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.

2 weeks ago

Alabama Court System about to resume jury trials after six month delay

(Pixabay, Paul Demarco/Facebook, YHN)

Throughout the pandemic, most of Alabama state government has continued to operate.

There are still state troopers patrolling the highways, elections held, unemployment compensation paid and the state parks have stayed open in a limited manner. Roads are still being paved and the state offices have been back up and running this summer.

Yet, one of the most important functions of any government has been on hold since the pandemic started and that is jury trials in the Alabama Court System.

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The past six months have seen the halt of jury trials to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but on September 14, the Alabama Supreme Court is allowing jury trials to proceed forward. There will be a lot of discretion given on a county by county basis on what happens at the local courthouses, including the wearing of masks, gloves, and distancing procedures.

Some counties are proceeding forward, while others will continue to delay jury trials. Criminal trials will be the priority for some circuits in the foreseeable future.

Even with the Court allowing jury trials to proceed, the question will be whether citizens will answer those summons and will they feel safe to serve on a jury. For those individuals who are summoned to serve on a jury, judges will maintain the discretion to excuse or defer an individual’s service.

For the justice system to operate fairly, it is important to return to allowing juries to convene and hear cases. However, it must be done in a manner that is safe for not only the judge and jury, but also to everyone in the courtroom from the prosecutors to the bailiffs and court reporters.

Let’s hope we can get back to the judicial branch operating as fully as it was before the pandemic, but in a safe manner for all involved.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives

3 months ago

While Alabama mourns another police officer killed in the line of duty, citizens must support law enforcement

(WVTM, Paul DeMarco/Facebook

With all that the nation and state have been through recently, what we cannot forget is another tragic murder of an Alabama police officer.

Moody Police Sergeant Stephen Williams was shot and killed in the line of duty two weeks ago after responding to a 911 call. Williams was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

Over the past 16 months, there have been nine members of state law enforcement that have been killed in the line of duty, an unprecedented and tragic number for Alabama.

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Violent attacks against public safety have not only increased across the nation these past few weeks, but years. Look at the attacks across our country that have left police officers injured and families suffering.

In addition, the violent rhetoric against police officers has gotten worse with some elected officials tacitly broad brushing the actions of some for all of law enforcement. Many cities around the country are now looking at defunding police office departments and reducing the number of officers. This misguided approach will harm those communities more vulnerable to the criminal element as police have less officers and tools to devote to the hardest-hit areas. We have seen what happens when police are not allowed to patrol, the void is filled with those that want to victimize innocent residents of those neighborhoods. Crime rates around the country have shot up and will continue to increase with efforts to limit the ability of police to protect the public.

Alabama citizens must work with state leaders to partner with public safety to protect against further violence that threaten those on the thin blue line. While other cities and states work against police, Alabama must ensure officers are given the resources to protect themselves and our communities.

Officers in Alabama have been vigilant and professional in the face of unprecedented pressure and they deserve our support now more than ever.

Other states may do differently, but Alabama must work harder to support law enforcement.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives

6 months ago

Alabama leaders must include small business owners in pandemic recovery policy

(Paul Demarco/Facebook)

As we watch the pandemic’s effect on public health, we pray first and foremost for scientists and physicians to find medications to treat the sick and prevent the healthy from falling ill. From UAB to the University of South Alabama Medical Center, Alabamians are not only helping those afflicted but seeking cures to this pandemic and we pray they’re successful.

Public safety and the well being of each American citizen regardless of age must be the number one priority for our elected officials at the state and national level. Yet, state leaders should also be thinking ahead to the eventual recovery to follow the defeat of the virus and plan accordingly.

In addition to the health crisis, the nation is also watching the devastation on the United States economy. President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have moved forward with legislation to attempt to mitigate the resulting damage to employers, employees and the markets.

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Yet, small business owners like Terry Humphryes, the owner of Billy’s Bar & Grill with locations in Jefferson and Tuscaloosa Counties, are working hard to survive the impact on their businesses. He has had to balance keeping his employees on the payroll, while also dealing with the impact of new regulations related to unemployment compensation and the Family Medical Leave Act effect on his restaurant. In addition, he has employees who now have children at home because schools are closed for the rest of the academic year. Mr. Humphryes’ story is the story of countless small business owners across our state facing uncertainty.

Most small business owners are dealing with the burden of being closed, while some larger competitors have remained opened. Small business proprietors are struggling to plan for the future without knowing when they will be allowed to reopen. Finally, business owners are uncertain as to what financial relief they may get to maintain or restart their companies.

Governor Ivey rightly created a state task force to immediately address public health due to the COVID-19 virus. The governor should now appoint a task force of those in the business and financial industry to address the state’s economic health as well. Stakeholders in the business community need to make recommendations on how the state handles the current economic crisis and moves forward in the future once we get this pandemic behind us.

It is critical small business owners be part of the discussions on how the state reacted during this crisis so that we will be better prepared for these situations in a future pandemic.

It is important for all of us to remember that small business owners employ the majority of Alabama working citizens. It is key to our economic recovery that the policymakers hear directly from those on the front line of the small business world.

Our nation will heal and Alabama has the ability to return to its strong economic success if we work together to support our neighbors. Let’s include everyone in putting those plans in place now for the benefit of its citizens so our actions in crisis are a model to the nation.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives