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.

2 weeks ago

Huntsville, Auburn named in list of 100 best places to live for 2020

(Wikicommons, Josh Hallett/Flickr, YHN)

In a world that has been turned upside down by a global pandemic, a pair of Alabama cities have been ranked in 2020 among the 100 best places to live in the United States: Huntsville and Auburn.

For the past seven years, has released a data-driven list of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live in America.” Livability crunches 40 data points to come up with the best small- to mid-sized cities in the U.S.

Every year, the list changes; the publication does surveys and studies, adjusts algorithms and adds in new variables and data points. Livibility stated this year’s circumstances that have been taken for granted have been replaced with a new set of questions about where and how we live:


  • What if you could work remotely and live anywhere?
  • What if paying thousands of dollars a month to live in a big, expensive city wasn’t worth it anymore?
  • What if the things that have always mattered — affordability, opportunity, safety, community — mattered more than ever?

Livability analyzed more than 1,000 small- to mid-sized cities on factors like safety, affordability, economic stability, outdoor recreation, accessibility and community engagement. This year’s list also included a new metric: an “opportunity score” used to determine each city’s landscape of opportunity, including variables like job numbers, broadband access, economic resilience and growth.

All of that data crunching settled on Huntsville and Auburn as two of the top 100 cities.

Huntsville (Population: 205,061)

The publication centered on the city’s notoriety of space.

“Known as the ‘Rocket City,’ Huntsville… has a thriving aerospace industry.”

Huntsville grew to notoriety during the 1960s space race and is now the fastest growing city in Alabama. But it isn’t all out space exploration and rocket science — Huntsville is a diverse city with a great food scene, repurposed buildings and history on every corner, Livability added.

The publication also cited the location of Huntsville’s two research universities  — The University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A&M University.

The website further pointed out that the cost of living in Huntsville is below the national average.

The article outlined specific highlights, such as the economy — with top industries in Huntsville being aerospace and military technology.

Also noted were local amenities:

  • Best Coffee Shop: Alchemy
  • Best Local Beer/Brewery: Yellowhammer Brewing’s Groovy Don’s Groovy IPA is a must-try.
  • Must-Have Meal: The BLT of Curtis Loew from the I Love Bacon Food Truck. Yes — Huntsville has an entire food truck devoted to bacon and it is just as amazing as it sounds.
  • Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Meet up with your group at any of the bars or eateries located inside of Campus 805, the “coolest middle school in the nation.”
  • Creative Hub: Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment is the largest, privately-owned arts facility in the South and the re-worked building now houses 150 working studios for more than 200 artists, seven art galleries, four performance venues, a multi-use theater and restaurants.
  • Favorite Weekend Activity: Huntsville is the craft beer capital of Alabama and the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail is the best way to sample what the city has to offer. Enjoy any (or all!) of the 11 local breweries on the map, including Rocket Republic BrewingStraight to Ale and Salty Nut Brewery.
  • Local Dream Job: Counselor at Space Camp, because who didn’t dream of being an astronaut when they grow up?

Auburn (Population: 64,620)

Of course, citing Auburn in a comparison of small- to mid-sized cities begins and ends with Auburn University.

The article cites Auburn as one of the best college towns in the South. The article mention it’s also an amazing place to live. This Alabama city is full of small-town charm, cozy traditions and, yes, lots of team spirit. Auburn’s location gives residents quick access to major cities in the surrounding area, like Atlanta, is close to Chewacla State Park and is just a few hours away from the beach. If all that wasn’t enough, the Auburn-Opelika area is one of the fastest-growing metros in the country.

Livability also notes affordable housing, an award-winning school system, and a growing business sector make life in Auburn appealing – not to mention the cultural and sports perks of living in a top college town.

Auburn University is the largest employer, and housing options span from the eclectic downtown and historic neighborhoods to the rapidly growing outskirts and amazing things to do. With courses like The Grand National in Opelika, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, the area is also known for great golf.

Nationally, the top 10 small- to medium-sized cities were shaped by colder environments:

  • Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Madison, Wisc.
  • Portland, Maine
  • Rochester, N.Y.
  • Ashville, N.C.
  • Overland Park, Kansas
  • Fargo, North, Dakota
  • Durham, N.C.
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Ray Garner is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News. He is the retired chief of staff to the president at The University of Alabama in Huntsville as well as the former business editor of The Huntsville Times. Ray also served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives.

10 months ago

Zellner will highlight UAH MLK commemoration


The University of Alabama in Huntsville will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Thursday, January 16, at 3 p.m. in Room 112 of the Student Services Building.

Bob Zellner will be the special guest and featured speaker during the commemoration program on the UAH campus. Zellner is the son and grandson of Ku Klux Klan members, but he risked his life – and nearly lost it – many times in the fight to achieve The Second Emancipation.


As an organizer of The Freedom Rides of 1961 and the first white southerner to serve as field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Rosa Parks and many other civil rights leaders.

Famous for battles with the KKK, segregationist lynch mobs and violent police, Zellner is now the individual that a new generation turns to with questions on the racial, historical and cultural assumptions on which they were raised, as they ask themselves, “What is my place in this struggle?”

Zellner captivates audiences with the untold stories of the Civil Rights Movement and his dedication to fighting for the rights of others. Drawing on decades of experience guiding the movement and his ongoing active role, he presents a modern-day message for combating deep-seated racism, discrimination and prejudice and sparking widespread social change.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville)

1 year ago

UAH to host 50th anniversary lunar landing events: Fireworks show will highlight week’s activities


The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) will host a variety of events and activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

UAH has played a key role in America’s space program since Marshall Space Flight Center Director Dr. Wernher von Braun helped create the university’s Research Institute in the early 1960s. Since that time, UAH has become a leading research university in aerospace engineering.

UAH ranks fifth in the nation in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, according to the National Science Foundation. The campus is also 11th in the U.S. in NASA-sponsored research, according to the NSF.


Anniversary events and activities include:

Sunday, July 14, 2 to 5 p.m.

Open House: UAH M. Louis Salmon Library Special Collections and Archives
The UAH Library Archives and Special Collections invite the north Alabama community to enjoy an afternoon of Apollo history from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event will include behind-the-scenes tours of the archives, a showing of documentary “When We Were Apollo.” The film’s producer Zach Weil will give a brief talk. There will be an opportunity to record personal memories of the Apollo 11 mission and a history exhibit curated by UAH Archives and Special Collections staff. Light refreshments with a 1960s theme will be served. This event is free and open to the public.

July 14-July 31

UAH Library Exhibit: “To Land on the Moon: Huntsville and the Apollo Program.” M. Louis Salmon Library Art Gallery
This exhibit highlights the roles of Huntsville and its inhabitants and their contributions to the early space race and the Apollo program. The majority of the materials on display are housed in UAH Special Collections and Archives.

July 15-19

Unguided Tours: Von Braun Research Hall, UAH campus
The North Alabama community is welcome to take unguided tours of Von Braun Research Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Posters line the walls of VBRH to chronicle the 20 years Dr. Wernher von Braun lived in Huntsville. Copies of Dr. Wernher von Braun’s speech to the Alabama Legislature creating the UAH Research Institute will be available.

July 19, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Radio Interview: UAH Head of Special Collections Reagan Grimsley talks Space History on Science Friday, on WLRH Radio 89.3 FM/HD and nationwide on National Public Radio.
Listen in as Science Friday host Ira Flatow interviews Reagan Grimsley, of UAH Special Collections and U.S. Space and Rocket Center Curator Ed Stewart on the topic of collecting space history. Segment was pre-taped on May 21 and will be broadcast as part of Science Friday’s Apollo 50th anniversary programming.

Saturday, July 20

Fireworks Display: UAH campus – 50th anniversary of the lunar landing
A fireworks show beginning at 8:30 p.m. will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. The North Alabama community is invited to park on the UAH campus for the show, which is expected to last 10 minutes.

(Courtesy the University of Alabama in Huntsville)