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.

9 months ago

Master plan for Birmingham’s Parkside aims to connect neighborhoods, enhance walkability

(Orchestra Partners/Contributed)

Orchestra Partners has joined forces with nationally renowned landscape architect Tom Leader to design a Parkside master plan to enhance walkability and connect the Parkside District to surrounding neighborhoods. This project includes historic preservation and mixed-use redevelopment plans for Powell Avenue Steam Plant and several historic warehouse buildings west of Railroad Park surrounding Good People Brewing.

Orchestra Partners announced the plan Thursday alongside the City of BirminghamAlabama PowerFreshwater Land TrustREV BirminghamUrban Impact and other key city partners. Orchestra Partners is a Birmingham-based community development and real estate management firm.


Connecting neighborhoods, enhancing walkability key components of new Parkside development from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“Connectivity and walkability are core principles of our mission to build a better Birmingham,” said Hunter Renfroe, founder and principal of Orchestra Partners. “Partnering with Tom Leader will help us rebuild connections between Birmingham’s central business district and its surrounding neighborhoods by leveraging Railroad Park and the Red Rock Trail System as pathways of connection.”

Tom Leader, founder and principal of California-based TLS Landscape Architecture, was the lead planner and designer behind the development of Railroad Park from 2005 – 2010, a time during which he developed a deep commitment to Birmingham. Over the last decade, Birmingham’s “living room” has formed the core of the Parkside District and received national recognition for its successful efforts to spark the rebirth of downtown Birmingham.

“I’m honored to help build on the momentum created by Railroad Park,” said Leader. “We always hoped and planned that the urban growth surrounding the park could extend this vision of vibrant community gathering and sense of civic optimism. This project is about paying tribute to the Magic City’s past and laying the framework for the future.”

Leader’s comprehensive plan features pedestrian pathways enhanced with retail and entertainment amenities with public spaces anchoring both ends of Parkside District – the blocks surrounding Powell Avenue Steam Plant to the east and the Birmingham Wholesale Warehouse Loop District near Good People Brewing to the west – to enhance connectivity and create a lively entertainment experience.

“This project gives us the opportunity to preserve a group of classic midcentury warehouse buildings in this underutilized historic district on the west end of Railroad Park,” added Renfroe. “Revitalizing these buildings through adaptive reuse will help us preserve a major piece of Birmingham’s history while transforming this district into a critical western anchor point for Parkside.”

On the east end of Parkside, the integral component of the master plan features the redevelopment of Alabama Power’s Powell Avenue Steam Plant, a prominent symbol of growth and energy from Birmingham’s history. Built in 1895, it provided steam and electricity for downtown businesses and connected the city by powering its streetcar system.

In the master plan, Powell Avenue Steam Plant is designed to once again serve as a connection point for Birmingham, forming Parkside’s eastern anchor and using the Rotary Trail to connect with neighborhoods to the east. Railroad Park will continue to be Parkside’s central gathering place while the western blocks will become an anchor point for connections to Titusville and surrounding western neighborhoods.

“For more than a century, Powell Steam Plant played a pivotal role in shaping Birmingham’s growth,” said Tony Smoke, vice president of Birmingham Division for Alabama Power. “Now this historic structure will become a symbol of modern urbanization and economic development, connecting our communities to celebrate the future of Birmingham.”

Other historic warehouse buildings in Parkside recently acquired by Orchestra Partners in conjunction with the master plan include Duffy’s Garage, 112 14th Street South, 1227 1st Avenue South, 113 13th Street South, and 230 2nd Avenue South. Orchestra Partners expects to announce more specific leasing details later this year. (Credited Alabama NewsCenter)

For more information about leasing opportunities, visit Parkside Birmingham.

Parkside Development Project announcement at Alabama Power’s Powell Avenue Steam Plant in Birmingham from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

12 months ago

Urban Ministry tackles West End community needs

(Keisa Sharpe/Contributed)

A visit to Urban Ministry proves to be equally eventful and heartwarming.

It’s lunchtime and the cafeteria is packed. The aroma of home-cooked meats and fresh vegetables billows through the air. Once inside the cafe, the tables are packed. Patrons are eating and communing just as they would at any other eatery.

Urban Ministry Executive Director Melodie Agnew walks around greeting customers with a welcoming smile.


Agnew is equally comfortable greeting lunch guests and advocating for those served in this community.

Urban Ministry meeting community needs one soul at a time from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Ministering through healthy meals

There are several novelties about this spot called West End Cafe, or WE Cafe, which makes it unique among its restaurant neighbors.

For one, the produce doesn’t come from a local market. It is harvested just steps away in West End Garden, or WE garden, the community garden.

Those who abound financially, and even those who don’t, break bread together. Hearty soul food in a welcoming environment is the common thread regardless of person’s pay scale, and all are welcome.

WE cafe started as a soup kitchen, but now people come and pay as they can. So educators, volunteers and community and business leaders can sit at family-style tables where food is prepared fresh.

The garden fruits and vegetables are also sold at local markets. These include Pepper Place and twice-weekly at Princeton Hospital.

The WE Cafe is open each Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Meeting more than financial needs

Some customers also have a great need for suitable housing.

Not only does Urban Ministry provide assistance with rent, home repairs and maintenance like painting, Urban Ministries partners with the Salvation Army to provide energy assistance to elderly and disabled clients through Project Share.

Urban Ministry has the largest Project Share clientele in Birmingham.

[Related: Project Share meeting community needs]

Agnew says the new Energy Assistance Portal( EAP),created by Alabama Power, is an invaluable resource to the agency.  Agency leaders say EAP provides a user-friendly platform for intake workers to quickly access information needed to post real-time energy assistance pledges and payments.

This in turn gives more time for workers to serve clients.

Under a broad umbrella, their work covers financial needs, but in its simplest form, it’s all about providing a better quality of life for adults who are in need, along with their children.

A record number of children enrolled in summer school. Staff had to prepare for 90 schoolchildren this year at Urban Ministry – including meals, activities and accommodations for each student.

And Agnew says it doesn’t stop there.

“In addition to our students, families of these students also come with various needs. Urban Ministries works to help support those needs of families with the help of our church and corporate partners.”

Empowering those they serve 

For Agnew, serving as executive director holds a two-fold meaning. She can look out her office window, where she grew up in West End just steps from where she sits today. Not only does she serve this community: she and her family are a part of it.

Her great-grandfather and grandfather had businesses in the community. Her father and grandmother were educators in the community. She saw them providing opportunities for the community.

Agnew believes in not only providing programs and resources for neighbors, but investing in people by teaching them to be their own advocates and support. The work is great, but Agnew’s determination and vision are without end.

Prior to joining Urban Ministry, Agnew worked as executive director of the Norwood Resource Center,where she dedicated her time to supporting families and building vibrant neighborhoods.

Agnew says she wants to leave a legacy of service and strengthening her community, just as her family did.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Ashley Chestnut getting students up to speed with history in ‘Down in the Ham’ series

(Keisa Sharpe/Contributed)

For Ashley Chestnut, her home state of Georgia runs deep in her bones. She moved to Alabama to attend ministerial school and after completing classes was hired by the Church at Brook Hills.

Birmingham has “grown on her.” Several years ago, Chestnut decided to really get involved in her new community.

From the scenery to its food scene, the Magic City checked all the boxes for Chestnut’s home away from home. But there was one particular area where she wanted to have an impact.


Ashley wanted to inspire children from Birmingham’s neighboring communities to visit Alabama’s largest city. The result two years ago was a documented list of history lessons in “Down in the Ham – A Child’s Guide to Downtown Birmingham.”

Local author sheds light on events and history ‘Down in the Ham’ from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Inspiration in unusual places

The notion to write a book about Birmingham, combined with a coloring book, didn’t come the way one might think.

She was hours away, more than four hours in fact, visiting friends in Greenville, South Carolina. While there, her friends’ children were boiled over with excitement about visiting downtown Greenville to find, of all things, mice sculptures.

They’d read a book and couldn’t wait to find these animals that had been brought to life in the pages of literature.

In her downtime driving back home, Chestnut fondly remembered the excitement of the kids – and then it hit. Why not recreate a book about Birmingham’s downtown with hopes of fueling excitement among young readers?

Chestnut wasted no time putting her idea into action – to inspire children to love and explore their city.

It’s in the art

The words came fairly quickly for her book, but Chestnut knew it was not done until she secured an illustrator to make it come to life.

She saw the artist’s work before they even met. While at an auction, she noticed one particular piece. It not only caught her eye, but she wanted to reach out with the idea that this artist would be the perfect “fit” for her book project. And that’s what she did.

Artist Abby Little Jessup had a full plate, but after hearing from Chestnut, she knew “Down in the Ham”was a project she should illustrate.

Their collaboration is not only making history, but led to a fast friendship.

Birmingham’s Vulcan gives a tour in the book, but it packs other family-friendly activities for adults and children.

More fruitful works

The original “Down in the Ham” series not only includes the children’s book, but also “Color the Ham: A Down in the Ham Coloring Book.” Children can read about and then color sites in the Magic City.

Other communities haven’t been left out of the fun, either, with their latest project. “Around the Ham: A Down in the Ham Coloring Book” reaches beyond Birmingham to highlight communities from Homewood to East Lake and everywhere in between.

It was released in June – two years after her first book.

Chestnut’s books can be found in the gift store at Vulcan Park and Museum atop Red Mountain or can be ordered online at

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Alabama and neighboring states brace for rains from Tropical Storm Barry

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Tropical Storm Barry will bring heavy winds and downpours to the Gulf Coast as it’s expected to make landfall Saturday morning on the Louisiana coast. Forecasters are predicting the storm may be upgraded to a hurricane.

Neighboring states Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle will see remnants from the storm with potential flooding.


In Alabama, communities including Fort Morgan, Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores are expected to see periods of heavy rainfall starting Friday and into the weekend.

Meanwhile, Alabama Power storm center leaders are closely watching the slow-moving track of Tropical Storm Barry.

“We are monitoring the forecast and continuing in our preparations,” said Power Delivery Services General Manager Kristie Barton. “Our crews remain on high alert and are prepared to respond, if needed, to restore any outages in this state.”

Alabama Power also participates in a mutual assistance agreement to help utility companies in other states with power restoration after storms. So far, Barton said the company has received no requests for outside assistance in other states.

Get the latest on the forecast and the storm’s track from Meteorologist James Spann on You can also visit or for the latest forecast updates.

Tropical Storm Barry is the second named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter

1 year ago

Elevate conference hones in on common theme of collaboration with workshops, guest speakers

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Collaboration is a key theme for nonprofits working to build a better Alabama. The annual Elevate conference, sponsored by the Alabama Power Foundation, brings together nonprofits across the state.

The seventh annual Elevate conference kicked off with an opening reception Thursday, June 27 in Hoover. Workshops were held Friday, June 28.


Elevating our communities important to growth from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Andre Perry kicked off events Friday and encouraged the audience to collaborate and hold conversations beyond the annual conference – even difficult conversations.

Perry is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. His research spans race and structural inequality, education and economic inclusion. He founded the College of Urban Education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has worked as a journalist, authoring many nationally published reports.

Hundreds of representatives from Alabama nonprofits attended Friday’s workshops for a half-day of learning sessions centered around themes like grant writing, building collaborative programs and nonprofit partnerships.

Conference attendees were asked what it would take to build a better Alabama and many echoed similar themes.

Each year, nonprofits are awarded Elevate grants to help with the organizations’ most pressing needs. Not only do the organizations receive funds, but they also participate in workshops the year they’re awarded a grant.

For more information on Elevate or how to apply for a grant, go here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Birmingham students awarded scholarships to fuel their studies in technical fields

(Billy Brown/Contributed)

The Birmingham chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) recently awarded five students sholarships to further their studies.

The mission of the organization is to provide energy professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and students a pathway to learn more about the energy industry through education, mentoring, community service and business networking.


Phillip Coffey, Marketing specialist for Alabama Power, helped organize the annual scholarship luncheon. He says the organization gives greater exposure and representation of the energy industry to students and professionals.

The chapter awarded $10,000 in scholarship funds – Iva B. Williams Endowment Scholarships – to five students:

  • Grant Sims.
  • Alexander Washington.
  • Adetola Koiki.
  • Micah Pruitt.
  • Amira Gilford.

The Birmingham chapter of AABE is made up of employees from Alabama Power, Southern PowerSouthern Nuclear Company and Southern Company Services.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Hangout Fest organizers bask in Alabama being ‘center of the music universe’

(Brittany Faush/Alabama NewsCenter)

Hangout Music Festival ended over a week ago, but organizers are still basking in the success of what has become one of the most anticipated music festivals each year.

“For three days, Alabama became the center of the music universe,” said Sean O’Connell, Hangout director. “We’re so grateful to all the fans for supporting such a diverse and celebrated mix of artists. We have the best fans! Our goal from the beginning was to create the best music festival experience in the world. With the support from fans, musicians and the city of Gulf Shores, we’re delivering on that vision. Nothing beats our Alabama beaches. We can’t wait for next year!”


The annual music festival featured several big-name artists as part of the 2019 lineup including Travis ScottThe Lumineers, Hippie Sabotage, Cardi BVampire WeekendKhalid and Kygo.

Here are some fast facts about the Hangout Fest:

  • More than 2,300 employees worked the Hangout Fest May 16-19.
  • Alabama performers included The Red Clay Strays, Elley Duhe and Chika.
  • The Lumineers headlined the festival the night of Sunday, May 19, seven years after being the first band to play in the early afternoon at Hangout Fest 2012.
  • Tickets were sold in all 50 states and 33 countries.
  • The average age of attendees was 26.
  • Guest appearances included singer, songwriter and businessman Jimmy Buffett, who appeared with Kygo to perform “Margaritaville,” and Michael Clifford of 5 Seconds of Summer who joined lovelytheband on stage.
  • Spotted in the crowd was K.J. Apa (actor in “Riverdale”) who was said to be shooting scenes for a movie at Hangout.
  • More than 300 palm trees were planted for Hangout Fest.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Administrators of Project Share help clients by providing hope and funds

(Keisa Sharpe/Contributed)

Alabama sees its share of extreme weather – from cold winters which increasingly include snowfall; stormy springs with high winds and heavy rains; to extreme summers with sweltering temperatures.

These peaks in weather conditions can cause Alabamians to use more energy to heat and cool their homes, which can lead to higher utility bills.

For those needing help, there is some relief through neighbors helping neighbors.

Project SHARE, Service to Help Alabamians with Relief on Energy, helps residents needing assistance with their utility, heating and cooling bills.


The program is administered by The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham.

One Fairfield resident who’s been living in her home for more than 30 years has received assistance from the program to help pay her bills.

“The program has really been helpful for me because it allowed me to pay my bills and provide for my family. I’m grateful for that.”

Project SHARE provides help to Alabamians in 58 counties.

The organization works with partner agencies who function as “feet on the ground” to help interview the clients and assess their needs.

Once that information is given to the nonprofit agency and a family qualifies for assistance, payments are made directly to the energy supplier on the individual or family’s behalf.

According to John Stamps, the Director of Operations at The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham who oversees Project Share, the program provides hope and security to clients.

Stamps said the program operates throughout the year, but peak requests come in the summer and winter months. The program is sustained by the generosity of Alabamians who contribute to help their neighbors.

There are three ways to give to Project SHARE.

  • Give directly to Project SHARE through the Salvation Army by calling 205-328-2420.
  • Mail donations to The Salvation Army, 2015 26th Avenue North, Birmingham, 35234. Designate “Project SHARE” on the check.
  • Check the “Project SHARE” box on your power bill and give via mail or online.

In addition to individual donations, here’s a look at the companies which support Project SHARE:

  • Alabama Power.
  • Black Warrior EMC.
  • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative.
  • Cullman Electric Cooperative.
  • South Alabama Electric Cooperative.
  • Andalusia Utilities.
  • Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative.
  • Baldwin EMC.
  • Wiregrass Electric.
  • Southern Pine Electric.

Project SHARE has been serving Alabamians since 1952.

(Courtesy of Alabama Newscenter)

1 year ago

Bo Jackson bikes across Alabama, raises millions for tornado victims

Alabama Newscenter

Clear, sunny skies greeted the more than 1,200 bikers who participated in the 8th annual Bo Bikes Bama.

Participants lined up for two races at the Auburn Arena on the campus of Auburn University, led by Alabama native, Auburn alum and former football NFL player Bo Jackson.

Jackson began the annual ride to help Alabamians devastated by the deadly storms of April 2011. The funds go to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which helps provide crucial emergency management resources.


Jackson was joined by Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings to kick off this year’s charity ride.

Aubie also greeted fans and engaged the audience in fun chants before the start of each ride.

Bo Bikes Bama aids in state’s tornado relief efforts from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Participants could take part in one of two rides – either a 60-mile ride, or a 30 mile ride.

After the rides, participants were served lunch at the Auburn Arena before heading home for the day. This was the sixth year Bo Bikes Bama was held in Auburn.

(Courtesy of Alabama Newscenter)

1 year ago

Electrathon Alabama participants zip toward another fantastic finish at Barber Motorsports Park

(Dennis Washington/Contributed)

Barber Motorsports Park was filled with the whir of electric vehicles as participants in Electrathon Alabama converged on the park under sunny skies Monday, April 15.

“Each year the competition and participation grow,” said Robin White, Electrathon coordinator and Alabama Power Project Manager.

“We saw 19 high schools and six professional and collegiate teams enter a grand total of 37 cars. We appreciate everyone who participated.”

Electrathon provides both educational and competitive opportunities for students.


One team, Bob Jones High School out of Madison, has participated for the past four years and although they aren’t technically competing with other schools, Electrathon gives them an opportunity to test their vehicles. The students assembled their vehicle without the help of a teacher.

Bob Jones High School boasts national championship wins three years in a row in Greenpower USA competitions.

Adam Bastien is a senior at Bob Jones High and one of the drivers in the Electrathon competition. “We enjoy this competition because it is a well-put-on race with lots of teams,” said Bastien.
Ben Runyon works as the general mechanic for the team.

“Both the coolest and most annoying part of this competition is working with a team,” said Runyon.

More than 350 people turned out for the annual event. Students also enjoyed a plug-in electric car show featuring vehicles from BMW, Chevrolet and Ford.

Electrathon sponsors include Alabama PowerSKY (Skilled Knowledgeable Youth) and Zoom Motorsports and Barber Motorsports Park.

Here’s a look at the winner’s from Electrathon Alabama:

Open Class – Professional/College

1st Place:  #48 University of Southern Florida
2nd Place: #365 Tampa Bay University
3rd Place:  #321 Archer Racing

Electrathon High School

1st Place:   #22 Dothan Technology Center
2nd Place:  #115 Walker County Center of Technology
3rd Place:   #251 Spanish Fort High School

Green Power High School

1st Place:   #5 Bob Jones High School
2nd Place:  #1 Bob Jones High School
3rd Place:   #314 Grissom High School

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Alabama Maker Leldon Maxcy shows us the art in wood

(Contributed/J. Allen)

To the average person, Leldon Maxcy‘s basement in Cullman is home to a ton of wood.

To the untrained eye, stacks of wood may not be exciting, at first. But to those with an artist’s eye, like Maxcy, the room holds a world of possibility.

With the whir of his scroll saw, the billow of smoke from the laser cutter and the humming of the saw, production begins and artistic originals take shape.


Maxcy is an Alabama Maker who quit his full-time managerial job to pursue his passion of creating art with wood. His passion – or gamble, to some – has paid off royally.

He began creating artisanal items at only 13, when he purchased a scroll saw, and his passion – now his life’s work – was born.

Perhaps not the object of most teens’ fancies, Maxcy’s drive was undeniable. He began to create original “wood” works of art.

Now, Maxcy combines his original ideas with updated computer technology, allowing him to mass produce and create designs in short time frames.

Whether he crafts a wood figurine such as an angel or uses the laser cutter to produce custom-made wood notebooks engraved with the Birmingham cityscape, you begin to understand Maxcy’s basement is his office and his muse – a playground for the creator.

Maxcy’s work can be found in stores, or meet the Alabama Maker and see his artwork at festivals that he frequents. Either way, you will discover Maxcy’s passion for his craft.

Leldon Maxcy

The Product: Notebooks, angel ornaments, cutting boards, door signs, bottle openers, pictures and other custom-designed wood items.

Take Home: Custom-made, wood notebooks to hold composition notebooks.

Visit his website, or look for custom-made items on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Alabama Power honored for diversity efforts at Equal Opportunity Dinner

(Jerome Smedley)

The Birmingham Urban League honored corporate citizens and community leaders Saturday, Dec. 8 at its Equal Opportunity Dinner.

According to its organizers, the annual gala recognizes efforts that help in advancing equal opportunity for all.

Alabama Power received the President’s Award for contributions to the community and its consistent support of the organization and diversity.


Birmingham Division Vice President Jonathan Porter accepted the award on behalf of the company. “Alabama Power is proud of the continued partnership with organizations such as the Birmingham Urban League to help propel our community forward,” said Porter.

The dinner was also held to commemorate the Birmingham Urban League‘s 50 years of service to the community. U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell were the event co-chairs.

National Urban League president Marc Morial was the keynote speaker for the evening. Morial recognized Birmingham’s first African-American mayor, Richard Arrington, saying the nation should appreciate Birmingham.

Former Mayor William Bell was also honored for his leadership and his work in revitalizing the City of Birmingham. Mayor Bell shared a light moment with the audience, saying that even after completing his term serving the city, his wife still encourages him to “get out and go be great.”

Other organizations such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, United Way of Central Alabama and Peacemakers was honored as well. More than 200 guests were treated to comedy and entertainment at the dinner.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Gadsden students aided by Career Academy

(Jacki-Lyn Lowry)

There’s no better time to prepare for the future than the present.

Earlier this month, a group of nearly 20 students from Gadsden City High Schoolwere taken on a two-day industry tour in their community. The Career Academy event was hosted early November and allowed these students to see opportunities for career technical programs in the area.


It was spearheaded by Alabama Power employees in partnership with East Alabama Works, Gadsden State Community College and the Boys and Girls Club of Etowah County. The students who participated were specifically chosen by the Boys and Girls Club.

Comprehensive career learning in Career Academy

In addition to learning these career opportunities firsthand, they also learned about skill sets needed to perform specific job tasks and wages earned in these positions.

Tony Smith, Business Office manager for Alabama Power‘s Gadsden and Attalla offices, worked with the planning committee. Smith said he could see the lightbulb come on for students as they met with professionals and had an opportunity to ask questions.

“As adults, we sometimes assume students know what jobs are out there or what opportunities await them,” said Smith. “But students really don’t know all that’s available or what’s specifically required of them. This event was just one way we were able to open their eyes to career paths that are available.”

Students take industry tours

Tours were hosted at several businesses including Koller Craft, Keystone Foods, Inteva Products, Gadsden Regional Medical Center and Gadsden State Community College.

Students also received nuggets of wisdom from Gadsden State President Dr. Martha Lavender and Alabama Power Eastern Division Vice President Tony Smoke. Smoke serves on the Talent and Leadership Development subcommittee of Alabama Power’s Council on Culture and Inclusion (CCI).

“The conference marked a great opportunity to hone in on one area of the CCI’s focus – fostering relationships that help develop a next generation of diverse, talented and job-ready employees,” said Smoke.

The CCI’s mission is to cultivate a culture that leverages the talents and experiences employees from diverse backgrounds and career paths bring to the company.

This was the first year Career Academy was hosted, but Smith said he doesn’t believe it will be the last.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 years ago

Alabama student’s drive and determination to graduate garner national attention

(Alabama NewsCenter)

Determination can yield great results. Just ask 19-year-old Corey Patrick.

The recent Tarrant High School graduate conquered many obstacles to earn his diploma, so much so that his story has garnered national attention.

For one, he would get up at 4 a.m. daily to ride the bus to school from the West End community in Birmingham to Tarrant High.

For his trip, there was no such thing as a straight shot. He had to make several transfers to get to school and, according to his mother, it wasn’t unusual for him to return home after 6 p.m. weeknights.


But one photo changed it all. Members of the community have stepped up to help after seeing Patrick walking in his graduation uniform after getting off the bus. MAX transit driver DeJuanna Beasley said she posted the picture because she was inspired by him, and to date, nearly 40,000 people have liked her photo.

One person who “liked” the story and was moved to action is Birmingham resident Michael Nabors, a retired University of Alabama employee. Nabors said he was motivated by the young man’s grit and was determined to find him and mentor him. And he did.

Nabors has helped arrange local and national interviews for the recent grad, while being a source of encouragement and family support.

In addition to a number of local and national news outlets, Patrick’s story also caught the attention of nationally known comedian Rickey Smiley, a Birmingham native.

Smiley recently interviewed Patrick on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show. Smiley also gifted the young man a car at the studio of radio station 95.7 Jamz recently.

Patrick will be using that car to get to his new job this summer as he was recently hired by Golden Flake.

Jacksonville State University recently offered a full scholarship. Patrick has said he is interested in studying computer science.

We recently caught up with Nabors, Patrick and his family at church services at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Pratt City, where graduates were honored.

The soft-spoken Patrick expressed gratitude for all of the support.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)