The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

10 months ago

Alabama’s Ingram State Technical College gives inmates valued skills for jobs after release

Former Alabama Department of Corrections inmate Robbie Wright, center, worked with Ingram State Technical College instructor Stan Humphries, left, and ISTC President Annette Funderburk to earn certification in HVAC and got a job upon his release. (Brittany Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

Having the skills to perform a new, in-demand job, can be life-changing. For people coming out of prison, the transformation can be even more remarkable.

That’s the belief behind a program at Alabama’s Ingram State Technical College in Deatsville. Inmates coming out of prison in the state work with ISTC instructors to earn certifications in barbering, HVAC, plumbing and 14 other career and technical programs.


Thanks in large part to a grant from Alabama Power Foundation, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning program has grown tremendously at ISTC. The program awards associate of applied technology degrees, short-term certificates and industry certifications. Each of the awards has different credit hour requirements. To date, 255 students have earned credentials, including for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour general safety course, Environmental Protection Agency refrigerant handling and certified logistics assistant certificates. More than 200 students have been placed in jobs this year.

“We’ve been fortunate that Alabama Power has donated some equipment to us, and grants that have bought us equipment, and fortunate to have a lot of hands-on experience,” instructor Stan Humphries said.

ISTC works with more than 300 inmates at six sites to give them a trade and direction after their release. Former inmates like Robbie Wright are thankful for the second chance.

“It’s been a smooth transition for me,” Wright said. “I’ve been working for 71 or 72 days and haven’t run into any problems that he (Humphries) didn’t tell me about, and I know the proper training that I need.”

Annette Funderburk, president of ISTC, said grants like those from Alabama Power Foundation help give inmates a head start.

“The college cannot use our education funds for credentials, so the Alabama Power grant has helped in that way,” she said, adding those credentials “allow our students, once they graduate and once they’re released, to have those credentials in their hands when they go to the interviews and have an opportunity that maybe someone on the street might not have.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

Birmingham gallery marks Alabama bicentennial with state artists

(Brittany Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama is marking its 200th birthday this year and a group of artists in the state are celebrating with a showing that runs through the end of this month.

Beverly McNeil, owner of Beverly McNeil Gallery in Birmingham, wanted to showcase Alabama artists as the state celebrates the bicentennial.


Alabama artists featured in bicentennial showing in Birmingham from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“This is a great opportunity not only to see some gorgeous artwork that you might not get to see otherwise but to support local artists,” said Brittany Barnes, director at Beverly McNeil Gallery.

The art is in a variety of mediums, mostly paintings on canvas with some sculptures. Like Alabama itself, the show is a mix of contemporary, modern and traditional landscapes.

Beverly McNeil Gallery is opened to the public and will showcase the artists until the end of September. You can find information on the gallery online.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 months ago

Alabama Maker Siluria Brewing has tapped into local flavor of Alabaster

Siluria Brewing Company was built in a renovated post office and has delivered on a promise of good beer and an inviting atmosphere for locals and visitors.

Just a few turns off Interstate 65 in Alabaster, Siluria Brewing has established itself as a part of the community since it opened in November 2018.

Danny and Tammy Sample, a soon-to-be-retired military veteran and a retired dental hygienist, respectively, opened the brewery in the city they love.


Siluria Brewing is an Alabama Maker of local beer from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“We knew we wanted an old building, we wanted there to be some history and character and we didn’t feel like we could do that if we built a new building,” Tammy said. Renovating took almost a year, but what they have now is a place that represents them and Alabaster. The dynamic duo knew they wanted the place to be as much about family as it is about beer.

Siluria Brewing is named after the town of Siluria from the 1890s. It remains a neighborhood in Alabaster, but was absorbed into the larger Shelby County city in the 1970s.

Danny said he felt the city needed something like Siluria Brewing that it could embrace and enjoy.

The Samples have succeeded in bringing old and new together, drawing on history while offering a new place to gather after work or for live music on the weekends.

A variety of nine beers aims to have something for all beer lovers. For those not into beer, the Samples are expanding into wine.

Through it all, Danny said the goal is to keep the focus where it is.

“We’re not going to try to compete statewide or nationwide,” he said. “We just truly want to stay local and be a true small, local business.”

Siluria Brewing Company

The product: Craft beer with special seasonal offerings.

Take home: A growler of Cock-On-A-Rock ESB.

Siluria Brewing Company can be found online, on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Sunrise Baking is an Alabama Maker giving rise to healthier desserts

(Brittany Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

Sunrise Baking Company (Hoover)

The Maker: Millie Drum

Millie Drum’s family is like others who grew up on classic desserts but have moved to a healthier diet.

Drum always had a knack for baking but had to make adjustments as she and her family wanted a balance of good and good for you.

“We’ve tried to eat healthy for a long time, but it didn’t really carry over into the desserts and baked goods,” she said.


Once she figured it out, she didn’t think it was right to keep it to herself.

“As I did more of that, I wanted to just make it available to other people,” she said.

Drum started Sunrise Baking Co. last year with a dream of helping others make the transition her family made to desserts with organic, fresh and gluten-free ingredients.

Sunrise Baking Company is an Alabama Maker of healthy desserts from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“Sunrise is my favorite time of the day,” Drum said of the name. “I’ve always been a morning person and I just love that peace and quiet of the morning.”

After noticing a lack of stores having paleo, grain-free bread, Drum felt she could offer it. Her muffins are the most requested items now, along with granola and cookies.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I first started, but not only are people interested in eating healthy for fitness and nutrition, but a lot of people have to eat that way because of food allergies,” Drum said.

Drum is always trying new recipes with paleo, gluten-free and vegan ingredients. She likes showing others that eating healthy can taste good.

“I would love to see Sunrise Baking expand and be available to more people … and in grocery stores,” Drum said.

Sunrise Baking Co.

The product:  Healthy takes on baked goods and granola.

Take home: Cinnamon Almond Granola ($10).

Sunrise Baking can be found online and on Facebook and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Forgotten Ways Farm is an Alabama Maker of goat milk soap

(Brittany Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

Forgotten Ways Farm (Gadsden)

The Maker: Amber Bennett

Amber Bennett thought she was just buying a few goats. Little did she know she was starting down a path to a new business.
“I thought I was just going to get two or three goats to have milk for our family and it just kind of grew from there,” Bennett said.


That was 10 years ago. It wasn’t long before Bennett had more goat’s milk than her family could consume. As luck would have it, one of the women who sold her a goat also gave her a bar of goat milk soap to try.

“I was like, OK, soap is soap,” Bennett said. “And I tried it and I was like, wow!”

She noticed her skin was better after using the goat milk soap.

“Goat milk actually has a lot of skin benefits,” Bennett said.

She bought a few more bars of the soap before deciding to try to make it herself. After some trial and error, she mastered the process.

Forgotten Ways Farm in Gadsden has grown from 5 acres and a few goats to 80 acres, more goats and several chickens and pigs. Today, Bennett produces a line of handmade goat milk soaps, body butters and lotions with scents from essential oils and fragrance oils.

The soap-making, along with the pastured meats and fresh eggs at Forgotten Ways Farm, are all in keeping with the philosophy found within its name.

“We named our farm Forgotten Ways Farm because I’m big into old-timey skills and those are things that we’ve forgotten in our society,” Bennett said. “Nobody cans their own food anymore. Nobody makes their own salsa. Nobody makes their own soap. These are all things that used to everybody knew how to do. They’re just kind of disappearing from our society. I’m just trying to bring back the forgotten ways.”

Bennett sells her soaps at area farmers markets and stores.

Forgotten Ways Farm

The product: Goat milk soap, lotion and body butter.

Take home: A bar of Coconut Lime Verbena Goat Milk Soap ($6).

Forgotten Ways Farm can be found online on Facebook and on Etsy.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Birmingham District Brewing Co. is an Alabama Maker giving a stout nod to history

(B. Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

Cale Sellers knows Birmingham owes its existence to geology – the stuff beneath the dirt needed to produce steel – and Birmingham District Brewing Company pays homage to that rich history.

No, there isn’t dirt or coal in the beer, but Sellers hopes the brewery’s blue-collar approach to producing it is appreciated in each sip.

Sellers and his father-in-law started homebrewing, and three years later, the Sellers decided to open a brewery in Birmingham along with head brewer James Sumpter. Birmingham District Brewing is in the new The Battery development on Second Avenue South, one block south from the Rotary Trail.


Sellers’ passion for geology and Birmingham’s history as a steel city inspired Birmingham District Brewery.

“This whole idea was rooted in geology to basically help show and honor the Birmingham history, the steel history,” he said.

For head brewer and Louisiana native Sumpter, bringing a sense of place to the beer is nothing new.

Sumpter learned his craft at Abita Brewing Company before joining the team at Birmingham District Brewing Company. The brewery’s offerings quickly grew from five beers at its opening in November to eight beers and a rotation of seasonals.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone that came in had a beer that they could drink,” Sumpter said.

Part of Birmingham’s mining and railroad history included having a place to gather for cold suds and to unwind after a hard day of work. In that vein, the taproom is not just for tasting but a venue for live music and a good atmosphere to take a break.

“If you haven’t made it out, come see us. We would love to meet everyone that comes in and walks through the door,” Sellers said.

Birmingham District Brewing Company

The Product: Craft beer in a variety of styles.

Take Home: A growler of Bird in a Cage kolsch.

2201 Second Ave. S. Suite 102, Birmingham, AL 35233

Taproom hours: Monday-Wednesday, noon to 10 p.m.; Thursday-Friday, noon to midnight; Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.

Birmingham District Brewing Company is on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Snapchat.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Anne Moore is an Alabama Maker crafting simple but stunning jewelry

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

After finding her vibe as a metalsmith, Anne Moore creates simple and clean jewelry for everyday use.

She started making beaded pieces for family and friends but wanted to start adding metal elements. That’s when she started taking metalsmith classes.

“I can pretty much tell who my client is when they walk into my booth,” Moore said. “They like simple, clean lines and nothing too busy or extravagant.”


Moore’s jewelry includes bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings all handcrafted by her.

She primarily works in gold-filled, rose gold-filled and sterling silver jewelry. The cost of each piece has more to do with how much time she spent working on it than the materials.

“A lot of times my customers will have ideas which are really good ideas and I am able to run with that,” Moore said.

Moore said her clients are all about simplicity and having something they feel comfortable wearing every day.

“That’s what I like to do, simple things.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

There is more to Alabama deer hunting than pointing and shooting

(Brittany Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

With hunting season in full effect, there are many hunters waiting for the perfect opportunity to take their shot.

The state’s deer hunting season started in October with bow-and-arrow season, followed by firearm season in mid-November. Deer season ends Feb. 10 in Alabama.

For officials, the season is an ongoing focus on both safety and population management.


“Deer management is complicated. Simple, but complicated, because it’s real specific based on your property, your deer density and genetics,” said Steve Maxwell, outfitter with Master Rack Lodge.

Most hunters are looking to shoot a big buck, Maxwell said, but in proper management hunters should wait to shoot a deer until it is 3 or 4 years old. Maxwell said that’s when it’s possible to tell the health of the deer and allow the buck to mature.

Master Rack Lodge’s Steve Maxwell lays out some dos and don’ts of deer hunting from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Maxwell said the key to having a successful hunt is a clean, well-maintained gun. So is properly storing and caring for ammunition as well as siting scopes to ensure an ethical shot.

Once the gun is ready to hunt, it’s about the hunter and his or her gun, Maxwell said. After making a shot, make sure the safety is clicked and continue to ensure the gun is clear of ammunition when not being used.

“It’s all up to the human being,” Maxwell said. “Guns are guns, and it’s all on how they are handled.”

Most hunters hunt for food, serenity and because it is good for the environment, he said.

“If hunting is done properly, it’s the best thing that can happen to wild game no matter what species you are hunting,” Maxwell said.

How is hunting the best thing for wild game? Maxwell said it has to do with doe population, food sources and does adventuring out on their own. With proper skills, hunting can be successful for the hunter as well as the environment, he said.

If you’re interested in hunting or fishing in the Alabama Black Belt region, visit to find a great place to book a hunt.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Stray dog finds love and comfort at Alabama Power plant

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

When a stray dog wandered onto the property at Alabama Power’s Plant Greene County a dozen years ago, workers there had no idea how she would end up touching them all.

They also had no idea the dog was pregnant.

The latter became apparent when she had five puppies a few days later. The former has been firmly established by those who have come to love the dog they call Pup-Pup.


Initially, they cared for the dog expecting she would find her way back home. It was soon apparent that Pup-Pup was home.

“Little did she know she went from hell to heaven when she showed up here,” said Christopher “Critter” Glass, mechanic-welder at the plant, who gave Pup-Pup her name.

Stray dog Pup-Pup finds loving family at Alabama Power plant from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Pup-Pup’s five puppies were given to contractors and employees. Employees donated to have her fixed and she has been a fixture at the plant ever since.

“An all call will go out and everyone here pitches in for anything she needs, whether it’s food, medicine or a new bed,” said Elaine Fetzer, financial specialist at Plant Greene County.

Recently, Pup-Pup was diagnosed with kidney failure and is no longer able to stay at the plant overnight. Fetzer, who once wanted to be a veterinarian, has tapped into that calling in caring for Pup-Pup away from the plant. She takes Pup-Pup home at the end of the workday and dispenses her medicine twice a day.

“Pup-Pup’s never missed a day until all of this went down (kidney failure), so she’s taking a few vacation days, but she has earned it,” Fetzer said. “Now she is getting her weekends and holidays.”

Even before Pup-Pup’s current health problems, she has had challenges. A vet visit after she was hit by a car revealed she had been shot before her days at the plant. She has always been skittish around flashlights and flashes, possibly because she may have been shot at night when someone shined a light on her.

But at Plant Greene County, Pup-Pup gives and receives love.

The outpouring of love is tinged with sadness as her plant family fears Pup-Pup is facing her final days.

As Plant Greene County Mechanic Chris Cameron put it: “Pup-Pup’s been a great dog, never seen a dog as mighty as her.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Exceptional Foundation carolers bring holiday spirit to Alabama businesses

(Brittany Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

What the Exceptional Foundation carolers may lack in perfect pitch and rhythm they more than make up for with enthusiasm and sheer joy.

The result is exactly what is intended: delivering the Christmas spirit to businesses around Birmingham.


That delivery is clear by the smiles produced among the audiences.

This is the fifth year the Exceptional Foundation carolers have visited corporations to thank them for their support. CEO Tricia Kirk said the number of performances has grown from less than a handful of businesses in the first season to five or six a day this year.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Druid City Brewing is an Alabama Maker fermented in Tuscaloosa

(B. Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

Brewing beer in a college town known for tailgating, fraternity parties and celebrating national championships may seem like a no-brainer.

That’s what concerned Bo Hicks and Elliot Roberts.

“We had the idea one day that somebody might start a brewery that didn’t particularly care about the community and just wanted to capitalize on the university being here,” Hicks said.


So the two homebrewers outlined a business plan on the back of a napkin for what would become Druid City Brewing Co., which they opened in November 2012.

“It’s sort of been amazing from what we planned to how it evolved and to what it’s become,” said Hicks, co-owner and brewer at Druid City. “It’s something I’m really proud to have here in Tuscaloosa and to be a part of the community.”

Being part of the community means displaying art from Alabama artists on the wall, playing albums from Alabama musicians and hosting regional live acts regularly at the brewery.

It’s also in their name.

Tuscaloosa got the nickname “The Druid City” because of the large water oaks that once were dominant in downtown. The Druids were ancient Celtic people who worshipped oak trees, hence the connection. The local hospital was named Druid City Hospital (now DCH Regional Medical Center) and before integration, there was Druid City High School.

“When we opened we didn’t want to be, ‘Oh, we’re Tuscaloosa Brewing.’ We wanted to have a little bit of quirk and something that was a little more down home for people that were really familiar with Tuscaloosa,” Hicks said.

Then, there’s the chalkboard.

The chalkboard in the brewery changes frequently to include a temporary art creation that is often a play on an old album cover or a classical piece of art but usually substitutes the main subjects with University of Alabama football figures.

Coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant and Nick Saban stand in for Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon, respectively, on the most recent art work, which mimics the duo’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album cover.

While the chalkboard may be the focal point of the taproom, the centerpiece of the brewery is the beer.

Druid City Wheat, Druid City Pale Ale, Lamplighter IPA, Riverside Saison and Tuskaloosa Stout are regular offerings. One of the standout beers is the Downtown North Porter, a rich, imperial porter that takes its name from Northport, the city across the Black Warrior River from Tuscaloosa.

“It’s like drinking a black velvet painting of Elvis. It is delicious,” Hicks said. “It’ll bring a tear to a glass eye.”

Druid City also works with area farmers such as Snow’s Bend Farm to take fruits that may not look good enough to sell but can be used to flavor some specialty brews.
Druid City Brewing Co.

The Product: Beers in a variety of classic styles available on tap at multiple outlets.

Take home: A growler of Downtown North Porter (prices vary).

607 14th St., Tuscaloosa

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Serda Brewing is an Alabama Maker producing beer in the Port City

(Brittany Faush / Alabama NewsCenter)

John Serda was fascinated with brewing beer even before he could legally drink it.

“Serda Brewing has been in my brain since I was probably 17 years old,” said Serda, the founder and CEO of Serda Brewing Co. in Mobile. “It’s been a long time in the making.”

While he couldn’t buy the finished product until he was 21, Serda could buy the ingredients and he did.

He started home brewing beer and “developed a passion and appreciation for the art” of it.

After spending some time in Costa Rica where he learned about coffee (he also owns Serda’s Coffee Co.) and some time at film school in California, Serda returned home to Mobile.


“Coming back to Mobile I realized what Mobile had to offer,” he said.

Alabama Maker Serda Brewing has plenty on tap in the Port City from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

After sharing a beer with his father in downtown Mobile and remarking on the resurgence in the heart of the city, the idea he had as a 17-year-old returned to his head.

“I always had the idea that I wanted a brewery … but when I decided to go all out for it, that was actually four years ago and it took four years to finally get everything together and to open our doors,” he said.

The doors to Serda Brewing are now open in the former Sweat/Goodyear Tire shop on Government Street.

“We’re the first brewery to open in Mobile since Prohibition,” Serda said, noting that brewpubs have opened in Mobile and other breweries are operating but not yet producing beer in Mobile.

Serda Brewing serves up its four flagship beers – Hook Line & Lager pilsner, Tidewater Vienna amber, Mobile Bay IPA and Clear Prop porter – in a brewery that offers a 360-degree view of the brewing equipment and an inviting courtyard.

“We just wanted to be a relaxed environment,” Serda said. “We’re pet-friendly. We’re family-friendly.”

You will find people playing games and food trucks selling food off the courtyard on any given day at Serda Brewing. The taproom is always introducing new experimental beers and seasonal brews like the just-released Homeport hefeweizen on tap for summer.

Serda Brewing’s first canned beers are expected to be available the end of April with bottling expected to start in May.

The Product: Craft beer produced in Mobile. Enjoy any of the four flagship beers at the taproom for $6 per pint.

Take home: A growler of Hook Line & Lager pilsner ($19).

Serda Brewing Co.

600 Government St., Mobile, AL 36602

Taproom hours: Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)