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

Chief of staff of the Air Force visits MGMWERX innovation hub


General Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chief of staff of the Air Force, last week visited MGMWERX, Montgomery’s state-of-the-art innovation hub.

Brown toured the facility with Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Air University Commander and President Lt. General James Hecker and Brig. General Trent H. Edwards (USAF, Ret.) — the director of MGMWERX.

The group of leaders met to discuss the partnership and collaborative opportunities with Montgomery’s Maxwell Air Force Base, Air University, the City of Montgomery and the State of Alabama.

Ainsworth commented on CSAF Brown’s visit that, “to be a part of this discussion [with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force], produces great benefits for Alabama’s economy and our National Defense.”


Ainsworth has continued to make military defense and aerospace a bedrock of his core policies.

The MGMWERX innovation hub, which began operations at its current location in December 2018, supports the U.S. Air Force’s Air University through a Partnership Intermediary Agreement between DEFENSEWERX and the Air Force Research Laboratory to align with the education initiatives of the university.

Edwards said it was an honor to host the chief of staff of the Air Force at the facility. Edwards explained that Brown expressed his support for MGMWERX and the ability for the facility to help accelerate change.

Brown was in Montgomery to attend the 67th National Security Forum held at Maxwell Air Force Base.

Lenze Morris, a native of Southeast Alabama, is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News

9 months ago

Dr. Nita Carr is a 2020 Woman of Impact

As executive director at Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, Dr. Nita Carr is playing a critical role in the development of young minds – educating students while also challenging them to live a life devoted to God.

Cornerstone Schools of Alabama provides a Christian education to at-risk and underserved children in Birmingham.

Carr is tasked with turning students into leaders through their rigorous curriculum and uplifting character development. She oversees the operations that transform students into critical thinkers, life-long inquisitive minds and excellent communicators. Cornerstone impacts the community by dismantling worldly mindsets and producing students who are responsible and productive citizens.

In a recent interview, Carr shared with Yellowhammer News that when she was given the opportunity in 2008 to serve as executive director of Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, she knew without a doubt that God was directing her to use her gifts and talents to make a difference – and she has since done just that.


“Serving others is simply a part of who I am. By serving, we have the ability to impact change not only in the present, but in the future,” Carr said. In addition to her day job, she also has been active in volunteer organizations that support education, such as the Kiwanis Club, Convene and the Legacy League.

Her work is empowered by her own childhood experiences.

“Being educated as a young girl about who Christ is, the impact of His sacrificial love, and the importance of building a thriving relationship with Him was the defining moment,” Carr explained of her personal journey. “It created within me a lifetime of wanting to share the gospel with others. God has given me a heart for Kingdom purpose. My goal is to empower students to glorify Him.”

Under Carr’s leadership, Cornerstone became one of the first International Baccalaureate Primary Schools in the state of Alabama. The school incorporates six themes into students’ growth model: Who We Are; Where We Are in Place and Time; How We Express Ourselves; How the World Works; How We Organize Ourselves; and Sharing the Planet.

While Carr continues to find success at Cornerstone through high enrollment numbers, expansions and community partnerships, she finds true satisfaction when her students succeed.

She measures success when students graduate exuding Cornerstone’s five pillars of character: perseverance, love, integrity, respect, responsibility.

“Change is what inspires me. And every day, I am allowed to serve as an agent of change for our next generation,” Carr remarked.

“Our students are tomorrow’s leaders,” she outlined. “The instructor-led knowledge they gain in the classrooms has the ability to create a better tomorrow for themselves, their families, and the community. … They are open minded, caring, balanced and knowledgeable. The negative statistics of the world do not apply to our students. They strive for ‘Excellence for God, Excellence in Education, Excellence for Students, Excellence in Character.’ These are our core values.”

When asked about the most fulfilling part of her job, she advised, “Every day I am afforded the opportunity to take a glimpse into our future. Having the support and ability to shape that future is hands down the most rewarding part of what I do.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Dr. Nita Carr a 2020 Woman of Impact.

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through October 1. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Lenze Morris, a native of Southeast Alabama, is a special contributing writer to Yellowhammer News for the 2020 Women of Impact series

9 months ago

Dr. Cheri Canon is a 2020 Woman of Impact

Dr. Cheri Canon is much more than an award-winning doctor specializing in diagnostic radiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Also a professor and the Witten-Stanley Endowed Chair of Radiology at UAB, Canon’s impact reaches far beyond her important day jobs.

In a recent interview with Yellowhammer News, Canon attributed her success in academia to mentors that shared their experience and advice with her.


“Without this advice, I would not have been able to successfully navigate an academic career, particularly as a woman,” she said. “However, this advice has come from both men and women. I often hear women solely seeking mentorship from other women. While this is important, diversity again is key. We must understand the perspectives of men as well if we are to truly achieve our goals.”

Canon understands that she has faced challenges unique to women, but reinforces that diversity is always valuable. She is even published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology on “Gender Diversity within the American Board of Radiology.” She challenges anyone to point to a situation where diversity of thought is not superior to an echo chamber.

“Medicine is complex; radiology is complex,” Canon advised. “If we are to address issues within our field, we need to come together in an open forum that demonstrates diversity of every definition. Only then can we solve the real issues.”

While diversity remains important in her academic career and professional development, she said she selfishly loves seeing women succeed in their field. She is a co-creator for the inaugural nationwide Leading, Empowering and Disrupting (LEAD) Women’s Leadership Program, which is in its second year. The program is a collaboration between the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology Departments across the United States and GE Healthcare to specifically cultivate more women chairs in radiology.

Indeed, Canon is an active leader on the national stage when it comes to her field. She has served as an oral examiner for the American Board of Radiology (ABR) for more than a decade and as a member of ABR’s board of trustees. Canon now sits on the ABR board of governors. Another key example is her previous service as vice chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR), as chancellor on the ACR board and served as the chair of the ACR Commission on Education. She is the president-elect of the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology Departments (SCARD).

However, some of Canon’s most prized work comes outside of the halls of academia and medicine.

She works with Birmingham’s Momentum, which has now blossomed into a network of over 500 women alumnae leaders in Birmingham and continues to grow. Canon serves as a role model so that other women can see that they can be successful in a leadership position and still have a family and life outside of work. She recently finished her second term as president of the Momentum board but considers herself a “lifer.”

Canon told Yellowhammer News that the most rewarding part for her is watching others’ successes.

“As a chair, I feel my most important role is creating a culture wherein our faculty members can thrive and support their development, she said. “It is rewarding to see someone land their first grant, achieve academic promotion, or celebrate their first publication.”

She continued, “For me, there is no greater reward than the knowledge that someone has navigated troubled waters, or risen to greater heights, or taken baby steps toward progress, as a result of time spent with me.”

Canon acknowledged that it is important to choose a career path based upon your profession rather than a path someone else deems fit. She said while others sometimes deter young minds from entering the medical field, she feels that while it has not always been an easy road, it has been incredibly fulfilling for her.

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Dr. Cheri Canon a 2020 Woman of Impact.


Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through September 30. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Lenze Morris, a native of Southeast Alabama, is a special contributing writer to Yellowhammer News for the 2020 Women of Impact series

9 months ago

Natasha McCrary is a 2020 Woman of Impact

What started as a pet project transformed into a bustling, nationally renowned family business for the McCrarys. Natasha McCrary launched 1818 Farms in 2011, and it wasn’t long before the farm was named America’s “Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year” by Amazon in 2019.

Nestled outside of Huntsville — in the historic village of Mooresville — on three acres of land is 1818 Farms: a working farm, a bath and beauty business, a flower farm, and much more.

The inspiration for the farm originated when her middle child fell in love with a Babydoll Sheep at a petting farm in 2011. Little did she know that her child’s desire for a sheep would turn into a prominent family-owned and operated farm.

She told Yellowhammer News in a recent interview that owning a Babydoll was all her son could talk about, and so she began to dream of plans for a small profitable farm where she and her husband could teach their children to appreciate the land and animals and to be good conservationists.


McCrary did much more than teach her family how to raise sheep; she taught them how to turn a passion into a career. McCrary took a gamble and left her previous career to become a farmer, but she says every farmer is a gambler.

As a farmer, business owner, wife, mother and shepherd, she wears many hats on a day-to-day basis. Those roles have exposed her to varying experiences and allowed her to not only relate to people, but also quickly adjust to situations and implement a solution for the business and the farm.

She advised, “There are so many things you can’t control, but I think it goes back to you have to have flexibility. It goes back to the plan and being able to pivot.”

She continued, “[Y]ou have to have flexibility because there are so many things out of our control.”

McCrary may not be able to plan for the weather, but she has had nothing but successful plans for 1818 Farms since its inception.

“When building a business from the ground up, realize that you must commit countless hours during the startup and growth phases,” she said. “Don’t expect success to happen overnight. Continue to think long term when building a brand and customer loyalty.”

Originally, the farm primarily grew produce and minimal flowers. As the Slow Flower movement emerged in the United States, they made the transition to a flower farm only. McCrary felt the niche flower market was a need that wasn’t being met in North Alabama and saw flower farming as a business opportunity.

She notes that flower farming is her true passion. In 2017, the farm started a “Seed to Vase” initiative to educate others on identifying, growing, harvesting and arranging seasonally grown flowers. At the peak of their first season, the farm had over 11,000 flowers growing in their fields. Their bath and beauty products quickly became the largest source of revenue.

The farm sells its artisan products locally and via Amazon Handmade. The Amazon Handmade Community provides brand credibility to their product line. Since joining in March of 2017, Amazon has played an essential role in the farm’s growth as a company.

McCrary outlined that when it comes to your career, “be authentic.” She added, “[I]f you aren’t authentic, then you probably aren’t passionate about what you do. So, find your passion and go from there.”

Her passion for flower farming has blossomed into an award-winning farm that provides for her family as well as quality products for millions around the nation.

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Natasha McCrary a 2020 Woman of Impact.


Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through September 30. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Lenze Morris, a native of Southeast Alabama, is a special contributing writer to Yellowhammer News for the 2020 Women of Impact series

9 months ago

Bobbie Knight is a 2020 Woman of Impact

While technically retired from her professional career, Bobbie Knight has eagerly accepted a new challenge of securing success for students as the first female president of Miles College.

In addition to serving as president of the Fairfield HBCU, Knight remains CEO of her own company, Bobbie Knight Consulting, and serves as chair of the Board of Managers for the Birmingham Times Media Group and as vice chair of the Birmingham Airport Authority.

She earned a B.S. from the University of Alabama and a Juris Doctorate from Birmingham School of Law prior to her storied career as a businesswoman and newfound service in higher education leadership.

At one stage of her professional development, Knight was selected as one of only 21 women worldwide for the acclaimed Leadership Foundation Fellows Program of the International Women’s Forum. The program provided her the opportunity to study at Harvard University and the Judge School of Business at the University of Cambridge.

Knight serves as a role model to anyone pursuing a life of leadership and public service, but especially to the students at Miles College who she describes as her “why.”


She shared with Yellowhammer News in a recent interview that she didn’t realize that she would fall in love with her students, but she quickly did. Knight encourages her students to text her and reach out on social media, actively engaging and responding to them while making them feel a connection and relationship with their president. Knight feels she is in a position to be a mother figure or even grandmother figure for some of her students that don’t have the privilege of that type of relationship at home.

Knight attributes her experience in executive-level positions — like vice president of the Birmingham Division, vice president of Public Relations and general manager of Supply Chain for Alabama Power — along with her love for her students as the source of her impressive success thus far leading Miles College.

Her position on the board at Miles College afforded Knight the opportunity to have prior knowledge of the issues facing the school before being appointed as interim (and now permanent) president, such as steadily declining enrollment. In an effort to reverse that trend, Knight leaned on her experience from the private sector to treat students as customers. She made it a top priority to attract more students to her school and also be more proactive in intentional efforts to retain existing students. Knight says her background in business proved to her that “numbers don’t lie,” and under her leadership, Miles College has already seen an increase in enrollment.

Knight’s priority is showing others that Miles College is a worthwhile investment for those that want to have an impact on future generations. Since Knight launched a historic $100 million fundraising campaign, the college has received a $1 million donation from basketball legend Charles Barkley and a $50,000 contribution from NFL quarterback Jameis Winston, exemplifying the type of high-level attention the fundraising campaign continues to garner.

In an effort to put the interests of students first, Knight has surrounded herself with the team required for Miles College to grow in both size and stature, including hiring a provost, a position the school had never had before. Knight’s team — and Knight herself — work passionately to get others to believe in the school and their mission of preparing students for future success.

Knight told Yellowhammer News that her philosophy has been to recognize what her strengths and weaknesses are and to surround herself with smart, talented people.

“To me, it’s all about allowing and encouraging people to be the unique, strong and intelligent person they are so that they are achieving their goals. If they are achieving their goals, I’m achieving my goals. It’s a win-win,” she said.

When asked about giving advice to women in the early stages of their career, Knight encouraged them to do something they are passionate about.

“If you have a passion, you are going to be bold. You are going to step out there. You aren’t going to care if people get offended and say you’re pushy,” Knight said. “There is nothing wrong with being pushy – I’ve got something I want to push.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Bobbie Knight a 2020 Woman of Impact.


See the full interview here

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday beginning September 7. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Lenze Morris, a native of Southeast Alabama, is a special contributing writer to Yellowhammer News for the 2020 Women of Impact series