cars would line up, and we would pass the bags through the window to keep social distancing intact and wear masks to further enhance safety.”

Kerr said the community stepped up in a big way, with individuals and churches making donations.

“Krista Ashley started the Titan Community Food Pantry GoFundMe page, and within three days, $500 had been donated,” Kerr said. “I had one lady call me twice and say, ‘Go look in your mailbox. I’ve left something for you.’ When I looked, she had left a $500 check.”

Using the donations, Kerr and the other women began shopping for grocery deals. They took advantage of coupons and compared prices to get the best bang for their buck.

The food pantry, housed in a garage apartment at Kerr’s home, quickly began filling up with nutritious prepackaged food, such as pudding and fruit cups, granola bars, peanut butter and jelly, crackers and cans of soup. On the day of the giveaways, the group dropped by a grocery store to pick up milk, pizza, sausage biscuits and other frozen foods to give children. Since March, they have distributed more than 1,200 bags with three-day meal supplies to schools and others throughout the community.

The women learned that children weren’t the only hungry ones during the pandemic. They delivered more than 300 boxes of food to homebound or immunocompromised people. Among them were an elderly couple with a disabled adult, and a family of seven who have no transportation.

“We go where the needs are,” Kerr said. “We don’t ask questions. If they need food, we give it to them. It just breaks my heart to see anyone go hungry.”

Kerr said the women will keep the pantry open as long as there is a need.

“It has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Kerr said. “To you, this might just be a pandemic but, to me, I’ve found a new passion by truly loving my neighbors and community.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Rep. Aderholt: GOP control of House not out of reach, Senate should remain Republican

Before the onset of the pandemic, Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill were optimistic about the possibility of recapturing the House and maintaining control of the Senate.

However, the mood of the body politic has changed with the arrival of COVID-19 and has made the future a bit murky. Still maintaining a level of optimism is U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), who thinks Republicans could make gains this election but is unsure if they can make enough gains to assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Aderholt offered his view of those prospects on both sides of the U.S. Capitol as they stand now.

365

“Republicans always want to be optimistic,” Aderholt said. “We’ve got about 18 seats that we’re down right now. And the question is, can we pick up that and plus a seat or two to get the majority. To say it is a sure thing — it’s not. It’s going to be a tough election year, especially in the congressional districts where the Biden folks are going to be getting out, or the anti-Trump. I don’t think they’re so supportive of Biden, but they’re just anti-Trump.”

“I think we can pick up seats,” he continued. “I think it is entirely possible because of Donald Trump. He is going to be at the top of the ticket, and he is going to really help some members that really get the vote out to help them. The question is nobody knows will there be how many we can pick up. I won’t be surprised if we do pick up some seats. The question is, will we pick up 18 to 20, enough to take the majority. And that’s something we won’t know until closer on.”

Aderholt did not think Democrats could regain the U.S. Senate and added that he saw the seat currently occupied by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) flipping to a Republican seat, which makes those prospects more difficult for Democrats.

“I’m still optimistic the Senate can stay Republican,” Aderholt added. “I know there are three or four seats that are still toss-ups, so to speak that are Republican-held now. Obviously, I think we’re going to win the Doug Jones seat. That will be a pick-up for us. I don’t think the ones that are questionable, Republicans that are having a hard time right now, I don’t think we’ll lose all of them. We might lose one or two. But I think at the end of the day, we’re still going to stay over 50.”

@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 hours ago

7 Things: Biden calls for impossible nationwide mask mandate, Alabama unemployment continues to trend down, good coronavirus news in the Yellowhammer State and more …

7. Black Sons of Confederate Veterans member wants monuments kept

  • Daniel Sims is a black man and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and during a now viral interview with a local news station, he advocated for keeping Confederate flags on display and leaving monuments up. In the interview, he displayed multiple depictions of the flag.
  • Sims said he is adopted and he has adopted his family’s heritage, saying that he “went to an all-white school, grew up in an all-white neighborhood. My grandfather was white, and he was the main one who fought in this war here. And he’s taught me everything I know.” He added that if he’s “got anything to do with it, ain’t no monument going to come down.”

6. No, Trump didn’t say don’t fund the post office

632

  • While interviewing on Fox News, President Donald Trump discussed the issue of mail-in voting and the United States Postal Service, and Trump said that in the coronavirus relief package, Democrats have detailed that the USPS needs $25 billion. The president added, “[T]hey need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.”
  • Trump went on to say that “if we don’t make a deal that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.” Now, people are saying this is voter suppression and calling for Trump to be impeached again.

5. Peace agreement in the Middle East

  • Progress in creating a peaceful Middle East took a step forward yesterday when the United States helped broker a peace deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel as part of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to stabilize a region of the world that has required a large amount of American military interventions in the past.
  • Obviously, not everyone is happy. American Democrats (except for Biden who thinks he did it) and the media view this as a problem while Iran and Turkey have called this peace deal “dagger” in the backs of Palestinians and the region’s Muslim populations. The Trump administration intimated that this was only the first step in this process and other deals could be announced soon.

4. Mazda Toyota is upping its Huntsville investment

  • The current Mazda Toyota Manufacturing investment is currently at $2.311 billion in North Alabama after the company announced that they’d be increasing their investment by $830 million during an event in Huntsville that was held virtually.
  • To detail what the investment will cover, Governor Kay Ivey made an announcement saying that it will “incorporate new cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees.”

3. Good coronavirus news is good

  • For three straight days, the state of Alabama saw new case numbers below 1,000 for the first time since June. This is great news, but it doesn’t end there. The average of new coronavirus cases (1,156) is down 18% in a week from 1,415 on August 6.
  • Hospitalization across the state saw an average of 108 coronavirus patients per day last week, but the average was between 160 and 200 since July 17 and the first time the rate has declined week to week since all of this started. There is some grim news, too, as Alabama saw one of its highest mortality weeks so far with 24 people dying on average each day.

2. Unemployment claims are down

  • New data released by the Alabama Labor Department shows that 9,468 people filed for unemployment last week, which is the second-lowest week we’ve had in unemployment since March 14.
  • Jefferson County had the most claims at 1,142, Madison County had 573, Mobile County had 1,025 and Montgomery County had 459. This continues the downward trend for nearly a month now.

1. Biden is advocating for a national mask mandate

  • Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden has come out in favor of a national mask mandate to fight the coronavirus, despite 34 states already having a mandate, and President Donald Trump is now accusing Biden of trying “to politicize a pandemic.”
  • During a press briefing, Trump addressed the idea of a national mask mandate, and emphasized, “Biden has been wrong about the virus, ignoring the scientific evidence and putting left-wing politics before facts.” He added that a national mask approach by Biden is “regressive, unscientific and bad for our country.”

5 hours ago

AG Marshall on prisons: ‘My hope is that both sides recognize that litigation is not in the best interest’ of DOJ, State of Alabama

Now that some three weeks have passed since the Department of Justice released a report highlighting deficiencies throughout the Alabama Department of Corrections’ prison system, it remains unclear what the objective was of the U.S. Attorneys that authored the document.

The timing suggests that the report could be a tool to motivate the decisionmakers in state government to act on alleged civil rights violations within the system. However, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall says the report’s purpose is still unclear.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Marshall said the letter could be a step in the process to proceed with litigation but argued that litigation would not be “in the best interest” of either the federal or state governments.

253

“[T]his was a report — again, nothing that we don’t need to make sure we stand up and make sure that we correct — but of older news that was already in the public domain,” he said. “And so why it is the Department of Justice chose to do that at this point, I can’t particularly tell you. Although I will say just simply as a matter of federal law, the issuance of that report becomes a trigger for them after a certain period of time for them to be able to initiate litigation. So, that singularly could be the basis for it.”

“My hope is that both sides recognize that litigation is not in the best interest of either party,” Marshall continued. “But the problem with that consent decree, I think as you well know, is that high turnover, control by assigning it to third parties that are not connected to Alabama, that have direct ability to impact the general fund, and the amount of money that goes to the prisons in the general fund, and for which there is zero accountability to the people of Alabama, the decisions that make, and I’m just simply not going to do that.”

@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.

19 hours ago

Auburn to require students to self-screen beginning Aug. 17, supporting Alabama’s GuideSafe™ platform

AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn has partnered with institutions across the state to implement the GuideSafe™ platform, one of many university efforts designed to facilitate a safe and healthy return to campus and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

An integral component of A Healthier U, Auburn’s plan for fall reentry, the GuideSafe™ platform includes entry testing for all students returning to college campuses, a daily self-screening tool and an exposure notification app that will assist with critical contact tracing.

537

“The launch of this multi-tool resource is a major step forward in our ongoing work toward a safe and healthy campus and supports our plans for a strong start to the fall,” said Auburn President Jay Gogue. “These tools are an important means to keep our campus community safe, as well as a way for our students, faculty and staff to demonstrate personal responsibility.”

On the first day of classes, Aug. 17, all students coming to campus must begin using HealthCheck, a daily self-screener that allows users to report COVID-19-related symptoms. After completing the HealthCheck, students will receive an A Healthier U pass. A green pass indicates students are safe to come to campus, while red means they should stay home or seek medical attention. Students may be asked to show their pass at any time as they move around campus.

In addition to the GuideSafe™ platform, the university has launched a COVID Resource Center, a multidisciplinary team created to respond to questions and requests from Auburn faculty, staff and students regarding COVID-19. Staffed by trained volunteers from across the university, the center is a centralized resource that works closely with the Auburn University Medical Clinic, Facilities Management, University Housing, Human Resources, Campus Safety and Security, Student Affairs, academic and other campus units.

“Auburn has put numerous measures in place for the fall semester to help reduce the transmission of the virus and safeguard the health of our students, faculty and staff as much as possible,” Gogue said. “Together, we all play a vital role in keeping our campus open by being responsible and wearing face coverings, completing a daily screening, maintaining physical distance and practicing proper personal hygiene.”

In addition to Entry Testing and Healthcheck, the GuideSafe™ platform also includes a voluntary Exposure Notification App, which alerts users of potential exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days. The Exposure Notification app, currently in a pilot stage, enables individuals to make decisions best for them and their loved ones, such as seeking medical advice or staying home. To preserve user privacy, the exposure notification technology assigns random number codes to each user, ensuring all parties remain anonymous to each other and to the system itself.

All Auburn students, faculty and staff with a .edu email address are invited and encouraged to participate in the app’s pilot phase. The pilot app was built by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham-based MotionMobs in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health. It integrates exposure notification technology developed by Google and Apple exposure notification, and Alabama is one of the first states in the country to leverage the new technology. Once the pilot phase of the app has ended later this month, it will be assessed and made available for public download via Apple and Android devices.

The GuideSafe™ platform is supported by Gov. Kay Ivey’s direction of more than $30 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act funding and allows for robust testing, symptom monitoring and notification of exposure to COVID-19 for students in all Alabama public and private institutions.

For more information about Auburn’s implementation of the GuideSafe™ platform, visit the university’s A Healthier U website.

(Courtesy of Auburn University)

20 hours ago

FedEx to build distribution center in Birmingham that will employ 285 workers

FedEx confirmed on Thursday that it will be building a 300,000 square foot distribution center in southwest Birmingham that projects to employ 285 full and part time employees by 2024.

The distribution center is a $40.6 million investment for the FedEx Ground division of the international shipping giant. It will be constructed on a 46 acre plot on Lakeshore Parkway next to the recently finished Dollar General distribution center.

“The jobs and investment are very important to our economy and I want to thank FedEx Ground for choosing this site,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin in a statement on Thursday.

341

According to a release from the Birmingham Business Alliance, 94% of the facility will be located within Birmingham’s city limits and 6% will be in Bessemer.

The FedEx location will reportedly be immediately adjacent to the Dollar General facility. (Google Maps/Screenshot)

“This project required extraordinary communication due to its multi-city location,” remarked Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons.

“This project is an excellent example of regional cooperation as we worked with Bessemer and Jefferson County to bring about an expansion of FedEx Ground in the Birmingham area,” Woodfin added.

The plot of land where the center will be built was previously owned by U.S. Steel.

According to The Birmingham Business Journal, a Missouri developer purchased it in recent days for $2.8 million to clear the way for building the FedEx facility. Cooper Construction in Birmingham is said to be the contractor tackling the project.

Work on the building is slated to begin in September of this year, with the goal of completion by June 2021. Full employment at the center is not expected until three years after the construction is completed.

A spokesperson for FedEx Ground told the Birmingham Business Journal that the company needed the facility to “meet growing demand for our services” and chose the Lakeshore site because of its “ease of access to major highways, proximity to customers’ distribution centers and a strong local community workforce.”

The Birmingham Business Alliance spearheaded the recruitment process for the project.

The City of Birmingham, City of Bessemer, Jefferson County Commission, and Birmingham Industrial Development Board all teamed to create a package of abatements and incentives to help lure FedEx to the area.

“Adding more jobs, especially during this pandemic, is crucial for our local economy,” commented Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens.

He concluded, “Our job as elected officials is to improve the quality of life for our citizens. This is a prime example of what we can accomplish together.”

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