The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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.

3 months ago

Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business ranked among top 30 in the nation

(Auburn University/Flickr)

The latest from the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of 2021 Best Business Schools includes Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business among the top 30 public schools in the nation.

Based on a survey of Full-Time MBA programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), the ranking gave Harbert its third consecutive year increase with a jump of 13 spots to number 56 overall among public and private schools.

“The Harbert College of Business is keenly focused on delivering quality graduate programs that prepare our students to step into leadership roles at corporations of their choosing and influence sound decision-making,” said Associate Dean of Graduate and International Programs Stan Harris.

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Programs out of Harbert are ranked based on MBA graduates’ starting salaries, employment rates and recruiters’ assessments. Harbert’s survey scores improved this year in all three of those categories.

“Our Full-Time MBA draws talented students from across the country due to its robust curriculum, talented and engaged faculty, and outstanding return on investment,” said Executive Director of Full-Time and Online MBA Programs Jim Parrish.

“When you consider that we provide students a firm foundation in advanced business theory and practical training in leadership and career development, the value of our program becomes obvious,” Parrish added.

U.S. News & World Report’s rankings better assist students to identify business schools with the best programs to learn essential business skills.

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3 months ago

UAB among the best in latest U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings

(Wikicommons, UAB, YHN)

The newest U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings show the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to be among the best in the nation.

A plethora of UAB programs are highly ranked in the 2021 U.S. News Best Graduate School Rankings, including the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program and the Master of Nursing Administration.

In the School of Health Professions, the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program is the third-highest in the Southeast, ranked number 23 in the country, while the Doctor of Physical Therapy program jumped six spots to number 13, the second-highest in the Southeast.

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The School of Nursing is ranked seventh among public schools of nursing and number 15 overall for master’s degrees. The school is also ranked number 10 among public schools of nursing and number 19 overall for Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees.

Also included were three high-ranked nursing specialties, including the Master of Nursing Administration, which is number one among public schools and number three overall, the Master of Family Nursing Practitioner, which is number four among public schools and number six overall and the Doctor of Nursing Practice Family Nurse Practitioner, which is number two among public schools and number five overall.

The School of Medicine is ranked number 31 for research and number 34 for primary care with three specialties — anesthesiology, internal medicine and surgery — ranked among the top in their respective fields. The School of Public Health is ranked number 19.

U.S. News ranks professional school programs in business, education, engineering, law, nursing and medicine, including specialties in each area. The rankings in these six areas are based on two types of data: expert opinions about program excellence, and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students.

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3 months ago

Facebook provides Alabamians with tools, support for 2020 tornado season

(YHN)

Facebook is providing Alabama governments and residents with additional tools and resources to prepare and manage for what is expected to be an impactful tornado season.

“Facebook knows the devastation that tornadoes can cause in local Alabama communities so we are focused on providing tools to help protect lives and rebuild these communities,” said Will Castleberry, vice president, State Policy for Facebook.

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“By providing new tools and resources to local governments and families, we hope Facebook can support Alabama residents when they need it most,” Castleberry added.

Certain tools that will be used to assist Alabamians should a tornado hit the state include:

  • Local alerts are push notifications to people following a local or state government, local or state public health agency or law enforcement Facebook page. Local alerts help local governments communicate urgent information when it directly affects people in their community or requires them to take action, such as road closures, blackouts or natural disasters, like a tornado.
  • Mark Yourself Safe that enables people to let loved ones and friends know that they are safe which allows first responders to focus on those that need urgent help.
  • Disaster Maps share real-time information with response teams, helping them determine things like whether communities have access to power and cellular networks, if they have evacuated, and what services and supplies they need most.
  • Facebook Groups help people build safe, supportive communities and strengthen existing ones. People create Groups in the wake of disasters to combine information to help others in the community and identify needs of those impacted by the storm.
  • Fundraising has become a crucial way for people to reach out to others as they rebuild their lives and homes, and support local organizations. In times of crisis and year-round, people use Facebook fundraising tools to support nonprofits or personal causes to help those in need.

Certain Facebook groups have been created in the past that have had a positive impact on the community.

“After the March 2019 tornado that hit Lee County, Ala., I wanted to connect the community to help share information and resources,” said Beauregard Strong group administrator, Ronald Lee Murray. “I created the Facebook group, Beauregard Strong, because of Facebook’s check-in capabilities that allow friends and families to be marked safe after a crisis.”

According to last year’s data, Alabama had 95 tornadoes, including an F3 in Beauregard.

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3 months ago

BlueCross BlueShield warns Alabamians about coronavirus scams

(Pixabay, YHN)

BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama (BCBS) has issued a warning about potential scams surrounding the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to a press release from the company, warning signs include:

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– Door to door solicitation for any testing and prescribing for COVID -19; (tell individual(s) you are not interested, and you will contact your physician).

– Phone calls asking for health insurance contract information for free testing and services; (hangup immediately).

– Outreach from unfamiliar healthcare workers offering to send you a home test kit.

– False advertisements for vaccinations or medications to treat the disease.

– Unexplained or unauthorized laboratory tests or prescriptions appearing on your BlueCross Explanation of Benefits statement.

– Advertisements offering health products that are ineffective against COVID-19 such as herbal teas, supplements, oils or ointments.

– Spear phishing emails referencing COVID-19 which contain malware.

“BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama cares about the health and well-being of our members and Alabamians,” the press release stated. “We are taking every step available to minimize these scams. We encourage members and Alabamians to be vigilant.”

Suspected healthcare fraud can be reported to AlabamaBlue.com/fraud or BCBS’s fraud hotline at 1-800-824-4391.

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4 months ago

Univ. of Alabama going online-only for rest of spring semester

(UA/Facebook)

University of Alabama President Stuart R. Bell provided an update Wednesday on the school’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the remainder of the spring semester.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic affects our community and the world, our UA administration has been tirelessly consulting available resources and experts to make decisions that are in the best interests of the health and safety of our campus community,” Bell wrote in an announcement.

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“Given the latest directives from federal and state officials, I have signed an Emergency Declaration for The University of Alabama, allowing our officials to take further actions to protect the campus community and limit access to campus premises during this public health crisis,” Bell continued.

“Our semester will be completed under the plan below, posted on our website at healthinfo.ua.edu and updated as additional details become available,” he added. “Please understand the thoughtfulness with which this plan was developed and is now conveyed.”

Under Bell’s leadership, the following plan was released:

Spring 2020 Classes. All remaining classes this semester will be taught remotely. There will be no further person-to-person or on-site instruction. Exceptions will only be made as accreditors or licensors require, and as specifically approved by the Provost. Our faculty are working hard to offer the best alternatives to our students, using the most effective tools available. Faculty, know that the administration supports you in these efforts, and assistance is provided via the Center for Instructional Technology, the Office of Information Technology and the Provost – linked at ua.edu. Students, know that your professors will support you through this transition.

Students Must NOT Return to Campus from Spring Break. Residence halls and Greek residential houses are closed. Recreation facilities are also closed. Dining halls, food courts, libraries and other services will not be readily available. The availability of such services in the community is also greatly limited. Now that on-campus classes will not resume this semester, a plan will be communicated in the near future regarding residential student housing fees and meal plans.

Short-Term Hardships Must Be Compelling and Specifically Approved in Order to Remain in Campus Housing. Students with hardships, such as homeless students or those without the ability to complete classes online from home, must apply for an exception with supporting documentation to Student Life. Short-term and limited arrangements will only be approved, under extenuating and rare circumstances, by an administrative team appointed by the Vice President for Student Life.

Move Out Plan for On-Campus Housing. In order to provide for further social distancing, a staggered plan to retrieve your belongings from the residence halls and Greek houses is being developed and will be communicated at a later date. Students are not authorized to return to campus outside of this plan and any who show up without authorization will not be accommodated. Students needing immediate access to medicines or other critical necessities should call: Residence halls:  205-348-6676, Greek houses:  205-348-2693

Cancellation of Spring Commencement and other Events. Honors week, athletic activities and other events are cancelled for the remainder of the semester.  On-campus Spring Commencement will not be held as scheduled, and families should not plan on traveling to campus for that event. We are actively exploring and hope to provide alternative means of recognizing the significant achievements of graduates and students earning honors, but it is too early to make those plans firm.

Interim/Summer Education Abroad. Interim and summer education abroad classes are cancelled. Further communications to affected faculty, staff, and students will be forthcoming.

Interim/Summer Classes. Given the current guidance, it is possible that online models of instruction will continue for all students through interim and regular summer terms. Registration for those terms may be extended.

Further Information from ADPH. We are working closely with the UA System COVID-19 Task Force, the infectious disease specialists on our sister campuses and the Alabama Department of Public Health on all aspects of virus prevention, testing, notification and treatment. Once the health department receives notification of a positive result, the health department — or an official designee — will contact the person who tested positive and begin determining who around the person might have been exposed. ADPH gathers and provides verified tests, contacts the case, determines the contacts at risk, and notifies individuals of what to do. If an individual is determined to have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed, ADPH will contact that individual directly to discuss next steps.

“I personally believe there is no higher calling than to be an educator, and it is a great joy of my life and of the lives of our many faculty and staff to interact with a rich and active campus life,” Bell concluded. “This year, more than others, we look forward to the later return of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and supporters who make our campus community so special.”

Last week, the University of Alabama System announced Thursday that its three campuses will be transitioning to online cases due to COVID-19.

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4 months ago

Regions Bank limits in-person branch services to drive-through, scheduled appointments amid coronavirus outbreak

(Regions Bank/Facebook, YHN)

Regions Bank announced Wednesday that in-person branch-banking services will be temporarily limited to either drive-through service during regular hours or in-office service by appointment only in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Our teams are committed to delivering financial services, advice and guidance for the people and businesses of our communities,” stated Scott Peters, head of Consumer Banking for Regions. “This change will help us do so in a way that helps minimize risks related to coronavirus while also maintaining the ability of our local bankers to meet the critical financial needs of our customers.”

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A press release noted, “While drive-through services are available during regular hours at facilities equipped with drive-up windows, appointments for services in branch office areas should be scheduled by customers in advance. Customers can use the Make an Appointment feature on Regions.com to schedule standard Consumer Banking services. Additionally, appointments can be scheduled through online and mobile banking channels as well as by calling the branch directly to set up a time for service. Branch contact information is available through the Locations tab on Regions.com. Appointments should be limited to individual consumers or business clients rather than large groups.”

The press release also said that, “Regions will continue to monitor developments related to coronavirus as part of the bank’s ongoing business continuity process” and “regular branch services will be reinstated when appropriate.”

“Regions’ top priority is the safety and well-being of its customers and associates,” the release added. “The bank has taken a number of proactive steps as this situation evolves. Those steps include enhanced facility cleaning services and clear guidance to associates regarding measures designed to limit exposure.”

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4 months ago

Alabaster native secures spot on Team Blake on ‘The Voice’

(Warner Bros. Television/Contributed, YHN)

Cam Spinks, a local singer from Alabaster, secured a spot on Blake Shelton’s team on “The Voice” Monday night.

Spinks, who grew up helping with his family’s 55-acre domesticated deer farm by building fences and caring for the animals, earned the position by singing “Wave On Wave” by Pat Green.

Of the four judges on the NBC show, both Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton turned their chairs to signal support for Spinks, who then had to make the decision of which team he wanted to join.

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Clarkson commended Spinks’ performance, saying his “vibe” was reminiscent of the “country music I love and grew up on.”

“I hear a lot of elements in your voice that I love,” Shelton told Spinks. “You’re in a different area. Maybe more of what Luke Combs is doing.”

Shelton also told Spinks before he made his decision that he “would love to be his coach” throughout the show and said, “Let’s go to Nashville” as Spinks was making his decision.

Spinks, who slowly built his music career by writing several extended play records and selling some of his songs, ultimately chose Shelton to serve as his coach during this season of “The Voice.”

He joins fellow Alabamian Levi Watkins on “Team Blake.”

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4 months ago

Alabama unemployment rate remains at record low

(YHN/Pixabay)

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted January 2020 unemployment rate remains at a record low 2.7%, unchanged from December 2019, according to the latest data from Alabama Department of Labor.

The news of the Yellowhammer State’s January unemployment rate, which is well below last January’s unemployment rate of 3.6%, was announced by Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Monday.

“We are pleased to be able to maintain last year’s record low unemployment rate in Alabama,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “We will continue to focus efforts on job creation and workforce development, and remain hopeful that the economic good news will continue into the remainder of 2020.”

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A press release from the Alabama Department of Labor on the matter noted, “January’s numbers represent an over-the-year increase in employment of 27,893, with the monthly total registering 2,186,364. The number of people counted as unemployed measured 61,114, a new record low, and represents an over-the-year drop of 18,346.”

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 19,200, with gains in the government sector (+6,900), the education and health services sector (+4,300), and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+3,400), among others.

“Two big industries experienced significant over-the-year employment growth, with building construction experiencing an increase of nearly 13%, and motor vehicle manufacturing saw growth of nearly 6%,” Washington said.

Building construction employment saw an increase of 12.56% over the year, which measured 22,400 in January. Motor vehicle manufacturing employment also increased by 5.84% over the year and measured 14,500 in January.

Washington also noted that Alabamians saw an increase in their weekly earnings.

“Wages have also seen growth from this period last year,” he stated. “Alabama workers saw their average weekly earnings grow by $41.74.”

Average weekly earnings measured $872.01, up from $830.27 last January.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates included Shelby County (2.4%), Marshall and Madison Counties (2.7%), and Tuscaloosa, Morgan, Limestone and Cullman Counties (2.8%). Counties with the highest unemployment rates included Wilcox County (9%), Clarke County (6.2%) and Greene County (5.9%).

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4 months ago

Alabama cable providers to offer no-cost, low-cost options during coronavirus pandemic

(ACBA, Pixabay, YHN)

Alabama’s cable providers are now giving students and low-income populations hit hardest by closures and other impacts from COVID-19 pandemic in the state no-cost and low-cost options for high-speed internet access, according to a press release from alabamacable.org.

The online press release noted more information on the duration of the services:

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To help those least equipped with the technology to cope with this crisis, cable providers like Charter Spectrum and Comcast are providing an array of these services at reduced cost, no cost for 60 days, and in some cases automatically increasing upload and download speeds for all customers going forward.

“Alabama’s cable providers are also coordinating with our local governmental and non-profit organizations across the state to make sure we have the highest awareness of these broadband options among those most affected by COVID-19 preparations,” said Michelle Roth, executive director of the Alabama Cable and Broadband Association.

“Please check with your local cable provider if you are unclear on options for student and low-income access during this critical time in Alabama,” she added.

Those participating in the services include Charter Spectrum, Comcast (Xfinity) and CTV Beam.

The press release went on to list the particular services and efforts each cable provider introduced:

Charter Spectrum:

  • Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395.
  • Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
  • Charter will partner with school districts to ensure local communities are aware of these tools to help students learn remotely.
  • For eligible low-income households without school-aged children, Charter continues to offer Spectrum Internet Assist, a low-cost broadband program delivering speeds of 30 Mbps.
  • Charter will open its Wi-Fi hotspots across its Alabama service area for public use.

Comcast’s Xfinity:

  • Xfinity WiFi hotspots will also be available for free. For a map, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi.
  • Comcast is pausing data plans for 60 days giving all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.
  • Comcast will not disconnect a customer’s internet service or assess late fees if they contact the company and let them know that they can’t pay their bills during this period.
  • New customers will receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month. Additionally, the speed of the program’s Internet service was increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. There is no additional fee and it becomes the new base speed going forward.

Beam of East Alabama has the pledged the following for 30 days:

  • Beam will partner with school districts to ensure the capability to learn remotely.
  • Beam will partner with the Housing Authority to accommodate their tenants with internet service.
  • Beam will offer free 50 Mbps Internet services for 30 days for new customers with households including K-12 and/or college students who do not have current service. Call for details and to sign up. Installation fees for these services will be waived for new customers meeting the above criteria. A valid school ID or proof of K-12 children in the household is required.

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4 months ago

2020 Bassmaster Classic brings in largest crowd in Alabama history

(Lake Guntersville State Park-Alabama,Facebook)

The 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic, which was held for the 13th time in Alabama, shattered previous attendance records, B.A.S.S. officials announced Friday.

According to a press release, “The total Classic Week attendance of 122,814 was recorded at a variety of activities across Alabama, including the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo in Birmingham, daily takeoffs on Lake Guntersville and the inaugural Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia on Logan Martin Lake in Pell City.”

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This attendance number is 35% higher than the previous state record set in 2014. It is also the fourth-highest attended Bassmaster Classic in the event’s 50-year history.

“This record-breaking attendance would not have been possible without the loyalty of our incredible Bassmaster fans and the partnerships between B.A.S.S. and our sponsors, exhibitors, the media and our host communities in Birmingham and Marshall County,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

“We’re thankful for the hard work of the entire B.A.S.S. family and our great volunteers who made this Classic such a success,” Akin added.

“We were thrilled with the support and crowd that turned out each morning at Civitan Park,” said Katy Norton, President of the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We want to thank our out-of-town guests and invite them back to Lake Guntersville to fish and enjoy one of Alabama’s great natural attractions.”

A new event this year, the Bassmaster Classic Kickoff Party, which benefitted Children’s of Alabama, featured live music and fireworks and gave fans the opportunity to mingle with anglers.

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4 months ago

Mountain Brook mayor, city council president, council member all seeking reelection

(Contributed)

Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch, City Council President Virginia Smith and Councilman Phil Black jointly announced Friday that they plan to seek reelection in municipal elections, which are set to take place on August 25, 2020.

Welch, who has served as Mountain Brook’s mayor since November 2016, said in a press release it would be an “honor” to continue his service.

“I have enjoyed serving for the past four years with our council members and employees who work so hard for our city,” Welch said. “It would be an honor for me to continue serving our citizens as mayor.”

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Welch has assisted with multiple Mountain Brook efforts, including helping lead a countywide effort to combat “poaching” among cities and improve job growth overall.

Smith, who has served 20 years on the City Council, stated she has watched Mountain Brook “evolve” and grow during her time on the City Council.

“It’s been my privilege to watch Mountain Brook evolve over the past 20 years and become an even better place to live,” Smith said. “It’s my goal to continue to build on the strengths of our community and take us to the next level.”

Black is currently completing his first term on the council and previously served on the city’s Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

“We’re blessed in many ways, but we also have challenges as a landlocked city,” Black said. “Our focus must continue to be maintaining that balance of attracting and growing businesses while protecting our residential neighborhoods.”

Welch praised Black and Smith as the “dream team,” citing the “expertise of council president pro tem Billy Pritchard, a lawyer and 20-year council member; Councilman Lloyd Shelton, a CPA and head of the council’s finance committee; Councilwoman Alice Womack, a long-time banker; Sam Gaston, Mountain Brook’s city manager for the past 26 years; Steve Boone, the city’s finance manager for the past 24 years; as well as the city’s talented department heads and their teams.”

“Our city was recently rated No. 1 in the nation in multiple categories by a national survey company,” Welch said. “I’m proud to call Mountain Brook my home and look forward to joining my colleagues for another four years dedicated to making our city the best place to live and raise a family in Alabama.”

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4 months ago

Alabama football legend E.J. Junior selected for induction to College Football Hall of Fame

(Alabama Football/Facebook)

Former Alabama Crimson Tide football star E.J. Junior has been selected for induction to the College Football Hall of Fame, according to an announcement Wednesday from the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame on ESPN.

Junior, who is the 19th Crimson Tide player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, was a part of the University of Alabama’s football team in the late 1970s.

The University of Alabama noted in a press release:

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A unanimous First Team All-American in 1980, Junior was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and helped guide Alabama to consecutive national championships in 1978 and 1979. Junior and the 1979 Crimson Tide squad went 12-0, winning the program’s third straight Sugar Bowl and completing a run of eight SEC Championships in nine years. He was part of only four losses during his Alabama career, helping the Tide post an astounding 44-4 record, which included a 28-game winning streak, while never finishing lower than No. 6 in the national rankings.

The three-time First Team All-SEC selection capped his career in a dominant 30-2 win over Baylor in the 1981 Cotton Bowl. Selected as the 1980 SEC Lineman of the Year by both the Atlanta Touchdown Club and the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club, Junior was the leader of a defense that allowed only 98 points during his senior campaign and just 67 in 1979. He racked up 190 tackles and 21 sacks for the Crimson Tide while playing alongside Hall of Famers Marty Lyons and Ozzie Newsome, and his 10 career forced fumbles are tied for the school record. Junior is enshrined in the Senior Bowl, State of Alabama Sports and State of Tennessee halls of fame.

Junior was the fifth overall pick in the 1981 NFL draft and a two-time Pro Bowl selection while playing with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals from 1981 until 1988. He went on to play for the Miami Dolphins from 1989 until 1991, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1992 and the Seattle Seahawks from 1992 until 1993.

After retiring from the NFL, Junior became an ordained minister and entered into coaching. Junior coached linebackers for the Seahawks and had stints with the Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. Junior also served as the head coach at Central State (Ohio) from 2009 until 2013. He later served as assistant and interim head coach at Delaware State.

Junior will join other Crimson Tide players in the College Football Hall of Fame including Cornelius Bennett (1983-1986), Johnny Mack Brown (1923-1925), John Cain (1930-1932), Harry Gilmer (1944-1947), John Hannah (1970-72), Dixie Howell (1932-1934), Pooley Hubert (1922-1925), Don Hutson (1932-1934), Lee Roy Jordan (1960-1962), Woodrow Lowe (1972-1975), Marty Lyons (1975-1978), Vaughn Mancha (1944-1947), Johnny Musso (1969-1971), Billy Neighbors (1959-1961), Ozzie Newsome (1974-1977), Fred Sington (1928-1930), Riley Smith (1933-1935) and Derrick Thomas (1985-1988).

The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame class will be officially inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 8, 2020, at the New York Hilton Midtown. Inductees will also be recognized in the fall at their respective collegiate institutions with NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, presented by Fidelity Investments.

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4 months ago

Huntsville to host 2021 Southeast Tourism Society Domestic Showcase

(Huntsville-Madison County Chamber/Twitter)

Huntsville is set host the 2021 Southeast Tourism Society Domestic Showcase, according to an announcement this week out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Domestic Showcase conference is “one of the largest industry marketplace events of its kind, bringing together over 600 tourism professionals, tour operators, and destination marketing organizations throughout the South.”

“Domestic Showcase will be held in Huntsville, February 8-11, 2021, and will be Huntsville’s first time serving as the host destination,” a press release noted. “Next year’s event will also mark the first year the conference will be hosted by the Southeast Tourism Society, following a change in leadership announced in 2019 from the convention’s original host organization, Travel South USA.”

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Travel South USA began the first regional, domestic, computerized marketplace in 1983 in an effort to bring more group travel business to the Southern states. Since its inception, it has expanded to include travel media representatives, state tourism offices and other travel and tourism entities.

The Southeast Tourism Society was established in 1983 and “serves as a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism throughout the Southeast United States.”

“We are thrilled to host the 2021 Domestic Showcase. We look forward to being the first host city under the new guidance of our partners at the Southeast Tourism Society, and we appreciate the work Travel South USA has done to make this conference what it is today,” said Judy Ryals, president and CEO for the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).

“Domestic Showcase is a first-rate conference for our industry, and they’ll have a first-rate experience to match when they visit the Rocket City,” Ryals added.

The announcement was also accompanied by a video showing this year’s attendees what they can expect to experience in the Rocket City next year.

Watch:

A team of Huntsville, Madison County and Alabama representatives, including Ryals, CVB Vice President of Tourism Jennifer Moore, Executive Vice President Charles Winters, Tourism Sales Manager Pam Williams, Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association President/CEO Tami Reist and Grey Brennan, Deputy Director for the Alabama Tourism Department, were all in attendance for the 2020 Domestic Showcase to make the 2021 announcement.

“Domestic Showcase is one of the premier events of our industry, and we look forward to welcoming them in 2021,” said Lee Sentell, Alabama Tourism Director. “Hosting events of this stature highlights Alabama’s role as a leader in tourism in the Southeast, and we hope attendees will take advantage of all that we have to offer during their time here.”

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4 months ago

Convention & Visitors Bureau, City of Huntsville respond to cancellation of AUSA Global Force Symposium

(Huntsville-Madison County Chamber/Twitter)

The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has responded to the cancellation of the 2020 Global Force Symposium & Exposition by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) due to the ongoing public health threat of the coronavirus, reminding residents that the “Rocket City remains a welcoming destination for conferences, tradeshows, and other events.”

The Global Force Symposium, which was canceled earlier on Tuesday, is one of the largest conferences Huntsville hosts annually and includes 6,000 attendees and generates an estimated $3.6 million in economic impact.

“We understand AUSA’s desire to prioritize the health and safety of their delegates, and look forward to welcoming them in 2021. Going forward, the CVB will continue to work with our hospitality partners and public health officials to ensure that the health and safety of our visitors remains a top priority,” said Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the CVB.

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“Supporting our local hospitality industry is also of utmost importance – as travel is impacted, we encourage our residents to explore their own backyard and be patrons to our Huntsville/Madison County restaurants, attractions, hotels, and others,” Ryals added.

Jamie Koshofer, vice president of Conventions for the CVB, has worked closely with AUSA over the past year and offered his longtime support for the organization.

“AUSA has long been a close partner of the CVB, and we will continue to provide support for them in all ways that we can. 2021 is right around the corner, and we look forward to bringing that business back to the Rocket City,” Koshofer said.

“The City of Huntsville has developed a great partnership with AUSA over the past several years,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

“While we share in the disappointment of the community, we respect their decision to make the health of AUSA members, participants and our citizens a top priority,” Battle added. “We will continue to work with them and look forward to seeing AUSA in Huntsville in the coming years.”

As of now, there have been no reported cases of coronavirus in the state of Alabama. For more information on the City of Huntsville’s preparedness plan for COVID-19, click here.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

Gary Palmer offers amendment protecting president’s authority

(WH/Flickr, G. Palmer/Facebook)

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) offered a bill, the Assigning Proper Placement of Executive Action Lawsuits (APPEAL) Act, to serve as an amendment to the Democrat-sponsored FUTURE Act on Tuesday.

According to a press release from Palmer’s office, the FUTURE Act “undermines the President’s authority on restricting the entry of potentially dangerous foreign nationals into the United States.”

Palmer’s office also stated, “Palmer’s amendment seeks to keep any challenge to that authority from being subjected to political gamesmanship.”

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“The FUTURE Act tries to dismantle the President’s authority in regards to keeping our country safe,” Palmer said. “The executive privilege of suspending or limiting the entry of certain foreign nationals has been used by many Presidents, including Reagan and Obama, to alleviate threats to national security or to avert a major public health crisis. President Trump has exercised this authority recently in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

“Under the FUTURE Act, that ability for quick and decisive action in an emergency would be severely limited or perhaps taken away altogether,” he added. “The bill also singles out President Trump, again proving that Democrats are looking for any reason to attack him. Keeping Americans safe from potentially harmful individuals or health threats should not be undermined by partisan politics.”

Should the Democrat-sponsored FUTURE Act be enacted, Palmer’s office states it will “impose significant financial strain on U.S. immigration and customs while also limiting the President’s authority to suspend the entry of people who could pose threats to public safety and public health.”

Palmer’s offered amendment aims to restore “some of that presidential authority by preventing litigants who challenge Executive action from ‘forum shopping’ for a court that would likely support their position.” The amendment would also require all challenges to executive action to be filed in the District of Columbia.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook
.

4 months ago

Former Crimson Tide star Quinnen Williams arrested at New York airport for gun possession

(University of Alabama Athletics/Contributed)

New York Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, was arrested Thursday night after he brought a gun to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, according to police.

Williams, 22, was arrested by the Port Authority Police Department for criminal possession of a weapon after a Glock 19 pistol was found on him.

Williams, who once starred for the University of Alabama and was drafted No. 3 overall by the Jets in 2019, had a permit for the weapon in his home state of Alabama, an authority spokesperson said. In most circumstances, New York requires people to have pistol licenses in the state to carry concealed weapons.

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It is unclear whether Williams was attempting to board the plane with his gun.

Alex Spiro, Williams’ attorney, stated the athlete “respects and follows the law.”

“There was allegedly a technical issue with the manner in which the lawfully-owned firearm was stored — and we expect the matter to be resolved shortly,” Spiro said.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

Tara Leigh Grove named endowed chair at UA Law

(University of Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

The University of Alabama School of Law announced Friday that Tara Leigh Grove, a constitutional scholar, will join the School of Law in August as the Charles E. Tweedy, Jr. Endowed Chairholder in Law.

According to a press release, Grove’s teachings will include federal courts, constitutional law, procedure and legislation and regulation.

“Tara Grove is a nationally renowned constitutional scholar, who has made significant contributions to our understanding of the federal judiciary and the constitutional doctrines pertaining to separation of powers,” said Dr. Mark E. Brandon, dean of UA’s School of Law.

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“She is also an award-winning teacher,” Brandon added. “As she helps us create and build a Program in Constitutional Studies – including an Initiative for Civic Engagement – she will be a leader within the Law School and beyond.”

The press release also provided background on Grove’s previous work:

Grove has written extensively about the historical norms and practices that protect judicial independence; the power of government entities (including states) to bring suit in federal court; judicial decision-making and judicial legitimacy; and the interpretive principles that should govern executive orders and other presidential documents.

Grove has published with such prestigious law journals as the Harvard Law ReviewColumbia Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, New York University Law ReviewUniversity of Chicago Law Review, Cornell Law Review and Vanderbilt Law Review.

“I am delighted to begin this new chapter of my career,” Grove said. “The faculty at the Law School has been exceptionally welcoming, and I look forward to joining this wonderful group in the fall.”

Grove graduated summa cum laude from Duke University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she served as the Supreme Court Chair of the Harvard Law Review.

Grove also clerked for Judge Emilio Garza on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and she worked for four years as an attorney in the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she argued 15 cases in the courts of appeals.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

Alabama PALS set to kick off 2020 ‘Don’t Drop It On Alabama’ Spring Cleanup in April

(Alabama PALS/Facebook, YHN)

Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State), announced Tuesday that it would kick off the 2020 Statewide “Don’t Drop It On Alabama” Spring Cleanup for the entire month of April.

Alabama PALS will also hold the cleanup as it coordinates and implements the Alabama Coastal Cleanup (partnership with ADCNR), the Alabama Clean Campus Program, the Alabama Adopt A Mile and Adopt A Stream programs (partnership with ALDOT) statewide.

The annual cleanup, which will be offered to all 67 Alabama counties and statewide volunteer groups, which will feature Coca-Cola as its title sponsor for the 2020 event.

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“The Coca-Cola System is proud of our role as the Title Sponsor of the statewide 2020 Don’t Drop It on Alabama Spring Cleanup,” said Andy Britton, director of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola. “We are especially pleased with our annual partnership with Alabama PALS as we all move forward towards our goal of a world without waste.”

According to a press release, the Spring Cleanup is also “made possible through PALS Sustaining Partners, ALDOT, ALFA, Coca-Cola, Alabama Farmer’s Cooperative, Vulcan Materials Company, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, and The Poarch Band of Creek Indians.”

Alabama PALS also announced a partnership with the Alabama Community College Systems campuses for the 2020 statewide April cleanup effort.

“We are extremely proud of the commitment from the Alabama Community College System, and appreciate the dedication form the ACCS, as well as the enthusiasm displayed from each ACCS campus,” said Spencer Ryan, executive vice president of Alabama PALS.

The press release also noted:

PALS distributed approximately 185,000 bags statewide for the 2019 cleanup, as well as all materials and supplies to all participating cities, counties and volunteer groups. Volunteers interested in participating are encouraged to contact the local coordinator to join an existing cleanup, or to establish their own local cleanup within their respective community.

For more information on the cleanup effort, visit alpals.org.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

Amazon to hire 1,500 full-time positions at Bessemer fulfillment center

(W.Miller/YHN)

Amazon announced Monday that it would begin the hiring process of more than 1,500 full-time positions for its 850,000 square-foot fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama.

Amazon’s fulfillment center, which will be located at 975 Powder Plant Road in Bessemer, is seeking employees who “will play integral roles and work alongside innovative Amazon Robotics to pick, pack and ship smaller-sized customer items to customers across the region, such as books, electronics and consumer goods, to name a few.”

A press release noted:

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On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers full-time employees industry-leading benefits, which include comprehensive healthcare from day one, 401(k) with 50 percent match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launchfour years ago, more than 25,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few. In addition, Amazon has pledged to invest over $700 million to provide upskilling training for 100,000 U.S. employees for in demand jobs. Programs will help Amazonians from all backgrounds access training to move into highly skilled roles across the company’s corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retails stores, and transportation network, or pursue career paths outside of Amazon.

Candidates seeking to apply must be at least 18-years-old and have a high school diploma or equivalent to be considered. Interested candidates can apply online at amazon.com/birminghamjobs where they can select shift preferences and an appointment time to attend an upcoming hiring event and orientation.

Candidates can sign up for text alerts when opportunities open by texting BHMNOW to 77088. The press release also encouraged veterans and military spouses to apply.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

University of Alabama STEM students included in nation’s top 20 in 20s

(UA/Facebook)

Two University of Alabama College of Engineering students have been listed among the nation’s top 20 science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, students who are in their 20s.

According to a press release, Jane Gillette and Sean Devey are recognized as two of Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties for 2020, which is sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“The award recognizes students earning STEM degrees who are nominated by their universities based upon great academic performance and research paired with civic contribution,” the press release stated.

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Gillette is a senior from St. Louis, Missouri, who is studying aerospace engineering with a double minor in mechanical engineering and math. Gillette is also working on her Master of Business Administration in the Accelerated Master’s Program, in an attempt to graduate early.

Gillette interned at both NASA and United Launch Alliance and plans to intern this summer at Boeing in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In addition to her other successes, Gillette was recently named the first Brooke Owens Fellow at the University of Alabama. Gillette credits her involvement in the Alabama Rocketry Association.

“My involvement in ARES at school has been instrumental in my growth as an engineering student and my ability to receive this recognition,” Gillette said. “As a woman in STEM, I’ve been lucky to receive amazing support, respect and leadership opportunities to push me to become a 20 Twenty and a Brooke Owens Fellow.”

Dr. Richard Branam, UA assistant professor of aerospace engineering, has served at Gillette’s mentor.

“Every now and then, I encounter a young person with the raw intelligence, natural creativity and enthusiastic motivation, a person with the ability to make a difference in the world given the opportunity,” Branam said. “I know Jane Gillette is one of these people and will be successful in anything she chooses to undertake.”

Devey, a native of North Salem, New York, is a master’s student in aerospace engineering with a focus on experimental fluid mechanics. Devey has completed internships at PepsiCo, Lincoln Laboratory and Boeing during his time as a UA undergraduate.

Devey also spent time in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates, or REU, program hosted by Dr. Amy Lang, UA associate professor of aerospace engineering.

“Sean is truly an exemplary student, extremely self-motivated and highly intelligent, yet surprisingly humble,” Lang said. “He is certain to make valuable contributions to the field of aerospace.”

Devey praised the University of Alabama’s programs, saying it allows students to succeed on a national and international stage.
“I think it shows that UA has a program that allows people to succeed and move forward with their careers while excelling on a national and international stage,” he said.

Devey and Gillette will be honored during Aviation Week Network’s 63rd Annual Laureates Awards March 12 at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

Crimson Tide to host 2020 Clinic of Champions

(Alabama/Facebook)

The University of Alabama’s football team announced Monday that it plans to host a 2020 Clinic of Champions this spring on the university’s campus.

The clinic, which will be hosted and led by Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and the Alabama coaching staff, is set to take place from April 2-4, 2020.

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According to an online press release, the clinic will feature NFL and College Football Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson, Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall, Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickle, Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Texans special teams coordinator Brad Seely, Panthers quarterback coach Jake Peetz and Dr. Kevin Elko.

The clinic is also slated to host a “Chalk Talk with the entire Alabama coaching staff along with a session with defensive line coach Freddie Roach.”

“The Clinic of Champions is open to coaches only,” the press release stated. “All coaches attending are asked to bring their coaches card or a letter from their school for verification.”

To sign up for the clinic, which will cost $60, click here.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

Mo Brooks, colleagues introduce bill to protect travelers with firearms

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), along with 13 original cosponsors, introduced the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act on Friday.

According to a press release, the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act would “expand the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) ‘transport’ definition to include ‘staying in temporary lodging, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, or any other activity incidental to the transport.'”

In addition, the bill clarifies that the ability to transport a firearm also applies to  ammunition and  detachable magazines, which are essential to the function and purpose of a firearm.

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“‘The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’ means that Americans do not relinquish their Second Amendment Rights by simply traveling across state lines,” Brooks said. “All Americans have the constitutional right to self-defense whether they are at home or traveling.”

He added, “My bill, the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act, would bar freedom-hating, anti-Second Amendment states and localities from prosecuting firearm-transporting travelers who are passing through on the way to their destination who engage in travel-related activities.”

The press release also noted that FOPA currently prohibits state prosecution of “persons traveling from one place to another for any state firearms offense if the traveler is merely passing through on the way to their destination as long as the firearm is transported in a locked container other than the vehicle glove compartment or console.”

“Despite FOPA protections, a disturbing trend has emerged wherein anti-Second Amendment states and localities increasingly seek to criminalize the possession of a firearm or ammunition,” the release stated. ” These freedom-hating jurisdictions continue to seek ways to prosecute travelers merely for the possession of an otherwise lawful firearm. This bill seeks to safeguard otherwise law-abiding gun owners traveling the country from overcriminalization by anti-Second Amendment states and localities.”

“Malicious state laws  unconstitutionally  criminalize  what would otherwise be considered  law-abiding activity  for the explicit purposes of making gun ownership, possession, and transportation more difficult,” said Aidan Johnston, GOA’s director of Federal Affairs. “The Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act complements the Second Amendment in its mission to protect Americans from governmental infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.”

Johnston added, “I hope every member of Congress supports this simple legislation that protects gun owners while they travel.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36), Congressman Steve Watkins (KS-02), Congressman Steve King (IA-04), Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Congressman Greg Gianforte (MT-AL), Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Congressman Ted Yoho (FL-03), Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Congressman Jody Hice (GA-10), Congressman Ralph Norman (SC-05) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 months ago

Auburn University announces A-Day kickoff time, ticket sales

(AU)

Auburn University announced Thursday that its popular A-Day game, presented by Golden Flake, will kick-off at 1:00 p.m. CST at Jordan-Hare Stadium on April 11.

Tickets for the annual spring football game are on sale now through the Auburn Ticket Office for $5 to the general public and free for AU students who have an Auburn Ignited Card.

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Tickets for the event can be purchased here or in-person at the Auburn Ticket Office located at Auburn Arena from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

A press release for the event said a pre-game “Auburn Legends” flag football game will be held in Jordan-Hare Stadium with participating players being announced at a later date. A post-game autograph session will also be held after A-Day. Fans will be limited to one item per person.

A-Day Weekend will also feature the softball and men’s tennis teams competing at home. The softball team will host Ole Miss at Jane B. Moore Field on Friday, April 10 at 5:00 p.m. and on Saturday, April 11 at 4:00 p.m. In addition to the other events occurring, the Auburn men’s tennis team will host Arkansas on Friday, April 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

4 months ago

Selma to Montgomery Relay set to be held in March

(Clément Bardot/Wikicommons)

The city of Montgomery, known as the “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement,” announced Thursday that the third annual Selma to Montgomery Relay will be held in March.

The relay, which is scheduled to take place on March 21, 2020, will be hosted by Walk Jog Run to “commemorate the historic 1965 march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Starting in Selma, this 51-mile route will begin at the prominent Edmund Pettus Bridge and end at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.”

“The Selma to Montgomery Relay is more than just a race—we invite participants to relish in the experience of walking in the footsteps of those civil rights pioneers who came before us,” said Vergil Chames, cofounder of Walk Jog Run Club. “Last year we had over 375 participants, and we hope to build on this number through strategic partnerships, such as our relationship with Black Girls RUN.”

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In accordance with the relay this year, Walk Jog Run is partnering with Black Girls RUN, a community of runners who encourage and inspire one another.

A press release for the event noted:

Divisions for 2020 are ultra-teams with one to four runners, regular teams with five to nine runners and a cyclist category with transportation options available. Participants are encouraged to appoint a captain to facilitate communication with the organizers and provide relay updates to their designated team members.

“This event continues to put Montgomery and the state of Alabama on the map as a sports destination and cultural tourism hot spot,” said Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce senior vice president Dawn Hathcock.

“Each year, participants express the unforgettable and overwhelming feeling of traveling the trail blazed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the foot soldiers of the movement, and we look forward to cheering them on as they race up Dexter Avenue and cross the finish line,” Hathcock added.

The press release for the event also said a “portion of the registration proceeds go back into the community with donations to churches and various local non-profits.”

To register for the relay, click here.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.