The Wire

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

2 weeks ago

Alabama’s Waymond Jackson knows of loss, life through family

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

For Waymond Jackson Jr. and his family, July 13 was always a sad anniversary.

July 13, 1985, was the date his father, Leondras Waymond Jackson Sr., died in a motel swimming pool.

For 34 years, Jackson and his mother and sister saw the date pass and it reminded them of loss. Now, the date celebrates new life and legacy.

That’s because Jackson’s daughter, Kai, was born on July 13, 2020.


Waymond Jackson is CEO of Apple initiative ED Farm in Birmingham. He and his family tell us what his daughter being born on that date means to them.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 weeks ago

Bob Freeman delivers a Christmas message, reflects on career that began on Alabama radio and TV

Bob and Sandy Freeman now live in Indiana. (Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

Despite being born with no feet and deformed hands, Bob Freeman has never felt limited in life.

In fact, he has had a fulfilling career in radio and television that began in Birmingham but has taken him to stops all across the country and now in Indiana.

We reached out to Freeman to reflect on his career and wanted to know what his Christmas message would be in this particularly trying year. His response is both wise and reassuring.

1 month ago

Hobson City has historic distinction as Alabama’s first official Black town

(Encyclopedia of Alabama/Contributed)

Hobson City in Calhoun County isn’t much different from many Alabama small towns. But its founding and history make it unique.

The state’s first incorporated Black city celebrates that history. But it is more focused on creating community today and opportunity tomorrow.

Alabama NewsCenter sat down with Hobson City Mayor Alberta C. McCrory to talk about this unique place.

1 month ago

Cherishable Items: Consider Alabama art as a holiday gift

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

You may be struggling with finding that “perfect” gift this holiday season. It just might be art from a local artist.

Not only are you buying local, but you’re supporting a local artist and you could be starting someone on a path to collecting.

Phil Free knows the joy that comes with collecting and creating art. When he’s not overseeing photo content at Alabama Power, he is a professional photographer who has captured images around the world, specializing in dance photos and creative portraits.


The walls of his home are filled with art from Alabama artists and other artists, including his own works.

“I’ve had some of these things on my wall for 30 years or longer and they’re still on there, on the wall, because I enjoy looking at them still,” Free said. “They still give me joy. I don’t get tired of them. These are things that just touch me deeply emotionally.”

You’ve seen some of Free’s work in Alabama NewsCenter stories such as breast cancer survivors Carla Youngblood, Gloria Buie and Rosalind Griffin and Alabama Music Makers Jessica Meuse, Belinda George Peoples, Bobby Horton, Willie Hightower and Marlowe Shepherd. Alabama Crimson Tide football legend Wilbur Jackson, Reed Books owner Jim Reed, Chef Brian Duffett, Birmingham Ghost Tour leader Edward Wolfgang Poe and Alabama Maker Kathy D’Agostino of Chocolata are others he has captured with his camera.

Galleries, art collectives and some stores specialize in carrying art from local artists. Large art festivals such as Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham and Kentuck in Northport can be a great place to find art as well. Both are expected to return in a post-COVID world.

Here are some of Free’s favorite galleries:

dk contemporary gallery, Marietta Georgia


Canary Gallery, Birmingham


Beverly McNeil Gallery, Birmingham


Four Corners Gallery, Birmingham


Artists Incorporated Gallery, Leeds


Gallery One Inc., Montgomery


Sac’s Gallery, Montgomery


Cotton Belt Gallery, Montgomery


Jeannie Maddox, Dothan


Lyons Share, Fairhope


Sophiella Gallery, Mobile


Lupercalia Art Society, Mobile


Innova Arts, Mobile


(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

Retiree finds joy noodling for catfish on Alabama waterways

(Keith Gibson/Contributed)

Keith Gibson has spent a lifetime hunting and fishing. Fishing, for most of his life, was spent in the traditional sense with a pole or rod and some kind of bait.

Then he got introduced to noodling.

“I tried it, and I will tell you I was a little apprehensive the first time, but once you figure out what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and you take all of the necessary precautions, it’s a blast,” Gibson said. “It’s a lot of fun.”


Noodling, for those who don’t know, is a style of fishing where you induce a catfish to bite your arm and hand, thus enabling you to seize the fish and pull it up out of the water for a catch.

Gibson retired from Alabama Power earlier this year after more than 38 years with the company. Now that hunting season is over, you’re likely to find him on an Alabama lake or river fishing. He just probably won’t have a rod and reel with him.

Noodling for catfish in Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

Alabama blogger’s loving look at Black Lives Matter conversation earns global attention

(Joseph Allen/Alabama NewsCenter)

It was a simple conversation – well, as simple as a conversation can be between a black person and a white person about the subject of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Kaitlin Allen Walden, an African American, had the conversation with an older, white female co-worker and friend.

It was open, honest and frank, like you would expect a conversation between two genuine friends to be.


In fact, Walden, a graduate of Hoover High School and the University of Alabama, was going to pass it off as a meaningful but normal conversation.

The story behind Kaitlin Allen Walden’s blog post on Black Lives Matter from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“Even after I had it, the thought didn’t hit me that maybe I should write about it until an hour or so later,” she said.

That’s when God put it on her heart to share it.

“It was like God was saying, ‘Yep, that’s it,’” she said.

Walden writes a blog at (Breashlee is her middle name) and she was moved to share that conversation.

In turn, others have been moved by the blog post.

Others like famed author Emily P. Freeman, who shared a link to the blog post in her weekly email recommending other people’s work.

Since then, Walden’s blog post, titled “Because I Love You,” has been read by people across the country and around the world.

She sees it as God working and hopes it refocuses the conversation to center on love, mutual respect and understanding.

“I feel as though I was used as a vessel and it’s honoring to be used,” she said.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

9 months ago

Alabama man who lost sneaker collection in 2011 tornadoes has rebounded

(William Carter/Contributed)

You might say William Carter has always had basketball in his sole.

He has not only spent a lifetime playing and coaching the sport, he has devoted a large part of his life to collecting basketball shoes and sneakers because of his love of the sport and the great players of the game.

Carter has had to overcome dyslexia and other challenges in life, but the greatest came just over nine years ago after the April 27, 2011, Alabama tornadoes left him injured and disheartened when 400 pairs of his shoe collection were taken from him.


But a family’s love and his own reignited passion have made for a return to form for Carter. Hear his story and how his collection stands today in this video.

William Carter has rebounded from the loss of his sneaker collection in 2011 Alabama tornadoes from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 months ago

Alabama Power security officer and former Birmingham policeman remembers surviving heart attack

(Joseph Allen/Alabama NewsCenter)

Ron Jones was a Birmingham Police officer for more than two decades before joining Alabama Power Corporate Security in 2010.

“Staying in shape is a big part of my job,” said Jones, who can be found in the gym almost every morning. “It helps your endurance and makes you feel better.”

It was two days after Christmas in 2015 when Jones felt a pain in his chest that he initially thought was indigestion.


“It felt like I had swallowed a piece of hard candy and it was stuck in my chest and it wouldn’t come out,” Jones said.

A trip to the emergency room revealed Jones had nearly full blockage in two arteries, which required surgery to put in stints. A mild heart attack thankfully had not caused damage to Jones’ heart.

“I always thought that people that had heart attacks were people who was out of shape or people who was overweight,” he said. “I was neither one.”

Jones speaks from experience during American Heart Month in the video below.

Ron Jones reveals what he learned by surviving a heart attack from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Birmingham woman puts her life back together after devastating loss

Diane Robertson talks about how friends and family have helped her move on after tragically losing her husband, William, four years ago. (Joseph Allen/Alabama NewsCenter)

William Robertson followed his passion down rural roads and city streets, his love for cycling inspiring many others in the Birmingham area to climb on their bicycles and ride.

Four years ago today, Robertson was pedaling down Highway 75 in rural Blount County when a pickup truck struck him. Robertson, who worked in Alabama Power’s Real Estate department,  died while two other bicyclists were hurt.

Robertson’s widow, Diane Welch Robertson, still grieves over her devastating loss, even as she has learned to live a fulfilling life without her soulmate.


“In these four years, I’ve kept getting up and kept moving forward,’’ she says. Helping her son with his business was “a lifeline” that gave her a reason to get up every day.

“I think that’s important, to find something to hold onto, because grief is a spirit and it will take you all the way out,” Diane says.

Watch the video to learn more about how Diane Welch Robertson has put her life back together “one day at a time.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Thom Gossom Jr.’s legacy with Auburn football is everlasting

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Thom Gossom Jr. is an actor whose credits include the “Fight Club” movie and “In the Heat of the Night” television series.

Gossom also owns the public relations and communication firm Best Gurl Entertainment. He has even written a trio of books of short stories, “A Slice of Life,” “Another Slice of Life” and “The Rest of the Pie,” along with the autobiographical “Walk-On: My Reluctant Journey to Integration at Auburn University.”

But there have been many actors, businessmen and authors.


Thom Gossom has one legacy that is and always will be his alone: He was the first black athlete to graduate from Auburn University.

Gossom is a Birmingham native who graduated from John Carroll Catholic High School and walked on as a wide receiver for the Tigers football team. He graduated from Auburn in 1975 with a bachelor’s in communications. He went on to earn a master’s degree in communications from the University of Montevallo.

This weekend, the 67-year-old Gossom will receive the Auburn University Lifetime Achievement Award. A ceremony is scheduled for March 2 at the Hotel at Auburn University Dixon Conference Center.

Alabama NewsCenter sat down with Gossom to reflect on the significance of his accomplishment decades ago and how it forever changed the landscape for black athletes on The Plains.

Thom Gossom Jr. reflects on his days playing football at Auburn and his legacy from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)