The Wire

  • Decatur doctor accused of sexual assault responds to lawsuit

    Excerpt from WHNT:

    A Decatur doctor accused of sexually assaulting several of his patients is disputing all claims of wrongdoing. Dr. Michael Dick of Alabama Medicine and Rheumatology Clinic responded to a lawsuit filed on behalf of six women who claim to be his former patients. The doctor also filed a protective order asking a judge to stop the victims from sharing their stories with the media.

    A Birmingham-based attorney responded on behalf of Dr. Dick saying there is “no basis to contend he preys on female patients as alleged in the complaint.” The lawsuit filed against Dr. Dick says female members of the nursing staff were present with him. He says no misconduct took place, as alleged in the lawsuit. The response also says employees who work at the medical practice deny any misconduct.

  • Bobby Bright says ‘D.C. powerbrokers’ pushed Trump to endorse Martha Roby

    Excerpt from

    Bobby Bright says ‘D.C. powerbrokers’ pushed Trump to endorse Martha Roby in Alabama’s District 2 race.

    “I understand politics and how Washington works. It appears the D.C. powerbrokers have gotten to the President on this issue. It’s truly a swamp of insiders controlled by big money special interests, the same crowd who’s bankrolling Martha Roby’s campaign to the tune of over $1 million just this year,” Bright said in a statement. “It’s a place where loyalty doesn’t exist. When you take that much money from D.C., New York and California, you lose sight of Alabama.”

    Incumbent Roby will face Bobby Bright — a former congressman she defeated in 2010 — in a runoff next month. Bright served one term in Congress as a Democrat, but switched parties to run against Roby in this year’s Republican primary.

  • Man accused of trying to run over police officer, charged with attempted murder

    Excerpt from ABC 33/40:

    A man accused of trying to run over a police officer was charged with attempted murder Friday, Shelby County authorities confirm.

    Chief Assistant District Attorney Roger Hepburn says Issai Serrano is the suspect connected with a Wednesday afternoon shooting involving an Alabaster Police officer. The shooting occurred at Morgan Road and South Shades Crest Road, said Hoover Police officers, who were the first to respond to the scene.

3 years ago

Contest offers Alabama businesses a shot at ‘game-changing’ exposure at UA & AU games

Bill Canary, President and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama (Photo: Screenshot of BCA SBGC video)

(Video above: BCA releases video highlighting Alabama/Auburn football small business sponsorship contest.)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) has released a video detailing the ways their “Small Business Game Changer” could genuinely change the game an Alabama small business.

A first-of-its-kind opportunity, the BCA is awarding a complimentary 2016 football sponsorship package for both the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Season football sponsorships offer enormous exposure for companies fortunate enough to land one, and BCA aims to “proudly recognize the importance and impact of small businesses on our state.”

“This contest is truly unprecedented and will be a game changer,” said BCA Presdient and CEO William J. Canary.

Corporate sponsor benefits will include hospitality, game tickets, in-stadium logo exposure, radio time and more.

University of Alabama Corporate Sponsorship Benefits:
• One 15-second pre-game and one 15-second post-game radio commercial on the Crimson Tide Sports Radio Network for the 2016 regular season (24 total commercials)
• LED recognition in Bryant-Denny Stadium for all seven home football games
• 300,000 impressions on during the regular 2016 schedule
• One half-page program ad
• Two season tickets, two corporate hospitality passes and one parking pass

Auburn University Corporate Sponsorship Benefits: 
• One (1) 2016 half-page color advertisement in Auburn Football Illustrated
• One (1) Auburn Football Pre-Game Show radio spot before each 2016 regular season game
• 300,000 banner advertisement impressions on during the 2016 football regular season
• Pro-Ad LED Ribbonboard exposure inside Jordan-Hare Stadium during 2016 football regular season home games
• Two (2) football season tickets and two (2) IMG Pre-Game hospitality passes for the 2016 regular season

Small businesses can apply by going online to BCA’s contest website and share in 150 words or less why a 2016 Alabama or Auburn football sponsorship would be a game changer for their small business by the application deadline on Jan. 29, 2016.

The “Small Business Game Changer” contest is open only to small businesses located in the state of Alabama that are BCA members in good standing.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to expose a deserving Alabama small business to fans and the campus community through association with Alabama football,” said Jim Carabin, general manager for Crimson Tide Sports Marketing. “We’re grateful to the Business Council of Alabama for graciously extending this offer and working closely with us to bring it to life. It will bring huge visibility to one company, and we encourage all applicable small businesses to register.”

For more information on the “Small Business Game Changer” contest, visit

3 years ago

Local Alabama law enforcement thwarts alleged terror plot

Peyton Pruitt, 18. (Image: St. Clair County Sheriff's Office)
Peyton Pruitt, 18. (Image: St. Clair County Sheriff's Office)
Peyton Pruitt, 18. (Image: St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office)

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. – Threats of terrorism continue to resonate close to home as an 18-year-old Alabamian on Tuesday was charged in a terror plot thwarted by local law enforcement.

On November 17, Peyton Pruitt, 18, was arrested in St. Clair County for soliciting support for a terrorist act. While details about the alleged terror plot have not yet been made public, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office announced they are working on a joint investigation with the Birmingham FBI office in the case.

The Pruitt arrest comes only days after attacks in Paris left over 100 dead and hundreds more injured after a series of coordinated shootings and bombings were executed Friday night. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, which they said represent the “first of the storm” and “a warning to those who wish to learn.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Friday that there was no specific or credible threat to the United States. However, they also added that DHS “will not hesitate to adjust our security posture, as appropriate, to protect the American people.” Alabama law enforcement officials echoed that sentiment.

The FBI and local authorities continue to pursue further details of the St. Clair County ongoing terror-related investigation. Pruitt is being held at $1 million bond at the St. Clair County Jail in Pell City. His court date is scheduled for Dec. 22, 2015.

3 years ago

Alabama native and social media star to compete on The Amazing Race

Photo: Cole LaBrant YouTube video screenshot
Photo: Cole LaBrant YouTube video screenshot
Photo: Cole LaBrant YouTube video screenshot

ENTERPRISE, Ala. — CBS announced Thursday that this season’s The Amazing Race cast will be made up entirely of social media stars, with one star being Alabama’s own Cole LaBrant.

Cole LaBrant’s social media fame began when he and his friends started the Vine account “Dem White Boyz” which primarily featured 6-second videos of the boys dancing. However, LaBrant has since started his own Cole LaBrant Vine account, with over 6.5 million followers.

LaBrant, now 19, also gained some serious media attention earlier this year when asking singer Selena Gomez to be his date for Enterprise High School’s prom. The video received national attention and over 1 million views. However, unfortunately for LaBrant, it did not garner a response from Selena.

Now, LaBrant is part of 10 pairs of contestants competing on season 28 of The Amazing Race, a show where contestants face challenges at various destinations, with each team having to complete a series of tasks to learn of their next location. LaBrant will be competing on the show with his mom, Sheri.

The contestants will kick off their race on Sunday, and host Phil Keoghan will be live-streaming the event on his Facebook page.

For more information about the new season of The Amazing Race, click here.

3 years ago

New study shows Alabamians retire younger than most Americans

Photo: Flickr user American Advisors Group
Photo: Flickr user American Advisors Group
Photo: Flickr user American Advisors Group

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – According to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, Alabamians are retiring younger than most Americans., a company that aims to provide understandable answers to complex financial questions, recently published their findings on labor and retirement statistics in order to answer the question, “So when is the right time to retire?”

According to the study, the answer to that question is highly dependent on where you live. SmartAsset’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that the national average retirement age is 63 years old. However, at the state level, it ranges from 62 to 65 years old.

Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia, Michigan, and Delaware were the only states listed on the lower end of the spectrum, with an average retirement age of 62.


Similar to the other states with an average retirement age of 62, the state of Alabama has relatively affordable housing. And according to SmartAsset, cost of living is key when it comes to retirement.

“In general, the retirement age is later in states with higher living expenses. Indeed, our analysis found a statistically significant, positive correlation (50%) between housing costs and the average retirement age,” SmartAsset’s analysis stated.

For example, states with higher living expenses, such as Massachusetts, Alaska, New Hampshire and Vermont, all have an average retirement age of 65. In addition, states like New Jersey and Connecticut have an older average age for retirement partially due to their lack of tax-friendliness to retirees.

SmartAsset found that another influence on average retirement age is unemployment, states lower with employment rates usually have an older average retirement age.

“Just as cost of living is positively correlated with retirement age, unemployment shows a significant negative correlation,” SmartAsset’s analysis stated. “Higher long-term unemployment means more workers in their 50s and 60s give up on the job search and retire early.”

To read the full analysis from SmartAsset, click here.

3 years ago

Alabama receives a D+ grade in 2015 state integrity investigation

YH Alabama corruption

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Center for Public Integrity has updated its annual study to find out how each state ranks when it comes to public integrity. Overall, Alabama’s recent rankings in the investigation gave it a grade of a D+, 67, which, while dismal, actually puts the Yellowhammer State in the middle of the pack.

The State Integrity Investigation is a comprehensive assessment of state government accountability and transparency. The project uses extensive research by reporters in each state to grade and rank the states based on existing laws and systems they have in place to deter corruption and an analysis of how well these laws are implemented.

Surprisingly, even with a score of 67, Alabama ranks in the top ten for states who perform with the most integrity. Alaska, the highest rank state, only received the mediocre score of a C., while 11 states received a grade of F.

Alabama’s overall score for 2015 is lower than what it received the first time the project was published, in 2012, when it was given a C-, although its ranking that year was 17th. The article references several aspects that correlate with the low score, including the prosecution of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Two of the lowest scores for Alabama were in the categories of political financing and access to information, with the Institute stating that the state has few restrictions and regulations ensuring integrity among these areas.

Alabama’s overall integrity score breaks down into the following categories:

Public Access to Information
GRADE: (41)
RANK: 33rd

Political Financing
GRADE: (42)
RANK: 42nd

Electoral Oversight
GRADE: (66)
RANK: 27th

Executive Accountability
GRADE: B- (82)
RANK: 2nd

Legislative Accountability
GRADE: (75)
RANK: 4th

Judicial Accountability
GRADE: D- (62)
RANK: 12th

State Budget Processes
GRADE: C- (71)
RANK: 33rd

State Civil Service Management
GRADE: (66)
RANK: 11th

GRADE: (65)
RANK: 35th

Internal Auditing
GRADE: B+ (87)
RANK: 4th

Lobbying Disclosure
GRADE: (66)
RANK: 20th

Ethics Enforcement Agencies
GRADE: C- (73)
RANK: 4th
State Pension Fund Management
GRADE: C+ (79)
RANK: 7th

You can see the results of the full investigation from the Center of Public Integrity of Alabama’s grade here.

3 years ago

$21 Million in Gulf Restoration grants announced for Alabama

(Photo: Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council)
(Photo: Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced that in a third round of grants from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has approved more than $21 million for five Alabama projects to restore some of Alabama’s natural resources affected by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

“The Gulf Coast of Alabama is one of the state’s greatest natural treasures, and it is important we restore it from the devastation caused by the 2010 oil spill,” Governor Bentley said. “The $21 million we will receive from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will support our continued long-term recovery efforts from the adverse effects of the oil spill.  I appreciate the unified effort of our local, state and federal partners who are working with us in this long-term recovery process to restore the Alabama Gulf Coast.”

The Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund was established in 2013 when a U.S. District Court made BP and Transocean–the Swiss-based offshore drilling contractor that owned Deepwater Horizon–provide $2.544 billion to the NFWF to fund Gulf Coast restoration projects. A total of $356 million will be paid into the Gulf Fund over a five year period for conservation projects in the State of Alabama.

While projects are necessary to help Alabama’s Gulf Coast continue its recovery, some Alabama legislators are discontent with how much control Montgomery has over how other parts of the settlement money is divvied out.

However, the 2015 Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund projects are primarily focused on Alabama’s coastal counties.

Alabama 2015 Projects include:

Multifaceted Fisheries and Ecosystem Monitoring in Alabama’s Marine
approximately $2.1 million

“This project represents the second year of the fisheries monitoring effort in the state of Alabama. The data collected will be used to improve ecosystem-based management capabilities, assess the recovery of reef fish stocks in association with other fisheries restoration efforts, and improve and expand single-species stock assessments for managed fish species.”

Grand Bay Acquisition
approximately $1.7 million

“This project proposes the acquisition of three parcels consisting of 647 acres of priority coastal habitat in southwestern Mobile County. Grand Bay is one of the most pristine and diverse areas remaining on the Alabama Gulf coast and the parcels proposed for acquisition are critical inholdings that link existing protected and managed areas, providing a more holistic approach to long-term management and stewardship for the Grand Bay system.”

Mobile Bay Shore Habitat Conservation and Acquisition Initiative – Phase I
approximately $300,000

“This project advances goals of conserving and protecting coastal habitat through land acquisition in Mobile Bay. Gulf Environmental Benefit Funds will be utilized to perform the necessary due diligence activities to inform future acquisition and management of several key intact tidal marsh habitats within the jurisdiction of the City of Mobile. Specific focal priorities include restoring and conserving habitats that support estuarine and marine fisheries and wildlife.”

Mobile County Conservation Acquisition
approximately $4.2 million

“This project proposes to expand the Mobile County Commission’s investment in habitat conservation and restoration by acquiring and conserving a 233-acre parcel located on Mobile Bay near the mouth of Fowl River. The parcel contains approximately 90 acres of brackish marsh habitat and transitional upland habitat with a high diversity of plants, birds and aquatic species. Funding will be utilized to complete due diligence and acquisition of the parcel, and the development of a conservation stewardship and management plan.”

Alabama Artificial Reef and Habitat Enhancement
approximately $12 million

“This project will fund the enhancement and expansion of the state’s artificial reef program to improve habitats for reef fish and other species in coastal Alabama. Extensive research will be conducted to monitor the biological succession; temporal/spatial patterns of habitat utilization; and evaluate the structural integrity, durability, and stability of the habitat enhancement projects.”

These projects granted under the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund allow the state to continue forward to full restoration of coastal Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Conversation and Natural Resources.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to restore and protect Alabama’s natural resources, these projects are the culmination of a great deal of hard work and coordination with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as well as the grant recipients,” Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner N. Gunter Guy, Jr. said.

“Coupled with those projects funded in earlier rounds, this third phase of funding through the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund moves us one step closer to a more resilient coastal Alabama.”

Additional information on each project will soon be available on the following websites: and

3 years ago

Celebrate Veterans Day with Alabama nonprofit sending care packages to deployed troops

(Naval Surface Warriors)
(Naval Surface Warriors)
(Naval Surface Warriors)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – This Veterans Day, an Alabama nonprofit is providing a way to celebrate the holiday as well as give back to those who are serving in the military.

Teams for Troops, based out of Birmingham, raises donations to fund care packages to deployed military personnel.

The care packages include necessity items such as toiletries and snacks as well as sports memorabilia and equipment. Additionally, when the troops return to the United States, they will have the opportunity to attend sporting events with their families free of charge. Furthermore, a portion of donations are used to fund research concerning traumatic brain injury; a growing issue for veterans and athletes alike.

“I saw a problem and thought we could find the best possible solution with respect to what we’re capable of here at home,” Teams for Troops co-founder Jordan Thompson told Yellowhammer. “When military personnel are constantly dealing with physical as well as mental battle scars, professional and collegiate sports provide an escape, if only for a short amount of time.”

“Care packages from Teams For Troops aim to aid those moments, ultimately enhancing troop fandom through morale-boosting supplies affiliated with sports teams from that military unit’s region.”

“They’re fighting for the one team we’re all a part of so help us give them the opportunity to root for the sports team they enjoy the most,” said Thompson. “After all, from the playing field to the battlefield, our troops are fans too.”

Teams for Troops started when three military veterans, Jordan Thompson, Josh Pagonis, and Michael Krause, knew that they could use their passion and knowledge to address military and veterans issues at home and abroad.

This Veterans Day, Teams for Troops is working right here in Alabama to help raise donations to aid our American sports fans deployed across the world.

On Wednesday, November 11, Teams for Troops is partnering with Innisfree Birmingham, Innisfree Tuscaloosa, and Rounders Tuscaloosa to sell a souvenir cup that allows for drink specials throughout the night. The proceeds from the sale of souvenir cups go to Teams For Troops, which in turn will be used for research concerning Traumatic Brain Injuries, shipping of care packages, and purchasing of tickets to sporting events for troops once they return home.

The event begins at 9 p.m., and “your most patriotic attire” is encouraged.

“They’re fighting for the one team we’re all a part of so help us give them the opportunity to root for the sports team they enjoy the most,” says the Teams for Troops website. “After all, from the playing field to the battlefield, our troops are fans too.”

Click here for more information about the Veterans Day Party with Teams for Troops.

3 years ago

NYT hails Alabama’s football program as a ‘powerful engine’ to state’s economic, academic growth

Flickr user Redbird310


Flickr user Redbird310
Flickr user Redbird310

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In a profile this week by the New York Times, the University of Alabama’s football program is hailed as a ‘powerful engine’ to the state’s academics, economy, and culture.

In The New York Times article “Alabama Rolls Up Money, With Tide Lifting All Boats,” the University of Alabama is highlighted as a catalyst for success in the state of Alabama.

“The success of Crimson Tide football can be measured off the field as well, as it has become a powerful engine for the university’s economic and academic growth, a standout among other large public universities with a similar zest for capitalizing on their sports programs,” according to the NY Times.

Economically, Alabama’s football program is “an enterprise that generates more than $95 million annually.” Academically, the football program helps attracts top-of-the-line students.

“Just like Nick Saban has recruited five-star athletes, the university is going after the best and brightest students,” said Calvin Brown, Alabama’s director of alumni affairs. “We understand that there are young people out there who first view us, or any other institution, through the window of athletics.”

According to the NYT article, within the last decade the University of Alabama has seen serious growth. It’s enrollment has increased by 55 percent, with more than half of the students now being from out of state. In addition, the acceptance rate fell from 72 percent to 54 percent. This year, over 2,250 freshmen are enrolled in its Honors College, which is more than double the number 10 years ago.

Perhaps most impressively, Alabama’s 174 National Merit and National Achievement finalists rank Alabama among the top five public universities.

The success of the University of Alabama is due in part to their branding of the football team and university as a whole. Bill Battle, Alabama’s athletic director, recognized long ago that having a brand ties the Alabama community together.

“I knew how important universities are to communities and alumni,” Battle told the NYT. “Those markings, the school brand, were worth a lot of money, and they were leaving it on the table.”

Battle created the Collegiate Licensing Company, trademarking the iconic “A” and “Roll Tide!” and springing the university into a strategic place in the collegiate merchandising industry. Now, the collegiate merchandise market has $4.6 billion in annual sales.

Not to mention, companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars simply to advertise in the Bryant-Denny stadium, acknowledging the value in partnering with such a dynamic brand image.

Also, all of these factors influence potential students as they look into where they want to attend college.

One student, freshman Molly Brautigan, was accepted at South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia and L.S.U., but ultimately chose Alabama because she thought the academics were as strong as the social scene.

“I wanted to attend a big Southern school with big football, big Greek life and warm weather,” she said to the New York Times.

Molly’s mother added, “As soon as she stepped on campus, she knew that was where she wanted to be.”

To read the full article from the New York Times, click here.

3 years ago

U.S. House approves $325 billion in highway funding, raises ‘corporate welfare’ bank from the dead

c/a Flikr user Ken Hurd
c/a Flikr user Ken Hurd
c/a Flikr user Ken Hurd

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The U.S. House of Representative voted Thursday to approve a bipartisan bill that reauthorizes the Highway Trust Fund and the Export Import Bank.

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 includes a six-year transportation funding bill—the first long-term bill passed in several years. The bill seeks to improve the nation’s infrastructure through reforming transportation programs, authorizing $325 billion to fund roads, bridges and other infrastructure needs, while deferring much of the planning and decision making to state and local governments.

Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) said that this bill is important because roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure make up the backbone of commerce. Furthermore, the open process for the bill allowed for debate, which Roby believes allowed legislators an opportunity to give constructive feedback on the bill.

“It’s important for the Congress to do its job and that is to fund federal infrastructure. This is our responsibility. I believe because of the open process that has been put in place – more than 100 amendments made in order – that, when we get to the final product, it will be something that conservative Republicans can vote for,” Roby said.

Several Republican representatives have expressed their approval of the passage of the bill. Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) said that the passage of the bill was “very good news for the I-10 bridge project and other major road projects in Southwest Alabama.”

Rep. Terri Sewell said that the passage of The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act, also called the DRIVE Act, was a step in the right direction.

“By making smart, strategic investments in our aging infrastructure, Congress will create more good-paying jobs for Americans and boost commerce,” Sewell explained. “While this bill is not perfect, today’s vote for the DRIVE Act was certainly a step in the right direction towards providing critical investments in infrastructure maintenance and development.”

The bill also includes an amendment reauthorizing the controversial Export Import Bank. The Ex-Im Bank finances exports for American companies that would be too risky for traditional lenders by making guaranteed loans to the foreign purchasers of those exports. While the bank’s charter mandates at least 20 percent its outlays benefit small businesses, that rule has been frequently violated.

Several legislators, including Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), believe that it’s time to put an end to the controversial Ex-Im Bank.

“After years of efforts to reform the Ex-Im Bank, it has become clear to me that its problems are beyond repair and that the Bank’s expiration is in the best interest of American taxpayers,” Sen. Shelby told Yellowhammer. “Nearly 99% of all American exports are financed without the Ex-Im Bank, which demonstrates that subsidies are more about corporate welfare than advancing our economy.”

The bank has received vocal support from many business groups, but some conservative organizations, including The Heritage Foundation’s political arm Heritage Action, have waged a campaign against it, calling it the epitome of corporate welfare. Nick Barden, Education Coordinator for Heritage Action, said that the “open process” wasn’t actually as open as some are claiming.

“This process, praised by many Republicans for its openness, was not a full-blown open amendment process. The Rules Committee still exercised control over which amendments would be allowed on the floor, even though they allowed a greater number than they have in recent history. All of the conservative amendments considered still failed on the floor,” said Barden.

“It is possible that Republicans will vote for the bill because the process is ‘a step in the right direction.’ That may or may not be the case, but it is not worth the overwhelmingly bad policy embraced by this bill,” Barden said.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to take up a stand alone bill reviving the bank, he appears willing to allow a vote on it as an amendment to the transportation bill.

A conference committee between the House and Senate is expected to be called, with final votes on the bill being held in the next few weeks.

3 years ago

The amazing story of how a missing Alabama child was found safe, 13 years later

Julian Hernandez (Photo: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
Julian Hernandez (Photo: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
Julian Hernandez (Photo: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – What began as one teen applying for college turned to his discovery that he was a missing child.

In 2002, an Alabama 5-year-old boy went missing from his home in Vestavia Hills. Now, 13 years later, the boy has been found alive, safe and unharmed, living with his father in Cleveland, Ohio, thanks in part to encountering red flags while applying for college.

Julian Hernandez was in the custody of his mother when he was suspected to have been abducted by a non-custodial parent in 2002, according to police. His mother reported him missing from the Birmingham area after his father left her a note saying he’d taken the boy and never dropped him off at preschool.

Police received “hundreds of leads over the years of where he might be, from Florida to out of the country — Canada — and we followed up on every one of them, and they all turned out to be a dead end until I got the call Monday,” Lt. Johnny Evans of the Vestavia Hills police said.

After 13 years of dead end leads, the case finally broke when Hernandez was trying to apply for college and encountered several red flags, said Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls.

Hernandez had been doing well in school and was confused when experiencing problems with the college application process. He kept finding that his Social Security number didn’t match his name. His school counselor worked with him to determine why he was running into these issues when they discovered that he was on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

Hernandez had been living with his father, 53-year-old Bobby Hernandez, in Cleveland, Ohio. Both Hernandez and his father were living under false names with a woman and two other children, according to officials.

It’s likely that Hernandez didn’t know he was listed as missing until the college application process.

Hernandez’s father was arrested and charged in connection with the abduction, with the investigation ongoing, he may face further charges at a later date. Charges involving interference with custody, a felony carrying a prison term of one to 10 years, are also a possibility for Bobby Hernandez, according to police.

“We are in the process of getting charges on him and when that happens, when he is adjudicated in Ohio, then he will be extradited back to Jefferson County,” Evans said.

The teen’s mother is “ecstatic” that her son has been found, and is grateful for the closure in the knowledge that he is alive and safe. However, whether or not Julian Hernandez will reunite with his mother, is in part up to him.

“He is 18, he is an adult, so it’s kind of up to him now as to whether he wants to come back,” Evans said.


3 years ago

Alabama business’s faux flower arrangements featured everywhere from “Scandal” to Neiman Marcus

Photo: NDI - Natural Decorations, Inc. Facebook page
Photo: NDI - Natural Decorations, Inc. Facebook page
Photo: NDI – Natural Decorations, Inc. Facebook page

Brewton, Ala. — The next time you see an artificial flower arrangement in some of the country’s most upscale department stores and magazines, you’re probably looking at a beautiful centerpiece made right Here in Alabama. Natural Decorations, Inc. (NDI), led by Joe and Carol Gory, has been a leader in the flower business for over 50 years.

Carol Gordy, now CEO and Owner of NDI, is a floral designer with a love for the high quality of the NDI product as well as the excellent customer service that her company provides. NDI claims in their slogan that their quality flower are the “only alternative to real flowers” and being one of the world’s foremost provider of floral and botanical reproductions seems to support that claim.

However, NDI hasn’t always been such a leader in the industry. When Gordy first joined the NDI company in 1985 as Sales and Marketing Director, she was asked to study the artificial floral industry and report back on NDI’s current position in the market.

“After my study I had to report back that they were dead last,” Gordy said. “I was afforded the opportunity to implement my ideas, with the caveat that I would have the option to purchase the company if I was able to strengthen our position in the marketplace.”

Gordy saw the potential to offer the finest faux floral designs available and market the company to high-end designers and retailers. And through her ideas, NDI has reached huge success.

“The strategy worked! NDI was awarded our first ARTS Award 1 year later and sales increased more than 75% the next year.”

Following the company’s success under her leadership, Gordy then purchased the company in 1989.

Today, NDI features products of flowers, trees, greenery, stems, accessories, containers and more. Each of these beautiful floral designs are custom and made to order at the NDI workshop, which is also the company’s headquarters, located in Brewton, Alabama.

Since it’s humble beginnings in 1964, NDI has garnered world attention and achieved many honors. NDI’s dedication to creative artistry and design led to the company being a six time recipient of Accessories Resource Team (ARTS) Manufacturer of the Year Award, which earned NDI a spot in the ARTS Hall of Fame, an honor given to companies who have won in their ARTS categories five times or more.

In addition, NDI is a part of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), an organization dedicated to improving the business climate in Alabama. BCA is the state’s most powerful and effective advocate for business at the Alabama Legislature and in the U.S. Congress.

“BCA exposed our type of business to hundreds of companies in BCA who never imagined a company such as ours,” said Gordy. Gordy added that NDI’s partnership with BCA “resulted in added exposure for our company and increased sales.”

NDI also maintains successful relationships with many noteworthy partners, including Neiman Marcus, Joss & Main, Ruelala, Garden & Gun, Domino, and Traditional Home. Not to mention, you may have seen NDI flowers on the big screen on The Good Wife, Homeland, and Scandal.

“I have remained steadfast in upholding the high standards of excellence we initially established for our products, design and service, all of which have been key to our success for all these years,” Gordy says.

For more information about Natural Decorations, Inc. and NDI products, go to the NDI website.

Yellowhammer’s Alabama Business Spotlight is a new series highlighting some of the state’s most successful businesses working to perfect their craft and share it with the rest of the nation.

3 years ago

War on Coal claims hundreds more Alabama jobs

(Photo: Flikr user rcene2010)
(Photo: Flikr user rcene2010)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – On Monday November 2, Walter Energy laid off about half of its remaining workers, totaling 265 employees, at its No. 7 mine in Brookwood.

This is the latest of several rounds of layoffs Walter Energy has had to make this year, already laying off 194 workers at its No. 7 mine were laid off over the summer, in addition to 129 layoffs at the Brookwood No. 4 mine in October.

“Reduced production will be maintained as the mine temporarily addresses geological conditions and continued depressed market conditions,” Stanhouse explained. “We will resume production as conditions permit.”

Walter Energy has seen its revenues plummet during the last year as coal prices have dropped, Environmental Protection Agency regulations made burning coal more expensive, and the steel industry has wavered. In July, Walter Energy filed for bankruptcy.

However, current reductions are claimed to be only temporary by Walter Energy spokesman William Stanhouse.

“It’s a temporary reduction,” Stanhouse said. “I need to stress that.”

However, Walter Energy isn’t the only company that has made serious cuts to Alabama employees. Cliffs Natural Resources also announced in October that it was eliminating 220 jobs from its Oak Grove Mine located in Jefferson County.

Both Cliffs and Walter Energy mine metallurgical coal, which is coal used to make steel. In a Yellowhammer op-ed posted last year,  Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) cited a study by the Economic Policy Institute, that found “surging imports of unfairly traded steel are threatening U.S. steel production, which supports more than a half million U.S. jobs across every state of the nation. The import surge has depressed domestic steel production and revenues, leading to sharp declines in net income in the U.S. steel industry over the past two years (2012–2013), layoffs for thousands of workers, and reduced wages for many more.”

With the Obama administration’s assault on the coal industry continuing, coal miners have rallied together in an attempt to save their jobs and their industry. Alabama coal miner Walter Parker gave a moving testimony at EPA hearings in 2014, Walter Energy employees rallied to receive their benefits, and even Governor Bentley took his concerns directly to Obama, expressing his “urgent and vexing” issues with the EPA’s mounting regulations.

3 years ago

Alabama wife of injured soldier featured in Veterans Day ‘Women of Honor’ special

(Lifetime video Screenshot)

Video above: Promotional video for Lifetime’s Veterans Day ‘Women of Honor’ TV special, which premieres Monday, November 9, 2015, at 8pm ET/PT.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama’s Kathleen Causey and her role in her family’s inspiring story will be featured in Lifetime’s Veterans Day ‘Women of Honor’ TV special this November.

For military wife Kathleen Causey and husband Aaron Causey, one moment changed their lives.

In 2011, Kathleen was preparing to finish her college degree when Aaron, her husband of only 18 months was injured attempting to disarm a bomb in Afghanistan, leaving him as a double-above-knee amputee, as well as with a traumatic brain injury. Kathleen then moved from pursuing college and into an active caregiving role, to take care of her husband.

The Lifetime Veteran’s Day ‘Women of Honor’ special focuses on caregivers, showcasing “the emotional and uplifting journeys of three women, representing the thousands of veterans, spouses, caregivers and countless others who have given so much for our country and continue to do so every day.”

Kathleen said she is grateful for an opportunity to share her story, and that Lifetime would chose to highlight such a special group of people.

“It’s to raise awareness for military families,” Kathleen said. “They chose to feature caregivers. They call us the hidden heroes. For every veteran in a wheelchair, there is someone pushing it. It’s very challenging. It means a lot that that the producers decided to focus on that.”

While Aaron spent the next two years recovering, Kathleen not only supported him, but also shared her experience as a caregiver spouse with others through volunteering with the USO, inspiring other young military wives and countless others.

“Women of Honor” will also feature appearances of the heroines and their discussion with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden about Joining Forces, a White House initiative intended “to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.”

“Jill and I are really excited about this conversation and we’re excited that Lifetime is putting the spotlight on these amazing women,” said Mrs. Obama.

The one-hour Veterans Day tribute premieres Monday, November 9 at 8pm ET/PT and will also air November 10 at 6pm (CET/JKT) on AFN|spectrum for our U.S. forces, DoD civilians and their families stationed or deployed overseas and aboard U.S. Navy ships.

3 years ago

These are the best suburbs to buy a home in Alabama in 2015

Helena, Ala. (Photo: Flikr user civilengtiger)
Helena, Ala. (Photo: Flikr user civilengtiger)
Helena, Ala. (Photo: Flikr user civilengtiger)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — This year’s best suburbs to buy a home in Alabama were just named, and the results may surprise you.

Niche Local, a company that provides rankings and statistics on every neighborhood and city in the U.S., did a comprehensive assessment of the housing and community of American suburbs. Their rankings are based on multiple factors, including home values, property taxes, housing costs, crime rates, age of new home buyers, and personal reviews.

According to Niche Local, a high ranking on this list “indicates that a suburb attracts residents with a good housing market where property taxes and housing costs are in line with value.”

In Alabama, Birmingham had four suburbs in the top 10, with Huntsville suburbs as well as Gadsden suburbs also making it to the top of the list. However, the second best suburb to be named was Taylor, a suburb of Dothan.

Overall, Helena was named the best suburb to buy a home in Alabama.

Niche Local praised Helena for a successful overall experience. Helena has 16,956 residents and a median home value of $178,200. 92.3% of Helena residents own their home.

“I love Helena,” said one of the company’s everyday experts. “I have been welcomed with open arms and the people have southern hospitality, which I love. I just love the atmosphere overall of the whole city and surrounding cities.”

The top ten Alabama suburbs are ranked as follows:

1. Helena
Shelby County, Alabama

2. Taylor
Houston County, Alabama

3. Pelham
Shelby County, Alabama

4. Vestavia Hills
Jefferson County, Alabama

5. Madison
Madison County, Alabama

6. Hartselle
Morgan County, Alabama

7. Hokes Bluff
Etowah County, Alabama

8. Mountain Brook
Jefferson County, Alabama

9. Southside
Etowah County, Alabama

10. Glencoe
Etowah County, Alabama

Click here to see the Niche Local’s 2015 Best Suburbs to Buy a House in Alabama full list.

3 years ago

14-year-old Alabama entrepreneur turns down $30 million for brilliant invention

Taylor Rosenthal (c/o: Screenshot of RecMed First Aid Vending Machines Youtube video)
Taylor Rosenthal (c/o: Screenshot of RecMed First Aid Vending Machines Youtube video)
Taylor Rosenthal (c/o: Screenshot of RecMed First Aid Vending Machines Youtube video)

OPELIKA, Ala. – What started as just an idea for a entrepreneurship class has now expanded to a multimillion-dollar patented concept with an open door of opportunity for teenager Taylor Rosenthal.

Rosenthal, a 14-year-old entrepreneur from Opelika, Ala., is the creator and inventor of a first-aid vending machine.

“I make something called the RecMed vending machine. It’s a computerized vending machine that functions similarly to a Redbox machine but instead of it dispensing DVDs, it dispenses first aid supplies. So we put these at any high traffic places that kids could get hurt, so like amusement parks, all kinds of parks, recreational centers, conventions, football stadiums, baseball fields, everywhere,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal currently serves as founder and C.E.O. of RecMed, and has already had to make some big decisions about the future of his company. Recently, Rosenthal turned down a $30 million offer to buy his idea.

“A large national healthcare company contacted us and said we feel the idea is worth this, would you like to sit down and talk? It’s his company. He declined because he wants to at least get it started and see how it goes,” said Rosenthal’s father, Terry.

The teenager’s business is making big moves, and Rosenthal expects his company to only continue to grow in value. He was granted the patent for the RecMed idea last week, and he’s continuing to develop RecMed at Opelika’s Round House, an incubator for start-up businesses.

“We’re talking about closing in on investors in the next week or two, which we would then give some of that money to our team from Auburn University to actually produce the prototype,” Rosenthal said.

Even without the prototype made, Rosenthal still has been receiving business offers, including a pending order from Six Flags for the first 100 units.

3 years ago

Alabama ship builder awarded $53.4 million contract to equip high-speed, high-payload transport ships

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 20, 2013) The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) conducted high-speed trials, reaching speeds of approximately 40 knots off the coast of Virginia. Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, was aboard for the trial and was on the first helicopter to make a regularly scheduled passenger landing on the ship since passing its initial certification. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Phil Beaufort/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 20, 2013) The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) conducted high-speed trials, reaching speeds of approximately 40 knots off the coast of Virginia. Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, was aboard for the trial and was on the first helicopter to make a regularly scheduled passenger landing on the ship since passing its initial certification. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Phil Beaufort/Released)
The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) conducted high-speed trials, reaching speeds of approximately 40 knots off the coast of Virginia. (c/o: U.S. Navy)

MOBILE, Ala. – Austal, a global defense contractor, designer, and manufacturer of defense and commercial ships, was awarded a $53.4 million contract to procure long-lead materials for the 11th Expeditionary Fast Transport for the U.S. Navy.

The award covers materials including main propulsion engines, generators, water jets, main reduction gears, and other long-lead time items.

“We are excited that the Navy is building on the momentum and the maturity of the original contract and extending it beyond the first ten ships,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. “We look forward to building on Austal’s relationship with the U.S. Navy by continuing to provide quality, value and capability in our ships.”

This award comes after Austal delivered its third state-of-the-art, Mobile-built combat ship to the U.S. Navy this year.

Austal was awarded a $1.6 billion contract in November 2008 that initiated the Navy’s Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program. The 2008 contract was set for Austal to build 10 joint high speed vessels for the U.S. Navy, with five JHSVs having currently been delivered while an additional three are in various stages of construction.

However, the Navy is now extending the original contract and providing funding to initiate procurement of long-lead materials for Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) ships. The structure of the EPF provides the opportunity to conduct a wide range of missions, from humanitarian efforts and disaster relief to the possibility of special operations support, command and control. The 338-ft Spearhead-class EPF is currently providing high-speed, high-payload transport capability to fleet and combatant commanders.

Perciavalle believes that the success of Austal is a result of the Austal Alabamian employees. Previously, Perciavalle has raved about the advantages of doing business in the state of Alabama. Austal employs approximately 4,000 Alabamians in the Mobile area, and Perciaville says that the Navy’s $53.4 million award is evidence of their hard work.

“Due to the level of maturity this program has reached, and the efficiency of our material procurement to date, we have earned the Navy’s confidence to make this award,” said Perciavalle. “This is a testament to the hard work of Austal’s awesome employees building incredible ships.”

3 years ago

Palmer co-sponsors articles of impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen

Palmer oversight committeeMONTGOMERY, Ala. – Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) joined his fellow members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today in co-sponsoring a resolution to begin proceedings to impeach Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen.

The proceedings for impeachment are a response to what Palmer describes as Koskinen giving “misleading and false testimony to Congress and failing to preserve evidence related to the troubling scandal where various conservative non-profit organizations were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for exercising their right to freedom of speech.”

Mr. Koskinen was issued a subpoena shortly after being sworn into office in December 2013, creating a legal obligation to preserve materials relevant to the Congressional investigation. However, the Committee asserts, just one month later, with an awareness that a gap existed in Lois Lerner’s email production, the IRS destroyed back-up tapes during a midnight shift, despite an order from the IRS’s own Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for employees not to destroy anything.

“Mr. Koskinen has repeatedly provided misleading testimony to Congress and has failed to comply with a Congressional subpoena. This behavior is unacceptable, particularly for someone in such a powerful position,” said Palmer.

Previous efforts from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee include a letter to President Obama, with the Committee outlining the findings of their investigation of Koskinen, including evidence that Commissioner Koskinen failed to comply with a congressional subpoena, testified untruthfully before Congress, and failed to preserve 24,000 emails relevant to the investigation. The White House did not respond to the letter.

While introducing the resolution, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said, “Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust. He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled. Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress. This action will demonstrate to the American people that the IRS is under repair, and signal that Executive Branch officials who violate the public trust will be held accountable.”

3 years ago

Brooks secures commitment from Paul Ryan: no amnesty bills

U.S. House Members Paul Ryan (R-WI1) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)
U.S. House Members Paul Ryan (R-WI1) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)
U.S. House Members Paul Ryan (R-WI1) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) addressed the U.S. House Tuesday, submitting a letter agreed to by Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-01) which formalizes his pledges regarding comprehensive immigration reform, or amnesty, bills.

The letter states that if elected Speaker, Ryan will not bring up immigration reform “so long as Barack Obama is president.” Ryan also promises to not allow any immigration bill to reach the floor for a vote unless it is supported by a majority of Republican House Members.

Brooks wrote the letter to Ryan outlining these two representations and personally delivered it to him on Oct. 22. Ryan then called Brooks and stated that the letter accurately portrayed his immigration representations, which led to Brooks submitting the letter and Ryan’s response for the Congressional Record.

These pledges come after serious concerns from many Republican representatives, including Mo Brooks and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Their concerns for Ryan stem from the fear that he will use the role of Speaker to push through immigration policies that will suppress the wages of and take jobs from struggling American families.

Last week, Brooks stated that Ryan has the “absolutely worst record on border security of any Republican in the House of Representatives.” In addition, Sessions added that it’s important that Ryan doesn’t “use that office to override the basic Republicans who elected us.”

However, after several weeks of uncertainty, Ryan has in recent days been able to gather support from every corner of the fractious Republican conference. A super-majority of the Freedom Caucus announced their support for Ryan, in spite of their ideological differences, because Ryan assured the group he would return the House to “regular order” and implement a more “bottom-up” approach to governing.

In addition, through the promises Brooks secured from Ryan about the amnesty bills, Brooks announced his support for Ryan as House Speaker.

“Paul Ryan confirmed that he meant what he said and would keep his word,” said Brooks. “Based on Paul Ryan’s representations and my trust that Paul Ryan is a man of his word, I will vote for Paul Ryan for House Speaker on the House Floor if he is the Republican nominee.”

3 years ago

Alabama’s Little River Sock Mill receives Martha Stewart American Made Award

(Photo: Little River Sock Mill Vimeo Screenshot)

Video above: Little River Sock Mill produces their socks with organic cotton in Fort Payne, Alabama.

FORT PAYNE, Ala. – With temperatures dropping and fall weather approaching, Alabamians have finally been getting out their sweaters and warm socks. Martha Stewart, however, finds one Alabama company above the rest for helping people in the Yellowhammer State get ready for Autumn. As part of her 2015 American Made Awards, Martha Stewart spotlighted Alabama’s Little River Sock Mill.

Located in Fort Payne, Ala., the Little River Sock Mill has been manufacturing socks for almost 25 years. Gina Locklear, owner and founder of the Little River Sock Mill, says that the process of producing socks at Little River Sock Mill is intricate, and it results in their products being known for their high quality.

“We’re a family business, and we work together every day to make a product we believe in. We make every sock ourselves, handling every step of the process, from design to manufacture to packaging, which is almost unheard of in the sock business,” said Locklear. “Since we produce our socks in small batches in a space that is steps from my office, our socks’ quality is exceptional, and this is what we’re known for.”

The Martha Stewart American Made Awards “spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade.” Martha Stewart created these awards to honor and celebrate entrepreneurs and their dedication to create quality American made products.

In the spotlight of Little River Sock Mill for the 2015 American Made Awards, Locklear was asked to explain what “American made” means to her, and her answer is pretty remarkable.

“If I had been asked this question in 1991, I would have thought of my parents and said that American Made means the American dream. As a kid, I remember watching Mom and Dad work in the mill and make socks themselves with only one or two other employees. In the beginning, my dad would stay at the mill making socks until midnight, and then start again around 5:30 a.m. the next day. They did this because they knew if they worked hard, it would pay off and one day become a successful business,” said Locklear.

“Today, when I think about our business and how things have changed for us since manufacturing shifted overseas in the early 2000s, American Made makes me think of perseverance and the hope that, one day soon, being made in America will be as important to all Americans as it is to us.”

For more information about Little River Sock Mill, visit their website at

3 years ago

Two Birmingham-area cities named among the best suburbs in America

Downtown Birmingham, Alabama from atop Ruffner Mountain (Photo: Alby Headrick)
Birmingham, Alabama (Photo: Alby Headrick)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama is home to two of the best suburbs in all of America, according to a new study from Business Insider.

On Business Insider’s list of the 50 best suburbs in America, Vestavia Hills ranked in at number 49 and Mountain Brook registered near the top of the list, second only to New Albany, Ohio.

The list was compiled by researching over 2,000 areas across the country and examining the average commute to work, unemployment rate, median household income, poverty rate, percent of population with at least a bachelor’s degree, housing affordability, as well as other factors. In addition, the areas considered had to have populations between 5,000 and 100,000 and be within 40 kilometers, or approximately 25 miles, of the nearest metropolitan area.

Business Insider ranked Vestavia Hills’s “Great Schools” score of 9/10, population of 33,993, and a median household income of $81,067 as reasons it came in the top 50.

According to the list, Vestavia Hills “maintains its southern hospitality while being the fastest-growing town in Alabama.”

The other suburb that came in at the top of the list was Mountain Brook, one of Alabama’s wealthiest, safest, and most educated areas. Mountain Brook received a “Great Schools” score of 10/10, with a population of 20,416 and a median household income of $131,281.

Business Insider described the area as a “community that has five distinct shopping villages, its own school system, and residential areas designed by Warren Manning, the landscape planner behind New York’s Central Park.”

These two Alabama cities landed on a list that is primarily dominated by suburbs in the Midwest. However, this isn’t the first time these two Birmingham areas have been recognized for their high standards of living. Both of these suburbs were also previously listed on Movoto’s 10 best places to live around Birmingham earlier this year.

You can read the full list of Business Insider’s 50 best suburbs in America here.

3 years ago

Brooks: Paul Ryan has the ‘absolute worst record’ on border security

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5)
Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Freedom Caucus member and Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) says that he still has reservations when it comes to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) being Speaker of the House.

Rep. Brooks’ most prominent concern about Ryan is his stance on border security, he said when interviewed on the “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Thursday.

“My biggest reservation about Paul Ryan is that he has the absolutely worst record on border security of any Republican in the House of Representatives,” Brooks said.

On October 21, the supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus announced their decision to back Rep. Paul Ryan for Speaker of the House, despite the list of demands that Ryan proposed in order to accept the job.

However, some members of the Freedom Caucus have publicly acknowledged their hesitancies, including Brooks. Brooks says that he requires a promise from Ryan that he won’t support certain immigration policies “that the vast number of Americans oppose and that people in my Congressional district strongly oppose.”

“The majority of Republicans, since we are the majority, have to agree to immigration coming to the House floor before it can receive the House floor vote,” said Brooks. “That’s where the check would be on Paul Ryan’s open borders, amnesty type views.”

Ryan assured the GOP that no immigration bill will come to the House floor unless it has the support of the majority of the majority. However, with the official vote approaching, not all members of the Freedom Caucus are assured that Ryan will keep his word.

“We’ll see if he does that,” said Brooks.


3 years ago

Alabama grocers highlight growth, industry leaders, impact of state budget at legislative panel

Rep. Lynn Greer led a panel at The Alabama Grocers Association Legislative Panel event to discuss what to expect in 2016 in regards to the Alabama grocery industry.
Rep. Lynn Greer led a panel at The Alabama Grocers Association Legislative Panel event to discuss what to expect in 2016 in regards to the Alabama grocery industry.
Rep. Lynn Greer led a panel at The Alabama Grocers Association Legislative Panel event to discuss what to expect in 2016 in regards to the Alabama grocery industry.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Vital food industry leaders in the Alabama economy met to honor 25 years of the Alabama Grocers Association as well as to host a legislative panel in regards to the effect of the state budget on the grocery industry.

The Alabama Grocers Association is known as the voice of the food industry in Alabama, and through their organization, have pursued significant efforts to improve the Alabama food industry.

The Alabama Grocers Association has not only aimed to improve the industry as a whole, but also food products in Alabama. One example of these efforts is the Buy Alabama’s Best campaign, an initiative to increase awareness and sales of Alabama food products, as well as raise money for charities fighting childhood cancers.

In Alabama, grocery stores generate over $3.6 billion in annual sales, while providing more than 25,000 jobs with over $750 million in annual wages. Alabama grocery stores also pay in excess of $300 million in state and local taxes.

The Alabama Grocers Association recognized several industry leaders in those in the food, beverage and grocery professions here in Alabama.

“We are proud to have honored each of these fine individuals today.  They are an asset to the Alabama Grocers Association and to our industry in Alabama,” said Ellie Taylor, President Alabama Grocers Association.  “We are fortunate to have a thriving grocery industry in our state and each of these individuals make this possible.”

The grocery industry in Alabama certainly is thriving, with recent events such as the opening of the first Trader Joe’s in Alabama, the addition of a Publix distribution center in Jefferson County, and the building of a Publix super market in downtown Birmingham.

In addition to honoring members of the, the Alabama Grocers Association also hosted a legislative panel to discuss the state’s budget and its effect on the grocery industry.

The panel focused on the outcome of the 2015 Legislative Session and what to expect in 2016 in regards to the Alabama grocery industry.  The panel included several influential Alabamians, including Senator Cam Ward (R, D-14), Representative Lynn Greer (R, D-2), and Mr. Kirk Fulford, Deputy Director of the Legislative Fiscal Office.

The Alabama Grocers Association estimates that food sales create a $2 billion impact on the state’s economy each year while employing one out of every four Alabamians.

3 years ago

Alabama Congressmen vote in support of bill ensuring United States never defaults on its debt

Congressmen Gary Palmer (R-AL6) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)
Congressmen Gary Palmer (R-AL6) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)
Congressmen Gary Palmer (R-AL6) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – On October 21, the Default Prevention Act was voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives, with notable support from Congressmen in Alabama.

The H.R. 692, or the Default Prevention Act, would ensure that the debt of the United States is always paid, and default is always avoided, by ensuring that the Treasury can always borrow for the sole purpose of paying the principal and interest on the debt held by the public, or the Social Security Trust Fund.

Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL), a member of the House Budget Committee, is a co-sponsor of the bill, and believes that this bill is a significantly better option that simply raising the debt ceiling.

“The federal government needs to get its fiscal house in order,” Palmer said.  “Instead, for far too long, we have simply lifted the debt ceiling every time it has gotten in the way of more spending, because the specter of defaulting on our sovereign debt and Social Security recipients not being paid hamper attempts to change our spending habits.  This bill would ensure that those obligations are always covered, while not allowing the threat of default to hamstring those who are not inclined to lift the debt ceiling without serious reforms.”

The bill was originally introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), and has gained significant support, including from Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05). Brooks believes that the Default Prevention Act takes the threat of default “off of the table” and allows the debate to “instead focus on the need to confront our out-of-control spending.”

“Of course, we don’t expect the President to sign this bill into law,” said Brooks. “The Democrats won’t even allow this bill to get a vote in the Senate because they have no desire to face the hard choices necessary to keep our country from bankruptcy.  This expectation, however, does not prevent us from doing our duty and helping focus the attention of the American people on the need to live within our means.”

The bill passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 235 to 194. Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL2) was also a co-sponsor of the bill. Every Republican member of the Alabama congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill, while lone Democrat Terri Sewell (D-AL7) voted against it.

3 years ago

Killer finally apologizes five years after gunning down UAH professors

Amy Bishop Anderson (Source: Alabama Dept. of Corrections)
Amy Bishop Anderson (Source: Alabama Dept. of Corrections)
Amy Bishop Anderson (Source: Alabama Dept. of Corrections)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Amy Bishop has publicly apologized for the first time since she opened fire on a University of Alabama-Huntsville faculty meeting five years ago, killing three colleagues.

In 2010, the denial of Bishop’s tenure sparked the shootings. Bishop opened fire with a 9 mm pistol during a department meeting on Feb. 12, 2010. Professors killed in the incident were Adriel Johnson, Maria Ragland Davis and Gopi Podila, with three others being injured in the shootings.

The Harvard-trained neurobiologist and mother of four pleaded guilty to killing three colleagues and wounding three others, and is now serving a life sentence in prison.

However, recent efforts have been made by Bishop to appeal, claiming mental illness. In a new 50-page court filing for her appeal, Bishop included a handwritten note referring to the shootings as a “terrible crime” and stated her first apology.

“I am terribly sorry for the victims and their families and my family,” Bishop wrote.

Some of the surviving victims and families are less that receptive to the apology. One of the surviving victims, Joseph Leahy, rejected Bishop’s apology.

“Dr. Bishop has ceased to exist in my world. She just doesn’t exist anymore,” Leahy, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and is now blind in one eye, told WAFF.

“Do I think she’s truly sorry?” Leahy asked. “I think she truly wants to get out of prison. That’s what I think.”

The apology is part of a 50-page court document filed by Bishop, with this appeal challenging the effectiveness of Bishop Anderson’s appellate attorney, Cecilia Pope. Bishop is seeking relief for missing a filing deadline for her appeal, citing ineffective counsel by Pope.