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.

4 weeks ago

Alabama Power connects Auburn University students with city of Tallassee

(Alabama Power/Contributed)

Graduate students from Auburn University’s Landscape Architecture program were in Tallassee recently to help produce a new vision for the local landscape.

Led by Rob Holmes, Auburn University assistant professor of landscape architecture, the students met with Tallassee Mayor John Hammock, Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission Executive Director Greg Clark and Alabama Power employees. They discussed the history of Tallassee, issues facing the community and opportunities to incorporate the area’s existing and natural resources.


Hammock shared several ideas that city leaders have discussed to promote development around Thurlow Dam and the Tallapoosa River, including new walking paths, a pedestrian bridge, downtown streetscapes and redevelopment of an old textile mill site.

The meeting was coordinated by Chris Goodman, Alabama Power Hydro manager, who saw an opportunity to connect the students with the city after hearing about the project. Tallassee is home to Alabama Power’s historic Yates Dam and Thurlow Dam.

Thurlow Dam, built in 1930, sits next to a former textile mill that was the heart of the Tallassee community for many years. The site is also home to what was an ammunition and supply factory during the Civil War.

Yates Dam, built in 1928, sits just upstream from Thurlow Dam. In addition to electricity, both dams and lakes have boosted the economy while providing recreation, wildlife habitat and flood control for the area.

“Students previously completed a project on the Chattahoochee River (on the Alabama-Georgia border), and for this class we wanted to focus on a waterway here in our home state of Alabama,” Holmes said. “I knew Chris Goodman with Alabama Power and reached out to see if, after seeing firsthand some of the work students were doing, he could connect us to a local community to work with. I have heard a lot about the city of Tallassee and Thurlow Dam and was very excited to hear that he thought the community would be open to a partnership with our students.”

The Auburn students have been asked to use everything they have learned about landscape architecture in creating the new vision for Tallassee. Holmes emphasized that their vision should be based on a long-term investment and partnership with the community. Using the Tallapoosa River as an anchor, each of the 10 graduate students will develop his or her own idea of how best to use the lands surrounding the river and city. These projects are part of their final coursework in the Landscape Architecture program.

“We welcome fresh eyes looking at the issues we face and helping us address them through a new perspective,” Clark said. “This has reaffirmed existing partnerships between Tallassee, Alabama Power and Auburn University, showing that these relationships are alive and well. Cities can’t do it alone; it takes partnerships. Partnerships are what help move things forward.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

R.B. Hudson students partner with community groups to beautify Selma

(Michael Jordan/Alabama NewsCenter)

When art, schools and the community get together, lasting partnerships are formed.

In Selma, such a partnership is ongoing as students from R.B. Hudson STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) Academy are taking part in an art project aimed at creating a new and attractive space for the community.


Last month, students began working with Selma-based ArtsRevive to transform a building owned by Cougar Oil into an inspirational mural, which students say will be their vision for the future of Selma.

“We wanted to encourage students to think outside the box, but we also wanted to embody the history of Selma itself, all while giving a ray of hope to the community, “said Mariama DeRamus, R.B. Hudson visual arts teacher.

ArtsRevive is a Selma not-for-profit that believes the arts offer an entry to economic and community redevelopment and can spur creative place-making in Selma and Dallas County. The group works to bring together community members, governmental leaders, artists and designers to increase vibrancy and diversity.

“We told students that we wanted them to focus on what they envision for the future of Selma, while not forgetting the past,” said Becky Youngblood, executive director of ArtsRevive.

Organizers say they hope to have the mural complete this month.

ArtsRevive has several ideas for future use of the space. The organization plans on creating space for an art studio and flower garden for students and the community to enjoy.

The mural is at 136 Maxey St. in Selma.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

Alabama Power Explorers Program inspires future engineers

(Michael Jordan/Alabama NewsCenter)

For 24 years, Alabama Power engineers have led an Explorers program in which they provide hands-on learning opportunities for high school students interested in engineering.

The program is a collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America to introduce students to various types of engineering. More than just a presentation, students discuss potential career paths and compete in a hands-on project to better understand the importance of different engineering fields.

“I was involved in similar programs when I was young, and it is so rewarding to be able to help other young people experience this opportunity,” said Amber Bryant, an engineer in Montgomery.


A recent civil engineering project involved different types of trusses for bridge building. After learning about designs, students competed to see who could build the sturdiest bridge using popsicle sticks. The winning team built a bridge capable of holding more than 45 pounds.

Another project involved a discussion of mechanical engineering in which students focused on concepts of inertia and torque in the design of catapults. They formed teams and competed to see who could build a functional catapult out of a soda can, rubber bands and popsicle sticks. They catapulted peppermints approximately 20 feet.

“We received great feedback from the students on our most recent project involving catapults. The students as well as the engineering mentors were extremely impressed by the teams’ designs,” said Isreal Askew, an engineer in Prattville. “We have found that tying a hands-on project like this into our discussions really helps students not only develop a fuller understanding of the concept but encourages active input and a continued involvement with the Explorers program.”

In future meetings, students will learn about aerospace, electrical and computer engineering, giving them a well-rounded understanding of possible careers.

“I am incredibly proud of Alabama Power’s engineers for giving of their time to open a potential career path to area students,” said Southern Division Vice President Leslie Sanders. “The program’s success is built upon our employees having a love for their career and having a desire to share those lessons with others. Every year, because of this program, we know of students who graduate to pursue a career in engineering.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 months ago

Butterfly Bridge restores shattered lives of Alabama youths

(Michael Jordan/Alabama NewsCenter)

The streets of downtown Clanton fill with people shopping, getting a bite to eat for lunch and attending to business at City Hall. In the background, children laugh and scream while playing outside at a local day care. For most, the day is peaceful.

Within earshot of all the activity is the Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center, a nondescript building with a small sign on the door. Inside, paintings, play areas, bright spaces and friendly, dedicated men and women welcome children who are victims of, or witnesses to, sexual and/or physical abuse. The paintings by area children, some as young as 4, offer a bright, happy welcome.


Butterfly Bridge restores lives of abused children from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“We offer a safe, child-friendly environment to children victimized by abuse or neglect,” said Jana Zuelzke, executive director of Butterfly Bridge. “We are a place of healing.”

The highly trained women and men who work within Butterfly Bridge know the laughter heard from the nearby playground can be replaced in an instant with fear, trauma, tears and physical harm. The staff assists law enforcement officials to prevent abuse, to educate about potential signs of abuse and to help heal victims’ emotional scars.

Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center serves children in Autauga, Chilton and Elmore counties. In 2018, the nonprofit provided 5,354 services to children – 31% to children ages 6 and under; 37% to children ages 7-12; and 32% to children aged 13-16. Reasons for referral primarily involved sexual abuse (70%), although critical services were provided to victims of physical abuse or those who witnessed domestic or sibling abuses.

“Our goal here is rebuild lives, which may be shattered,” Zuelzke said. “Our giving partners, such as the Alabama Power Foundation, help us to provide information to raise abuse awareness, allow us the ability to hire the professionals who are so critical to our mission, and help with the education materials for parents and caregivers and the community. We take very seriously our role in helping children feel safe and loved.”

When the peace of a day is broken, the Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center is ever-present to help rebuild lives and futures.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 months ago

Children and the needy in Alabama Power’s Southern Division get holiday help

While the bustle of the holiday shopping season is in full force, members of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) Southern Division chapters joined in the shopping spirit (Contributed)

While the bustle of the holiday shopping season is in full force, members of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) Southern Division chapters joined in the shopping spirit, but not for themselves or family members. Instead, they spent time over the past two weeks buying and wrapping presents for children and families in need across central Alabama.

The Tallassee APSO chapter supported the Association of Christians in Tallassee for Service (ACTS) with gifts for 15 children. ACTS was created in the mid-1980s by a collection of area churches to assist those in need with food, clothing and shelter in Elmore and Tallapoosa counties. Each family received a box of dry goods to allow them to prepare a holiday meal, as well as a gift certificate from SuperFoods for a turkey or ham and cold goods, such as eggs and milk.

In Auburn, APSO supported the BigHouse Foundation’s Santa’s Workshop. BigHouse helps foster parents buy gifts for their foster children and serves families in Lee, Macon, Tallapoosa and Chambers counties.


In addition to the gift purchases, members volunteered time wrapping presents and staffing the Santa Workshop event at Cornerstone Church. At the event, foster parents selected from among donated items for their children. Employees volunteered their time to wrap presents to assist the Lee County Department of Human Resources (DHR). Auburn Power Delivery, Marketing and Accounting employees adopted a family in need in lieu of exchanging gifts.

“These are small but important ways we can help and support those in need throughout our communities,” said Melinda Landers, Auburn Business Office supervisor. “Every gift purchased or wrapped and the time donated is special, not only to those who will receive, but for us who are giving. The needs are great in our communities and we are blessed to be able to support one another.”

In Wetumpka, APSO sponsored a DHR Christmas Party with First Baptist Church, providing food and gifts for 51 children.

In Montgomery, the 16 children spending Christmas at the Family Sunshine Center will have their wish lists granted by members of the Montgomery APSO chapter. Gifts were bought and wrapped for each child. The Family Sunshine Center is a safe space for adults and children who have fled domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking. The center provides transitional, temporary housing, which supports victims in a variety of ways as they recover from trauma and prepare to transition back into the community.

Michelle Mann, Bankruptcy and Litigation senior specialist, organized the purchases and wrapping schedule for children at the Family Sunshine Center.

“We want those kids to know they are loved,” Mann said. “Our goal is to provide them with the hope and encouragement that they are special and valued and we support them.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)