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.

4 weeks ago

Birmingham launches Parkside pop-up trail to support social distancing

(Orchestra Partners/Contributed)

Orchestra Partners and REV Birmingham have partnered to launch The Parkside Trail, a temporary conversion of First Avenue South into a car-free, multi-use trail modeled after The Open Streets Project.

Beginning Saturday, May 2, the First Avenue South corridor between 12th Street and 20th Street will be closed to vehicles and become a multi-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month of May. Orchestra Partners and REV Birmingham will be working with local retailers and restaurants to install pop-up activations along The Parkside Trail to reinforce walkability and provide businesses with more opportunities to generate revenue.

“Converting city streets into a multi-use trail is a great way to give Birmingham residents a space to practice social distancing while enjoying this great weather and supporting our local businesses,” said Hunter Renfroe, Orchestra Partners Co-Founder and Principal. “Promoting walkability is a core aspect of our mission at Orchestra Partners – and we’re proud to lead this initiative alongside partners who share our vision for a walkable urban center.”

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Founded in 2011, The Open Streets Project is a celebration of walkers, runners and cyclists taking back the streets from vehicles and demonstrating the demand for multi-modal infrastructure across the country. Forward-thinking cities such as Denver, Des Moines, Minneapolis and Oakland have recently implemented successful Open Street models to promote public health and safety during COVID-19.

Following the lead of these and other Open Streets concepts, The Parkside Trail, a natural western extension of the Rotary Trail, is not just a temporary relief measure during the pandemic, but a trial for a potential long-term solution for a safer, more walkable urban district.

“The Parkside Trail solves an immediate need for expanded exercise space as our community works together to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said David Fleming, REV Birmingham President and CEO. “But the beauty of this plan is that there’s a bigger picture, because we’re also testing a model that has worked in cities across the country well before this crisis. Open Streets is about reclaiming streets for pedestrians, cyclists and more to move through the city, which could bring a new kind of vibrancy to Birmingham once social-distancing exercise is no longer necessary.”

Introducing slower, pedestrian and bike-friendly streets has been a goal of city stakeholders like Orchestra Partners and REV Birmingham for years, and the pandemic has only increased the urgency to make Birmingham streets safer and more spacious for non-motorists. The project is being supported by the City of Birmingham Department of Transportation and the Birmingham Police Department to ensure public safety is a top priority. City officials urge residents to abide by the newly adopted face mask ordinance and follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Partners are installing educational signage and street paint in six-foot increments to guide social distancing.

“Safeguarding the health and safety of Birmingham residents is our primary goal,” said Rick Journey, City of Birmingham Director of Communications. “We are proud to see our community working together to provide innovative solutions that promote wellness and address challenges faced by COVID-19.”

The Parkside Trail is a timely extension of Orchestra Partner’s vision to transform the district into Birmingham’s central hub of connectivity, with mixed-use redevelopment plans slated for the historic Powell Avenue Steam Plant and soon to be developed Urban Supply District in the blocks immediately west of Regions Field.

To enhance these connections, Orchestra Partners continues to work with Freshwater Land Trust to leverage the Red Rock Trail System as a pathway of connection between Birmingham’s central business district and surrounding neighborhoods. Connecting with the Rotary Trail at 20th Street, The Parkside Trail will extend from the east to the west end of the Parkside District and help educate more citizens on the benefits of trails.

“Pop-up parks and trails are very effective at demonstrating how streets can be transformed when we prioritize walkability and urban green space,” said Carolyn Buck, Red Rock Trail System Director at Freshwater Land Trust. “We are excited for the unique experience The Parkside Trail will offer Birmingham residents and visitors this month.”

Orchestra Partners expects to announce more details on trail pop-up amenities throughout the month to support local businesses. The Parkside Trail will officially be open to the public on Saturday, May 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will remain open on Saturdays and Sundays during these hours through May 31.

Free public parking will be available in the Urban Supply parking lot at the corner of 13th Street and First Avenue South. For more information, visit www.parksidebham.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

Airbus donates face masks to Alabama health care workers

(Contributed)

Airbus has donated 40,000 face masks to health care workers along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, shared the news in a Facebook post Friday.

“Airbus is proud to answer the call to help the heroes in our community through the donation of 40,000 face masks to those on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 virus in Mobile and Baldwin counties,” Taylor wrote.

Taylor said the masks were delivered to the city of Mobile Fire & Rescue Department and the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency, which will distribute the masks in coordination with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

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“The Airbus team members in Mobile are grateful for our first responders and local health care professionals,” Taylor said in a statement to Alabama NewsCenter. “We are grateful we are able to contribute to their important work here on the Gulf Coast.”

The donation of face masks is just one of many ways the company is supporting first responders and health care workers around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement on its website, Airbus said many initiatives to help tackle the impact of COVID-19 involve Airbus-built aircraft. Employees are working on developing sustainable solutions to support governments worldwide – including the production of critical medical equipment.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

Alabama printer making face shields for health care workers

Michael Cuesta of Calagaz Printing wears a face mask the Mobile printing company is making for health care workers. (contributed)

An Alabama printing company focused on the restaurant industry has found a way to help health care workers and keep its business going during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Our director of sales, Michael Cuesta, came up with this idea that we can create face shields,” Calagaz said. “He presented a homemade prototype to me and then, along with our director of operations, we created six working prototypes. We then met with four area hospitals to get their feedback and, after some adjustments, we received orders and went into production mode.”

Calagaz said his company is gearing up to produce 5,000 face masks per day.

“In less than a week we created a prototype, met with hospitals, ordered materials and delivered the first 5,000 to Mobile’s four hospitals,” Calagaz said. “Kudos to our team for thinking outside the box and working hard to make this happen.”

Calagaz Printing in Mobile is a third-generation family-owned printing business. Joe Calagaz joined the company in 1991, a business his grandfather started in 1955. Calagaz said the community response this week has been amazing.

“Our entire team of 17 employees is honored to work and provide a solution for our health care workers,” Calagaz said. “We have a sense of pride and are grateful to have the means by which we can have an impact in this time of crisis.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

Birmingham Frontier Conference postponed due to COVID-19 concerns

(The Frontier Conference/Facebook)

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Frontier Conference 2020 has been postponed to ensure the safety and well-being of the conference’s multinational community of attendees.

The conference had been set for April 1-3 at The Lyric Theatre in Birmingham. Conference organizers have rescheduled to Sept. 14-16 at the same venue.

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“Our main concern is the safety and health of all who were participating and planning to attend this conference,” said Hank Torbert, CEO and founder of the Frontier Conference. “With participants and attendees planning to come from around the country, postponing the Frontier Conference is in the best interest of everyone’s well-being and frankly, the right thing to do.”

Torbert said the move to the fall is set.

“Our team has already confirmed new dates and we look forward to continuing our mission to gather innovative leaders from various industrial sectors to hear about best practices, share information and build new relationships,” he said.

With new conference dates being released, attendees who had already signed up will be notified and automatically signed up for the new dates. If attendees can no longer attend, they can either transfer the ticket to a colleague or request a refund.

For more information or to subscribe for updates about the Frontier Conference, visit TheFrontier.co.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 months ago

Birmingham-area community colleges to offer lineworker training

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

In Alabama, continuing to develop a well-trained workforce prepared with job-ready skills is a challenge for state leaders. Local community colleges are answering the call by providing technical training programs that prepare Alabamians to be skilled in the trades.

In 2019, Bishop State Community College in Mobile announced a partnership with Alabama Power to bring lineworker training to south Alabama. This training has expanded to central Alabama, as Jefferson State Community College and Lawson State Community College will offer lineworker training this spring.

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The purpose of the programs is to prepare students across Alabama communities for rewarding careers as lineworkers. Students can learn the fundamentals of electricity as well as the math and science knowledge needed to work on power lines.

The 9-week program prepares participants for jobs at Alabama Power and other utilities. Up to 15 students will be accepted to the program at each of the new locations.

“By partnering with local colleges on these programs, we’re able to provide quality training in Alabama communities,” said Tom McNeal, Southern Company Workforce Development Program manager. “We want to ensure that our state’s workforce has the job-ready skills to succeed not only for today, but for the future.”


Potential students who want to apply or learn more about the program should contact:

Jefferson State Center for Workforce Education

205-856-7917     *** Applications deadline, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020

Lawson State Workforce Development

205-925-2515     *** Applications deadline, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020

Bishop State Workforce Division

251-405-7082     *** Applications deadline, Wednesday, March 4, 2020

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 months ago

Detroit Mobility Lab’s Chris Thomas to speak at Frontier Conference 2020 innovation summit

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Chris Thomas, one of the nation’s leading experts on the next-generation mobility sector, will speak in Birmingham at Frontier Conference 2020, where more than 200 business, government and academic leaders will share information and best practices for industrial innovation.

Thomas is the co-founder and president of the Detroit Mobility Lab, which is working to help Detroit become one of the world’s foremost future mobility ecosystems. This sector includes autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicles, along with new transportation platforms including bike-, scooter-, and ride-sharing services.

The sector is also involved in making more traditional types of transportation, such as bus and train travel, more efficient and connected.

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The Detroit Mobility Lab is helping companies foster innovation while building a forward-thinking workforce that can bring expertise in artificial intelligence, robotics, connectivity, electrification and computer science to the automotive and broader mobility industry. The Mobility Lab’s mission of helping to facilitate innovation at industrial companies ties well to the theme of the Frontier Conference.

The conference, set for April 1-3 at The Lyric Theatre and Hill Event Center in Birmingham, is designed to share ideas among industries about everything from transportation logistics, to renewable energy’s impact on power generation, to leadership tips for forward-thinking industrial companies. The most recent Frontier Conference in 2018 attracted innovation leaders representing 130 organizations from 20 states and five countries, spanning 17 major industrial disciplines.

“It’s critical that industrial companies learn how to build and buy new technologies if they are to play a major part in the evolving field of mobility,” Thomas said. “Building the best teams, and giving them the ability to think differently, is critical to success, and I am excited to talk about these topics at the Frontier Conference.”

For Thomas, working on innovative ideas is a way of life. Before he co-founded the Detroit Mobility Lab, Thomas co-founded Fontinalis Partners, working to build it into one of the top investment firms in next-generation mobility.

While at Fontinalis, he served as a board member for nuTonomy (acquired by Aptiv in 2017) and as a board observer at Parkmobile (acquired by BMW in January 2018) and Life360 (IPO in May 2019). His background includes experience as a communications officer in the U.S. Army and as an investment banker in UBS’ technology and energy groups.

Based in Detroit, Thomas also advises a number of mobility startups around the globe, acts as a senior adviser to the COMMIT Foundation and is a member of the Global Cleantech 100 expert panel. He is also a co-owner of Buddy’s Pizza, the birthplace of original Detroit-style pizza, and an avid angel investor.

Thomas has served as the chairman of Read to a Child, a national children’s literacy and mentoring nonprofit, and as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Personal Transportation Systems.

For more information about the Frontier Conference, visit TheFrontier.co.

The Conference was founded by Hank Torbert, Kirk Coburn and Tim DeSilva. Torbert is an executive and investor focused on identifying and supporting emerging technologies for industrials. Coburn is an entrepreneur, investor and member of Shell’s corporate venture capital fund at Shell Technology Ventures (STV), focused on investing in both traditional oil and gas technologies and future markets. DeSilva is a brand architect and creative strategist, co-founder of Culture Pilot, and co-curator of event experiences such as TEDxHouston and Visualized NYC.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 months ago

Former Alabama Power CEO Elmer Harris dies at 80

Elmer Harris, left, was a champion of economic development at Alabama Power and led in the recruitment of companies like Mercedes-Benz to the state. (Alabama NewsCenter)

Elmer Harris, Alabama businessman, philanthropist and former CEO of Alabama Power, died Dec. 23.

Harris joined the Alabama Power in 1958 as an engineering co-op student at Auburn University. Following graduation, he spent 10 years in Alabama Power’s Southern Division in various engineering positions, while continuing his education and serving in the U.S. Air Force and Alabama National Guard.

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Harris went on to hold positions of increasing responsibility at Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Southern Company, before being named President and CEO of Alabama Power in 1990. He served 12 years as the company’s CEO prior to retiring in 2002 with 44 years of service.

“Elmer Harris was a strong and dynamic leader for our company. And, he possessed a strong interest and commitment to the growth and development of the state of Alabama,” said Tom Fanning, Southern Company CEO. “Elmer was very engaging and found creative solutions to many regulatory, community and company issues.”

A champion of economic development, Harris played a major role in creating the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) and was integral in bringing companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Boeing and Hyundai to the state.

In 1989, Harris created the Alabama Power Foundation, the largest corporate foundation in the state. During his tenure, the foundation invested nearly $60 million in projects benefitting Alabama communities. Thirty years later, the foundation continues to partner with nonprofits by providing volunteer, organizational, promotional and financial support.

“Elmer Harris worked at and led Alabama Power during an important period for our company and our state,” said Mark Crosswhite, Alabama Power CEO. “Our customers, and people across the state, continue to benefit from his leadership, which was always guided by a firm commitment to make Alabama a better place.”

Harris remained committed to community involvement even in retirement, serving on various civic and business boards, including the Alabama 4-H Council, Auburn University Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America, the board of trustees for Samford University, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, AmSouth Bancorporation and Junior Achievement.

A native of Clanton, Harris earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Auburn University. He also received a Master of Business Administration from Auburn. Harris received honorary doctoral degrees from Auburn, the University of Alabama Birmingham, Troy University, Faulkner University, Jacksonville University and Huntington College. During his military service, he attended the U.S. Air Force Flight School, Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base and Air War College.

Harris served as honorary consul general of Japan and was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall Of Fame in 1996 and Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 2007.

He and his wife, Glenda, had two children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 months ago

Alabama Legacy Moment: Marshall Space Flight Center

(NASA/Twitter)

Alabama Public Television is producing a series of videos titled “Alabama Legacy Moments” that offer a quick history of the people, places and stories that have defined Alabama. Done in conjunction with the ongoing bicentennial celebration of the state that concludes in December 2019, the short pieces should inspire you to learn more about the rich history of Alabama. “Alabama Legacy Moments”  are sponsored by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and the Alabama Broadcasters Association.

This “Legacy Moment” is Marshall Space Flight Center.

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6 months ago

Birmingham Housing Authority, city, Alabama Power announce Smart Neighborhood initiative

Alabama Power is partnering with the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District and the city to bring its Smart Neighborhood homes to Birmingham's 99 neighborhoods. (CCR Architecture and Interiors)

The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD), city of Birmingham, Alabama Power and local builders have formed a partnership to bring state-of-the-art, “smart” homes to Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods.

The new Smart Neighborhood builds will incorporate energy efficiency and home automation upgrades during the construction phase of housing units to help make energy use more affordable for low-income families and seniors.

“This is a great partnership with Alabama Power in an effort to provide energy-efficient, cutting edge amenities for families who seek affordable housing,” said HABD President and CEO Michael O. Lundy. “HABD looks forward to strengthening this partnership in the future to incorporate similar technology throughout our portfolio. We’re beyond excited that affordable housing residents will now have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of greener living thanks to the Smart Neighborhood initiative.”

The initiative includes the construction of more than 200 smart homes throughout Birmingham neighborhoods over the next three years. Sites will be provided by HABD with construction of the first homes expected to begin in 2020.

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“We’re very excited to join forces with the Housing Authority, Alabama Power and local entities for this vital project,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “Neighborhood revitalization has been a cornerstone of my administration and these energy-efficient upgrades are key to fulfilling that promise. Every resident of our 99 neighborhoods deserves to experience this life-changing technology and I’m thrilled that we are making strides to provide them.”

Alabama Power is using key findings from its award-winning research and demonstration Smart Neighborhood at Reynolds Landing in Hoover to provide local builders technical expertise on energy-saving measures and technology installations during the homes’ construction. Each home will be designed with energy upgrades that will measure 15 percent more efficient than current Alabama state building codes.

“We are excited to continue our internationally recognized Smart Neighborhood initiative with great partners in the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District and the city of Birmingham,” said Alabama Power Birmingham Division Area Manager Ralph Williams. “By applying our knowledge to the new affordable housing developments, these homes will provide residents greater efficiency and the ability to easily manage features through smart devices.”

In addition to construction enhancements, homes will feature high-efficiency heat pumps, hybrid water heaters, LED lighting, smart thermostats and security features such as doorbell cameras and smart sensors.

Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood initiative began in 2017 with a focus on providing innovative energy solutions for its customers. Building on the success of its flagship project in Hoover, the company launched the Smart Neighborhood Builder Program in 2018, which promotes energy efficiency through collaboration with homebuilders across the state. Three new neighborhoods are under construction across the state.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: President Warren Harding visits Birmingham for semicentennial celebration

(Alabama NewsCenter/Twitter)

Oct. 26, 1921

President Warren G. Harding’s visit to Birmingham on Oct. 26, 1921, was the highlight of a weeklong 50th anniversary celebration at Capitol Park (Now Linn Park). The president and first lady Florence King Harding, along with other dignitaries, took part in events celebrating the growth of Birmingham. Harding’s speech was notable because it was the first delivered by a sitting president in the South that called for political equality for African-Americans.

Harding and the first lady led a parade around the business district in a Premocar, manufactured by Preston Motors Corp. in Birmingham. After disembarking from the car at the Tutwiler Hotel, the president reviewed the remainder of the parade, which included Civil War veterans, National Guardsmen, industrial workers and the “Pioneers of 1861,” representatives of people living in the city when it was founded. It was estimated more than 100,000 people were on hand for the parade and in the park for the president’s speech.

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During the day, Harding made remarks at a luncheon in his honor, viewed a Fashion-Industrial Exposition and a mine-rescue demonstration, laid the cornerstone of the Masonic Temple and toured the city by car. He made his final appearance at the Pageant of Birmingham in Avondale Park.

Harding said Birmingham welcomed him with the “greatest, warmest and most enthusiastic reception” of his term in office.

Read more at Bhamwiki

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: First class of Alabama Academy of Honor announced

(NASA/Contributed)

Oct. 25, 1968

The first 14 members of the Alabama Academy of Honor were announced on Oct. 25, 1968, and inducted on Aug. 25, 1969. Each year, 10 members may be elected by the academy until its membership reaches 100. All living governors are automatically members of the academy.

Inspired by the Missouri Academy of Squires, UAB biochemistry professor Emmett Carmichael got the idea of creating an honorary society of living Alabamians in 1965 and proposed his plan to Gov. George Wallace. A bill was passed to create the academy during that legislative session, and Wallace signed it into law on Oct. 29, 1965. Little progress was made toward the establishment of the academy until 1968 when Gov. Albert Brewer agreed to appoint a nominating committee.

The first class included Winton Blount, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Jim Folsom Sr., A.G. Gaston, Lister Hill, Thomas Moorer, John Patterson, Frank Rose, Frank Samford Sr., Bertha Smolian, John Sparkman, Wernher von Braun, Wallace and Brewer.

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Read more at Bhamwiki and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

For more on Alabama’s bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: The latest USS Mobile brought into service

The fourth Navy ship to bear the name USS Mobile was a Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship. It served for 24 years from the Vietnam War through the first Gulf War. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photo courtesy of the United States Navy)

A half-century ago today, the fourth ship bearing the name of the port city of Mobile was christened for service in the US Navy.

A cargo ship, the USS Mobile went into immediate service for the Vietnam War and supported more than a dozen missions. With a helicopter platform and powerful cranes, the Mobile was well-suited to support the buildup and execution of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

The Navy decommissioned the Mobile in 1994 and sent it on to a maintenance facility at the port of Philadelphia.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 months ago

Final designs are in for new $174 million Birmingham stadium

(Populous/Contributed)

Designs are done on the new $174 million Protective Life Stadium that will soon dominate the eastern edge of the BJCC campus in downtown Birmingham.

Project architect Populous presented the final designs to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex board of directors Wednesday, a week after the Birmingham Design Review committee approved materials and other components of the plan.

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“I’m happy to be able to present these designs to our board,” said Tad Snider, executive director and CEO of the BJCC Authority. “Each step in this process brings us closer to a completed stadium. The team at Populous are industry leaders in human-centered design and have done a wonderful job with this project. They’ve designed Protective Stadium with a clear understanding of what has worked well – and what hasn’t – for other facilities around the world.”

Exterior designs include lush landscaping and focus on connecting the new stadium with surrounding facilities like the BJCC, Uptown Entertainment District and Topgolf. Inside amenities will include modern concession areas, restaurants and bars, suites and premium club lounges.

Kansas City-based Populous has designed more than 150 college stadiums and the one for Birmingham incorporates that experience.

“We are building the next-generation stadium designed for the 21st century fans,” said Jim Swords, Populous principal architect on the Protective Stadium project. “We are facing a shift in what fans want out of their ticketed experience. For today’s sports consumer, it’s all about the experience, which is exactly what Protective Stadium will provide.”

The designs were met with enthusiasm.

“Populous has met and exceeded expectations at every turn, and we look forward to bringing our shared vision to life with them and all of the local partners on the project,” said Dennis Latham, BJCC Authority board chairman. “We are ready to move forward and continue with the rapid progress we have made thus far.”

UAB will make the new stadium its home field, moving from Legion Field.

“This is a monumental day for UAB Football and the entire city of Birmingham,” said UAB coach Bill Clark. “Protective Stadium is a huge step in our vision of making this program a national contender every single year, and we would like to thank everyone who has made our future home possible. Birmingham is growing together and adding a world-class stadium in the heart of downtown will provide incredible value for our entire city.”

The BJCC Authority, the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Protective Life Corporation and UAB are providing the primary funding for the Protective Stadium.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

8 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama legislature ratified the 19th Amendment

(Encyclopedia of Alabama/Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Sept. 19, 1953

The fight for the right for women to vote officially ended in 1920 when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In Alabama, there was an active suffragist movement, led by the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, but opposition by some Alabama groups resulted in the legislature not taking up the amendment, and after Tennessee signed on the issue was moot. Thirty-three years later, the legislature decided to “record its approval of extending the right of suffrage to women” and officially ratified the 19th Amendment. Although the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association dissolved in 1920, many of its leaders and members joined the newly founded League of Women Voters, which remains active today in Alabama elections.

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9 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: Talladega Superspeedway held first race

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Sept. 13, 1969

Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR, helped created the Talladega Superspeedway in the late 1960s at a time most major tracks were located along the Atlantic Coast. France wanted a track more centrally located in the Southeast and chose a 2,000-acre site off Interstate 20 near the town of Talladega. Track construction began in May 1968, and the facility opened the next year as the Alabama International Motor Speedway. The first race, the Bama 400, was held on this day in 1969. Talladega is NASCAR’s largest race track and typically produces the fastest race speeds in the circuit. The Superspeedway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a $50 million “Transformation” project that includes a new infield fan zone and garages.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

9 months ago

Follow these tips for a safe Labor Day weekend on and off the water

(Pixabay,YHN)

Labor Day weekend is here and we know many of you are heading to the lake for the long weekend. Whether boating, fishing, swimming or just relaxing by the water, keep safety a priority with these quick tips:

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10 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: LBW Community College named in Andalusia

(Wikicommons)

Aug. 15, 1968

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College was founded in Andalusia and named for the first female governor of Alabama. The Alabama State Board of Education authorized a junior college in Andalusia in 1967 and selected Lurleen B. Wallace Junior College as its name on Aug. 15, 1968. Now known as Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, the school has facilities in in Andalusia, Greenville, Opp and Luverne.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: Astronaut Jan Davis launched her last space flight

(NASA/Contributed)

Aug. 7, 1997

Astronaut Jan Davis boarded her last flight into space on the Discovery, completing 189 orbits and traveling 4.7 million miles. She joined NASA in 1979 as an aerospace engineer after receiving her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University, and earned a master’s (1983) and Ph.D (1985) in mechanical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Before retiring, Davis logged a total of 11 million miles in space, circling the earth 445 times for 673 hours.

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Read more at the Encyclopedia of Alabama

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: Selma Army Air Base became active

Cadets R.J. Neal and G.D. Mabds climb into their pursuit plane at Craig Field, Southeastern Air Training Center, Selma, 1941. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

Aug. 4, 1940

What is now known as Craig Field Airport and Industrial Complex was initially known as Selma Army Air Base. The facility became active on this day in 1940 and was used to train pilots for World War II. For 37 years, it served as a training facility for the United States Army Air Corps. It now operates as a general-aviation airport for Selma residents.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: Lee Petty raced his sons

(Alabama NewsCenter/Twitter)

Aug. 3, 1960

Lee Petty was an American stock car racing driver and one of NASCAR’s first superstars. He won the NASCAR Grand National Series drivers championship three times. On this day in 1960, he raced against his sons, Richard and Maurice, for the first and only time at Dixie Speedway in Birmingham. Richard Petty finished second, while Lee placed third. Richard Petty became one of the most successful stock car racing drivers in history.

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Read more at On This Day.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

10 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: Sparkman named Adlai Stevenson’s running mate

Alabama delegation. Seated (L-R): Sen. John Bankhead; Speaker Bankhead; Sen. Lister Hill. Standing (L-R) Pete Jarman; Frank William Boykin; Henry Bascom Steagall; Joe Starnes; John J. Sparkman; Sam Hobbs; Luther Patrick, c. 1937. (Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

July 26, 1952

On this day, U.S. Sen. John Sparkman of Alabama was named the Democratic vice presidential running mate of Adlai Stevenson. The Democratic Convention ratified the choice of Sparkman, even though he had supported Georgia U.S. Sen. Richard Russell for president. Stevenson and Sparkman lost the election that fall to Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. Sparkman, born on a farm in Hartselle in Morgan County, graduated from the University of Alabama and its law school. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1936, serving until 1946 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1979. During his 42 years in Congress, he became known as one of the nation’s most skilled legislators.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Sparkman and his running mate, Adlai Stevenson, meet with President Harry Truman during Stevenson’s presidential campaign in August 1952. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Courtesy of National Archives)

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

11 months ago

Jasper goes green with new trees as part of historic city center revitalization

(Cierra Juett/Alabama NewsCenter)

By Cierra Juett

Good Roots are being planted in Jasper. The historic downtown is being revitalized and beautified with the help of new trees, as part of plans to attract new businesses and people to the area.

Over the years, Jasper’s downtown business district suffered a downturn as businesses relocated to the surrounding highways.

In response, nonprofits such as Jasper Main Street, downtown Jasper’s revitalization organization, implemented a plan to enliven the downtown area of the 132-year-old city. That plan is now paying off, with new commercial activity drawing people to the city’s historic core.

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As part of the plan, which launched June 1, 2015, the city established an entertainment district, among other initiatives. To date, 23 new businesses have located downtown, creating over 100 jobs and generating over $5 million in economic activity, said Mike Putman, Executive Director of Jasper Main Street.

Contributing to the success are trees, planted with the support of  Good Roots grants. An initiative of the Alabama Power Foundation, Good Roots helps pay for trees to be planted in communities across Alabama by nonprofits, schools, counties and municipalities. Within the last year, Walker County has been awarded eight Good Roots grants, with four supporting downtown Jasper.  Others in the area that have benefited from Good Roots grants are the Beacon House, Jasper City Schools and Bevill State Community College.

One element of the downtown project is redevelopment of the streetscape. “The streetscape project has been going on for the last five years: redoing the streets, sidewalks and planting trees,” said Britton Lightsey, manager of Alabama Power’s Jasper business office and a member of the Jasper Economic Vitality Committee. Lightsey said the project continues to expand as resources become available.

And folks are taking notice, Lightsey said, based on a recent survey given to Jasper residents and people who live outside the city, “There were over 1,100 surveys completed, and over 82 percent of people who took the survey said downtown Jasper was improving or making progress.” He said information gathered through the survey will be used to develop an updated plan, designed to continue the progress over the next five years.

The current progress in the downtown area has positively impacted its newest business, Thairapy Salon and Spa. “We were just excited about all of the new businesses and all the new work that was being put into downtown Jasper,” said Cindy Madison, the salon’s co-owner. Madison says their business has increased since their opening in March, attracting at least five new clients a week.

And coming this fall is Libby’s This and That! Libby Grimmett, co-owner of Thairapy Salon and Spa, will be bringing antiques, handcrafted items and seasonal supplies to downtown Jasper.

Yet another sign that, along with the new trees, downtown Jasper is growing and sprouting new life.

Applications are now available through the Alabama Power Foundation for the next round of Good Roots grants. The deadline to apply is July 31. For more information, go to www.powerofgood.com. Click “Grants” and then “Good Roots Grants.”

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

12 months ago

On this day in Alabama history: Tuskegee Airmen fought their first air battle

(Alabama NewsCenter)

June 9, 1943

It was an “experiment” that many in the military resisted: train African Americans to be military flyers. But with pressure from the NAACP, the African American press and support from then-first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and others, the Army on the eve of World War II began training African Americans to fly at Tuskegee Institute in Macon County. On June 9, 1943, the “Tuskegee Airmen” of the 99th Fighter Squadron were escorting Allied bombers over the island of Pantelleria, near Sicily, when four German fighters attacked from above. It was the first time the squadron faced air combat. Five of the American fighters pursued the enemy, while eight stayed with the bombers. Despite the surprise attack from a seasoned enemy, the unit suffered no losses. The Tuskegee Airmen would go on to distinguish themselves in two wars, paving the way for full integration of the Armed Forces.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama or the American Battle Monuments Commission.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

1 year ago

Alabama statewide home sales in April up 4.4 percent from one year ago

(YHN/Wikicommons)

By: ACRE Research

Sales: Alabama statewide home sales totaled 5,820 units during April, up 4.4 percent from 5,574 sales in the same month a year earlier. April sales were up 9.2 percent compared to 5,330 sales in March. Results were 25.5 percent above the five-year April average of 4,636 sales. Two more resources to review: Quarterly Report and Annual Report.

For all statewide housing data, click here.

Inventory: Homes listed for sale statewide during April totaled 21,481 units, a decrease of 10.7 percent from April 2018’s 24,055 units, but an increase of 2.2 percent from March 2019’s 21,017 units. April’s months of supply totaled 3.7 months, a decrease of 14.5 percent from April 2018’s 4.3 months of supply. April’s months of supply also decreased from March’s 3.9 months of supply.

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Pricing: The statewide median sales price in April was $160,283, an increase of 3.2 percent from one year ago and a decrease of 1.3 percent from the prior month. This direction is not consistent with historical data (2014-18) indicating that the April median sales price on average increases from March by 4.2 percent. The homes selling in April spent an average of 93 days on the market (DOM), a decrease of 2.2 percent from 96 days in April 2018. The statewide DOM average in April was five days less than March. This indicator can fluctuate from month to month because of the sampling size of data and seasonal buying patterns.

Forecast: April sales were 5,820 units or 10.9 percent above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE projected 5,248 sales for the month, while actual sales were 5,820 units. ACRE forecast a total of 18,061 residential sales year-to-date in 2019, while there were 18,727 actual sales through April, a difference of 3.7 percent.

ACRE’s statewide perspective: While nationwide residential sales dropped 1 percent in April, demand for housing in Alabama remained strong. Statewide residential sales increased 4.4 percent from 5,574 closed transactions in April 2018 to 5,820 in April 2019. Year-to-date, sales increased 3.8 percent from 2018. Home price appreciation in the state continued to climb as the median sales price in April increased 3.2 percent year-over-year from $155,250 to $160,283. The statewide median sales price is also up 3.2 percent year-to-date. Although nationwide inventory levels are trending upward, Alabama’s residential listings decreased 10.7 percent from one year ago. Low inventory levels were a significant factor contributing to rising sales prices throughout 2018 and in the spring buying season of 2019. With low inventory levels, it is not surprising to see homes selling more quickly than in previous years. Homes selling in Alabama during April spent an average of 93 days on the market, an improvement of three days from April 2018.

NAR’s national perspective: During April, total existing-home sales nationwide declined 1.1 percent from approximately 460,000 closed transactions one year ago to 455,000 currently. The nationwide median existing-home price increased 3.6 percent in April, marking 86 consecutive months of year-over-year gains. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said, “First, we are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy, so buyers will look to take advantage of these conditions. Also, job creation is improving, causing wage growth to align with home price growth, which helps affordability and will help spur more home sales.”

Click here to view the entire monthly report.

The Alabama Residential Monthly Report is developed in conjunction with the Alabama Association of Realtors and its local associations.

Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter