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 months ago

Ainsworth launches reelection bid — ‘We will continue Alabama’s positive momentum long into the future’

(Ainsworth 2018 campaign)

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) on Friday evening officially launched his reelection campaign at a packed kickoff event featuring special guests, family, friends and supporters at Guntersville Civitan Park’s Jeff Cook Performing Arts Stage.

Guests included Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL), Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and country music star Riley Green, who performed at the family-friendly event.

Ainsworth was first elected lieutenant governor in 2018 and will now seek a second term in the 2022 election cycle.

In a statement, he outlined that he is running for reelection to keep Alabama moving forward, so future generations can thrive right here at home.

“I love Alabama, and it’s an honor to be able to serve as our lieutenant governor,” the Republican from Marshall County said. “I’ve been blessed in life, and this isn’t a career for me – it’s a true calling.”

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“I ran in 2018 to stand up to the career politicians in Montgomery,” Ainsworth explained. “Three years later, we have successfully taken our Christian conservative values to the State House, protecting the unborn, safeguarding the integrity of our elections, supporting our tremendous law enforcement officers, banning vaccine passports, ensuring fairness for female athletes, and much more.”

Ainsworth previously served one term in the House of Representatives from 2014-2018. He is a small business owner, currently the proprietor of Ainsworth Real Estate.

Support for small businesses, workforce development and the aerospace and defense sectors have been hallmarks of Ainsworth’s tenure in the state’s #2 position. He also serves as chairman of the Alabama Small Business Commission, chairman of the Alabama Military Stability Commission and national chairman of the Aerospace States Association.

“One of my greatest prides as lieutenant governor has been helping lead the charge to grow Alabama’s footprint as a critical contributor to our national security,” Ainsworth advised. “As chairman of the Alabama Military Stability Commission and national chairman of the Aerospace States Association, it has been my pleasure to advance Alabama’s military, defense and aerospace sectors – which are major generators of good-paying jobs across our state.”

“As chairman of the Alabama Small Business Commission, I have also fought relentlessly for small businesses in every corner of Alabama,” he continued. “We are working to foster a 21st century economy in which every Alabamian has the opportunity to be successful, and a 21st century workforce is necessary to make this a reality. One of the highlights of my brief tenure as lieutenant governor was forming the 21st Century Workforce Commission, which released a report on how our state can achieve this bold goal.”

As Governor Ivey highlighted this week, Alabama has boomed with Ainsworth serving as lieutenant governor. Since 2018, Alabama has seen 44,000 new jobs created, $19 billion in new capital investment generated and the best business climate of all 50 states. Additionally, Alabama has recorded its lowest unemployment in state history, as well as records for the highest level of funding for our schools and pay for our teachers.

“Alabama is working again, but we’re just getting started,” Ainsworth concluded. “We undoubtedly live in the greatest state in the greatest nation on Earth, and we have a duty to preserve and better the Alabama we all know and love for future generations to enjoy. I’m running for reelection for my kids — and your kids. I want our children and their children to be proud to always call Alabama ‘home.’ With your prayers, support and partnership, we will continue Alabama’s positive momentum long into the future.”

For more information about Ainsworth, click here.

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

2 months ago

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall launches 2022 reelection bid

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Thursday officially announced he will seek reelection to a second term in 2022.

Marshall was first appointed attorney general in 2017 before resoundingly winning a first full term in 2018. He previously served as district attorney of Marshall County and is a lifelong prosecutor known to be tough on crime.

He was joined at a press conference by friends and supporters on the steps of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office in Montgomery to make his reelection announcement.

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“On January 12, 2018, I stood across the street on the Capitol steps to acknowledge the mandate that I’d been given by the people of Alabama, as their Attorney General, to defend Alabama’s sovereignty and to protect her people. I have come to work every day since, fighting with everything I have, to deliver on those directives,” Marshall said.

Marshall currently serves in a leadership role of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), where he heads the association’s policy arm — the Rule of Law Defense Fund. Marshall also made news recently when he made Alabama the first state in the nation to leave the National Association of Attorneys General.

His term has been marked by cracking down on violent crime and corruption while standing up for consumers and the constitutional rights of citizens in the Yellowhammer State.

Marshall on Thursday referenced his office’s ongoing fights against liberal criminal justice policies that threaten public safety, as well as his aggressive number of high-profile corruption investigations and prosecutions. Several of these cases have trial dates set for this summer.

“As you have witnessed in all parts of this state, my office is fighting crime and corruption at an unprecedented level, and we have no intention of slowing down,” the attorney general advised.

Marshall also touted his record of fighting federal overreach from the Biden Administration.

“This year, defending Alabama’s sovereignty has taken on a whole new meaning under an administration that cares little about the individuality of our fifty states. I’ve sued the Biden Administration to fight for energy independence,” he remarked. “I’ve sued the Biden Administration to remove burdensome mandates on federal grants. I’ve sued the Biden Administration to ensure that our cattle farmers aren’t forced to pay taxes on the emissions of their livestock. I’ve sued to stop the census bureau from counting illegal aliens for purposes of apportionment, and I’ve sued to stop the national archivist from ratifying the defunct Equal Rights Amendment.”

Marshall concluded, “We are in a fight—for the sovereignty of our state and for the safety of our citizens. It is a fight that I gladly take on each morning when I walk up the stairs of this building and join the men and women hard at work inside. It’s a fight that I’ve been privileged to fight for you—the people of Alabama—for the last four years, and one that I look forward to continuing for four more years as your Attorney General.”

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

2 months ago

Alabama’s state workforce agency receives top national honor

(AIDT/Facebook, YHN)

AIDT, Alabama’s official state workforce development agency, on Thursday morning announced the selection of its virtual reality training program as the 2021 Workforce Program of the Year award by the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, the association that represents more than 3,000 state and local workforce leaders in all 50 states.

The prestigious distinction recognizes innovative workforce programs that are creating new ways of delivering high-quality workforce training services. The selection specifically recognized AIDT for working to make job training in one of Alabama’s fastest-growing industries accessible to thousands of unemployed workers and aspiring manufacturing professionals across the Yellowhammer State.

“During this period of change and uncertainty in the labor market and broader economy, it’s essential that we use every tool at our disposal to rethink workforce development and training, and our investments in immersive learning technology are reflective of that belief,” stated Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and executive director of AIDT.

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“We’re humbled to receive this national recognition. It’s reflective of the AIDT team’s focus and commitment to developing high-impact training pathways that are expanding access to good-paying jobs and meaningful careers in fast-growing industries for every Alabamian,” he added.

Powered by immersive learning startup TRANSFR, AIDT’s virtual reality training initiative was built in collaboration with several companies, including Hyundai Power Transformers (HPT) — the Montgomery-based division of Hyundai Electric Systems that specializes in the manufacture of power transformers used in electrical grids across the United States.

Building on more than a decade of deep, technical training partnership between the two organizations, AIDT teamed with HPT to create a virtual reality simulation that vividly recreates the company’s seven-story manufacturing facility. Incumbent workers and trainees gain invaluable first-hand experience with the safety protocols required to operate heavy machinery and equipment of up to 400 tons, lifting power transformers as heavy as 800,000 pounds.

“To meet the needs of Alabama’s state manufacturing base, we need to continue to find new ways to deliver precision training experiences that can help aspiring professionals and trainees develop the on-the-job experience required to excel in our industry,” said Tony E. Wojciechowski, chief human resources officer for HPT. “As an employer partner that depends on the output of our public workforce infrastructure, our organization has long enjoyed a productive and collaborative working relationship with AIDT. This recognition reaffirms the forward-thinking approach to innovation in workforce development.”

The program also helps to increase compliance with industry standards as HPT employees learn how to operate and service cranes within OSHA standards.

“The impact of this innovative new partnership reaches far beyond just the needs of one employer or community in the state,” said Bharani Rajakumar, founder and CEO of TRANSFR. “The workforce and company leaders involved in this work are working at the bleeding edge of learning and technology to help expand access to good-paying careers in industries like manufacturing open to more Alabamians—regardless of their educational background.”

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

2 months ago

Hometown Lenders’ second Back the Blue event to feature Alabama AG Steve Marshall

(Attorney General Steve Marshall/Facebook, YHN)

Huntsville-based Hometown Lenders (HTL) has announced their second Back the Blue charity event.

HTL CEO Billy Taylor originally launched this night of appreciation to honor America’s hardworking law enforcement officers and the sacrifices they make to keep our cities safe and secure.

“It is time for our country to support our police departments, not work to defund them. Members of the law enforcement are on the front lines, and these brave men and women deserve to be defended,” Taylor said in a statement.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall will be the featured speaker at this year’s Back the Blue, to be held August 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Toyota Field in Madison.

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As attorney general, Marshall has embraced his role as the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has committed to making Alabama a safer place to live. In 2018, Marshall launched the Initiative on Violent Crime with the mission to “help cities reclaim their streets, restore the rule of law, and . . . see their communities revived.” Since its launch, the initiative has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of violent offenders.

Taylor and Back the Blue invite the public to join in honoring and celebrating local law enforcement for their work protecting our citizens. It is free to attend, but guests are asked to reserve their tickets online here.

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

2 months ago

‘The best is yet to come’: Gov. Kay Ivey makes it official, will seek reelection in 2022

(Kay Ivey/YouTube)

Governor Kay E. Ivey (R-AL) on Wednesday announced she will seek reelection to a second full term in 2022.

Ivey, currently on the executive committee of the National Governors Association, became Alabama’s 54th governor in 2017 when she was sworn into office following the resignation of former Governor Robert Bentley. Ivey was overwhelmingly elected to a full term of her own in 2018.

She officially launched her reelection bid with a press release and a video announcement.

“Alabamians have shown the rest of the nation that our faith, resilience and common sense are what makes us and drives us forward to a promising future. I am proud to be your governor and would be honored to serve you for a second term,” Ivey stated. “Alabama is working again, and the best is yet to come.”

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The Camden native’s tenure leading the state has been marked by record-low unemployment, landmark milestones in job growth and historic economic development wins. Ivey’s governorship has coincided with over $18 billion in new capital investment in the Yellowhammer State, as well as 44,000+ Alabama jobs created.

Even after the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama has begun to emerge strongly, with the Southeast’s lowest unemployment rate for three consecutive months and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire country.

Ivey is Alabama’s second female governor and first Republican female governor.

Abbeville’s Jimmy Rane, who is chairing Ivey’s reelection campaign, added, “Alabama’s historic achievements are a direct result of Governor Ivey’s effective leadership. She has not only delivered results; she has proven that she can make the tough decisions to do what is right and best for the people of Alabama, leading this state to have one of the strongest comebacks in the country. There is no doubt that in a second term, Governor Ivey would continue leading with optimism, determination to tackle challenges head on, and she will keep Alabama growing and thriving.”

WATCH:

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

2 months ago

Ainsworth to announce reelection bid on Friday at Guntersville event featuring Riley Green

(Will Ainsworth/Facebook, YHN)

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) will kick off his reelection campaign on Friday in Guntersville, his campaign has announced.

Members of the public are invited to join Ainsworth and special guests for the celebratory occasion, including Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL), Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and country music star Riley Green.

Ainsworth was first elected lieutenant governor in 2018 and will now seek a second term in the 2022 election cycle. He served one term in the House of Representatives from 2014-2018. The Marshall County resident is a small business owner, currently the proprietor of Ainsworth Real Estate.

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Support for small businesses, workforce development and the aerospace and defense sectors have been hallmarks of Ainsworth’s tenure in the state’s #2 position. He also serves as chairman of the Alabama Small Business Commission, chairman of the Alabama Military Stability Commission and national chairman of the Aerospace States Association.

The kickoff event is scheduled for June 4 at 7:00 pm CT at Guntersville Civitan Park’s Jeff Cook Performing Arts Stage. There will be live music, food, drinks, fireworks and fun for the whole family, all free of charge.

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

2 months ago

Huntsville student donates hair to kids fighting cancer ahead of starting Air Force Academy

(Kelly Moise/Contributed)

Huntsville’s Kieran Moise decided to give back in a big way this Memorial Day weekend.

Moise, 17, is bound for the U.S. Air Force Academy, per a report from Fox News. He is a recent graduate of New Century Technology School, a public magnet school in Huntsville.

On Saturday, he cut his 19-inch afro, his first haircut in six years. The goal? Donating his hair to be used for wigs for children fighting cancer.

“I’m going into the military and I didn’t want to just cut it off and drop it on the floor,” Moise told news outlets in the Rocket City. “I wanted to give back because there are lots of people that need help.”

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Moise noted that he was inspired to donate after losing a friend to cancer in middle school.

On his St. Jude Fundraising page, “Kieran’s Curls for Cancer,” Kieran advised that he wants to raise $1,000 per inch of his hair.

The money raised “will do so much good to help families dealing with cancer,” he added.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Moise has raised over $25,800.

Donations are still being accepted. Moise told Fox News that he “really hopes this inspires others to do something great on your own.”

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

2 months ago

‘Not Done Yet’: Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s reelection ad touts successes while underlining forward momentum

(Stimpson for Mayor/YouTube)

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s reelection campaign on Tuesday launched its first TV advertisement of the cycle, highlighting Stimpson’s record of success leading Mobile’s revitalization, economic development and infrastructure improvements.

The 30-second ad, entitled “Not Done Yet,” features major city successes that Stimpson spearheaded while outlining that Mobile’s momentum continues to surge forward under his leadership.

According to the campaign, the ad will run on broadcast stations in the Mobile DMA and will be supported by digital and print advertisements, as well.

“Mobile has made tremendous strides over the past eight years,” stated Stimpson. “From now through the election, you’ll see our campaign run a positive race that highlights Mobile’s momentum, successes, and future. We are building a safer, more business and family-friendly city, and as we look forward to a new downtown airport, a waterfront park at Brookley, and increased connectivity throughout Mobile, it’s clear that big things are on the horizon. We are not done yet!”

WATCH:

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The ad features shots of the following Stimpson administration accomplishments, per his campaign:

Economic Development: Mayor Stimpson’s leadership has led to major economic development projects – including the relocation of the Mobile Airport to Brookley Field, the deepening and widening of the port’s shipping channel, and incentivizing both major businesses like MTC Logistics and small businesses like restaurants and breweries to move to or open in Mobile. The Stimpson-led return of Carnival cruises to Mobile also adds nearly 200,000 visitors to the city each year.

The Stimpson administration also created Mobile’s first Supplier Diversity Program, which creates and implements programs, policies and procedures to assist minority, women, and service-disabled veteran small businesses increase their access to City procurement opportunities and resources to help them grow.

Public Safety Investments: Under the Stimpson administration, Mobile has replaced a significant amount of public safety equipment, from fire and police trucks to new fire stations and technology to combat gun violence.

In addition, Mobile is the first city in Alabama where all sworn law enforcement officers will wear body cameras – a landmark step to increase transparency, accountability, and trust between police and Mobilians.

Park and Public Space Revitalization: The Stimpson administration has spent more than $70 million on parks and recreation opportunities since 2013. Notable improvements shown in the ad include the creation of Mardi Gras park, an overhaul of Medal of Honor Park, the city’s first synthetic turf multi-purpose sports field at Mims Park, and a new Parkway Senior Center on Dauphin Island Parkway.

Downtown Revitalization: The Stimpson administration has led downtown’s revitalization, from the revitalization of St. Louis Street to an increased public safety presence, to incentivizing new businesses, condo and apartment buildings like the Meridian at the Port, and more than 60 restaurants to open downtown. Under Mayor Stimpson’s leadership, the City of Mobile has also increased investment in public spaces, leading to cleaner, safer green spaces and new programming for the public to take advantage of these enhanced opportunities.

New Infrastructure Investments: Under the Stimpson administration, the City of Mobile has spent roughly $30 million per year on infrastructure improvements, divided evenly across all City Council districts – a necessary sum following decades of neglect.

The city has also utilized federal grant funding to increase connectivity with sidewalks, green spaces, and bike lanes on Water and Broad Streets. The Broad Street roundabout, recently completed, is indicative of the result of the Broad Street redevelopment project, slated for completion this year. In addition, the Three Mile Creek Greenway will connect neighborhoods, parks, commercial districts, and provide access to Mobile’s unique natural resources.

St. Louis Street Redevelopment: The Stimpson administration has led the revitalization of downtown’s St. Louis Street. In addition to a revitalized streetscape, St. Louis St. also hosts the Innovation Portal, as well as new restaurants and businesses like Old Majestic Brewing and the Cheese Cottage, and an upcoming Greer’s Downtown Market.

The mayoral election will be held August 24, 2021.

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

2 months ago

Tuberville: Memorial Day is a reminder ‘why I stand for the flag, and for our national anthem’

(U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville/YouTube)

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) this past week delivered remarks on the floor of the United States Senate ahead of Memorial Day, reflecting on the sacrifice of America’s tremendous military service members and their families.

“Our Gold Star families have given a great sacrifice to our country,” said Alabama’s junior senator.

“The United States stands on the foundation of generations of servicemen and women who gave their lives to defend their country. Their sacrifices created the most free and prosperous country in the history of the world,” Tuberville remarked.

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He added, “We’re not perfect. Far from it. But our unique system of government is distinguished from any other. ‘Of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ That’s why I stand for the flag, and for our national anthem. Because for the last 250 years, men and women have given their lives for all this flag represents. They gave their lives, to defend our right to make our country better.”

“Memorial Day reminds us that our freedom and prosperity comes at a cost,” Tuberville concluded.

Tuberville’s full remarks as follows:

A week from today we’ll be celebrating Memorial Day. I know folks back home probably have some fun things planned for the long weekend. Cookouts, family get-togethers, maybe even a trip to the beach.

But while Memorial Day is a joyous, carefree weekend for some, [for] many families it’s a reminder of what has been lost.

A father or mother. Husband or a wife. A son, daughter, brother, sister. A family member, a friend – that cannot be replaced.

Our Gold Star families have given a great sacrifice to our country.

I’ve been there myself. My father served in World War 2, driving a tank across Europe. He earned five Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. After the war, he died on active duty. And I still miss him today.

I’m forever grateful that he, like so many folks from his generation, put on that uniform. They enlisted not knowing whether they’d ever come home. Many of them – hundreds of thousands – did not.

But they knew what they were doing was worth the danger. They knew the United States of America, and all she stood for, was worth defending. They earned the title of the Greatest Generation.

I’ll be introducing a resolution this week honoring the immense sacrifice of the Greatest Generation. And not just those who put on the uniform. This resolution recognizes the millions of Americans who worked in the factories, bought war bonds, and donated their pots, pans, and more to a war effort.

We owe the Greatest Generation a debt we can never fully repay.

I want to take a moment to thank Mr. Sam Romano, from Vestavia Hills, Alabama, for advocating on behalf of the Greatest Generation and his contributions to this resolution.

Today, we have more than a million active-duty service men and women who continue to defend our freedoms. They too stand ready to answer the call when evil threatens America. They too stand ready to give their lives to defend their country if need be.

The United States stands on the foundation of generations of servicemen and women who gave their lives to defend their country. Their sacrifices created the most free and prosperous country in the history of the world.

We’re not perfect. Far from it. But our unique system of government is distinguished from any other. ‘Of the people, by the people, and for the people.’

That’s why I stand for the flag, and for our national anthem. Because for the last 250 years, men and women have given their lives for all this flag represents. They gave their lives, to defend our right to make our country better.

The continued service of our military allows us to have that barbecue this weekend. Their service allows us to gather freely with family and friends. To think, to worship, and live how we want to.

Memorial Day reminds us that our freedom and prosperity comes at a cost.

So for this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, I’d encourage all of us to take a moment. To remember what we’re celebrating: the brave men and women who laid down their lives, for ours.

Let’s honor our soldiers’ sacrifice by keeping our country strong, and upholding the values they gave their lives to defend.

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

2 months ago

Alabama-built USS Savannah completes Navy acceptance trials

(Austal USA/Flickr)

The future USS Savannah (LCS 28) successfully completed acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico recently, Alabama’s Austal USA announced on Friday.

LCS 28, an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, is the fourth Austal-built ship for the U.S. Navy to complete acceptance trials in the last year, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic. The USS Savannah was built at Austal’s world-class campus in Mobile.

“It’s always exciting to see these great ships return from the Gulf after a successful sea trial event,” Austal USA interim president Rusty Murdaugh stated. “Working together with our Navy teammates Austal’s highly talented shipbuilders have prepared another combat ship for delivery and we look forward to handing her over to the Navy soon so she can join her sister ships on the West Coast preparing for deployment.”

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Acceptance trials involve the execution of intense comprehensive tests by the Austal-led industry team while underway, which demonstrate to the Navy the successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment. This is the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship, which is scheduled for later this summer.

The Independence-variant LCS is a high-speed, shallow-draft, focused-mission ship capable of operating independently or in a group. These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance along coastal waters, yet capable of open-ocean operation. A fast, maneuverable and networked surface-combatant, LCS provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

Austal USA’s LCS program in Mobile is at full-rate production and continuing its momentum, with five ships currently under construction including the Savannah. The future USS Canberra (LCS 30) was launched in March and is now preparing for trials. Final assembly is underway on the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32) and future USS Augusta (LCS 34). Construction began on the future USS Kingsville (LCS 36) earlier this year.

Meanwhile, USS Oakland (LCS 24) was recently commissioned and has joined eleven other Independence-variant LCS homeported in San Diego. USS Mobile (LCS 26) was commissioned May 22 in its namesake city.

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

2 months ago

Shelby, Tuberville criticize massive $6 trillion Biden budget request

(Senator Tommy Tuberville. President Joe Biden/Facebook, Senator Richard Shelby/Contributed, YHN)

U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Friday reacted to President Joe Biden releasing a $6 trillion budget request for fiscal year 2022, which features spending levels that have not been seen in America in generations.

The massive budget would even represent a higher percentage of the economy than the country saw in World War II.

Shelby, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, has proposed a balanced budget amendment 18 times in the Senate.

“President Biden’s FY22 budget request is a blueprint for the higher taxes, excessive spending, and disproportionate funding priorities the American people can expect from his Administration over the next four years,” Shelby said in a statement. “The proposal completely disregards our debt of more than $28 trillion, yet somehow still shortchanges our national security.

“Increasing non-defense spending by nearly 20 percent while flat-funding America’s military would send a message of weakness to our adversaries like China and Russia,” he continued. “Our highest priority should be funding our national defense to counter the threats they pose, not financing the far-left’s longstanding wish list.”

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Shelby concluded by explaining that this battle is not lost.

“Thankfully, the President’s proposal is simply that – a proposal. In the forthcoming weeks, Congress will exercise its Constitutional power of the purse in crafting appropriations bills that, I hope, will appropriately prioritize our nation’s spending,” Alabama’s senior senator concluded.

Tuberville, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also released a statement of his own.

“President Biden’s budget priorities are out of step with the challenges facing our country,” he stated. “After such an alarming ‘skinny budget’ proposal earlier this year, it’s no surprise that the full plan is dead on arrival in Congress.”

“President Biden’s request for the Department of Defense is disappointing, dangerous, and a disservice to our men and women in uniform,” Tuberville remarked. “At a time where the threats to U.S. security are rapidly increasing, we cannot underfund our military and ask them to ‘do more with less,’ as President Biden’s budget does.”

He concluded, “Meanwhile, the president is asking for a massive and irresponsible increase in domestic programs, apparently forgetting the unprecedented spending levels Congress already reached during the pandemic. We cannot continue to blow up the federal deficit and place our children and grandchildren in greater debt to countries like China. I’ll continue to advocate for a responsible federal budget that strengthens our national security and puts our future generations on fiscally sound footing.”

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

2 months ago

Cullman City Schools joins Citizen Promise Program

(Cullman City Schools, Cullman City, and the Liberty Learning Foundation/Contributed)

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff on Friday announced that over 250 seventh grade students from Cullman Middle School and over 250 ninth grade students from Cullman High School next year will have unprecedented access to community opportunities and resources that will help prepare them to be Life, Career and Citizen ready graduates.

Additionally, each year thereafter, the high school program will add a grade level until all four grades are participating in the Citizen Promise Program — making it the second high school in Alabama selected to provide this civics and career immersion for its students offered by Liberty Learning.

“The Citizen Promise Program is really a catalyst and a framework for public-private partnerships that help schools provide students with real-life experiences to complement their academics,” stated Liberty Learning Foundation CEO Patti Yancey.

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The Alabama-based nonprofit has been praised locally for the success of its elementary and middle school programs which focus on civics, character, financial literacy and career development.

“This is a natural next step in the process,” Yancey added. “Our younger students understand the importance of being part of the community and country. The Citizen Promise then connects high schoolers with people who care deeply and can contribute time, talent and treasure that helps them succeed.”

According to a release, the Citizen Promise high school model sets goals for engagement and rewards achievement. Students begin with a dive into founding documents of American history and their relevance today. Then, they are challenged to apply corresponding concepts to develop essential skills, to build character and to increase community involvement through Citizen Actions. Students will begin using the lessons they are learning to make real impacts in their community, starting now. Opportunities throughout the year will help inspire and educate the whole citizen by ensuring the comprehension of critical civic, character, historical and career-life knowledge.

“Around 20 years ago we got away from character and citizenship in education as a whole, to focus so much on reading and math,” Kallhoff remarked. “But in the process we let character and citizenship fall behind. That’s what makes me so excited about expanding our partnership with the Liberty Learning Foundation, which will address the problem head on, teaching students the idea of service before self.”

Cullman City Schools is spearheading the American Character and Citizen Promise initiative in the community while Liberty Learning Foundation acts as a “conduit” by rallying a “Promise Ring” of passionate partners to support and mentor students in their community. Cullman City Schools administrators, counselors and teachers facilitate, mentor and celebrate student achievements. Together, the partners will help students engage in real-world opportunities, giving them a firm foundation and a roadmap for the paths they choose after graduation. The City of Cullman has stepped up as the first major investor, pledging to match every sponsorship donation contributed from the community to this Cullman City Schools program.

“We have seen the Liberty Learning programs make a difference in the lives of those younger children in the elementary programs,” added Cullman City Mayor Woody Jacobs. “However, when we found out they could build on that foundation in middle and high school, we knew we had to make it happen in Cullman. We’re proud to be investing in these programs, because we know it’ll make a difference for Cullman in the long run. I encourage every business owner and community member to share your time, treasure, and talent when called upon to support this program.”

“We couldn’t make this kind of an impact without the financial support from Cullman City, and enthusiasm from Senator Garlan Gudger. And the commitment from Cullman City Schools shows this is a community who truly cares about EVERY child succeeding. Every Cullman resident and business leader should be proud of their community,” concluded Brett Johnson, vice president of Liberty Learning Foundation.

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

2 months ago

Alabama-built USS Mobile commissioned in its namesake city

(Austal USA/YouTube)

The U.S. Navy last weekend commissioned the USS Mobile (LCS 26), which was built at Austal USA’s world-class manufacturing operation in its namesake city.

The Independence-variant littoral combat ship becomes the 16th ship Austal has delivered to the Navy over the last five years. LCS 26 was delivered to the Navy in late 2020.

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) delivered the commissioning ceremony’s principal address, per a Navy release.

“The United States has been the greatest source of good in the history of the world and we will continue to be a force for good because of the brave men and women that we have here today,” remarked Tuberville — a staunch supporter of Austal who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Guest speakers for the event also included Governor Kay Ivey, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and James Geurts — performing the duties of the undersecretary of the Navy.

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“The ships that this city has built are literally sailing on every ocean right now,” stated Geurts, referencing Mobile-based Austal USA.

The future Mobile was christened in December 2019 by its sponsor, Rebecca Byrne, the wife of then-Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01).

“We have the distinction of the USS Mobile being built and commissioned in its namesake city here in the historic port of Mobile,” she said. “We welcome the ship to the United States fleet that bears our great name and comes on great Navy tradition.”

The ceremony completed a weeklong series of events celebrating the ship and its namesake city. USS Mobile is the fifth ship named in honor of the port city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

At 419 feet in length, LCS 26 has a draft of only 14.4 feet and can reach a sprint speed of over 40 knots.

LCS 26 is capable of operating independently or in a group. This type of Alabama-built ship is designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance along coastal waters, yet also is capable of open-ocean operation. A fast, maneuverable and networked surface-combatant, Independence-variant littoral combat ships provide the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

RELATED: Byrne: Future USS Mobile will play important role ‘standing against Chinese aggression’

LSC 26 is the first of its name to actually be built in Mobile.

The first USS Mobile was a side-wheel steamer that operated as a Confederate government-operated blockade runner. It was captured by U.S. forces at New Orleans in April 1862, commissioned as Tennessee and later renamed Mobile.

The second Mobile was reportedly a passenger liner operated by Hamburg Amerika Lines between Germany and the United States until the outbreak of World War I. It was taken over by the Allied Maritime Council and assigned to the United States after the Armistice and commissioned in March 1919.

The third Mobile (CL 63) was commissioned March 24, 1943. It participated in numerous campaigns in the Pacific during World War II and received 11 battle stars for her service by the time she was decommissioned in May of 1947.

The fourth Mobile (LKA 115) was an amphibious cargo ship that served from September 1969 until decommissioning in February of 1994.

LCS 26 will homeport in San Diego with sister ships: USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Jackson (LCS 6), USS Montgomery (LCS 8), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), USS Omaha (LCS 12), USS Manchester (LCS 14), USS Tulsa (LCS 16), USS Charleston (LCS 18), USS Cincinnati (LCS 20), USS Kansas City (LCS 22) and USS Oakland (LCS 24).

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

 

2 months ago

BCBS of Alabama earns top J.D. Power designation in member satisfaction for 10th year

(YHN)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama ranks highest in member satisfaction among commercial health plans in the East South Central Region, according to the J.D. Power 2021 Commercial Member Health Plan Study.

Since J.D. Power first published the study in 2007, BCBS of Alabama has ranked highest in member satisfaction in the region for the following 10 years: 2008-2013, 2016, 2018, 2020 and — now — 2021.

“It is an honor to again receive this esteemed award, especially during these recent challenging times,” stated Tim Vines, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “We don’t take for granted that our customers come to us by choice. Above all else, we remain committed to putting our customers first, by providing them unparalleled service and access to quality, affordable healthcare.”

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The study measured member satisfaction among 150 health plans in 22 regions throughout the nation. J.D. Power examines six key factors: coverage and benefits, provider choice, information and communication, billing and payment, cost, and customer service.

Blue Cross performed highest in coverage and benefits, provider choice, customer service, and billing and payment.

RELATED: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama honored for excellence in serving its members

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

2 months ago

‘VETO’: Governor Kay Ivey takes strong stand for Alabama’s children

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced she has vetoed Democrat-sponsored SB 94, which would have delayed implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act’s retention component by two years.

This aspect of the Literacy Act, passed by the legislature in 2019, is set to take effect following the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year. It would require that students be able to read at grade level before advancing to the fourth grade.

SB 94 — sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) and carried in the House by Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile) — would have pushed that requirement back until the end of the 2023-2024 school year, potentially seeing two more classes of students statewide be promoted to the fourth grade whether they could read or not. The bill was passed by the Alabama Legislature even though studies have shown that 74% of struggling readers at the end of the third grade will not ever catch up if allowed to move on. Opponents of SB 94 argued that the bill would effectively doom these children to failure.

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“As a former teacher and even more so as governor, I believe early literacy is the gateway to all learning,” Governor Ivey said in a Thursday statement. “In the past several days, I have heard from Alabamians who support and from those who oppose the legislature’s approval of a two-year delay of the third-grade promotion policy included in the Alabama Literacy Act.”

“Everyone agrees that the past 15 months of the Covid-19 pandemic have been hard on all Alabamians, including school personnel, students and parents,” she noted. “However, to establish any delay at all in the Alabama Literacy Act prior to analyzing the 2020-2021 summative assessment data for reading would be hasty and premature. Therefore, I have notified the sponsors of the promotion policy delay that I have vetoed SB 94.”

Ivey has also moved to ensure all relevant data will be available for the Legislature to act upon ahead of the retention requirement going into effect in 2022. The 2022 regular session will start well ahead of the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

“Furthermore, as president of the Alabama State Board of Education, I am requesting that the state superintendent of education and his staff provide the board, and the public, a full and complete review of the Spring 2021 Assessment results in all subjects and grades, but in particular the data on reading in the early grades as soon as the data are available and have been analyzed. Once that is completed, I will ask the Alabama Committee on Grade Level Reading to review the relevant data and make recommendations regarding any necessary action,” the governor explained. “All the aforementioned work can take place this year, well ahead of any deadlines identified in the Alabama Literacy Act.”

“As we address the impact of the pandemic on our students, we need the support and focus the Alabama Literacy Act provides: identifying and supporting struggling readers, teacher training and coaching, and clear communication with parents on where their children have needs and how those needs are being addressed. We must remain focused on ensuring that our students have the foundational reading skills they need to succeed,” she concluded.

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

2 months ago

Michael Morrissey appointed chairman of Protective Life board of directors

(Protective Life/Contributed, YHN)

Birmingham-based Protective Life Corporation this week announced that Michael J. Morrissey has been appointed chairman of its board of directors. Morrissey has served on Protective’s board since May 2020.

He is the former president and CEO of the International Insurance Society (IIS).

“Serving as a member of the Protective Board of Directors for the past year has been a privilege, and I’m honored to now serve as Chairman of the Board,” stated Morrissey. “As we navigate an industry full of opportunities, Protective has a strong leadership team in place, and I’m looking forward to continuing our work to build the business for the future and deliver on promises to customers.”

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Prior to joining the IIS, where he served as president and CEO for more than a decade, Morrissey was chairman and CEO of Firemark Investments. As a founder of Firemark, he was also the chief investment officer for the company and portfolio manager of the Firemark Tiger Fund. Before establishing Firemark, Morrissey was president of Manhattan Life Insurance Co. and senior vice president of Crum & Forster.

He is currently a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of Selective Insurance Group and has chaired its Finance, Corporate Governance and Compensation Committees. He is also an insurance working group member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a special advisor to the Asia Pacific Financial Forum and a member of the board of governors of the Asia Pacific Risk & Insurance Association.

Morrissey previously was a member of the board of overseers of the St. John’s University of School of Risk Management and the steering committee of the Insurance Development Forum — a public/private partnership of the insurance industry, the United Nations and the World Bank. He was also a member of the steering committee of the World Economic Forum’s Mitigating Risk in the Innovation Economy initiative. Morrissey holds a B.A. from Boston College and an MBA from Dartmouth, and he has completed the Harvard Business School Corporate Finance Program. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst and former president of the Association of Insurance and Financial Analysts.

Stepping into the role of chairman, Morrissey succeeds W. Michael Warren, Jr., who had served as chairman of Protective’s board since November 4, 2019. Warren will continue serving on the board, as he has since 2001. He is CEO of Children’s of Alabama.

Protective has been headquartered in Birmingham since its founding in 1907; it is now a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc.

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

2 months ago

Tuberville: Rampant inflation under Biden ‘basically a tax on the poor’

(Senator Tuberville/Twitter)

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Wednesday delivered remarks at a press conference regarding the rising prices of goods and the direct impact inflation is having on Alabamians under the presidency of President Joe Biden.

“I went through inflation back in the 1970s growing up,” Alabama’s junior senator began. “And it wasn’t a pretty sight.”

Tuberville noted that what we are starting to see now is reminiscent of that, with inflation rising quickly. In fact, inflation in April accelerated at its fastest pace in more than 12 years. Year-over-year, last month also saw a 49.6% increase for gasoline prices and 37.3% for fuel oil costs. Meanwhile, in just 2021 alone, lumber prices have risen 124% and copper has jumped nearly 36%.

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In his remarks, Tuberville next explained that he recently experienced a one-dollar per gallon spike in gas prices at a local station in Auburn.

“The average person cannot afford that,” Tuberville decried. “This is basically a tax on the poor.”

“And I keep hearing from this administration, ‘We’re not going to raise taxes on the middle class or the people that don’t have money.’ Well folks, it is hitting us right between the eyes,” he continued. “And it’s a shame that we’re doing this to people that don’t deserve it — and at a tough time coming off of COVID when people are trying to get back to work.”

Tuberville subsequently warned, “It’s going to get worse. We’re just hitting the tip of what’s going to happen.”

The senator also reiterated that lower-income Americans cannot afford the significant price increases on groceries and other necessities caused by the Biden inflation.

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

2 months ago

2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl Week to feature inaugural HBCU Combine in Mobile

(City of Mobile/Contributed)

The Reese’s Senior Bowl on Wednesday announced that, in collaboration with the National Football League, it will hold the HBCU (Historically Black College & University) Combine in Mobile, Alabama.

The 73rd annual Reese’s Senior Bowl will kick off on February 5, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. CT at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

With representatives from all 32 NFL clubs traveling for Senior Bowl week in the past, hosting this event in Mobile ensures maximum visibility for HBCU players – one of the event’s key objectives.

Select players from four HBCU conferences – CIAA, MEAC, SIAC and SWAC – and other HBCU institutions will be invited to participate in the event. Alabama is home to more HBCUs than any other state in the nation.

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“We are incredibly excited the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL have chosen Mobile to host a combine specifically for Historically Black Colleges & Universities,” said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson in a statement. “Our region has a rich history of HBCU institutions, and the Reese’s Senior Bowl is the perfect partner to showcase the skills of HBCU student athletes. Our relationship with the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL as well as the state-of-the-art athletics facilities at the University of South Alabama have solidified what we already know: The draft starts in Mobile.”

Held at the University of South Alabama and patterned after the NFL Combine, the HBCU Combine will include the gathering of comprehensive medical information, interviews and on-field evaluations of football skills and acumen. This year’s event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Reese’s Senior Bowl is honored to be collaborating with the National Football League to host the inaugural HBCU Combine in Mobile, Alabama,” stated Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy. “Over the years, the Senior Bowl has served as a showcase for some of the top Black college football players in America, including seven of our game’s 56 future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and this event will help many more HBCU players secure further attention and exposure from all 32 teams.”

An HBCU Scouting Committee, comprised of current and former league executives, will reportedly evaluate and select the participants. The Senior Bowl will provide medical and football personnel to capture important pre-Draft information and deliver a world-class experience for HBCU prospects.

“Throughout NFL history, HBCU athletes have exemplified a standard of excellence both on and off the field,” concluded Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of Football Operations. “The HBCU Combine is part of honoring that legacy and making every effort to accelerate exposure of HBCU draft prospects to all NFL clubs. The game is better when all have the opportunity to compete.”

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

2 months ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Ag Commissioner Rick Pate for reelection

(Rick Pate/Contributed, YHN)

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate’s (R-AL) 2022 reelection bid.

Pate, currently serving his first term as commissioner after being elected in 2018, announced his GOP reelection candidacy earlier this week.

“Commissioner Pate has done an outstanding job leading the Department of Agriculture and Industries over the last few years,” stated AFA president Chris Isaacson. “He has been a tireless advocate for Alabama’s agricultural community. We are honored to stand with Rick in his bid for a second term.”

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During Pate’s term as commissioner, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has implemented the innovative statewide branding program “Sweet Grown Alabama,” increased funding for the Alabama Farm to School Program and successfully administered Alabama’s first industrial hemp program.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioner also fought to keep agriculture listed as critical infrastructure, delivered essential personal protective equipment to processing facilities across the state and kept the department functioning strongly.

Pate was previously served as mayor of Lowndesboro for 14 years. He founded Pate Landscape Co., Inc. and spent 38 years running the company. In 2020, Pate was elected as an RNC delegate and one of the nine Alabama Electoral College Electors for former President Donald J. Trump. He currently serves as chairman of the Lowndes County Republican Party and on the statewide Alabama Republican Executive Committee.

A member of the Lowndesboro Baptist Church, Pate and his wife, Julie, have been married for 33 years and have two adult sons.

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

2 months ago

Alabama bans curbside voting — ‘Strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world’

(Governor Kay Ivey/ Contributed)

Governor Kay Ivey’s office on Wednesday afternoon announced that she has signed two additional bills following the conclusion of the Alabama Legislature’s 2021 regular session last week.

Ivey has newly signed HB 285 and HB 314.

Sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), HB 285 bans curbside voting. Previously existing Alabama law did not currently provide for curbside voting, however, the practice was also not explicitly barred.

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This past year, that unclarity led to multiple rounds of litigation when Secretary of State John Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall deemed the practice illegal while activists pushed to have curbside voting instituted at the last minute in certain counties.

HB 285 now codifies the interpretation of Marshall and Merrill.

Allen is running for secretary of state in 2022. Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) carried HB 285 in the Senate.

Sponsored by Rep. Rod Scott (D-Fairfield), HB 314 revises the process for voter change-of-address updates, which maintains the integrity of voting rolls.

“Our freedom of speech is rooted in our ability to vote, and a strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world. I appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Rep. Allen and Rep. Scott to ensure Alabama’s election process remains free, fair and highly ethical,” Ivey said in a statement.

Both HB 285 and HB 314 take immediate effect.

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

2 months ago

Clarke County sheriff resigns ahead of impeachment hearing

(Attorney General Steve Marshall/Facebook, Clarke County Sheriff's Office/Contributed)

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Wednesday that he has notified the Supreme Court of Alabama that Clarke County Sheriff William Ray Norris tendered his resignation to Governor Kay Ivey on May 24, to become effective on June 1.

This comes as the Supreme Court had ordered Norris to appear and answer a two-count information of impeachment on June 2.

The Information of Impeachment and Prayer for Ouster of Sheriff Norris was filed by Marshall on April 27 with the Supreme Court. The Attorney General’s Office began investigating the matter in early 2020, resulting in the decision to seek Norris’ removal from office. Norris was charged with four instances of corruption in office and 11 instances of commission of crimes involving moral turpitude. Unless and until proven guilty, Norris is presumed innocent.

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Because impeachment proceedings determine whether officeholders are unfit for public office and should be removed, Marshall concluded in his court filing Tuesday that Norris’ resignation supersedes current impeachment proceedings, including the June 2 hearing. If the Supreme Court determines that Norris’ resignation nullifies the current impeachment proceedings, it will likely dismiss the case once Norris’ resignation is effective.

“It is more important than ever that the public be able to trust elected officials, especially when they occupy leadership positions within law enforcement,” stated Marshall. “It was my judgment that Sheriff Norris could no longer be trusted as a public servant or as a law enforcement official, and his resignation should be a welcome relief to the public. Sheriff Norris’ decision to resign from office, however, does not foreclose the possibility that criminal charges will be filed against him.”

The AG also commended the staff of his Special Prosecutions Division and thanked other agencies for their invaluable assistance in this matter, noting in particular the Alabama Securities Commission, the Alabama Department of Revenue’s Investigations Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Mobile Field Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.

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

2 months ago

Alabama launches CodeRED notification system for missing person alerts

(Pixabay, YHN)

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) has launched a new high-speed notification system known as CodeRED, designed to notify residents of missing person alerts throughout the state.

The system was unveiled on Tuesday to highlight National Missing Children’s Day.

“Our Alabama Fusion Center (AFC) will use the new state-of-the-art system to issue alerts in the event of a missing person, and it will have the capability to quickly deliver essential information to citizens throughout the state or in a targeted area, depending on the situation,” Governor Kay Ivey explained in a statement. “I encourage all Alabamians to consider enrolling in the new alert system, which will allow everyone to be vigilant and stay informed once a missing person alert is issued.”

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According to a release, CodeRED gives those who want to be included an easy and secure method for inputting information. The data collected will be used only for such emergency notification purposes as when citizens are reported missing. Citizens who wish to enroll should visit www.alea.gov and click on the CodeRED logo.

An additional easy enrollment process can be completed by texting “ALalerts” to 99411 from any mobile device. Citizens will then receive an immediate response containing the Community Notification Enrollment (CNE) link for the state.

ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said, “We are continuously looking for ways to improve our overall operations and efficiently serve the citizens of this state. ALEA’s Fusion Center has worked diligently to provide citizens with a new alert system that can easily be accessed. CodeRED will allow all Alabamians to quickly subscribe to alerts via a variety of methods and it will deliver time-sensitive information during high-stress situations where time is of the essence for those missing loved ones.”

AFC Director Jay Moseley added, “Your participation in this emergency notification system will provide a direct conduit between public safety officials and your local community. CodeRED allows us to disseminate missing person alerts via phone, text, email and social media, however, citizens have the ability to select the preferred means of communication.”

Citizens and partners should be advised that ALEA will cease sending emails on the existing system in the near future but will give everyone notice before doing so. Amber Alerts and Blue Alerts will continue to be relayed over the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system, in addition to being distributed on the CodeRED platform. Missing and Endangered Persons Alerts and Emergency Missing Child Alerts will only be distributed over the CodeRED platform.

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

2 months ago

Alabama PACT Program to increase payments by 10% in fall 2021

(Alabama State Treasurer John McMillan/Facebook, Pixabay, YHN)

Alabama State Treasurer John McMillan on Tuesday announced that directors of the Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) Program approved a 10% increase to the current rate paid by the program for tuition and fees. This increase is effective starting with the upcoming fall 2021 semester.

McMillan serves as the chairman of the PACT board.

“I am thankful to serve alongside the diligent and forward-thinking members of the Alabama PACT Board,” stated McMillan. “Their vision has provided immeasurable opportunity for many PACT account holders.”

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Under the 2011 Class Action Settlement Agreement, PACT is required to pay tuition and qualified fees at the fall 2010 rates as certified by each respective, eligible Alabama public educational institution. The agreement was negotiated to allow for an increase in benefit payments, if the actuarial condition of the PACT program improved. The first increase of 3.0% was made in 2015 and followed by a 6.0% increase in 2016, an 8.0% increase in 2017, a 7% increase in 2018, a 7% increase in 2019 and a 7% increase in 2020.

“We are proud to offer this seventh increase in benefit payments,” McMillan concluded.

The PACT Program currently has 10,870 active contracts.

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

2 months ago

Birmingham Promise secures $7M in additional commitments from local businesses

(City of Birmingham Government/Facebook, YHN)

Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin and Birmingham Promise Inc. executive director Rachel Harmon on Tuesday announced $7 million in corporate gifts to support college scholarships and other services provided through the groundbreaking organization.

The gifts include the largest private donation to Birmingham Promise to date: a $5 million commitment from Vulcan Value Partners, an investment management firm located in the Magic City.

New commitments of $1 million each also came from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Protective Life Corporation, respectively.

“These investments represent a commitment not only to the students who benefit directly from Birmingham Promise but to the future of our city,” Woodfin said in a statement. “Birmingham Promise is laying a foundation that will create economic opportunity and prosperity here for generations to come.”

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Additionally, Alabama Power Company has committed to a gift of $1 million for the second consecutive year, which is not included in the total number announced Tuesday.

Birmingham Promise provides tuition assistance for graduates of Birmingham City Schools who attend in-state public colleges and universities, as well as success coaches who continue to support the students during their college journey. Birmingham Promise also provides paid apprenticeships that allow Birmingham high school juniors and seniors to gain work experience.

“Our goal is to clear pathways to opportunity for our students in Birmingham,” Harmon commented. “Whether we’re providing career experiences or money for college, the objective is to unleash potential and open doors. We are planting the seeds of success for these students and for our city.”

Vulcan Value Partners explained that the vision of Birmingham Promise is aligned with its corporate philosophy and goals.

“As long-term investors, we look for leadership and vision, both of which Mayor Woodfin has delivered with Birmingham Promise,” said C.T. Fitzpatrick, the founder, CEO and chief investment officer of Vulcan Value Partners. “By committing to Birmingham Promise, we are investing in our future – our young people – knowing that what we are doing today will pay dividends in the future.”

BCBS of Alabama said supporting Birmingham Promise is a way to enhance the overall well-being of the community.

“One of our corporate values at Blue Cross is ‘Give Back to the Community,’ a commitment that we uphold and continue to carry out by investing in the health, education and well-being of Alabamians,” stated Tim Vines, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “Through these efforts, our goal is to help create a stronger, healthier Alabama, and the Birmingham Promise is a perfect fit for this vision.”

Protective advised that education is a key to ensuring opportunity and making a regional impact.

“At Protective, we know we are only as successful as the communities in which we live, and we are committed to making a positive impact,” remarked Rich Bielen, president and CEO of Protective. “Education is a cornerstone to providing equitable and accessible opportunities, and we are proud to support this project, which enables Birmingham’s students to move our region forward.”

Harmon gave credit to the corporate partners that support Birmingham Promise.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the strong support of our corporate partners,” Harmon stressed. “On behalf of our students, their parents, and our citizens, we are all indebted to those who are willing to invest in Birmingham Promise.”

Students who have benefited from the program also expressed thanks to the corporate partners, as well as the City of Birmingham, which has committed $10 million over five years to the program.

“I want to thank Mayor Woodfin, the Birmingham City Council, and the other individuals and companies that are providing these opportunities to me and other students in Birmingham City Schools,” said Justin Williams, a Parker High School graduate, Birmingham Promise scholarship recipient and University of Alabama computer engineering student. “By investing in Birmingham Promise, they are helping to open doors for all of us and hopefully getting us in a position one day to provide the same kind of leg-up for students in the future.”

To date, Birmingham Promise has partnered with businesses to offer 150 paid apprenticeships to juniors and seniors in Birmingham City Schools.

The program in its first year supported 396 students with scholarships, 293 of whom had a financial gap related to tuition and received direct financial assistance totaling almost $1.5 million. All students received supportive services through Birmingham Promise success coaches and staff.

Among the class of 2021, 618 students have completed the application and are on track to provide all required documentation by June 1.

Dr. Mark Sullivan, superintendent of Birmingham City Schools, thanked Birmingham Promise and its corporate donors for supporting his students.

“This week, hundreds of scholars will graduate from Birmingham City Schools. While we are excited about their accomplishments, we are even more excited about what they will do in the future,” Sullivan concluded. “Many of our scholars will pursue university and community college degrees with financial support from Birmingham Promise. This announcement of additional contributions today is a huge investment in our business and civic leaders of tomorrow. Thank you.”

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