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.

3 weeks ago

University of Alabama to launch campus tree farm

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

University of Alabama Campus Development has teamed with Facilities and Grounds to begin steps to create a campus tree farm, which will be used to propagate many different native plants including camellias, oaks and magnolias.

The project for propagation of historical and heirloom trees coincides with the team goals for the campus to become more self-sustainable and play a key role in the green initiative. The team hopes the project will encourage more members of the UA community to get involved with this new service opportunity.

“I am excited about building a tree farm on university property,” said retired Air Force Col. Duane Lamb, who is associate vice president of UA’s Facilities and Grounds Department. “Cultivating the seedlings and cuttings within our own greenhouse will be cost-effective for our institution, as well as help build camaraderie among different department employees who are making our tree farm a reality.


“Throughout history, trees have often been considered sacred and honorable. I feel that way about trees, but especially about the trees on our campus.”

The idea for the project was developed in summer 2020 when Tim Leopard, senior associate vice president of Campus Development, noticed that magnolia seeds were falling from one of the grand specimen trees on the Bryce Campus. The seeds were then collected from other prominent large magnolias from locations across campus, such as the President’s Mansion, Bryce Lawn and Gorgas House.

“To begin with, our tree farm will produce trees that are prominent on our campus, such as live oaks, magnolias and ginkgoes that will give us a surplus of replacement trees for our future generations,” Lamb said. “The trees from this project will be used to populate and beautify the campus forest and replacement of dead and dying materials. Students and alumni will be able to enjoy the benefits of these trees for many years to come.”

Donna McCray, senior director of Facilities and Grounds Operations, said, “Each year, Facilities and Grounds reaches out to various student organizations and solicits help with an annual campus tree project that gives our student population an opportunity to contribute to the health of the overall tree canopy.”

“This project is a good news story for the university, as trees do so much for all of us,” Lamb said. “Not only do they produce oxygen, fight soil erosion and help clean the soil, but they also provide beauty, shade and lower temperatures, while also helping with storm water control and often act as windbreakers.”

UA has made great efforts in working to become more sustainable across campus. Along with UA’s Departments of Facilities and Grounds and Construction Administration, other departments, such as Bama DiningEnergy ManagementRecycling and Campus Mail, have been part of the campuswide sustainability movement.

When working to build and grow the university’s landscape and tree population, Leopard has always been inspired by a quote from Nelson Henderson: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 months ago

UA’s CrossingPoints receives $4M in grants to enhance education efforts

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

The University of Alabama’s CrossingPoints Transition Program has received two federal grants totaling more than $4 million to enhance education efforts for young adults who have intellectual disabilities and to assist special education teachers and rehab counselors.

“Our ability to provide excellent preparation of our students in order to improve outcomes in their desired adult goals of employment, independent living, community participation and, not to mention, have a great college experience while they are preparing for their futures, is something we have worked hard to achieve,” said Kagendo Mutua, director and co-founder of CrossingPoints. “We want our students to have an enviable life after college.”

The first award from the U.S Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education is a five-year grant totaling nearly $2.5 million that will allow CrossingPoints to expand and enhance the scope of its inclusive transition services and opportunities for accessing higher education by students with intellectual disabilities. CrossingPoints is one of six nationally recognized programs to receive this competitive funding for a second time.


In addition to expanding services, the grant will allow CrossingPoints to significantly reduce the program fee for its Tier 3 program to $3,000 per semester. Peer institutions with similar programs have fees ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 per semester.

The project core team is Mutua, Amy Williamson, John Myrick and Jim Siders.

The second award from the Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services is a five-year grant totaling more than $1.5 million that will prepare teachers and vocational rehabilitation counselors to work with secondary/transition-age students with high-intensity needs within a model called Service, Teaching, Advocacy and Rehabilitation (STAR).

The goal of the STAR project is to recruit, train and place 30 master’s-level scholars in positions as special education teachers and vocational rehabilitation counselors to work with transition-age students with severe disabilities and evaluate the impact of an evidence-based approach to interdisciplinary training.

“The grant will make it possible for UA’s College of Education to support graduate students to earn a master’s degree in either special education, severe disabilities or vocational rehabilitation counseling,” said Mutua. “STAR scholars will receive full tuition funding through the grant, as well as a stipend to enable them to participate in an on-campus summer institute hosted in the CrossingPoints program.”

The project team for this grant is Mutua, Williamson and George Mugoya.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

9 months ago

What’s new to the 2020 game day experience in Tuscaloosa

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The game day experience at the University of Alabama and Bryant-Denny Stadium will be different this football season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

UA is implementing changes to comply with CDC, state of Alabama, NCAA and SEC health guidelines to keep fans safe while preventing the spread of coronavirus.

A few highlights of the changes for the 2020 football season include:


  • Tailgating will not be permitted on campus
  • Those not attending the game are asked to avoid campus
  • All spectators are required to wear a face covering
  • All game tickets are mobile-only
  • Those with COVID-19 symptoms or asked to quarantine or isolate should stay home
  • Fans with pre-existing health conditions or those at greater risk should consider not attending on-campus sporting events for the time being

Tailgating will not be permitted on campus, and the pregame Elephant Stomp will not take place.

Reserved parking lots will open three hours prior to kick off. Crimson Ride shuttles will not be in operation and ride sharing will not have designated pick up/drop off locations.

Prior to entering the stadium, ticketholders are required to complete a brief COVID-19 health assessment. Those with COVID-19 symptoms, exposed to someone who is COVID-positive or been directed by a healthcare professional to be in quarantine or isolation for a period of time that includes game day will not be allowed entry.

All spectators are required to wear a face covering upon entering the stadium. A disposable mask will be provided to those who don’t have a face covering.

Upon arriving at the security area, fans will wait in line for the metal detectors. Markers will be placed at 6 feet intervals to help maintain social distancing, and signs will encourage fans to social distance.

UA Athletics TIDE PRIDE/Ticket Office transitioned to mobile-only ticketing and parking to allow for contactless entry to all venues. Ticket purchasers receive tickets via email, allowing for download to Apple Wallet (iPhone) or Google Pay Wallet (Android). Just prior to reaching the gates, fans should open their digital wallet, select their game tickets and hold their smartphone near the scanner.

Stadium capacity has been reduced to about 20% to allow social distancing among fans.

Concession stands will have a limited menu of prepackaged food available for purchase. Cashless transactions are encouraged, but not required.

Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the stadium, including one at each gate. Restrooms will be thoroughly cleaned before and during each game. In addition, urinals and stalls will be taped off to encourage social distancing.

Fans who don’t have tickets to the game are asked to avoid campus and enjoy the action at home. A schedule that includes the Crimson Tide’s opponents, game times and television networks airing the game is available online and regularly updated.

For more information on this year’s game day experience, visit and and listen to 92.5 FM UA Info Radio. For information on city of Tuscaloosa game day guides and rules, follow them on Twitter.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama)

12 months ago

University of Alabama Theatre and Dance releases online performances, lessons

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

While live performances and instruction on the University of Alabama campus are paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UA Department of Theatre and Dance is releasing weekly performances and lessons through two new video series.

“In an effort to remain connected to our audiences, the chair and associate chairs of the department began brainstorming ways we could stay connected to our community throughout the summer while also contemplating ways to continue supporting the department’s social mission of making the arts accessible to everyone,” said Lawrence Jackson, associate chair of dance. “Presenting art virtually has become a crucial strategy for arts organizations and programs to keep audiences engaged during this time.”

The Virtual Black Box video series showcases theater performances on the department’s YouTube channel. New performances are planned for each Monday and Friday at noon.


Jackson said the heads of dance, theater and musical theater selected works that represent the quality of work produced throughout the department.

The Movement Series will feature mini-masterclasses taught by the department’s world-renowned faculty. Lessons will be each Wednesday via Zoom. All sessions are free, but registration is required.

“At a time when in-person gatherings are no longer possible, we feel it’s more important than ever to encourage our audiences to stay engaged culturally and artistically while we weather important social distancing guidelines,” Jackson said. “Virtual arts presentations help lift our spirits during difficult times and keep us connected to our family, friends and colleagues from afar through collective concerts, online classes, workshops and seminars.

“We would like for audiences to understand that the benefit of having art in your life doesn’t have to disappear despite the current challenges we face. This season’s arts and cultural experiences aren’t going away. They just might be presented differently.”

For a list of upcoming Virtual Black Box videos and Movement Series lessons and registration information, visit

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

University of Alabama creates pediatric fellowship for family medicine physicians

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences has created an innovative fellowship program to provide comprehensive instruction for family medicine physicians seeking additional skills in pediatric care.

The year-long pediatric fellowship will offer a variety of transformative experiences in both primary and tertiary care settings. Fellows will also receive research time and financial support for continuing education activities.


“Many family medicine physicians are not comfortable taking care of extremely ill children because they don’t get a ton of exposure to pediatrics during their residency,” said Dr. Sara Phillips, assistant professor of pediatrics at the College and fellowship director. “The new program will provide fellows with ample opportunities to hone their pediatric skills.”

According to Phillips, most of the children seen by medical residents don’t have chronic illnesses or genetic disorders. Through the new program, fellows will get to treat neonatal intensive care unit patients and manage care plans for those with complex pediatric conditions.

In addition, the fellowship will equip family medicine physicians to care for chronically ill children in rural areas that may not have pediatric physicians.

“Family medicine doctors are the frontline care for kids in rural areas,” said Phillips. “Our program participants will have the advantage of seeing what children experience in the NICU and emergency room settings.”

Interviews for the program will begin in the fall with the fellowship starting in July 2020. For more information about the program, contact Dr. Sara Phillips at

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 years ago

University of Alabama to offer state’s first MFA in dance program

(University of Alabama)

The University of Alabama’s department of theatre and dance will offer the state’s first Master of Fine Arts in dance program starting in fall 2020.

The program, which will use the 2019-20 academic year to recruit and audition prospective students, will provide training in advanced studies in dance, prepare graduates for employment in the dance profession and provide credentials needed for employment and teaching positions that require a graduate-level degree.


The push for the program started with growth in the dance program’s talent, enrollment, national reputation and students’ curiosity in the breadth of the dance field, said Sarah Barry, UA associate professor of dance. At the same time, the College of Arts and Sciences was looking to expand its number of graduate programs to support UA’s strategic plan.

“Being the flagship university in the state, we’re excited to be the first to offer this program,” Barry said. “I believe we have the right balance of talent and interest here to support the program.”

The graduate program will support the development of diverse skills in classical and contemporary dance techniques, dance pedagogy, historical perspectives and critical theory, as well as technical and artistic integration of dance-specific technologies.

“An MFA in dance is the terminal degree in our field for performance and creative research,” Barry said. “A lot of people who pursue the degree want to go on to teach in higher education, and we will place an emphasis on pedagogy so we can train excellent teachers if that is what they want to do.”

The program will allow students to select their own creative research tracks. Examples of creative research include performance studies, choreography, scholarship, and technology and film.

Unlike some universities that offer a two-year MFA program with a distance learning component, UA’s will follow a traditional three-year model with learning opportunities provided on campus and in the community.

“We want the students to be on campus, so we can mentor the teaching component and put them in different settings for teaching majors and nonmajors,” said Barry. “This will allow us to observe and nurture their teaching skills along with their creative research and allow students to gain valuable experience in the process. We also anticipate numerous collaborative opportunities with our MFA in theater program.”

For more information on the MFA in dance, contact Barry at

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)