The Wire

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

3 years ago

Viral photo of ‘inspirational’ Alabama Trooper feeding homeless man will restore your faith in humanity

Alabama State Trooper Justin O'Neal buys homeless man meal at McDonald's in Bessemer, and the photo goes viral. (Photo: Jenny Gilmore Reed)
Alabama State Trooper Justin O'Neal buys homeless man meal at McDonald's in Bessemer, and the photo goes viral. (Photo: Jenny Gilmore Reed)
Alabama State Trooper Justin O’Neal buys homeless man meal at McDonald’s in Bessemer, and the photo goes viral. (Photo: Jenny Gilmore Reed Facebook photo)

BESSEMER, Ala. – An Alabama State Trooper was hailed a “hero” by a woman who witnessed him buying a meal for a homeless man. The act of kindness moved her to then share a photo of the cop’s act to social media, with the image quickly going viral.

Alabama resident Jenny Reed was sitting in the McDonald’s drive-thru on Morgan Road in Bessemer when she witnessed a cop humbly helping someone in the community in an unexpected way.

“He was in front of me, he ordered his food, he pulled over to a parking spot,” said Reed. But then what seemed like a relatively normal occurrence turned into a surprising, heartwarming happening. “I noticed him get out of the car, walk around to the back holding food and a drink and open his back passenger door and a homeless man got out with bags of stuff,” Reed said.

Reed said watching the trooper help the homeless man moved her to tears. Being so moved by the scene, Reed said she posted it to social media because she though this kind of interaction needs to be witnessed by others.

I am in tears right now. I ran through the McDonald's drive thru on Morgan Road. This state trooper was in front of me….

Posted by Jenny Gilmore Reed on Friday, October 16, 2015

The photo was shared on social media, with the Facebook photo earning over 1,000 shares. The picture is a heartwarming reminder that, despite media depictions to the contrary, the job of law enforcement officer means much more than simply writing tickets and arresting criminals, it’s being an integral part of the community.

“I pulled over and told him he was an inspiration and a hero,” said Reed.

But for Trooper Justin O’Neal, it was just another day. He first saw the man walking along Interstate 59. The man was walking his way to North Carolina and hadn’t eaten in days when O’Neal picked him up.

“He said he was hungry, I asked him when the last time he had eaten and he told me about 3 days ago,” O’Neal said. “I hate to see anyone go hungry, so I pulled into the McDonalds and asked him what he wanted and he wanted a quarter pounder with cheese combo meal.”

While this kind act seems to go beyond the call of duty, Trooper O’Neal believes that he was just doing “the right thing.”

“As a trooper, our main job is to save lives and protect property, but as a Christian and as a human being, that’s just the right thing to do,” said O’Neal.

(H/T ABC33/40)


3 years ago

Alabama’s high school graduation rate increases are some of the best in the nation

Flikr user Jessie Jacobson
Flikr user Jessie Jacobson
Flikr user Jessie Jacobson

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama had the second highest increase in high school graduation rates last year, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Alabama’s graduation rate was 86.3 percent for the 2013-14 school year, up from 80 percent for the 2012-13 school year. Alabama’s 6.3 percentage point increase comes second only to the state of Delaware’s 6.6 percentage point increase from 80.4 to 87 percent.

Alabama being a leader in the nation’s increase of high school graduation rates comes from many efforts of improvement, such as an increase in high quality teachers and various education initiatives across the state. Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Brice says that the success of the state as a whole is credited to the efforts made by the local school systems to raise graduation rates.

“We could not be more pleased with the results that were released today by the U.S. Department of Education, and I give 100 percent of the attribute of making that happen to our local school systems,” said Dr. Bice. “We encourage each local school system and the schools within those systems to come up with as many innovative plans as they can and we’ll try to work with them to differentiate support and resources so they can make those plans a reality. That’s why this has worked.”

The report also reveals that Alabama saw increases in high school graduation rates for students of all races and ethnicity, as well as for students with limited English proficiency or who are economically disadvantaged. The only decrease for Alabama’s rates this year was for children with disabilities.

“It all goes back to expectations. Our expectation is that every child graduate from high school without exception,” Bice said.

Alabama’s graduation rates categories for the 2013-14 school year:

  • Total: 86.3 percent
  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 88 percent
  • Asian/Pacific Islander: 91 percent
  • Black: 84 percent
  • Hispanic/Latino: 85 percent
  • Two or more races: 82 percent
  • White: 87.8 percent
  • Children with disabilities: 64.4 percent
  • Economically disadvantaged: 81.5 percent
  • Limited English proficient: 67 percent

The nation’s current overall graduation rate is 81 percent, making Alabama’s high school graduation rate higher than the national average. However, the increase of high school graduation rates just spur the state on to pursue more efforts to achieve further success in Alabama education.

“Now that we are having more kids graduate, we also need to make sure when they do graduate they are prepared for two-year college, four-year college, work. So just graduating isn’t the only step,” Bice said.

3 years ago

Senate Dems want to increase smoking age to 21, here’s what that could mean for Alabama

(c/o: Flikr user Michael Ocampo)
(c/o: Flikr user Michael Ocampo)
(c/o: Flikr user Michael Ocampo)

WASHINGTON — In new legislation proposed by a group of Senate Democrats, the legal smoking age would rise to 21. Such a move would have mixed outcomes for the states, including Alabama, that depend on the tax revenue generated from tobacco sales.

The Tobacco to 21 Act was introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. This bill has also gained support from Dick Durbin (D-IL.), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and several other Senate Democrats.

“We know that the earlier smokers begin their unhealthy addiction to nicotine, the more likely they are to suffer from tobacco-related diseases or die,” said Senator Schatz.  “This year, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the minimum smoking age to 21.  It was an historic public health achievement that we should adopt nationwide.”

While Schatz’ home state of Hawaii is the first state to introduce the legal smoking age at 21, there are also over 90 American cities and counties that have raised the tobacco age to 21. Alabama is only one of four states that currently has a legal smoking age of 19, while others currently maintain the legal tobacco age at 18.

Raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco products would continue the measures that America has taken to be healthier, says Senator Dick Durbin, a supporter of the Tobacco to 21 Act.

“Thanks to tobacco control measures like banning smoking in public places and placing warning labels on cigarette cartons, far fewer people smoke now than did fifty years ago,” said Senator Durbin.  “As a result, far fewer families have lost loved ones to tobacco-related disease and death. But we still have a long way to go. We can help prevent a new generation from falling prey to this deadly epidemic by passing another commonsense measure to reduce youth tobacco use: raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21.

In the last 50 years, nearly 21 million people in the United States have died as a result of tobacco-related illnesses, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country. In a recent report, the Institute of Medicine found that raising the legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would “reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that tobacco use costs the United States approximately $170 billion in direct medical costs and $156 billion in lost productivity every year.

But the prospect of raising the smoking age could put a significant strain on state budgets, which rely heavily on tax revenue from tobacco products.  In 2012 alone, Alabama collected $106 million in state and local revenue on tobacco products. In 2015 the cigarette tax increase was one of the only proposed revenue measures to make it through the state legislature.

Governor Bentley, a medical doctor, told Yellowhammer he supports anything that would decrease the number of smokers.

“As a doctor, I know first-hand the dangers of smoking,” said Bentley. ” Any effort that hinders a person’s ability to smoke is a positive step in the right direction.  According to the Alabama Department of Public Health it is estimated that 22.5% of Alabamians are smokers. As Governor, the health of Alabamians is important to me and smoking is an unhealthy habit that kills our citizens.”

Healthier Alabamians also correlates with potential savings on healthcare costs. Currently Medicaid is one of the state’s largest budget items, third behind only education and public sector pensions. In that respect, the loss of cigarette tax revenues could possibly be offset by a decrease in the healthcare costs of those who may have chosen to smoke if it was easily available when they were younger.

The Tobacco to 21 Act is supported by the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Academic Pediatric Association and several others that advocate in health-related professions and organizations.

“By raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21 across the country, we can cut the number of new smokers each year; build a healthier, tobacco free America; and save lives,” Schatz said.


3 years ago

SEC Commissioner starts almost every day with Alabama-based Iron Tribe Fitness

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey talks with Iron Tribe Fitness President Jim Cavale during a testimonial. (Photo: Screenshot from Iron Tribe Fitness video)
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey talks with Iron Tribe Fitness President Jim Cavale during a testimonial. (Photo: Screenshot from Iron Tribe Fitness video)
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey talks with Iron Tribe Fitness President Jim Cavale during a testimonial. (Photo: Screenshot from Iron Tribe Fitness video)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Having a workout routine can be difficult to balance with work, family, travel and other time commitments. But for SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, his workouts at Alabama-based Iron Tribe Fitness are a staple of his schedule.

Iron Tribe Fitness is “more than a fitness gym; we are a tribe of athletes that support each other to achieve a healthy lifestyle and reach our fitness goals,” according to their website. Men’s Journal, a men’s fitness and lifestyle magazine, recently named Alabama-based Iron Tribe Fitness’s program one of the best workouts in the country. These top of the line workouts have become a necessity in the busy life of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.

Six days a week — 5:15 a.m. on weekdays, and 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays, Sankey wakes up early and drives from his home in Birmingham for an Iron Tribe Fitness class, usually at the Highway 280 location. And when he’s not in town, he still finds an Iron Tribe Fitness to visit.

“The workouts have become a part of me, and I seek that when I travel,” said Sankey in a testimonial. “I’d say there are 5 or 6 I frequent often when I’m not in Birmingham.”

The founders of Iron Tribe Fitness weren’t fans of “big-box” gyms, so they developed their own fitness and nutrition program, with no two workout days being the same. These varied workouts in a group class atmosphere enable personalized workouts, healthy competition, and building relationships with other “athletes.”

“Where I think Iron Tribe has done well is the camaraderie that’s developed around what we do here every day,” said Sankey.

Before Sankey joined Iron Tribe Fitness, he was an avid runner, completing over 40 marathons. He once ran a marathon a month for a year just as a “personal challenge.” However, he has since faced several injuries that prohibit him from running, and decided to try something new.

“Taking care of yourself physically needs to be a priority. In life, a person is going to make time for whatever they think is important. I never envisioned I’d be the guy waking up at 4:30 so that I could work out at 5:15, but it’s been three years, and it’s made me better,” said Sankey.

Iron Tribe Fitness’s mission is “to create fitness communities that change lives.” And those communities include a wide variety of people, from workout junkies like Greg Sankey to competitive athletes to soccer moms to grandparents. Iron Tribe Fitness aims to build community and invest in their athletes so that they can be successful in the gym and beyond.

For SEC Commissioner Sankey, he is thankful for the opportunity to experience these workouts and challenge himself in a new way.

“It launches me into my day, and I get a victory before most people have had their first cup of coffee,” Sankey said.

Want to try one of Iron Tribe Fitness’s famous workouts? Visit their website to find the location nearest you.

3 years ago

Alabama robotics competition is ‘Game Day’ for future engineers

(Video above: Students from all over Northwest Alabama participated in a robotics competition “game day.” )

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – It was game day in Alabama Saturday, but not only the kind you might think, when Northwest Alabama hosted the BEST Robotics Competition Game Day.

“Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology,” or BEST, is a robotics competition that allows middle and high school students to work in teams to build robots. For the competition, teams are given a box filled with basic items and use those items to then build a functioning robot that can complete certain tasks.

According to their website, “BEST is a workforce development program, cleverly disguised as a robotics competition!”

And this robot competition is called “game day” for a reason. The atmosphere for the competition is hyped, and BEST says it’s “more like a championship basketball game with crowds and cheering and mascots and music and dancing … and robots!” Students gather together in a gymnasium and dress up as a team while cheering on their teammates as they perform tasks with their robot.

Nationally, over 11,000 students participate in the BEST competitions each year. While the BEST robotics competition is about robotics, it’s also a STEM program aimed to “demystify engineering,” said Stephanie Newland with the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, visit

3 years ago

Have you visited Alabama’s most Instagrammed location?

Lake Martin, Alabama (Photo:
Lake Martin, Alabama (Photo:
Lake Martin, Alabama (Photo:

LAKE MARTIN, Ala. – A new study shows the most Instagrammed locations over the U.S., and while the Grand Canyon, Empire State Building, and the Vegas strip seem like obvious answers in other states, Alabama’s Lake Martin was named the most photographed location in the Yellowhammer State.

Types of Instagram locations as well as state-specific popular Instagram locations were listed in blog from Busbud, a travel website that provides bus transportation.

Overall, the most popular locations to Instagram were national and state parks. Lake Martin in Alabama was one of four lakes that were the top Instagrammed locations in their states.


Instagram users can tag Lake Martin as a location, or hashtag #lakemartin. The #lakemartin has over 30,000 posts, and you can easily see why this beautiful location has been so popular on the photo sharing app.

Helps the hangover… #lakemartin #AL

A photo posted by lylemc85 (@lylemc85) on Oct 11, 2015 at 5:31am PDT

Alabama has hidden gems! Come and see them for yourself! @lakemartinlife @gopro #lakemartin #alabama #woods #hiking A photo posted by Sophie Hogben (@sophiehogben) on Sep 24, 2015 at 3:26pm PDT

Fish are biting again #orvisbirmingham #lakemartin #booglebug

A photo posted by Rob McDaniel (@robmcdaniel1) on Sep 21, 2015 at 1:40pm PDT

Another beautiful day in the #lakemartin region! #alabamathebeautiful

A photo posted by Alex City Chamber Of Commerce (@alexcitychamber) on Oct 12, 2015 at 7:11am PDT

#lakemartin #cherokeeridge A photo posted by John Abernathy (@poisonthehate) on Oct 11, 2015 at 1:15pm PDT



3 years ago

Auburn’s J&M Bookstore named one of the best football town business landmarks

J&M Bookstore (c.o. @j_mbooks)
J&M Bookstore (c.o. @j_mbooks)
J&M Bookstore (c.o. @j_mbooks)

AUBURN, Ala. – J&M Bookstore was nominated by the public and selected to be in the nation’s Top 10 UPS Football Town Business Landmarks.

According to the UPS contest website, the nominees for these business landmarks are “small businesses that transform themselves to handle massive demand and make game day even more special year after year.”

J&M Bookstore has been a staple in the Auburn community since 1953, being the place where generations of fans have visited after their first Auburn game, bought their first Auburn t-shirt, and taken their children when showing them around campus. Thought to be an essential aspect of Auburn game day tradition, J&M Bookstore is now going beyond Alabama and reaching national recognition for its role as a landmark business in a football town.

Elizabeth Johnston, social media manager for J&M Bookstore, said that the nomination is an amazing way to reflect not only the store, but the heart of the Auburn community.

“The biggest part is that I really think this is a great opportunity for us to showcase the Auburn family and our campus and university and beautiful town,” Johnston said. “I think it’s a bigger picture. It’s about getting recognition for Auburn — the Auburn family coming together to help us win this, which will be great for everybody.”

Trey Johnston, the store’s current owner, said J&M is a regular stop on game day in Auburn.

“They may not buy a thing, but they’re going to come in the front doors, smell J&M … walk through here, touch something,” he said. “That’s part of their run is to go to all the stores — bookstores and places they remember when they were in school.”

For more information about J&M Bookstore, go to, and you can click here to vote for J&M Bookstore as your favorite football town business.

3 years ago

The ‘SEC Primary’ just got literal: Jeb Bush to attend Alabama vs. LSU football game

Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush
Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush
Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The “SEC Primary” just got literal. Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush is making a campaign stop in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, November 7th, for the Alabama vs. LSU football game.

Bush will attend the Alabama vs. LSU football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, November 7 as part of four Southeastern Conference game day visits, called “SEC Tailgating with Jeb.” According to Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign website, he is “looking forward to competing in the SEC primary and bringing some fun to the process.”

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill officially confirmed Bush’s campaign stop Tuesday.

“We are excited to have Governor Bush back in our state! Seven of the top ten Republican candidates have made campaign stops in Alabama, which is unprecedented for our state,” said Secretary of State John Merrill.

This surge in visits from presidential candidates is believed to be a response to the SEC Primary, championed by Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill. The SEC Primary is an effort to maneuver Alabama and the South into a place of relevance in the nominating process, and with notable visits from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and now Jeb Bush, Merrill believes that these campaign stops are “proof the SEC Primary is working.”

“When this many Presidential candidates are choosing to visit and re-visit Alabama, it is proof the SEC Primary is working. The main goal of this effort is to create an environment that forces candidates to appeal to an even larger and more complete constituency than they currently do, and I am proud to see our state receiving the attention it deserves,” said Merrill.

“It is so important that Alabamians have the opportunity to interact with all candidates in order to learn who best reflects their views. As Secretary of State, I will continue to position Alabama and the South as a place where Presidential candidates are willing to make an effort to visit and meet our remarkable people.”

Additional details on Governor Jeb Bush’s visit can be found at

3 years ago

NASA’s new space launch system manager in Huntsville is going to help get humans to Mars

Rocket Park in Huntsville (photo courtesy of the Marshall Space Flight Center)
Rocket Park in Huntsville (photo courtesy of the Marshall Space Flight Center)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — NASA has named John Honeycutt as manager for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program, the Huntsville-based program that will eventually take astronauts to Mars.

The SLS program is centered around being being the most powerful rocket ever built, having the ability to carry astronauts on deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars. John Honeycutt will lead this SLS program that is currently under development at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

“John is an accomplished manager, and I’m pleased he is assuming this new leadership role in the development of SLS as we continue taking great steps forward in the continuous human exploration of space and on our journey to Mars,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Honeycutt succeeds Todd May, who was named deputy director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. While May was program manager of SLS, Honeycutt served as the SLS program’s deputy manager. Since November 2013, Honeycutt helped lead the SLS program through “a series of milestones,” including engine tests and in-depth element and system critical design reviews.

“NASA has benefited from John’s management and leadership skills in a number of programs at Marshall over the years, and I’m pleased he’ll be responsible for the continuing success of SLS, the next great vehicle to launch our human exploration space missions,” said Marshall Center Director Patrick Scheuermann.

Honeycutt earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and has received numerous awards, including a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Management Space Flight Awareness Award, the Silver Snoopy Award and a Center Director’s Commendation. Honeycutt worked for nine years as a contractor in support of the Space Shuttle Program, the International Space Station (ISS) and other NASA programs before he began his NASA career at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1999. At Marshall, he has served as deputy manager and manager of the Space Shuttle External Tank Project, deputy manager of the SLS Program Stages Office and SLS deputy chief engineer.

Now as SLS program manager, Honeycutt will be responsible for more than 4,200 employees nationwide while working for a program with a budget of $1.7 billion annually. He is responsible for all areas of the program, including planning, procurement, development, testing, evaluation, production and operation of the integrated SLS.

For more about NASA’s Space Launch System, visit


3 years ago

One of country music’s hottest stars is coming to Alabama, and it’s causing some problems

Luke Bryan (Music video screenshot)
Luke Bryan (Music video screenshot)
Luke Bryan (Music video screenshot)

McCalla, Ala. — Luke Bryan’s “Farm Tour 2015” stop in McCalla is clogging up the works of the rural town, which is expected to be packed with the country star’s fans, even causing the town’s schools to release their students a few hours early Thursday.

As the name of the tour states, Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour moves his country music from the amphitheater to the farm. Bryan’s tour stop in Alabama at the 250-acre Twin Creeks Farm on Old Tuscaloosa Highway in McCalla is expecting 15,000 fans.

Luke Bryan’s tour stop in Lexington, Ky. this week experienced similarly severe traffic conditions, with some concert-goers sitting in traffic for over 4 hours. Bryan ultimately didn’t take the stage until close to 10 p.m., tweeting that he was waiting on his fans.

The city of McCalla is aiming to be proactive in their attempt to prepare for the traffic conditions. Law enforcement says heavy traffic flow could begin as early as noon, and traffic is expected to impact Old Tuscaloosa Highway, Eastern Valley Road and other roads in the area. In addition, Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies will be posted at Exit 1 on I-459 and exits 104 and 100 on I-20/59 and will direct traffic along the route.

McAdory elementary, middle and high schools are releasing their students early because of the concert. Not to mention, neighbors to the farm have been blocking off their yards with no parking signs.

The Luke Bryan Farm Tour concert begins at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 5 and parking starting at 2 p.m. Bryan is known to bring friends with him for his farm tours, and this year Sam Hunt, Chris Janson, Chancie Neal and DJ Rock will be at the show.

The tickets for the show are $47 for general admission, and each ticket includes a code to receive a copy of Luke Bryan’s new album “Kill the Lights.” Also, a portion of the proceeds from the tour go to students from a farming family within the communities the tour plays for local college scholarships.

For more information, visit

3 years ago

Alabama small business owner testifies before Congress against proposed overtime rule

Terry Shea, co-owner and vice president of Wrapsody (Photo: Screenshot of Alabama Retail Association Video)
Terry Shea, co-owner and vice president of Wrapsody (Photo: Screenshot of Alabama Retail Association Video)
Terry Shea, co-owner and vice president of Wrapsody (Photo: Screenshot of Alabama Retail Association Video)

WASHINGTON  — Alabama business owner Terry Shea told Congress Thursday morning that a proposed Department of Labor rule backed by many Democrats including President Obama to expand overtime requirements will not be beneficial to Alabama businesses or their employees.

Terry Shea, co-owner and vice president of Wrapsody in Hoover and Auburn and a member of the Alabama Retail Association board of directors, testified before the House Small Business Committee on behalf of the National Retail Federation.

“We pay a very competitive salary and offer a generous benefits package for our type of retail business, which is why we have such an awesome team. However, the overtime rule ignores the fact that the cost of living in Hoover, Alabama, is very different than in New York City,” Shea said in her testimony on behalf of the National Retail Federation. “Such a dramatic, one-size-fits-all increase will have real consequences for my business and my employees.”

The proposed rule would more than double the minimum salary necessary for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer programmer employees to qualify for an overtime exemption. In Alabama, the proposed rule could bring 48.6 percent of full-time salaried workers under overtime rules.

Under the rule, most U.S. workers making under $50,440 a year would be required to be given overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week.

Astudy conducted for NRF found that retailers oppose the proposed rule because it would force many employers to convert their salaried managers to an hourly wage, would decrease employee morale, and would limit opportunities for career advancement, among several other negative impacts.

“Converting salaried positions to an hourly wage adds pressure to get the job done in a 40-hour work week,” Shea said. “An increase in overtime eligibility will not necessarily mean an increase in overtime pay for the workforce, but having to contain my managers to work a 40-hour week will take away their flexibility, both personally and operationally.”

Another study found that the proposed overtime rule would have a disproportionate impact in rural, low-wage areas such as Alabama because of the cost-of-living.

“This proposal has been spun as a way to raise the income of struggling workers but there are places where bankers or stockbrokers could be turned into hourly workers,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “The Labor Department has ignored the fact that the cost-of-living varies throughout the country.”

Shea believes that much more needs to be done in terms of research and feedback from American businesses before any change is made. While expanding overtime may increase pay for some, Shea said that having to pay overtime would “suffocate” employee development and company growth.

“I’m not saying there doesn’t need to be an increase,” Shea said. “There doesn’t need to be this drastic of an increase.”

3 years ago

Mobile to open city’s first outdoor skating rink this holiday season with ‘Riverside Ice’

On Oct. 6, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced the city of Mobile's holiday attraction of Riverside Ice Presented by the Airbus Group.
On Oct. 6, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced the city of Mobile's holiday attraction of Riverside Ice Presented by the Airbus Group.
On Oct. 6, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced the city of Mobile’s holiday attraction of Riverside Ice Presented by the Airbus Group.

MOBILE, Ala. – Mayor Sandy Stimpson confirmed this week the city of Mobile’s newest holiday attraction: an outdoor ice skating rink named Riverside Ice.

Riverside Ice, sponsored by Airbus Group, will be an outdoor skating rink at Cooper Riverside Park in Mobile. In addition to the Airbus Group’s $20,000 donation for the rink, Airbus Group will fly Santa Claus down from the North Pole on every Saturday in December to Riverside Ice.

“Airbus Group is pleased to support the first Riverside Ice project in Downtown Mobile,” said Allan McArtor, Chairman and CEO of Airbus Group, Inc. “It’s a great activity for the Mobile community, and a terrific holiday experience for all. We look forward to seeing everyone at the rink – let’s just keep the ‘hard landings’ to a minimum!”

According to the Riverside Ice website, Mobile promises that experiencing the ice skating rink will include “beautiful skyline, incredible water views, awesome selfie and family photo opportunities, vibrant downtown with yummy food and drink, great shops, museums and cultural attractions, and… a chance to skate across ICE in Mobile, Alabama.”

Riverside Ice is the first outdoor skating rink in Mobile, with all proceeds from the Riverside Ice attraction benefiting Mobile’s Parks and Recreation Department. The City of Mobile posted the news and details of the “premiere holiday attraction” to social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Just in time for the holidays, Riverside Ice will be open from November 14, 2015 through January 12, 2016. The ice skating rink will being open 7 days a week operating from noon to 10 p.m. on week days and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Admission for skating will be $10 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under.

“As we strive to become a destination city, we realize that through public private partnerships many of our greatest desires can be accomplished,” said Mayor Stimpson. “Airbus’ significant contribution will offer our community an amazing opportunity to delight in an outdoor pleasure that we typically don’t see in our neck of the woods.”

For more information, visit

3 years ago

16-year-old Alabama girl blows away judges on ‘The Voice’

The Voice contestant Shelby Brown (c/o screenshot from The Voice Youtube video)
Video above: Sixteen-year-old Alabama native Shelby Brown turns all four chairs with her performance of “Stars.”

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – An Alabama 16-year-old’s powerful performance made all four judges turn their chairs during “The Voice” blind auditions.

Elberta, Alabama native Shelby Brown wowed the audience and the judges with her performance of “Stars” by Grace Potter.

Brown began her singing career in a local bowling alley, according to her interview on “The Voice.”

“I grew up singing karaoke there. At 11, I got involved in a karaoke contest there. Won that two years, and now they book me for my own gigs,” said Brown. “Going from performing at the bowling alley to ‘The Voice’ stage is definitely a once in a lifetime chance to see if I have what it takes.”

Based on the reaction of the crowd as well as the response of the judges, Brown definitely has what it takes. Her television debut has Alabama buzzing, with even Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) sharing her audition video on his Facebook page.

“Did you see the awesome performance from Elberta’s Shelby Brown last night on The Voice?” said Byrne. “She blew away all four judges and made South Alabama proud!”

Brown cried when she saw all of the judges turn their chairs for her, and they all put up quite the fight to have her on their teams. Even though Brown said she wanted to be a country singer, she ultimately chose Adam Levine as her coach.

You can keep up with Shelby Brown’s journey on “The Voice” Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on NBC.

3 years ago

Alabama police officer comforting an infant after multi-vehicle crash goes viral

yh_10615 (1)

LEEDS, Ala. — A picture of an Alabama deputy comforting a baby following a multi-vehicle crash on I-20 has struck a chord with Alabamians, quickly going viral Tuesday afternoon.

The crash happened during rush-hour in the westbound lane on Interstate 20 near Leeds, Alabama on the morning of Tuesday, October 6. Alabama troopers said that while the accident included an ambulance, a tractor-trailer and three other vehicles, no serious injuries were reported. The crash caused at least 5 miles of delays.

In the midst of the chaos of the pile-up, Jefferson County deputy Ric Lindley took time to comfort a child that had been involved in the crash.

The photo was shared on social media, with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook photo earning over 2,000 shares and 6,000 likes in just a few hours. The picture is a heartwarming reminder that, despite media depictions to the contrary, the job of law enforcement officer means much more than simply writing tickets and arresting criminals, it’s being an integral part of the community.

3 years ago

Alabama deploys emergency personnel to South Carolina to assist with flooding

South Carolina after a weekend of historic flooding conditions. (Photo: Screenshot of The Weather Channel Youtube video)
South Carolina after a weekend of historic flooding conditions. (Photo: Screenshot of The Weather Channel Youtube video)
South Carolina after a weekend of historic flooding conditions. (Photo: Screenshot of The Weather Channel Youtube video)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Governor Robert Bentley approved the deployment of emergency management personnel Monday to assist South Carolina in their response to the state’s extreme flooding conditions.

The Alabamian first responders will be working closely with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division staff to provide much needed assistance to their citizens. 10 to 15 Alabama personnel will be sent to assist primarily with damage assessments, with the possibility of staying in South Carolina for up to 15 days.

“During natural disasters, Alabamians have always stepped up and helped citizens in need,” Governor Robert Bentley said. Bentley also tweeted the news, saying that Alabama is ready to help our “neighbors” with the extreme flooding response.

The deployment of EMA personnel is possible through Alabama’s membership with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), but the Alabama EMA has stressed it is more than willing to help South Carolina respond to the flooding.

“Anytime Alabama is not impacted we should be ready and willing to assist other states.” said Alabama EMA Director Art Faulkner said. “I am confident the staff deployed through EMAC to help these other states are as well trained and capable as any in the country. This deployment will also better prepare them for the next disaster we face here at home.”

3 years ago

Byrne wants Congressional power to block Syrian refugees from entering Alabama, U.S.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) speaks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Bradley Byrne
WASHINGTON — Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) announced his support for legislation Tuesday that would give Congress significant input before refugees can enter the United States.

The Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act, which Byrne is co-sponsoring, aims to include Congress in refugee resettlement plans through requiring approval from both the House and the Senate before refugees are admitted to the U.S., and by giving Congress the authority to block a refugee resettlement plan. In addition, the legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security to work with the FBI in screening all potential refugees.

“After listening to the concerns of my constituents and attending a State Department briefing, I strongly believe Congress should have the ability to block any attempt to bring a large number of Syrian refugees into the United States,” said Byrne in a press release Tuesday morning.

“There is simply no way to know for sure that terrorist groups, like the Islamic State, are not going to infiltrate the refugee process. The Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act will ensure that Congress, and in turn the American people, have the final say when it comes to increasing the number of refugees.”

Congressman Byrne hasn’t been the only one to voice concerns about how the admittance of the Syrian refugees will impact national security. The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the issue of the Syrian refugees is a huge problem, adding that the U.S. does not “put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees.”

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions also expressed unease of the potentially “radicalized” refugees coming to cities in the U.S., with more than 100 Syrian refugees expected to be housed in Mobile.

Byrne recently sent a letter to the Department of State to ask about the process of screening for the Syrian refugees, which led to his participation in a classified briefing detailing the screening process. However, since this briefing, he has continued to express tremendous security concerns about the admittance of at least 10,000 thousand Syrian refugees within the next year.

“We should never compromise our national security, and I fear that allowing a mass influx of Syrian refugees into the United States would do just that,” Byrne said.

3 years ago

Byrne: It’s time to put national security over party politics

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1)

(Video Above: Congressman Bradley Byrne urges his colleagues to focus more on national security over party politics)

Washington – Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) delivered a speech from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday in support of two national security bills, and had some strong words for his colleagues.

Congressman Byrne spoke first in support of H.R. 3457, the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, which would inhibit the President from lifting any sanctions on Iran until they pay out over $43.5 billion to American victims of terrorism.

“This bill is really pretty simple to me: you can either stand with American citizens or the Islamic Republic of Iran. You can stand with the Ayatollah or the families of service members who were killed by Iran-backed terrorists. To me, this is an obvious choice.”

“This shouldn’t be a partisan debate, added Byrne. “American courts have ruled that Iran owes money to these individuals or their families. So why is it controversial to require that these payments are made before rewarding Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief?”

The lifting of billions of dollars in sanctions for Iran falls under the Iran deal orchestrated by President Obama, which Byrne has committed to doing everything he can to stop. Since the Iran deal was announced, Byrne and the other Republican members of Alabama’s delegation have slammed President Obama’s willingness to make concessions to Iran, which has long been considered an untrustworthy “rogue state.” The Islamic Republic of Iran has also been accused of supporting terrorist groups, including ISIS.

In addition to the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, Byrne spoke in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016 (NDAA), which sets budget priorities and policies for the Pentagon.

“For 53 straight years, Congress has come together to pass a National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that our military men and women have the resources and the policy they need to do their job,” said Byrne. “Even in an era of deep partisanship in Congress, we have still been able to keep the tradition alive and pass an NDAA each year. This rule would allow us to keep that tradition alive.”

The House passed the NDAA by a vote of 270 to 156 and the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act by a vote of 251 to 173. The Senate also passed their version of the NDAA with a vote of 71 to 25.

President Obama has threatened to veto both of these bills.

“Today’s debate is about providing for our nation’s military men and women and their families. And I hope my colleagues, and the President, will reconsider their objections,” said Byrne.

3 years ago

Alabama’s real-life heroes became superheroes at children’s hospital

Video above: The Mobile Police Department SWAT performed “Operation Superhero” for the real heroes – child cancer survivors. The event was held on Sept. 30, 2015 at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

MOBILE, Ala. – Some of Alabama’s everyday heroes transformed into superheroes Wednesday for a noble cause: honoring children cancer survivors in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The Mobile Police Department SWAT team dressed up as superheroes and rappelled down the side of the building at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital on Wednesday for “Operation Superhero,” an event where the heroic SWAT officers presented certificates to other heroes – children who had won their battles with cancer.

Captain Roy Hodge of the Mobile Police Department Special Operations Section directed “Operation Superhero” because he believes that an event of this magnitude will honor the real superheroes and encourage the brave children who have fought and are still fighting cancer.

Which, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, is about 15,780 children under the age of 21 every year. Cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 15.

Nine child cancer-survivors were honored on Wednesday, when each child was presented with a gift, certificate and high-fives by the team of superheroes. The children were called to the front for a chance to “ring the bell” to symbolize that they had won their battle with cancer.

Mobile SWAT Superhero
The Mobile Police Department SWAT performed Operation Superhero for the real heroes — child cancer survivors. (c/o Mobile Police Department flickr)

“This ceremony gives us an opportunity to celebrate our patients who have been through so much,” said Kim Thompson-Yates, director of the Child Life Program at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “It’s so important that we recognize those who have conquered cancer.”

The City of Mobile also posted a photo of the event on Wednesday to Facebook, with the caption, “Our SWAT team are police officers by day, super heroes by night!”

3 years ago

Video of Alabama moms rocking pep rally with Whip and Nae Nae goes viral

Alabama Moms dance at pep rally at HTMS

8th Grade Moms ROCKED the Pep Rally!

Posted by HTMS Athletics on Thursday, September 24, 2015

(Video Above: Moms at Hewitt Trussville Middle School do the Whip and Nae Nae)

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. – At Hewitt Trussville Middle School’s Homecoming pep rally, an unconventional group took the stage, with one of the most entertaining acts being none other than the “moms.”

“It’s become a tradition at Hewitt Trussville Middle School for the 8th Grade moms, led by Coach Tee Adams, to perform a routine at the Homecoming pep rally.  Everyone knows it’s going to happen, the secret truly lies in whose mom is performing and what exactly they are performing,” said Cindi Kettering, with the Hewitt Trussville Middle School Athletic Department. “Over the years, we’ve seen routines to Taylor Swift, kick lines, pyramids and stunts, Gangnam Style and just about every thing else you can imagine.”

Eleven mothers of the school’s 8th graders performed a dance routine that had the whole student body cheering. The video of the moms dancing to Silento’s “Watch Me” along with recent viral dance song “Hit The Quan” by ​iHeart Memphis has gone viral since its posting on Sept. 24, with over 2 million views.

“Keep on sharing folks, they did a great job!” wrote Hewitt Trussville Middle School (HTMS) Athletics Facebook page. According to their posts, they are attempting to make the video of the mom’s homecoming routine go viral, and they’re well on their way.

As of this publishing, the video has garnered more than 2 million views and has been shared more than 38,000 times.

To get that ball rolling HTMS Athletics used the hashtag #letsgoviral and tags for celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Rick and Bubba.

Why do they do it?  Well outside the fun of embarrassing their children, the moms do it because Thursday’s night games matter not just to their middle schoolers, but to them also,” said Kettering.

The original video was posted by HTMS Athletics Facebook page, and can be found here.

3 years ago

ESPN commentators rave about upcoming ‘Woodlawn’ movie

(Photo: Screenshot from Youtube video)

(Video above: ESPN interviewed Woodlawn co-director Andrew Erwin and actor Caleb Castille during a primetime football game 9/19.)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The upcoming film Woodlawn isn’t only making waves with football players and movie critics, but during a recent primetime SEC game ESPN commentators chimed in to rave about the movie.

During the South Carolina/Georgia game on Saturday Sept. 19, ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe interviewed the film’s co-director Andy Erwin and actor (and former Alabama player) Caleb Castille about Woodlawn, praising them individually as well as the movie as a whole.

“Well a lot of teams all over the country are watching this movie Woodlawn that comes out Oct. 16, but the cool thing is that this is our former camera man who was my guy down here on the sidelines for many years,” said Rowe.

Woodlawn, which hits theaters October 16th, is based on true events surrounding the 1974 Banks vs. Woodlawn High School football game at Birmingham’s Legion Field. It still holds the record for largest attendance at an Alabama high school football game. The film follows Woodlawn running back Tony Nathan’s recruitment by famed University of Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant during a period when the state was still embroiled in racial tensions.

The film aims to highlight faith and football through telling an inspiring, true story.

Football teams across the nation have been screening the movie early and getting inspiration from it. Caleb Castille, former player for University of Alabama and the lead role of Tony Nathan in the Woodlawn movie, watched the movie with the Alabama team and was “humbled” to get to experience their reaction.

“You know it was just such a humbling experience to see how these guys reacted to the film and just embraced me,” Castille said. “I call them my SEC family, and it was just an incredible response. They were so jacked up to see it, they actually put it on. The coaches didn’t ask for it or anything, it was the players. So that just felt great for me.”

ESPN commentator Brad Nessler then praised Castille’s talent, saying the actor is “brilliant” in the film, has “serious skills” and that “he’s on his way to being a star.”

After the interview, fellow commentator Todd Blackledge added, “It’s a fun film, I’ve seen it three times now and I still can’t wait for it to come out on Oct. 16.”

For more information about Woodlawn, go to

3 years ago

Iron Bowl tops out the list of 2015’s most expensive rivalry college football games

Alabama Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. – While watching your favorite college team play on TV is one thing, nothing compares to the experience of being there on college game day. Even more, nothing compares to watching your favorite team play their rival. The latest hotel room and game ticket prices for the nation’s biggest college football rivalry games have been released by and

It comes as no surprise the Iron Bowl, this year hosted in Auburn, tops out the list, but that won’t stop tens of thousands of Alabama and Auburn fans from descending on Lee County the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Here’s how the games stack up:

2015 College Football Rivalry Games


Alabama vs. Auburn
Nov. 28, Auburn, AL
Game Tickets: Average price $474, get-in price* $235. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 3-stars $64-$259, 2-stars $37-$342 (the $342 hotel is two miles from the stadium).

Ohio State vs. Michigan
Nov. 28, Ann Arbor
Game Tickets: Average price $313, get-in price* $148. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 3-stars $169-$189, 2-stars $67-$189.

Oklahoma vs. Texas
Oct. 10, Dallas
Game Tickets: Average price $432, get-in price* $140. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 4-stars $129-$289, 3-stars $49-$359.

Army vs. Navy
Dec. 12, Philadelphia
Game Tickets: Average price $172, get-in price* $91. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 4-stars $144-$279, 3-stars $98-$307.

Miami vs. Florida State
Oct. 10, Tallahassee
Game Tickets: Average price $216, get-in price* $105. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 2-stars $46-$399.

USC vs. Notre Dame
Oct. 17, South Bend
Game Tickets: Average price $509, get-in price* $238. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 2-stars $50-$299.

Georgia vs. Florida
Oct. 31, Jacksonville
Game Tickets: Average price $207, get-in price* $74. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 4-stars $188-$280, 3-stars $124-$209.

Cal vs. Stanford
Nov. 21, Stanford
Game Tickets: Average price $108, get-in price* $38. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 4-stars $103-$303, 3-stars $87-$289.

Oregon State vs. Oregon
Nov. 27, Eugene
Game Tickets: Average price $195, get-in price* $98. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 3-stars $126-$289, 2-stars $63-$139.

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State
Nov. 28, Starkville
Game Tickets: Average price $215, get-in price* $92. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 3-stars $65-$100, 2-stars $55-$79.

Arizona vs. Arizona State
Nov. 21, Tempe
Game Tickets: Average price $115, get-in price* $37. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 4-stars $75-$339, 3-stars $74-$243.

Nov. 28, Los Angeles
Game Tickets: Average price $245, get-in price* $111. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 4-stars $109-$419, 3-stars $72-$429.

Clemson vs. South Carolina
Nov. 28, Columbia
Game Tickets: Average price $205, get-in price* $93. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 3-stars $84-$239, 2-stars $40-$150.

Florida State vs. Florida
Nov. 28, Gainesville
Game Tickets: Average price $215, get-in price* $101. Hotel Rate Ranges**: 3-stars $98-$310, 2-stars $49-$159.

*Get-in price refers to the lowest-priced seat in the stadium. Prices and availability are subject to change at any time. For game tickets and more information, visit

**Hotel rates were shopped on September 28, 2015. Rates and availability are subject to change at any time. For more information, visit

3 years ago

Sessions introduces the ‘Thin Blue Line Act,’ affirming that police lives also matter

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) partnered this week with Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to introduce the Thin Blue Line Act, which enforces harsher penalties on individuals targeting police officers and first responders.

The senators’ introduction of this legislation comes in response to the recent surge of attacks on police officers, which have occurred all over the country. In August, an Alabama cop was pistol-whipped with his own gun. Instead of lending a helping hand, a crowd of bystanders posted photos on Facebook and Twitter that included some less than police-friendly captions. Later, the officer said he didn’t try to shoot his attacker because he didn’t want the media to label him as a racist.

“The alarming spike in violence directed against the men and women entrusted with ensuring the safety and order of our society must be stopped,” said Sen. Sessions. “The Thin Blue Line Act will help protect our officers by bringing harsher penalties to criminals committing these vile acts and by extending the protections afforded to federal officers to our local police and first responders. This legislation honors the message sent by law-abiding Americans that we cannot stand idly by as attacks are waged upon those who serve and protect our communities.”

Currently, the law states that if a murder victim was a federal law enforcement officer or prosecutor, this fact shall weigh as an “aggravating factor” that weighs in favor of the death penalty. The Thin Blue Line Act adds to this and provides this same level of justice also to local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and firefighters.

The Thin Blue Line Act also enhances the penalty when a defendant targets a police officer, prosecutor, or firefighter solely because that individual chose to protect and serve.

While national media relating to police officers has been mostly negative, events like officers buying a woman eggs for her children, praying over a young man, and mowing a young mother’s lawn show the side of police that the media often ignores. In Alabama, campaigns like Props to Cops and the Safe Harbor Initiative have begun in an attempt to gain support for law enforcement officers.

“Our law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and firefighters deserve to know that their lives also matter, and they have our support,” Sen. Toomey said of the bill. “Those who would murder a person simply because he or she wears blue deserve a harsh penalty. This legislation seeks to achieve those ends.”

Overall, the senators state the Thin Blue Line Act is aimed to encourage law enforcement officers and first responders while protecting those who place themselves in harm’s way to protect their communities.


3 years ago

Pope points to Alabama’s civil rights history as expression of our ‘need to live as one’

Pope Francis addresses Congress
Pope Francis addresses Congress
Pope Francis addresses Congress

WASHINGTON. – Pope Francis addressed Congress Thursday morning on a variety of current events and issues, but perhaps the most inspiring part of his message was on one of the seminal points in Alabama’s civil rights history.

The violent and traumatic events of the marches from Selma to Montgomery, which are depicted in the recent film “Selma,” are credited with helping to trigger the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited the voting disenfranchisement of African Americans. The Pope praised the Selma-to-Montgomery march as “an expression of our compelling need to live as one.”

Citing Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the Pope explained that the civil rights movement reflects how Americans are both dreamers and doers.

“Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African-Americans,” Pope Francis said. “That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of ‘dreams’. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.”

The Pope’s words were inspiring to many civil rights veterans, including Alabama Senator Hank Sanders, who says the event is a symbol that reaches far beyond America.

“In Africa, people asked me about it,” said Sanders. “In India, people asked me about it. In Brazil and Argentina, people asked me about it. It’s s symbol all over the world.”

Sanders organizes commemorations of the Selma march every year, and even invited Pope Francis to visit Selma this past summer.

However, only New York City and Washington D.C. are on the itinerary for this American visit from Pope Francis.

3 years ago

Alabama retailers to accept ‘chip’ credit cards starting in October

(Photo: Flikr user frankieleon)
(Photo: Flikr user frankieleon)
(Photo: Flikr user frankieleon)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Beginning October 1, retailers are taking steps at the checkout counter to better protect them and their customers from credit card fraud.

According to Forbes, by the end of 2015, 70 percent of U.S. credit cards and 41 percent of U.S. debit cards will have security chips. Retailers have already begun to introduce a new technology for security chips in credit cards, called “EMV” for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. The chip technology allows the information on the card to be more secure than when using a magnetic strip reader.

The Alabama Retail Association says that while the implementation of these chips is costly, if banks and retailers work together, then security will be raised for their companies and consumers alike.

“This upgrade is a costly change for retailers as they work to protect themselves and their customers against fraud,” said Rick Brown, president of the Alabama Retail Association. “That investment would be better if banks would also invest in the latest and most secure technology.”

Retailers are not required by law to provide the chip technology by October 1st, but could be held liable for fraud if they don’t.

The addition of the PIN numbers on these new chip cards would ensure the upmost security and reduce fraud. However, although retailers are willing to add the card readers to their checkout lines, the banks are not currently issuing the new PIN numbers that go along with these cards.

So come Oct. 1, the main difference that consumers will see in their checkout experience is simply technical. Instead of scanning your card through a magnetic strip reader, you will ‘dip’ or tap the card to the card reader.