7 months ago

Alabama State Port Authority, Army Corps of Engineers sign formal agreement for ‘historic’ Port of Mobile expansion project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Alabama State Port Authority have now officially entered into a Project Partnership Agreement to deepen and widen the Mobile Harbor Ship Channel by late 2024 or early 2025.

The agreement was signed on Wednesday by Colonel Sebastien P. Joly, commander of the Corps’ Mobile district, and John C. Driscoll, who assumed his role as director and CEO of the Port Authority the first of this month.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) praised the announcement.

“Today’s signing of the Mobile Harbor Project agreement is yet another milestone in the process of the deepening and widening the Port of Mobile,” Shelby said in a statement.

The harbor channel construction project, which will allow for more goods to be shipped and sold through Alabama’s seaport, is financed by a split of 75% federal funds and 25% state-sponsored funds.

This was made possible by federal legislation through which Shelby increased the federal government’s share of funding for deep draft ports from 50% to 75%.

Shelby has also been credited with securing the federal funding portion of this specific project through his leadership as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Alabama State Port Authority Director Emeritus Jimmy Lyons called Shelby a “champion” of the port.

The Corps in February fully allocated that federal funding — $274,300,000 — for the Port of Mobile in its Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020) Work Plan, officially providing the resources to dredge Alabama’s premier port. The funding – which accounts for the full federal share of the project cost – initiated the complete construction of the deepening and widening of the navigation channel.

“The completion of this historic project will transform Alabama, expanding economic opportunities throughout our state and the region,” Shelby added. “Further, the modernization of Alabama’s primary port will increase the United States’ competitiveness in the global market. I am extremely grateful for the support of the Army Corps of Engineers and the work of the Alabama State Port Authority to ensure that this project, which I have spent years championing, crosses the finish line with ease.”

The state portion of the funding was secured by the Rebuild Alabama Act of 2019.

“Beyond the impact on the local and state levels, the Port of Mobile serves as a catalyst to our nation’s competitive position in the global economy. I have been proud to support The Mobile Harbor Modernization project, and I look forward to watching the growing benefits our Port will have in the years to come,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement. “The Port of Mobile is now poised to become a major hub for export activity, and this is yet another giant step forward in supporting our industries in the Americas and beyond. Alabama can be proud of the powerful economic tool that is our own Port of Mobile.”

Federal authorization for the project was granted last year. The Corps and the Port Authority entered into the Mobile Harbor Pre-Construction, Engineering and Design Agreement shortly thereafter.

The Corps anticipates the initial construction phase of the project to be awarded in the fall of 2020. The project is anticipated to occur over six construction phases, with a targeted project completion by late 2024 or early 2025. The total estimated cost is $365 million.

The completed project will consist of deepening the existing Bar, Bay, and River Channels to a depth of 50 feet; incorporating minor bend easing at the double bends in the Bar Channel; widening the Bay Channel from 400 feet to 500 feet from the mouth of Mobile Bay northward for three nautical miles to provide a two-way traffic area for passing; and expanding the Choctaw Pass Turning Basin by 250 feet to the south at a depth of 50 feet.

“The Mobile Harbor project leverages shore-side port investments that provide shippers cost competitive transportation solutions in an ever changing and increasingly competitive global economy,” stated Driscoll. “I’m deeply appreciative of the groundwork my predecessor, Jimmy Lyons, and the Authority’s team, delivered to realize this important project.”

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

25 mins ago

Former Crimson Tide national champion Martin Houston running for mayor of Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa businessman, pastor and former University of Alabama football player Martin Houston on Thursday announced his entry into the Tuscaloosa mayoral race.

During a press conference at his campaign headquarters in downtown Tuscaloosa, Houston was introduced by Crimson Tide legend Gene Stallings, who was Houston’s coach during Bama’s 1992 national championship season.

Watch Stalling’s remarks and the entirety of the announcement here.

Speaking to a small group of supporters and media at the live streamed event, Houston laid out his vision for Tuscaloosa, focusing on increased transparency, inclusion, diversity and economic growth.

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“I first knew that Tuscaloosa was an extremely special place during an official college visit to Alabama in 1988,” said Houston, who played fullback and running back for the Tide for the 1989-1992 seasons. “What I thought was just a four-year decision to play football turned into something much more. Tuscaloosa is where I married my childhood sweetheart, raised our children, and found my purpose. For 32 years, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to serve as a businessman, a pastor, a volunteer, and a coach here.”

At the university, Houston received both the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence and Charlie Compton Christian Leadership Awards. He was also the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ “Christian Athlete of the Year” in 1992. He went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993 until a knee injury ended his NFL career.

Now, Houston is senior director of Membership Growth for Alabama One, serves as the lead pastor at Harvest Church in nearby Coker and hosts “The Martin Houston Show” on Tide 100.9. Additionally, he is a faith-based, inspirational speaker and is the chief empowerment officer/lead communicator for “The Empowerment Center.”

Houston and his wife of 31 years, Cassandra, have four children and three grandchildren.

“We all know the potential that our city has. It’s time to raise the bar and take Tuscaloosa from being just a good city to a great one,” he remarked on Thursday.

“I know that many of you feel disrespected, disconnected, and disenfranchised,” Houston added. “I want everyone to know that I hear you. Everyone in Tuscaloosa deserves a place where they can be heard. When I’m your mayor, everyone will have that place—that seat at the table.”

The pastor noted, “Tuscaloosa needs a candidate who is of the people, by the people, and for the people. I am running so I can make Tuscaloosa a better place for everyone to live, work, play and worship.”

“We can and will do this with focused, determined efforts to be an economically sound City driven by innovation, diversity and inclusion at every level,” he pledged. “Your voice matters and in the coming weeks, I look forward to earning your trust, your respect and your vote.”

Earlier the same day, incumbent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced that he is seeking reelection to a fifth term. This will be Maddox’s first municipal bid since being the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018.

He released this campaign video on Thursday:

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

1 hour ago

Tuberville: Trump made a ‘mistake’ at rally but ability of armed intruders to get into the U.S. Capitol ‘very concerning’

Trump ally Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) admits President Donald Trump made a “mistake” with his rhetoric at a rally staged in Washington, D.C., before a joint session of Congress met to certify the 2020 Electoral College results. However, he also said he had questions about how the event unfolded.

During an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Tuberville explained the challenges Trump has faced, even as his term is coming to an end, adding that the president may not have been aware of how influential he is with his base. However, the football coach-turned-U.S. Senator said there were some peculiar circumstances regarding the crowd that day.

“[A] lot of people up there cannot stand an outsider being in office, and that’s Donald Trump,” he said. “He made a mistake last week. I don’t think he even really realized how powerful he is with his base. Now, I watched all the footage of the riot. I’d never seen a Trump rally, which he has had over 600 of them, with people come wearing helmets and backpacks and those things. I don’t know who was involved in it, but it happened, and it should have never happened.”

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Tuberville also said he had concerns about the incident and what could have been done to prevent it, noting the FBI did not relay the threat to Trump.

“[It’s] very concerning,” he said. “I live next to the Capitol. I walk around it every day. I get up early in the morning, and I can walk to work. I get up, do a little exercise. It is a beautiful place. We have 2,000 people that work for the Capitol Police that day, obviously. Now my understanding is that the FBI knew they had gotten word there was going to be trouble at the Capitol the day before it happened. That word never got to the President of the United States. As a Senator, I want to know why that wasn’t passed on down the line. Is the FBI holding secrets? I don’t understand that. But, you’ve got 2,000 Capitol Hill police, and my understanding is they thought, ‘Hey, there are never any problems with Trump rallies because they come and they go.’ There’s been 600 of them, but this was different. I don’t know why it was different. I don’t know why we had people get involved in the things that they get involved in. We had people killed in this. We had a policeman get hit with a fire extinguisher. He got hit in the head, and he later passed on. We had a lady that was a veteran that was shot.”

“I went home about four in the morning, that night after we went on with confirming Joe Biden,” Tuberville added. “I was just taken aback from knowing our country is much, much better than what we went through that day. And it should never happen. Now you can see — they’re probably going overboard now. There are going to be 10,000, 20,000 National Guard people around every building. It looks like a third-world country, and it makes you feel bad for what our forefathers had built.”

@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.

2 hours ago

Mo Brooks says Democrats looking to censure, expel and prosecute him are behaving like communists

Much to the pleasure of the Alabama political media, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is right in the firing line when it comes to the Republicans the national media and their Democrats are attempting to blame for the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.

There have been numerous reckless reactions to this by in-state media, who claim to be above political mudslinging and who supposedly just want to bring the facts to the people.

Al(dot)com’s John Archibald declared that the announcement that the Space Command HQ was coming to Huntsville was “sedition on commission.”

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The Space Command HQ was a payoff, for sedition, Archibald claims. Alleging a crime without reason or merit. Journalism.

His colleague and intellectual equal J.D. Crowe drew a picture depicting Brooks and every other Alabama Republican who voted for election oversight as members of the Klan and accused them of treason.

Alleging a crime without reason or merit. Journalism.

All of this is based on three accused wrongdoings:

1. Brooks was an outspoken proponent of having votes on election irregularities, even though he knew those votes would fail.

This is a completely legal and justified action provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

2. He spoke at a rally six hours before the shameful and seditious actions that took place that day and used the phrase: “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Not great stuff here by Mo Brooks, but it is not a crime, and it is pretty amazing that a prosecutor is suggesting it be prosecuted.

3. He planned the rally itself.

This allegation is weird, and, until Thursday, Brooks had not been asked about the allegation directly.

It is based on the now-deleted Periscope video by Ali Alexander in which he claims, “We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.”

What does this mean?

That Brooks himself worked to book the space, the sound equipment and sent the mass emails for the riot.

That seems unlikely. A pressure campaign on members of Congress to vote with him? That’s not normal.

The obvious implication that whoever planned the rally also planned the siege is not backed up by facts.

Brooks was asked about the allegation, if you can even call it that, during a Thursday appearance on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show.”

He said, “I don’t recall ever having met the guy, ever having communicated with the guy, ever having seen the guy. I don’t know where he’s coming from.”

But don’t let that stop the mob from alleging a massive conspiracy, which they are doing by tying in guided tours of the U.S. Capitol in the days preceding the riots.

Brooks thinks Alexander may have been “inspired” by his appearances on radio and TV, suggesting that may have led to him wanting to plan the rally.

But Brooks also pointed out that the rally was not the issue (which it wasn’t).

“[F]rankly, a rally is a great idea …  that was a great rally,” Brooks advised. “The rally wasn’t the problem. The problems were these militant groups, along with rally attendees at the U.S. Capitol. That was the problem.”

He continued, “I did not invite anyone, I did not set the time, I did not set the speakers.”

“I have had no communications with anybody involved in the operational planning,” Brooks added.

But this is not going to stop anytime soon. Censuring is all but a certainty; expulsion seems unlikely because of the hurdles required. But an attempted prosecution could be in the congressman’s future because Democrats are emboldened and want to hold as many Republicans as they can accountable.

The District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine is looking for charges.

“I know I’m looking at a charge under the D.C. Code of inciting violence, and that would apply where there’s a clear recognition that one’s incitement could lead to foreseeable violence,” Racine stated.

If all of this seems like a far-fetched nightmare where political speech is criminalized, you are right.

Brooks compared this reaction by his Democratic colleagues and D.C.’s attorney general as dictatorial forces like you would see in communist China or the Soviet Union.

Based on their fervor to make their political foes pay right now, you would be hard-pressed to describe it any other way.

Listen:

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

2 hours ago

Where to get locally made king cakes in Alabama

It’s officially Carnival season — the period of time after epiphany (January 6) and before Lent (starts Ash Wednesday) — which means Mardi Gras celebrations are beginning to kick off. And you know what goes hand in hand with Mardi Gras? King cake. No Mardi Gras would be complete without this sugary sweet delicacy topped with colorful icing. Thought to have been brought from France to New Orleans in 1870, king cake tastes like a cross between coffee cake and French pastry. Sometimes stuffed with filling and always stuffed with a plastic baby, the oval-shaped cake is iced with the colors of justice (purple), faith (green), and gold (power).  If you can’t make it to New Orleans this year, here’s where you can get locally made king cakes in Alabama.

6 Places to get King Cakes in Alabama

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Edgar’s Bakery – Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, multiple locations in Birmingham

The king cake from Edgar’s Bakery has been named one of the best king cakes in the nation, according to USA Today. This popular bakery offers traditional or filled king cakes (choose from strawberry, cream cheese, or pecan praline). And the best part about Edgar’s king cakes is that they can be shipped nationwide. So if you don’t have a location near you, don’t fret, sweet goodness can still come your way!
Price: $30

Savage’s Bakery & Deli – Birmingham

Savage’s Bakery has been making their famous cookies, cakes, and pastries since 1939. It’s no surprise they also make a killer king cake. They offer a filling of traditional cinnamon or cream cheese and two sizes of the cake. Savage’s also ships nationwide.
Price: $16 (small), $21 (large)

Pollman’s Bake Shop – Mobile

Pollman’s is known as THE spot in Mobile to get a king cake. They’ve been pumping out king cakes — made fresh every day during Mardi Gras season — since 1950. In fact, they were the first bakery in Mobile to make king cakes. The thick king cakes come in three sizes and are topped with colorful sugar. Pollman’s also makes cute decorated Mardi Gras cookies. You can order Pollman’s cakes to be shipped.
Price: $16.99 (small), $18.99 (large), $32.99 (extra large)

(Angie Mosier for Hero Doughnuts/Contributed, YHN)

Hero Doughnuts & Buns – Birmingham

Hero is known for its huge, fluffy, brioche-style donuts (and handmade buns for sandwiches). In Mardi Gras season, they make king cake donuts and full king cakes (which they call King Rings). The donuts are available daily during season, and King Rings are made to order with a 48-hour notice. The cakes serve 14–16 people. This shop is the king cake hero you didn’t know you needed.
Price: $30 (King Ring)

Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro – Huntsville

Mason Dixon Bakery is known for being a place that’s inclusive of all dietary needs and offers allergen-friendly foods and baked goods. During Carnival, they offer a traditional king cake as well as a dairy-free option for those with sensitivities. The cakes are large enough to feed 12.
Price: $35 (standard), $40 (dairy free)

Sugar Rush Donut Company — Mobile

This donut shop offers king cakes year-round, so you can get your fix anytime. Covered in a generous amount of icing and sprinkled in the traditional colored sugar, they are decadent and delicious. The donut shop also offers king cake donuts, when you want a quick fix on the run.
Price: $18.99 (small) or $24.99 (large)

Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at julia@yellowhammernews.com.

3 hours ago

Media outlets misquote Tuberville, incorrectly claim inauguration ceremony must be held January 20

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has gone viral — but for something that he did not actually say.

National media outlets have pounced on an article from Birmingham’s CBS 42, a Nexstar station, that quoted Tuberville as saying, “We probably could have had a swearing-in and inauguration later after we got this virus behind us a little bit. Again, we’re talking about Washington, D.C.”

“However, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution requires that the inauguration and swearing-in of a new President take place on January 20th. It wasn’t clear if Tuberville was aware of that during the interview,” CBS 42 wrote directly following that quote.

There are two major issues at play here. The words attributed to Tuberville were a significant misquote, and the 20th Amendment does not actually mandate an inauguration to occur on a certain date — or at all.

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The relevant section of the 20th Amendment only states that the “terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January” every four years.

Additionally, Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution mandates the following: “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: – ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'”

There is no mention of an “inauguration” or any form of swearing-in ceremony in the Constitution, nor is there a requirement that the president take the oath of office in any type of public setting at all. President-elect Joe Biden could take the oath of office in his basement at noon on January 20 while being in line with both what Tuberville is alleged to have said and his constitutional duties.

However, getting back to the main issue here — media outlets have fabricated what Tuberville said.

The CBS 42 article that contains the misquote was posted at 8:47 p.m. CT on January 13. As of noon on Friday, January 15, no correction had been made.

This comes despite the fact that the very same article features video footage of what Tuberville actually said.

“I think we’ll have a new president,” Tuberville affirmed.

Then, speaking about the traditional, in-person inauguration ceremony, he continued, “I don’t know how big it’s going to be. We probably could have had the swearing-in and done an inauguration a little later on, after we’ve got this virus behind us a little bit. But again, we’re talking about Washington, D.C.”

Other outlets across the state and world have spread the misquote, however, while also botching what the 20th Amendment says. This includes al(dot)com, whose headline incorrectly reads: “Tuberville says delay inauguration, but date is set by Constitution.”

Additional examples of outlets both misquoting Tuberville and not understanding the 20th Amendment were CNN, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post.

And of course, there is Twitter itself amplifying the misinformation by creating a “trending” moment about Tuberville.

A gender studies professor at Duke, who admittedly dislikes Tuberville, decried the situation in a Twitter thread:

“I despise Tuberville, but we should quote people accurately and plausibly interpret the accurate quotations. We also have enough to worry about without inventing new outrageous statements. Delaying Biden’s presidency isn’t what he said. It isn’t what meant. Stop saying it,” the professor wrote.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.

Following Yellowhammer News’ article, CBS 42 updated their story to reflect the correct quote at 1:32 p.m., however they have not made a note in the article explaining the nature of the update or noting the original mistake.

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