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.

1 month ago

Smiths Station celebrates two decades through new city clock

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

This June, Smiths Station will mark 20 years of incorporation, and the city is planning to celebrate the past, present and future in the most momentous way. City officials led by Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland unveiled a city clock that will honor history while looking to the future.

Nestled between Phenix City and Columbus, Georgia, Smiths Station is one of the three fastest-growing cities in Alabama, according to state officials. Incorporated in 2001, the Smiths Station community was founded in the early 1700s. It had an estimated population of 5,345 people in 2020.


Copeland, the second mayor in city history, offered appreciation to the first administration in setting standards for Smiths Station’s successful 20-year history as a city.

“Thanks to the previous administration, former Mayor LaFaye Dellinger and the City Council that laid the groundwork, it was easy for us to build on that foundation, build the roof and with each passing administration, the building will get fancier and fancier,” he said.

Copeland went on to say, “the clock represents time set upon us and what we do in life.”

He said the city and community deserve the landmark and all that it signifies.

Melissa Gauntt, the daughter of Dellinger, expressed her gratitude to the foundation. She said of her mother’s work: “I know the time and commitment that she gave to the city in her 16 years as the mayor and even before becoming mayor in leading the efforts to incorporate the city. “It is truly befitting that this beautiful clock be representative of these deeds and is a striking addition to the front of City Hall.”

The clock is in downtown Smiths Station at 2336 Lee County Road 430. For more information about the city of Smiths Station, visit

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 months ago

Alabama State University, Alabama Shakespeare Festival formalize partnership for students’ benefit

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Alabama State University and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival officially became partners Thursday.

Dr. Quinton T. Ross Jr., ASU’s president, and Festival Artistic Director Rick Dildine signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue an academic collaboration “enhancing the artistic education” of ASU students enrolled in the university’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

In a news release distributed by ASU, Ross said he hopes the agreement and relationship with the famed theater will “broaden the educational and career opportunities of ASU students by building pathways of diversity and artistic enrichment.”


In his remarks during the live signing, Ross said he’s excited to continue the relationship formally and hopes it will broaden the sights of the university’s students and provide an avenue to foster their talents in acting and production through internships, training and the opportunity to gain class credits.

Dildine also expressed excitement about the relationship. “The first word in both our entities is ‘Alabama,’” he said. “When you build a community, you cannot build it alone.” He added that he hopes the relationship furthers the theater’s goal of providing experience and network-building for students, particularly students of color.

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1972 at a high school auditorium in Anniston and moved to Montgomery in 1985. The theater offers a host of professional productions from Shakespeare to modern works.

Alabama State University was founded in 1867 in Marion as a teacher college for former slaves and played an essential role during the civil rights movement. Today, with more than 7,000 students, the Montgomery-based university offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 months ago

Common Ground Montgomery provides at-risk children academic, spiritual and social support

(Common Ground Montgomery/Contributed)

“Beating the odds? No, it’s about coming together to change the odds for these kids to help them find lasting success for generations to come,” said Bryan Kelly, founder and executive director of Common Ground Montgomery.

Founded in 2006, Common Ground Montgomery (CGM) started as Bible study sessions with Carver High School’s football team while Kelly worked as a volunteer coach. Within two years, CGM started its first boys and girls camps and after-school program at McIntyre and Carver community centers in west Montgomery with about 40 students.


After creating CGM, Kelly moved into the neighborhood with a vision to make a difference. He bought and renovated a former illicit drug house in the Washington Park neighborhood as the primary residence for his young family. That building is now the home of Common Ground. It has become a safe haven for Montgomery-area children and provides a protective and loving environment for all ages, where children can get assistance with homework and participate in extracurricular activities during the school year. After the school year, the doors are open for camp, consisting of tutoring and summer fun.

While Common Ground Montgomery is in the heart of the most underprivileged part of of the Capital City, the impact of its work is immense and does not go unnoticed.

In addition to offering a stable, safe environment for schoolchildren, providing scholastic support through its Leadership Development Program, CGM  provides mentoring, counseling and preschool education. The organization’s vision is to teach principles of unity and neighborhood transformation that create an umbrella of services that mold future, godly leaders. CGM does this by focusing on three main areas: academics, social skills and spiritual studies.

The program mirrors the Montgomery Public Schools calendar and is available each school day 3-6 p.m. During the 2019-2020 school year, before COVID-19, the organization served more than 125 pre-K through 12th grade students and provided transportation from each child’s school to the center, then home. The children also participated in Wednesday Bible study.

Alabama Power Foundation, the charitable giving organization of Alabama Power Company, is a supporter of Common Ground Montgomery and its Leadership Development Program.

“The partnership between CGM and the Alabama Power Foundation has been long-standing and has a proven track record of stewardship,” said Summer Williams, director of development for CGM. “With Alabama Power Foundation’s support, we have been able to grow our programs and pour into the lives of so many children.”

“We offer the program and camp, but programs are not all that we are,” she said. “Our staff is here to try to change the odds for the at-risk youths that we work with on a daily basis. We are present, available and have made a commitment to walk with the children and their families.”

For more information about Common Ground Montgomery and its programs, visit

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 months ago

Alabama’s Frank M. Johnson Jr. Institute honors late judge, rule of law

(Civil Rights Trail/Contributed)

“America’s Courtroom” refers to the Montgomery courtroom of Frank M. Johnson Jr., a nod to the landmark cases that were decided during a pivotal time in the nation’s civil rights history.

The late Johnson, who was a U.S. District and Circuit Court judge, said he was merely doing his job.

Born in Haleyville in 1918, Johnson became known as a civil rights activist and federal judge who contributed to the end of segregation and disenfranchisement of Blacks in the Deep South. His groundbreaking cases were in the middle of some of the most turbulent times in history.


A year after being appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower to the United States Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Johnson ruled in 1956 in favor of Rosa Parks in the Montgomery Bus Boycott case to strike down segregation laws in the transit system in the state’s capital city. He also ordered Montgomery police and the Ku Klux Klan to stop intimidating Freedom Riders from riding buses and, in 1965, overturned Gov. George Wallace’s decision to prohibit the Selma to Montgomery March.

Johnson’s tenure with the district court ended in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and then to the Eleventh Circuit. Throughout his career, Johnson remained faithful to the Constitution and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.

Johnson’s influence was seen not only in Alabama. His interpretation of law when it pertained to the changing of segregation practices and demolishing Jim Crow laws was recognized around the country.

The Frank M. Johnson Jr. Institute in Montgomery was founded in 2019, the year that Johnson would have turned 100 years old. The mission of the institute is to promote understanding of, and education regarding, the Constitution, the independent judiciary it created and the impact of the rule of law on our lives. The institute is housed in the Frank M. Johnson Jr. United States Courthouse Complex in Montgomery and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

In January 2019, the institute opened with more than 400 visitors over the two-day event to its Centennial Symposium, held at locations around the city, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. One of the distinguished guests was former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young.

An important goal of the institute is to educate middle and high school teachers about Johnson, his cases and his legacy so they may learn new strategies to teach their students through stories of Johnson’s cases.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church memorializes MLK, continues his legacy

(Kimberly Maryland/Alabama NewsCenter)

Known around the world as the church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. pastored, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church is ingrained in American history. Now known as Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the house of worship has long been a main attraction for travelers from around the world when visiting Montgomery.

King became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1954, after relocating to Montgomery from Atlanta. Within a year, King and the church catapulted into the national spotlight at the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Because King was the first president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church became the meeting place where Black leaders gathered and held planning sessions during the boycott. Many of its members became strategists during the yearlong event.


During the boycott, King’s parsonage became a target of violence. On the evening of Jan. 30, 1956, a bomb was set off at the home while his wife, Coretta Scott King, and infant daughter, Yolanda, were inside. Although neither was hurt, the reality of what was occurring in Montgomery and inside the walls of Dexter Avenue thrust King into the world spotlight. The home was bombed several times later.

The parsonage at 309 South Jackson St. has become a museum paying homage to King and gives insight into the trailblazer while living with his family there from 1954 until 1960. King became the symbolic leader of the civil rights movement and a household name. Built in 1912 and the home of 12 Dexter Avenue Church pastors from 1920 until 1992, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It still holds much of the furniture used by King and his family.

Cromwell Handy, the current pastor of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, is proud to continue the legacy of those who came before him.

“I understand the history and staple this great church has become in the city, nation and world,” Handy said. “We don’t take that for granted. Thousands of people from the around the world each year come to Montgomery to, for one day, walk in the footsteps of King while he led this church, the boycott, the movement. It is an honor to meet all types of people annually that want to take a glimpse into Dr. King’s life; even while cut short, the life he led during the time while in Montgomery that molded him into the leader he was eventually known to be.”

Dexter Parsonage Museum and Interpretive Center is under a five-year renovation to restore and maintain the home. A grant from the Alabama Power Foundation is supporting that work. Inside is the study where King wrote memorable speeches and sermons; the dining room that was a meeting place for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that organized the bus boycott; and the kitchen where King had an epiphany on Jan. 27, 1956, that eventually became the civil rights movement.

For more information on the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the Dexter Parsonage Museum and Interpretive Center and its Foundation, visit

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

12 months ago

Alabama has many quality programs preparing the next wave of nurses

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

The national recognition week to celebrate nurses may be coming to an end, but the observation will continue beyond this week, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The appreciation of those that decide to go into the field of nursing and other medical fields is recognized now more than ever,” said Ronica Thomas, professor of biology, and Arts and Sciences division chair at Trenholm State Community College in Montgomery. “Our health care workers are on the front line fighting for our safety and health during this pandemic. It is an absolute joy to watch our students enter these fields. They become superheroes in their scrubs, and I along with the rest of the faculty are honored to teach them before they put on their capes.”


What is being seen playing out with the COVID-19 crisis validates why many choose to go into the nursing profession. Though perhaps none bargained for graduating into a global pandemic, the desire to help those who are sick and in need of comfort and healing is apparent.

Matalia Conner, a graduate nursing student at UAB, said helping others is what drives her.

“I chose to go into the field of nursing because of the endless opportunities to help make a difference in someone’s life medically,” she said. “Not only healing when they are ill but identifying triggers to avoid further sickness and promote healthy lifestyles.”

Troy University senior nursing student Rachel Moody’s decision to go into nursing was personal. Her father was diagnosed with dementia and toward the end of his life, she was right there helping to care for him.

“This is what really solidified that becoming a nurse was what I was meant to do,” Moody said. “I was also able to see how the nurses were with him, which helped me to understand that I want to always be a nurse that is compassionate and caring to both my patient and their family.”

Alabama has a plethora of schools geared to creating the next generation of nursing professionals on all levels, from licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificates to doctoral degrees. These institutes have achieved a passing rate of more than 75% on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in 2019, according to the Alabama Board of Nursing.

The following are accredited Alabama colleges with nursing programs:

School Location
Auburn University Auburn
Auburn University at Montgomery Montgomery
Bevill State Community College Sumiton
Bishop State Community College Mobile
Calhoun Community College Decatur
Central Alabama Community College Alexander City
Chattahoochee Valley Community College Phenix City
Coastal Alabama Community College Bay Minette
Coastal Alabama Community College Brewton Brewton
Coastal Alabama Community College Monroeville Monroeville
Enterprise State Community College Enterprise
Fortis College Various
Gadsden State Community College Gadsden
H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College Montgomery
Herzing University Birmingham
J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College Huntsville
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville
Jefferson State Community College Birmingham
Judson College Marion
Lawson State Community College Birmingham
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Andalusia
Northeast Alabama Community College Rainsville
Northwest–Shoals Community College Muscle Shoals
Oakwood University Huntsville
Reid State Technical College Evergreen
Samford University Birmingham
Shelton State Community College Tuscaloosa
Snead State Community College Boaz
South University Montgomery
Southern Union State Community College Wadley
Spring Hill College Mobile
Troy University Troy
Troy University Montgomery Montgomery
Tuskegee University Tuskegee
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham
University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville
University of Mobile Mobile
University of North Alabama Florence
University of South Alabama Mobile
University of West Alabama Livingston
Wallace Community College Dothan
Wallace Community College Selma Selma
Wallace State Community College Hanceville

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)