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.

10 hours ago

Merrill: Alabama’s ‘greatest champion and favorite son’ Richard Shelby delivers once again

(Senator Richard Shelby/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill on Wednesday released a statement praising U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby’s role (R-AL) in the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

Merrill also touted the overall leadership being provided to the nation by Trump, as well as the work Governor Kay Ivey is doing for the Yellowhammer State.

Shelby is Alabama’s longest serving senator, and his accomplishments for his home state are well recognized by political observers. Merrill outlined that the COVID-19 stimulus package is merely the latest example of Shelby delivering for his fellow Alabamians.

“Our state is incredibly lucky to have leaders who are willing to step up to the plate and go to bat for Alabama, which is precisely what Senator Shelby has done,” Merrill stated.

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“The historic coronavirus relief package recently appropriated to the states would not have been possible without the leadership and guidance of Senator Shelby,” he continued. “How do I know this? I know this to be true because those words came straight from Senator Mitch McConnell and his team. When liberal extremists pushed their agenda, Senator Shelby drew a line in the sand and said, ‘no farther!’”

There were reports that Democrats were trying to insert provisions related to the Green New Deal into the package, as well as voting measures championed by the left that Merrill and others believed could have jeopardized election security and increased voter fraud.

“I am most grateful for the $400 million provided by Congress to protect the 2020 elections. I am also thankful for the provisions that allow each state to do what is best for that state,” Merrill commented.

He said, “Senator Shelby and his team have been receptive and engaged in finding proactive solutions to ensure the safety and security of our elections are not compromised.”

“After countless calls from me and other election officials from across the country, Senator Shelby made it a priority to see that states were granted the flexibility to best accommodate their respective communities under the bill’s stipulations,” the secretary of state added. “Unlike others who have attempted to implement nationwide election changes – many that would increase the likelihood for voter fraud and voter intimidation to be committed – Senator Shelby has proven yet again that federal interference into the elections process in unwarranted and unnecessary.”

Merrill concluded by lauding the stalwart service of Shelby, as well as casting an optimistic and unifying message as the nation continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“While we work to get through these trying times, we must remember there is much to be grateful for, such as the collaboration of federal, state and local officials across the country who are working together to provide assistance to those who are most in need,” he advised.

“At the forefront of this fight, finding a solution to the problems we face is Alabama’s Senior Senator, our greatest champion and favorite son, United States Senator Richard C. Shelby!” Merrill concluded.

RELATED: ‘From Alabama to the Moon’ — Richard Shelby is the driving force making America’s space dreams a reality

Merrill’s full statement as follows:

As we navigate these unchartered waters, we must remember that Alabama has a lot to be grateful for.

The leadership exemplified by state and national leaders like President Donald J. Trump, United States Senator Richard Shelby and Governor Kay Ivey should not go unnoticed.

Our state is incredibly lucky to have leaders who are willing to step up to the plate and go to bat for Alabama, which is precisely what Senator Shelby has done.

The historic coronavirus relief package recently appropriated to the states would not have been possible without the leadership and guidance of Senator Shelby.

How do I know this? I know this to be true because those words came straight from Senator Mitch McConnell and his team. When liberal extremists pushed their agenda, Senator Shelby drew a line in the sand and said, ‘no farther!’

I am most grateful for the $400 million provided by Congress to protect the 2020 elections. I am also thankful for the provisions that allow each state to do what is best for that state.

Senator Shelby and his team have been receptive and engaged in finding proactive solutions to ensure the safety and security of our elections are not compromised.

After countless calls from me and other election officials from across the country, Senator Shelby made it a priority to see that states were granted the flexibility to best accommodate their respective communities under the bill’s stipulations.

Unlike others who have attempted to implement nationwide election changes – many that would increase the likelihood for voter fraud and voter intimidation to be committed – Senator Shelby has proven yet again that federal interference into the elections process in unwarranted and unnecessary.

While we work to get through these trying times, we must remember there is much to be grateful for, such as the collaboration of federal, state and local officials across the country who are working together to provide assistance to those who are most in need.

At the forefront of this fight, finding a solution to the problems we face is Alabama’s Senior Senator, our greatest champion and favorite son, United States Senator Richard C. Shelby!

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

Sessions: ‘Godless communist Chinese government’ lied about coronavirus — ‘Evil regime’

(Jeff Sessions/Twitter)

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday morning released a scathing statement bashing the governing regime of the People’s Republic of China for its role in sparking the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sessions’ statement accompanied an announcement that he would incrementally over the coming weeks be unveiling a proposed strategic plan for the United States to confront the communist leadership of China.

The plan is entitled, “Betting on America: Standing up to China’s cold-blooded drive for power.” Sessions, a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate seat he formerly held, stressed that he has warned of the dangers inherent in a weak American strategy toward China, including the military, diplomatic, economic and personal security threat posed by the adversarial regime.

Sessions to begin stated, “The Coronavirus pandemic makes clear how deceitful, brutal, and ruthless the godless communist Chinese government is. They lied about the disease, covered it up, suppressed and imprisoned truth-tellers, and outrageously suggested the Chinese virus was an American conspiracy. This is an evil regime, plain and simple.”

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“To be clear, the adversary here is the action of the Chinese Communist Party, not the people of China,” he continued.

Remainder of Sessions’ statement as follows:

The Coronavirus pandemic makes clear how deceitful, brutal, and ruthless the godless communist Chinese government is. They lied about the disease, covered it up, suppressed and imprisoned truth-tellers, and outrageously suggested the Chinese virus was an American conspiracy. This is an evil regime, plain and simple. To be clear, the adversary here is the action of the Chinese Communist Party, not the people of China.

America must now fundamentally reset our relationship with China. This is no time for half-measures or a slap on the wrist. This Chinese-made global health crisis should be a wake-up call. China is lying and people are dying. Enough is enough.

Our real objective must be to obliterate America’s dependence on China. And make no mistake, we have become dependent on this ruthless communist Chinese government. For too long, big business elites in Washington and on Wall Street have cozied up to the Chinese because it made them rich, while thousands of Americans lost their jobs. This. Must. Stop.

I’ve been fighting to hold China accountable; often, it has been a very lonely fight. But now, anyone who believes that this global pandemic, and possible global recession, is not the fault of the communist Chinese government is either completely ignorant of the facts, or is willfully and purposefully perpetuating a lie.

The world has now seen clearly how this communist regime has blatantly lied on a great matter of life and death. But now we must also focus resolutely on their openly announced plan for economic growth and military domination that is also being advanced by lies, theft, and cheating. The days of giving the communist Chinese government a free pass are over.

Sessions is set to roll out the first plank of his plan on Wednesday.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

Alabama-based Jack’s Family Restaurants chain raising money for coronavirus relief

(Jack's/Facebook)

Local Jack’s Family Restaurants across the South are now asking guests to join their efforts in raising funds to support organizations and families in crisis as a result of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Through the brand’s 501(c)(3) foundation, the Jack’s Family Fund, guests are invited to make a donation with every order.

Jack’s has partnered with several local media affiliates, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Mayfield Dairy Farms, the University of Alabama, Lamar Advertising Company and THINC Advertising to assist in their efforts through grants, in-kind support and other financial donations.

The endeavor began last week and continues a storied history of community involvement and charitable giving for Jack’s, which was founded in 1960 in Homewood, Alabama, as Jack’s Hamburgers. The company has grown from a walk-up hamburger stand that served burgers, fries, sodas and shakes to a powerhouse with 180 locations in four states.

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“At Jack’s we have always focused on supporting our communities in meaningful ways, especially in times of need, and we want to make sure no one goes without during this unprecedented time,” Jack’s CEO Todd Bartmess said in a statement.

“In the South, we take care of each other and appreciate that our partners and vendors share this vision and are committed to helping those who are hardest hit by COVID-19,” Bartmess added.

Throughout its 60-year history, Jack’s Family Restaurants has also supported its local communities by donating food to local schools, hosting fundraisers, partnering with area organizations to serve those in need and much more.

Jack’s has released a video ad spreading awareness for the company’s coronavirus relief efforts.

Watch:

Donations can be made to the cause online here.

You can also follow along with the company’s efforts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 days ago

‘We Are Magic’: Video highlights resilience of Birmingham in face of coronavirus, urges support of local businesses

(Telegraph Creative/YouTube)

Birmingham-based Telegraph Creative on Sunday released a moving video entitled, “We Are Magic,” showcasing the spirit of optimism, unity and hope that Magic City residents are displaying in the face of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Coronavirus continues to impact the city in unprecedented — and sometimes devastating — ways, but Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, who narrated the video, praised locals for being “people who dig deep and don’t quit.”

Woodfin pledged that “we will thrive the only way we know how — by lifting each other up, and helping our neighbors.”

In keeping with the theme of the project, every aspect of the video is local.

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Just over two minutes in length, the video was shot in Birmingham and features local talent, businesses and business owners, as well as music by a local musician. Some recognizable faces include Ezekiel Hameen from Z’s Restaurant; Chris and Idie Hastings from Hot and Hot Fish Club; Andrew Collins from Cayo Coco; Tim Hontzas from Johnny’s; and Kristen Hall and Victor King from The Essential and Bandit.

Telegraph Creative CEO Cliff Sims advised that the company created the video as a way to bring people together at a time when everyone is having to keep their distance in an effort to stop the virus from spreading. To keep all involved parties safe and healthy, social distancing rules were observed during the making of the video.

“These are difficult and uncertain times. We are fighting an invisible enemy that’s tearing through our communities, and it’s taking a toll on all of us,” Sims said in a statement.

“Our team created this video to show the spirit of unity that’s building, even in the midst of hardship — people buying a little extra to support local shops, tipping a little more to help out their favorite restaurants, and smiling a little longer to comfort a stranger across the street. Mayor Woodfin perfectly sums it up when he says, ‘The real magic of the Magic City is us, together. Even when we’re apart.’ The spirit of Birmingham is unbreakable,” he concluded.

Watch:


Full video transcript as follows:

They call her “The Magic City.”

She earned the name because
she rose up from nothing, seemingly overnight,
forging a place of her own.
Birmingham rising
was truly a thing to behold.

On downtown streets born from industry,
where neighborhood shops line the same cobblestone alleys,
Birmingham’s history looms over her present,
like an inventor over her apprentice,
imploring us to keep the magic alive.

Birmingham’s magic is more than a nickname.
It’s the people who dig deep and don’t quit,
with the grit and determination to build something incredible.
It’s the steel-clad bonds that make a community,
and an iron will to survive.

If we have learned anything, it’s that
the spirit of Birmingham is unbreakable.
And we will thrive the only way we know how —
by lifting each other up, and helping our neighbors.

The real magic
of the Magic City
is us, together.
Even when we’re apart.

We are Birmingham.
We are magic.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 days ago

Merrill outlines how Alabama will spend election-related federal stimulus money

(J. Merrill/Twitter)

Included in the recently enacted $2 trillion federal coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus package was $400 million to be allocated to the states to protect the integrity of the nation’s electoral process.

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill’s office on Monday released information detailing that the Yellowhammer State will receive $6,473,611, which will further be matched 20% by the secretary of state’s office ($1,294,723) for a total of $7,768,334.

This funding will cover both the primary runoff on July 14 as well as the general election on November 3.

“Our intentions are to use this funding to reimburse counties for various preparation and election expenses including, but not limited to, masks, gloves, disinfectant spray, hand-sanitizer, alcohol wipes, and professional cleaning services to return the polling places back to their safe and sanitary pre-election condition,” the secretary of state’s office stated.

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An application for county commissions to request reimbursement will be provided on the official website of the secretary of state’s office as soon as the money is made available to the State.

Additionally, $900,000 of the total will be allocated to reimburse absentee election managers for increased costs resulting from the lengthened absentee voting period, and $1,000,000 will be used to compensate poll workers with an additional $25.00 on Election Day.

“I am extremely grateful for the leadership displayed by Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Richard Shelby and for their listening to the concerns I expressed as well as the advice and guidance provided by other chief election officials from across the country. It is important that those at the state and local level are granted the flexibility to address the needs of their respective communities,” Merrill said.

“This funding will protect the health and safety of our voters, poll workers, and others involved in the electoral process,” he added. “I also appreciate the assistance provided by Governor Kay Ivey’s Office, the State Comptroller’s Office, and the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.”

Reports of state spending will be submitted to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for full transparency and public inspection. All resources must be expended for these purposes no later than December 31, 2020, Merrill’s office advised.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 days ago

Community holds ‘Park and Pray’ twice daily at East Alabama Medical Center — ‘God is in this’

(Tara Albright/Facebook)

Lee County has been one of the hardest hit areas by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Alabama, and members of the community are rallying around medical professionals who are battling on the front lines against the disease.

RELATED: Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins in hospital with coronavirus

As reported first by WSFA, Alabamians from around the Opelika area are holding a “Park and Pray” twice per day in support of the hospital staff at East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC).

At 7:00 a.m. and then again at 7:00 p.m. CT, community members begin 30 minutes of prayer while parked in the hospital’s deck. Afterwards, everyone flashes their vehicle lights as a show of encouragement for the staff, who can view the event from hospital windows.

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EAMC Chaplain Laura Eason is reportedly helping to organize the powerful effort, however the idea originally came from a friend of hers.

”It has just mushroomed and just snowballed into this incredible, incredible thing,” Eason told WSFA.

Registered nurse Madeline Vick captured a video from inside the hospital on Thursday of that night’s Park and Pray. The moment, she told the TV network, gave her chills.

However, the community is apparently doing much more than just the Park and Pray to lift up the hospital staff. People have also brought signs, rocks and bricks with messages of support, as well as providing meals. Anyone wishing to sponsor a meal for the staff can contact either the Auburn Chamber of Commerce or the Opelika Chamber of Commerce.

”This entire community has been unbelievably supportive with so many things,” Vick said.

“These last few days have been really tough and, and it’s gonna get tougher, and so having the community behind us, having the churches and so many people of faith praying for that, in and of itself gives us strength, encouraged to keep on going,” she added. “Just knowing that God is in this and helping keep us safe, and providing protection over our patients in our community and our staff here. Again, it’s been incredible.”

You can watch the full feature from WSFA here.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Alabama attorney general partners with Facebook to combat price gouging during coronavirus pandemic

(Attorney General Steve Marshall/Facebook, YHN)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Friday announced a partnership with Facebook to combat “unconscionable” online price gouging of Alabamians during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Marshall last week announced that Alabama’s price gouging law is now in effect due to the issuance of a State Public Health Emergency by Governor Kay Ivey on March 13.

The Facebook partnership unveiled Friday is the first announcement by Marshall in a comprehensive new effort to enlist the nation’s largest technology companies to stem the tide of price gouging of consumers seeking to protect themselves from coronavirus.

“There is no question that unscrupulous operators are trying to take advantage of Alabamians looking to buy basic necessities to protect and sustain themselves and their families during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic,” Marshall stated.

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“What’s more, much of that illegal activity is centered online because many consumers find it easier to purchase supplies on the internet due to lack of local availability or self-quarantining. As my office seeks ways to protect our consumers, I am pleased to announce that Facebook is one of several major e-commerce platforms to respond to my call to participate in a coordinated effort to identify and shutdown online price gouging,” he continued.

Facebook has reportedly pledged to work directly with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office to review and remove, as necessary, potential price gouging listings and advertisements from its site. The company has already committed to take proactive steps to fight price gouging and deception, including banning advertising or sale of medical masks, hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 testing kits, as well as prohibiting products that imply a cure or claim to prevent people from contracting the virus.

“Facebook truly appreciates Attorney General Marshall’s work to combat price gouging online,” said Will Castleberry, vice president of state and local public policy for Facebook. “Facebook is focused on preventing exploitation of this crisis for financial gain and will continue working closely with attorneys general to remove violating content.”

Although what constitutes an unconscionable price is not specifically set forth in Alabama state law, a price that is 25% or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days — unless the increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity — is a prima facie case of unconscionable pricing, per Marshall’s office.

The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama.

Alabamians who want to file an illegal price gouging report are encouraged to do so online here or by calling 1-800-392-5658 to receive a form by mail to complete and return.

Marshall expects to soon announce more partnerships with other technology companies who have also agreed to work with his office to combat price gouging in the Yellowhammer State.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Alabama credit unions ‘remain open and ready to serve’ during coronavirus pandemic

(Wikicommons, YHN)

Credit unions in Alabama continue to work diligently to meet the financial needs of the states’ families and businesses during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Alabama Credit Union Association (ACUA), an affiliate of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU), on Friday outlined in a release some important information on behalf of the member credit unions ACUA represents in Alabama.

“Alabama’s credit unions remain open and ready to serve their members during this difficult time,” stated Patrick La Pine, LSCU CEO. “Credit unions are integral parts of their communities – and they understand the challenges their members face. During this trying time, Alabama credit unions will continue to do what they’ve always done: help consumers, families, businesses and communities through their challenges. Credit unions are also doing everything possible to make sure their teams are safe while still offering personalized service.”

ACUA’s release emphasized that financial institutions are prepared and able to be a source of strength for the communities they serve.

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Additionally, the release outlined that money is safe in National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured financial institutions.

  • Not a penny of deposits insured by NCUA has ever been lost.
  • The safest place for our money is in an insured depository institution.
  • Up to $250,000 is the basic amount covered by federal insurance for single amounts at
    any insured institution. Additional coverage may be available depending on the account type and structure.
  • NCUA insurance coverage details are accessible here.

“The Alabama Credit Union Administration is continually communicating with credit unions to offer assistance during this pandemic,” said Greg McClellan, administrator of the Alabama Credit Union Administration. “Credit unions are insured by the NCUA up to $250,000. Credit unions we have been in contact with have been striving to provide excellent service to their members, and we continue to provide assistance to them.”

ACUA advised that consumers and businesses should know the following:

  • Credit unions are working proactively with borrowers experiencing challenges in the current
    environment.

    • Each credit union is eager to work with you for a solution customized to your situation
  • Financial institutions have responded positively to all Gov. Kay Ivey’s and President Donald Trump’s directives. Furthermore, business continuity plans were already in place and are being exercised.
  • Lobby access may be restricted at certain credit unions, but we’re open for business (check your financial institution’s webpage or LSCU’s list of credit union changes for more information.):
    • Drive-through service, when available at a branch, is open for transactions.
    • Individual appointments for in-person meeting are being scheduled.
    • Technology platforms give ready access to online services like bill pay, remote depositing of checks and ATMs for cash.
    • Take advantage of the United States’ world-class payments system and use mobile payment channels and debit cards or credit cards to make purchases.
  • Be on guard for scams. Resources are:

Elected officials from around Alabama praised the state’s credit unions for their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the threat of COVID-19 in Alabama, credit unions are doing all they can to put their members at ease and lessen the financial strain on Alabama’s families and businesses,” remarked Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth.

“The Alabama Credit Union Association and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions are being proactive during this public health emergency to find options that best serve their credit unions. I want to thank them for continuing to reassure consumers their money is safe,” he added.

“In these uncertain times, it is great to see the Alabama Credit Union Association and their member credit unions stepping up to ensure Alabamans that their money is safe and secure. I also want to thank all of Alabama’s credit unions for stepping up to help their members and communities as we adjust to the new normal in our great state,” commented State Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City), who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Financial Institutions.

“As always, in Alabama, we pull together, we do the right things for the right reasons and we come out stronger at the end. Our credit unions are no exception. They understand what difficulties may lie ahead for their members, our constituents and they’re helping now, not later before it’s too late,” added State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn).

The praise was not just bicameral but also bipartisan.

“Many people across the state of Alabama rely on credit unions to handle their financial needs, and they should continue to feel confident in investing their money in NCUA-insured and backed credit unions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” concluded State Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika). “Credit unions across the state are taking every proactive measure they can, in conjunction with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and the Alabama Credit Union Association, to ensure they can meet the needs of all of their current and new members.”

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

and 6 days ago

Ivey orders ‘non-essential’ businesses shuttered statewide — No ‘shelter-in-place’ order at this time

(The University of Alabama in Huntsville/Contributed)

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Friday announced an updated State of Emergency order related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the latest variation closing down “non-essential” businesses across the Yellowhammer State.

Businesses affected by Ivey’s announcement fall into one of four broad categories: entertainment venues; athletic facilities and activities; non-essential “close-contact” service establishments; and non-essential retail stores.

Places like grocery stores, take-out/delivery restaurants and pharmacies remain open. The order, effective 5:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, extends to April 17, subject to alteration or extension by the governor.

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Ivey made the announcement in a live-streamed address. The governor was joined by Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer. To practice social distancing, members of the media were not able to attend. The governor’s office did not allow live remote questioning of Ivey or Harris. Instead, written questions had to be submitted by at least two hours prior to the conference; the governor’s office screened and chose which questions would be answered ahead of time.

You can watch Ivey’s and Harris’ remarks below:

Ivey reiterated that she does not believe a statewide “shelter-in-place” order is warranted at this time. She encouraged localities to go further than her State of Emergency order as needed on a case-by-case basis, saying “one-size” does not fit all.

The order details that non-work related gatherings of 10 or more are banned statewide. The state had previously set the limit at 25 people in one place.

The penalties for breaking the Public Health Order are a $500 dollar fine per infraction and a misdemeanor charge.

Liquor stores and gun stores will remain open. The order lists out exactly what types of businesses must close.

“I cannot stress to you enough the fact that we must be serious about eliminating the spread of this deadly virus,” warned Ivey.

“Foks, this is real, it is very real,” she continued.

“Last week I authorized Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon with the Alabama National Guard to activate up to 100 guardsmen.

“I will soon be putting their first unit to work,” added Ivey.

Yellowhammer News has asked the governor’s office to provide further clarification on what the governor’s plans are for the National Guard unit.

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.

Gina Maiola, press secretary for Ivey, stated, “As the governor mentioned, there are 100 members of the Alabama National Guard on standby that she will soon be putting to work. Governor Ivey and Adjutant General Gordon are actively working on these plans.”

“We will use a measured and balanced approach to address this crisis,” the governor went on to say.

“Unfortunately there is no instruction manual,” she confided to the public.

Ivey stressed multiple times in her speech and in her responses to questions that she feels a responsibility to keep as much of Alabama’s economy functioning as possible.

Yellowhammer News asked Harris how, in effect, today’s order was different from a shelter-in-place order.

“The intent of this is similar to maybe what a shelter-in-place is. It is not coercive, it’s not literally a shelter-in-place, but we’re trying to emphasize the importance that people [need] to stay home and stay away from crowds,” replied Harris.

The order can be read below or here:

The following “non-essential” businesses must close to non-employees, effective Saturday, March 28, at 5:00 p.m. CT:

Night clubs
Bowling alleys
Arcades
Concert venues
Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
Tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums)
Racetracks
Indoor children’ s play areas
Adult entertainment venues
Casinos
Bingo halls
Venues operated by social clubs

Fitness centers and commercial gyms
Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
Yoga, barre, and spin facilities
Spectator sports
Sports that involve interaction with another person of closer than 6 feet
Activities that require use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
Activities on commercial or public playground equipment

Barbershops
Hair salons
Waxing salons
Threading salons
Nail salons and spas
Body-art facilities and tattoo services
Tanning salons
Massage-therapy establishments and massage services

Furniture and home-furnishings stores
Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
Department stores
Sporting goods stores
Book, craft, and music stores

This came the day after Ivey announced students would not physically return to school this academic year.

This is breaking news and will be updated.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 days ago

Alabama Senate releases meeting plan for remainder of 2020 regular session

(State of Alabama)

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate now has a framework for finishing the legislature’s 2020 regular session.

To this point, the Senate has not missed any legislative days due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as the chamber was already scheduled for a two-week spring break that is set to end this coming Tuesday.

Yellowhammer News on Thursday afternoon obtained a memo to all senators that advised the chamber is still set to meet as scheduled on Tuesday, March 31.

However, that is intended primarily as an organizational meeting in which the Senate will discuss the weeks ahead. Strict social distancing protocols will be in place for the meeting, and senators in at-risk categories are recommended not to attend.

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“As leaders, it is imperative that we demonstrate that the business of this state carries on in an orderly and systematic fashion while adhering to the recommendations of our public health officials,” the memo stated.

The memo outlined that chamber leadership currently intends for the Senate to adjourn after Tuesday until “possibly” April 28.

At that time, the hope is that the coronavirus curve will have been flattened so the chamber can get back to work and finish out the regular session by passing important legislation. May 19 is the last possible day of the 2020 regular session, per state law. The memo called for the Senate working from April 28-May 18; they would have a maximum of 15 legislative days to burn in that timeframe.

This is a preliminary plan subject to change as needed for health and safety reasons.

If the pandemic’s status is not conducive to the Senate returning to work on April 28, a later date certain could be chosen in its stead before May 19. If the legislature does not pass the state’s two budgets in the regular session, a special session would be an absolute necessity before the end of the fiscal year.

The memo further stressed that the budgets are the priorities in the Senate’s preliminary plan for the remainder of the regular session, along with “other bills deemed necessary.”

The Alabama House is also set to return to the statehouse on Tuesday, March 31, for one day. The lower chamber has not yet announced how it will proceed with the rest of the regular session, however a plan similar to the Senate’s plan is ultimately expected from the House.

Read the full Senate memo here.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 days ago

ALDOT: Construction projects, other essential services continue during coronavirus pandemic

(YHN, Pixabay)

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) on Thursday issued a release stressing that it is maintaining essential services, such as road and bridge maintenance and construction, during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The release advised ALDOT continues to join in the national effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus and flatten the curve.

“ALDOT’s mission is to move people and goods, and that includes things such as products to keep stores stocked and supplies for healthcare providers and manufacturers of the equipment needed for community safety and sanitation,” stated George Conner, deputy director of operations for ALDOT.

“Many of our employees and contractors continue to work while taking extra precautions to protect their health,” he continued. “At a time where trucking and the shipment of essential goods is vital, ALDOT is working hard to advance the maintenance and construction that’s required for our interstates and state highways.”

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Most ALDOT functions, including maintenance work (such as repairing flood-damaged roadways) and construction projects, are considered essential functions by the department. Other than temporary lane closures to facilitate construction and repairs or to respond to a traffic incident, no interstate or other state-maintained roads are closed, and none are expected to close, according to the department.

“We are committed to safety in all aspects of our operations, which includes our work zones,” Conner concluded. We’re doing all we can to keep our projects moving. As always, we ask that motorists drive alertly around the many work zones that remain active at this time.”

ALDOT further released the following guidance:

Rest Areas

Restrooms remain open at ALDOT rest areas and welcome centers across the state.  Throughout the day, the staff cleans and sanitizes the areas used most frequently by travelers, including door handles, counters, faucets and toilets. In addition, deep cleanings are performed on the restrooms each week. While rest area employees are focused on cleaning at this time, a phone number is posted at each rest area and welcome center for travelers to call if they need information or assistance.

General Operations

ALDOT personnel will continue to monitor and respond to traffic incidents and roadway issues. ALDOT traffic operations and Alabama Service & Assistance Patrol (ASAP) responders will continue serving in areas where they currently operate.

Public Involvement Meetings

All ALDOT public involvement meetings are postponed until further notice.

Permit Operations

Local ALDOT offices will continue to receive and process permits for work on ALDOT right of way.  The ALDOT Oversize/Overweight Permit Office will continue to accept and process applications for oversize/overweight vehicles on Alabama highways.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Spacecraft for historic, Alabama-powered Artemis I mission to the moon achieves testing milestone

(NASA)

NASA this week announced that the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission achieved yet another step toward being ready for flight.

After four months of rigorous testing in the world’s premier space environments simulation facility at NASA’s Plum Brook Station, the spacecraft is now officially certified.

The test campaign, which was actually completed ahead of schedule in mid-March, subjected the spacecraft to the extreme temperatures and electromagnetic conditions it will endure during its uncrewed test flight around the moon and back to ensure the spacecraft will perform as designed.

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(NASA)

The Orion spacecraft will soon fly back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center aboard the agency’s one-of-a-kind Super Guppy to begin final assembly and checkout, including installation of the spacecraft’s four solar arrays, as well as eventual integration with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Alabama is playing an integral role with the Artemis program, including with the SLS. Boeing is the SLS core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne is the RS-25 engines lead contractor. The SLS program is managed out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, while Boeing’s Huntsville-based Space and Launch division manages the company’s SLS work.

SLS is the most powerful rocket in world history and the only rocket that can send the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the moon in a single mission.

The goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. After that, the program aims to take Americans to Mars. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the moon.

North Alabama also will play a leading role in some of these other components of Artemis, including with the lunar Gateway and the new Human Landing System. Historic contributions to America’s space prowess are being made by several private sector partners in the Yellowhammer State, such as United Launch Alliance (ULA), Boeing and Dynetics.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Alfa Insurance offering support for customers during coronavirus pandemic

(Pixabay, YHN)

Alfa Insurance confirmed Wednesday that the company is offering to temporarily suspend policy cancellations due to non-payment of premiums and waive late fees for policyholders in Alabama facing financial strain due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We understand many customers’ jobs have been impacted by efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic,” Alfa Insurance president and CEO Jimmy Parnell said in a release.

“The health and economic challenges facing our country are unprecedented, and we all must work together to defeat the virus and help our neighbors. We’re grateful for loyal customers and blessed to have the financial strength to help them weather this storm,” he continued.

The extended grace period is available for Alfa automobile, property and life insurance policies. Hardship requests are being reviewed based on individual circumstances. Customers facing financial difficulty should contact their agent or local service center.

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As essential critical infrastructure, Alfa Insurance offices remain open and continue to serve customers, however they are now operating by appointment only. Customers also can make payments, file a claim, access auto ID cards or request policy changes by registering their policies at AlfaInsurance.com, calling 1-800-964-2532 or utilizing the Alfa2Go mobile app.

In addition to payment relief, Alfa already offers automobile discounts for many who serve their communities, including military, first responders, teachers, farmers and state and federal employees.

Parnell advised that Alfa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is based on the company’s core values of faith, family, community and integrity.

“When disaster strikes, Alfa is the first to answer the call,” he concluded. “While the disruption caused by COVID-19 is not a natural disaster, we realize the devastating impact it’s having on our neighbors and communities. We’re happy to be a part of easing the immediate impact from this pandemic.”

Read more on Alfa’s website about how Alfa is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Chairs at closed Alabama beach spell out ‘TRUMP’

(Mark Levin/Facebook)

Alabama’s beaches have all been closed since last Thursday at 5:00 p.m. CT due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While the normal crowds of visitors on Spring Break can no longer be seen across coastal Baldwin County, one spot in Orange Beach was not totally vacant.

As posted on social media by Mark Levin, somebody took advantage of the state-ordered beach closures by assembling a large group of beach chairs to spell out “TRUMP.”

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While it certainly could have been a tourist from outside the Yellowhammer State who took the time to show their support for President Donald J. Trump, it is fitting that the gesture occurred in Alabama, where the president has consistently enjoyed one of his highest — and often the highest — approval ratings nationwide.

RELATED: Trump: ‘Our country wants to go back to work’

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus via the Alabama Department of Health here and find related resources from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) here.

For the latest on general COVID-19 developments, visit the CDC’s website.

Sean Ross is the editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Univ. of Alabama student starts no-fee shopping service for seniors, named ‘Hero of the Day’ by TODAY Show

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

Michael Arundel, a junior at the University of Alabama, has started a no-fee shopping service to help senior citizens amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

TODAY reported that he is offering the service back home in his Chicago neighborhood. Arundel gets food and prescriptions for those most vulnerable to the outbreak.

This led to TODAY recognizing the UA student as its national “Hero of the Day” on Tuesday.

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You can watch the full TODAY Show segment that aired across the country on Tuesday morning here.

NBC Chicago further reported on Arundel’s service and how he was motivated to help others in his free time after the University of Alabama decided to move all classes online for the rest of the semester in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“I think we are all looking for something to do during this time, and I felt this would be the best use of our time,” he told NBC Chicago.

“I think our generation can lead by example, and we’re trying to spark interest in other communities… and I think this is a great way to do it,” Arundel added.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Nick Saban: Social distancing ‘important’ — ‘Stay at home if at all possible’

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

University of Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach Nick Saban on Tuesday afternoon released a public service announcement regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In the almost 90-second video, Saban rallies the people of the Yellowhammer State while emphasizing everyone should follow the recommendations set forth by medical experts such as the Alabama Department of Public Health and the CDC.

“First of all, I hope this message finds you and your families safe and well,” Saban says to begin. “On behalf of our program, we want to give thanks to all the medical professionals and caregivers in our state and across the country in these challenging times.”

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After speaking about the coronavirus’ impact on the Bama football program, Saban advises, “As we have said to our team, we share the same message to all of you. Please understand the following guidelines of social distancing, it’s important.”

He outlines, “We ask that everyone please wash your hands often, stay at home if at all possible and when you have to be out in public, make sure you keep six feet between you and the nearest person.”

“We are in this together,” Saban adds. “And as one team, we will get through these difficult times. … Stay safe, and Roll Tide!”

Watch:

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Trump: ‘The sacrifice you’re making at this time is saving lives — many, many lives’

(WH/Flickr)

In his latest televised address to the nation on Monday evening, President Donald J. Trump discussed the economic toll that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having across the country, including how measures intended to prevent the disease’s spread are impacting families and businesses nationwide.

Speaking from the press briefing room at the White House alongside Vice President Mike Pence and members of his coronavirus task force, Trump said, “America continues to mobilize every segment of our society to turn the tide in the battle against the virus.”

“I want Americans to know that we will get through this challenge,” he continued. “The hardship will end; it will end soon. Normal life will return. And our economy will rebound very, very strongly. But, right now, in the midst of this great national trial, Americans must remain united in purpose and focused on victory.”

Trump declared, “To every single American, please know that the sacrifice you’re making at this time is saving lives — many, many lives.”

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While members of the national media have criticized Trump for calling COVID-19 things such as “the Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan flu,” he also stressed Monday that Asian Americans are not in any way at fault for the disease. This came after the New York Times the same day published an article headlined, “Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety.”

The article’s subheading read, “As bigots blame them for the coronavirus and President Trump labels it the ‘Chinese virus,’ many Chinese-Americans say they are terrified of what could come next.”

Trump commented, “It’s very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world. They’re amazing people, and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form. They’re working closely with us to get rid of it. We will prevail together. It’s very important.”

The president also stressed that his administration is focusing on not just the health and safety aspects of the pandemic but the economic ramifications as well.

“We also have a large team working on what the next steps will be once the medical community gives a region the okay — meaning the okay to get going, to get back; let’s go to work,” Trump advised. “America will again, and soon, be open for business — very soon — a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. A lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.”

“Our country will be stronger than ever before, and we fully anticipate that.  And it won’t be that long,” he added.

You can read Trump’s full Monday remarks here.

The White House has further issued guidance on how the Trump administration is committed to supporting small businesses during this pandemic.

RELATED: NFIB: Alabama’s small businesses need our support during the COVID-19 crisis

The president continues to encourage Congress to pass the third round of coronavirus relief funding, which would come in the form of H.R. 748, a nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package currently being blocked by Senate Democrats at the urging of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The Business Council of Alabama has created a central landing page for business resources during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here for the latest resources and information for job creators.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Auburn legend Cam Newton released by Carolina Panthers

(Carolina Panthers/Facebook, YHN)

Cam Newton, who won a BCS National Championship and a Heisman Trophy when quarterbacking Auburn University’s football team during the 2010 season, will be released by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, according to several national media outlets.

NFL.com reported the move could be made official as soon as Tuesday. Newton was long expected to be released or traded.

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Newton entered the NFL Draft in spring of 2011 after his only season at Auburn. He was then selected by the Panthers with the first overall pick and became an instant sensation in his first professional season, winning multiple rookie of the year honors.

The star quarterback subsequently led the Panthers to three straight NFC South titles from 2013-2015, a Super Bowl appearance and four total postseason appearances.

Newton also earned the 2015 NFL MVP award and was named to three Pro Bowls during his time in Carolina.

However, injuries have taken a toll on the former Auburn player in recent seasons. Last season, he missed all but two games.

Now, teams are reportedly not confident in Newton’s ability to return to top form.

NFL.com reported, “The lingering health questions left no team willing to part ways with draft assets to acquire a quarterback on the last year of his contract and one who would likely have wanted an extension.”

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.

The Panthers officially announced Newton’s release on Tuesday afternoon.

“Cam has meant a lot to this organization and the Carolinas,” general manager Marty Hurney stated. “Everyone saw his performances on the field. I had the privilege of seeing how hard he worked off the field, and his commitment to this team when no one was watching. He’s the ultimate competitor and it physically hurts him to lose. He willed this team to victory on many occasions and will always be considered one of the greatest players in the history of this franchise. His contributions to this team, this community and the game of football will leave a lasting impact on our organization.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

After voting to block coronavirus stimulus package, Jones supports advancing the bill one day later

(Sen. Doug Jones/Facebook)

After voting Sunday to block a massive coronavirus (COVID-19) relief funding package from advancing, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Monday flipped his vote on the very same procedural motion.

Jones broke with his Democratic colleagues on the second, identical vote within 24 hours to invoke cloture on H.R. 748, which represents a total economic stimulus approaching $2 trillion.

In a remark to CNN after the Monday vote, Jones reportedly said he was “embarrassed” at the partisan fighting that continues to play out over the package.

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Jones’ opposition to the bill advancing the previous day came after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced her opposition to the measure. Pelosi and fellow Democrats are reportedly attempting to force language championed by environmentalists into the coronavirus relief bill, including tax credits for solar and wind energy companies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), an Alabama native, took to the Senate floor on Monday to blast the Democrats’ demands, which he said also include “provisions to force employers to give special new treatment to big labor, and listen to this — new emissions standards for the airlines.”

“Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal,” McConnell lamented.

“Are you kidding me? This is the moment to debate new regulations that have nothing, whatsoever to do with this crisis,” he added. “That is what they are up to over there. The American people need to know it!”

McConnell further pointed to how the negotiations over the package were bipartisan in the Senate until Pelosi voiced her opposition on Sunday.

“We were this close. We were this close. Then yesterday, the speaker of the House flew back from San Francisco,” McConnell advised.

Sixty votes are needed to break the Democratic filibuster and invoke cloture on the package. After invoking cloture, the chamber could move to a final vote on H.R. 748.

Jones’ office did not immediately respond to Yellowhammer News’ request Monday afternoon for comment. This article will be updated if a statement is provided.

UPDATE 7:05 p.m.

Jones tweeted out a video with his thoughts on the Monday vote.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Merrill: Absentee balloting still an option for runoff voters concerned about coronavirus

(Contributed)

Following the postponement of Alabama’s March 31 primary runoff to July 14, Secretary of State John H. Merrill reiterated that Alabamians concerned about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) can still vote by absentee ballot.

Merrill had previously detailed this as an option when March 31 was still the runoff date, and in a Monday release he explained that this has not changed.

“Amid coronavirus concerns, it is important to remember that Alabamians who are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness have the opportunity to avoid the polls on Election Day by casting an absentee ballot,” Merrill stated. “Alabamians can access the application online or by visiting or calling their local Absentee Election Manager’s office.”

Alabama voters are also able to contact the secretary of state’s office at (334) 242-7210 to request an absentee ballot application.

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The release from Merrill’s office advised that any qualified voter who determines it is impossible or unreasonable to vote at their physical polling place shall be eligible to check the box on the absentee ballot application that is most applicable to that individual. State law allows the secretary of state to issue absentee voting guidance during declared states of emergency, thus allowing Merrill to encourage voters to check the box which reads as follows (in the case none of the other boxes are more appropriate):

“I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED]”

For the runoff, the deadline to register to vote is now June 29. Meanwhile, the deadline to submit an absentee ballot application is July 9. The deadline to return an absentee ballot to their absentee election manager is the close of business on July 13, and the last day to postmark an absentee ballot is also July 13. Voters who are eligible to vote pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act will have until July 14 to postmark an absentee ballot.

“We have worked to provide safe, secure, and free elections for the people of Alabama through offering an extended absentee voting period for the upcoming Primary Runoff Election, and we will continue to see that Alabamians have the opportunity to participate in the electoral process in a way that does not affect their health or well-being,” Merrill concluded.

For updated coronavirus information and guidelines, Alabamians should continue to monitor the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website here and the CDC’s website here.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

How one Alabama-based gym is opening their ‘virtual doors’ during coronavirus pandemic

(Irontribe/Contributed)

As many Alabama businesses close their doors or drastically alter their operations while the state works to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Iron Tribe Fitness, a gym founded in Birmingham 10 years ago, has decided to take their services completely online during the quarantine.

A release detailed that Iron Tribe coaches are now working around the clock via 24/7 social media access, streaming live workouts, video calls and daily text messages and emails to ensure their members still receive top-notch fitness and nutrition guidance.

Forrest Walden, founder and CEO of Iron Tribe, advised that now more than ever, it is important that members stick with their health and wellness plans.

“We created a private Facebook group for all 5 of our Birmingham locations that has been booming with live workouts, recipes and daily interactions between coaches and clients,” Walden said. “We also created a private membership site where we all of the videos, recipes and workouts live for easy access. Just because we can’t see our gym communities face to face doesn’t mean we can’t still deliver a premier service that allows members to see improvement in their overall health.”

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Walden also took his plan one step further last week and temporarily opened each of his five Birmingham gyms so members could borrow workout equipment of their choice as long as coronavirus quarantine orders stay in place. Rowers, bikes, kettlebells, battle ropes and more have dispersed throughout the city and are now getting good use in local garages, basements and wherever else members can set up a makeshift gym.

“I am amazed at the stuff I’ve seen on this group page,” Stan Felton, a longtime member at the Homewood gym wrote in the Facebook group. “Hats off to every coach from basically every location doing all they can to help everyone at home like they should be. This is why we value this community so much.”

Amid rising fear and uncertainty, Walden added that establishing a consistent at-home workout regimen can produce considerable benefits. For those looking to stick to a daily routine and maintain — or improve — their current fitness level, Walden listed the following top recommendations:

  • Wake up at your usual time each day and try to workout when you normally would. This helps create a sense of normalcy and consistency.
  • Challenge yourself by using household items to add weight to your workouts. (Here’s a blog post that lists out common household goods that can be used as workout weights).
  • Find an accountability partner that will encourage you to complete your workouts each day. Call, text or communicate through social media to check in on each other.
  • Consider downloading a mobile app like MyFitnessPal to track your daily caloric intake.

As a way to open up all of their fitness resources, Iron Tribe created a Facebook group that anyone — even non-members — can join. There, Walden outlined, group members will get exclusive access to workouts, nutritional guidance, daily accountability and more.

“We’re so excited to roll this out and serve more people in the Birmingham area and beyond,” he concluded. “Though these are strange times, I’m confident we can make a positive impact on others through health and wellness. Our mission is ‘To Create Fitness Communities That Change Lives,’ and nothing — not even Coronavirus — will stop that.”

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Doug Jones joins Senate Dems in blocking consideration of coronavirus stimulus package

(Doug Jones for Senate/Facebook)

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Sunday voted against advancing the third round of coronavirus (COVID-19) relief funding.

Jones joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the rest of his Democratic caucus members present in voting against invoking cloture on the nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package — H.R. 748. As reported by national outlets such as The Hill, Jones and his fellow Democrats effectively “blocked” the stimulus by filibustering.

Afterwards, futures for the S&P 500 fell by 5%, triggering a halt in trading. As of 10:50 a.m. CT on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 4.45% on the day.

An email from the Senate Leadership Fund blasted Jones and Senate Democrats for opposing cloture, calling it “one of the most craven and shameful maneuvers in recent history.”

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“It is unconscionable for Senate Democrats to play politics while Americans are suffering during this crisis. Democratic Senate candidates across the country benefiting from Chuck Schumer’s political support need to answer whether they have the backbone to stand up to him on this irresponsible and dangerous maneuver. Silence is complicity,” stated Senate Leadership Fund communications director Jack Pandol.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) voted to support advancing the stimulus package, as did every other Republican voting.

Politico and others have reported that the stimulus package is the result of bipartisan negotiations in the upper chamber. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has advised that H.R. 748 was headed to passage until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Sunday announced her opposition to the package.

Regardless, in a statement after the vote on Sunday, Jones pointed the finger at Republicans for the package not advancing.

“We need a strong, bipartisan package that directly assists our workers, our health care providers, and vulnerable folks who need it most,” Jones said. “We have no time to waste, so I am hopeful that this failed vote reiterates the message to Leader McConnell that the time for games is over and we need to move tonight to a bill that can receive broad support from the Senate and also pass in the House. We’ve got more work to do on this bill to make sure we’re not leaving working families behind.”

Alabama’s junior senator also released a video about the vote.

Kevin Knoth, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, stated, “If Doug Jones was taking coronavirus seriously, he would have voted for the aid Alabamians need – but it’s apparent Jones would rather play partisan games with Chuck [Schumer] and Nancy [Pelosi] than serve the Yellowhammer State.”

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

Alabama ag commissioner: ‘Our food supply is secure’

(Rick Pate for Commissioner of Agriculture/Facebook)

As the state deals with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate wants to assure all Alabamians that there “is no reason to feel the need to hoard or to store more food than normal.”

In a message sent out this week, Pate outlined that the department has continued to fulfill its regulatory responsibilities and redirected its 350 employees to work from home as needed.

“Our duty is to protect food safety, ensure animal health, permit the movement of plants and the use of pesticides while regulating the weighing and measuring devices needed in industry,” Pate explained. “We fulfill our regulatory responsibilities so that the food and agriculture industries of Alabama can continue to provide a safe and secure food supply. Alabama’s agricultural producers and related industries not only provide food and fiber to its citizens, but to the rest of the country and the world.”

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Wednesday morning, Pate reportedly participated in a conference call with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and other state agriculture commissioners. During that call, Pate said he was assured that the USDA is coordinating with all federal agencies to prohibit any federal actions that are being taken to curb the spread of coronavirus from adversely impacting the national food supply or logistics systems supporting those industries.

“Food is essential all year round, but in the face of a pandemic, it is critical the shelves remain stocked and supplies remain plentiful. America’s farmers and ranchers, and those on the front lines in the food service industry are doing their part,” Perdue stated.

Pate’s office has also reportedly been in touch with Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings to request their immediate assistance in designating all agricultural stakeholders as “Critical Infrastructure and Essential Services” and for these vital industries to be allowed to continue to operate unrestricted.

Pate added, “ADAI would like to assure our fellow citizens that our food supply is secure. There is ample sustainable food in our unrestricted supply system to continue to feed Alabamians as the system currently works. There is no reason to feel the need to hoard or to store more food than normal. The food supply chain will continue to operate as normal and will strive to keep the shelves stocked with food and supplies during this pandemic.”

“From growing to transportation, to processing to distribution, the federal government and our state government are committed to allowing all components of the food supply chain to operate unimpeded,” he concluded.

Read more from the Alabama Farmers Federation related to coronavirus here.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

BCA names Jean Elizabeth Miles director of communications

(BCA/Contributed, YHN)

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) on Friday announced that Jean Elizabeth Miles will serve as the organization’s director of communications.

A press release advised that Miles comes to BCA from Lockheed Martin, where she served as a community relations representative for missiles and fire control in Orlando, Florida.

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Prior to that role, Miles was a part of Lockheed Martin’s communications leadership development program (CLDP), serving as the first visual communications CLDP representative in both Bethesda, Maryland, and Orlando.

“We are proud to welcome Jean Elizabeth to our team,” stated BCA president and CEO Katie Boyd Britt. “Her experience and strong worth ethic will prove an immediate asset to BCA and the business we represent”.

Miles is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in industrial design and communications.

RELATED: Helena Duncan joins BCA as director of strategic operations and growth

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn