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.

8 mins ago

Roby: Alabama bicentennial amplified by current ‘extreme economic development and job growth’

(Martha Roby, Alabama 200/Facebook, YHN)

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) on Tuesday joined Alabama’s entire U.S. House delegation in honoring the Yellowhammer State’s upcoming bicentennial anniversary on the chamber floor.

In a speech, Roby introduced H. Res. 711, which recognizes the incorporation of Alabama as the 22nd state in the Union on December 14, 1819.

Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Mike Rogers (AL-03), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Gary Palmer (AL-06) and Terri Sewell (AL-07) joined Roby in commemorating the historic milestone.

Roby’s remarks not only mentioned the marker of Alabama’s statehood but lauded its current progress.

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“This is a monumental occasion in our state’s history, and we are looking forward to joining Alabamians in a year full of memorable celebration and commemoration of the bicentennial,” she said. “Alabama is currently experiencing extreme economic development and job growth across the state, which makes this special time even more exciting for us all.”

This comes after it was announced on Friday that Alabama’s unemployment rate dipped below 3% for the first time ever. The state has been breaking economic records consistently, with each month seemingly bringing even better news. The main focus now for the state’s economy is workforce development efforts to increase Alabama’s pool of skilled workers.

Roby, who is not seeking reelection to a sixth term, concluded, “I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve the people of Alabama as we celebrate the birthday and history of the beloved state we all call home.”

Watch:

You can learn more about Alabama’s bicentennial here, including special events across the state.

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

16 mins ago

Technology services veteran appointed to lead State of Alabama’s IT operations

(Governor's Office/Contributed)

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced that Marty Redden will serve as the permanent Alabama Office of Information Technology (OIT) secretary effective immediately. Redden has been serving as the acting secretary since July.

In a statement, Ivey said, “Since Marty stepped in to OIT as the acting secretary, he has run the agency effectively and with great prudence, and the state will certainly benefit from his leadership in this position. I am confident Marty will continue refining the agency, to make it run successfully and be accountable to the people of Alabama.”

“His decades of experience in the technology field is already paying off for OIT and our other state agencies, which is why I am proud that he will continue serving in this capacity,” she advised.

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Redden has three decades of experience in the IT field, include 20 years in management.

He began his career in banking and finance technology. In 2007, he transitioned to a career in state service. Redden has since held high-level management positions in the Alabama Department of Corrections, the Alabama Medicaid Agency and the state Finance Department. While working with each of these agencies, Redden originated, led and implemented technology advancements and improvements, per a release from the governor’s office.

Redden remarked, “As secretary of OIT, my overriding mission is to provide Alabama’s state government with the best technology services at the smallest cost to the taxpayers we serve. Every service that the state provides to its citizens involve some form of technology, so if we do our job well, countless Alabamians will get the help they need more quickly, efficiently and effectively.”

“I appreciate the confidence Governor Ivey has placed in me and will work every day to prove it justified,” he concluded.

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

5 hours ago

Boeing donates over $500k to Alabama STEM education in 2019

(Pixabay, YHN)

In a Monday press release, Boeing confirmed that the company is making a $100,000 contribution to make Learning Blade available to every Alabama student in the fifth through ninth grades. Learning Blade challenges students to take on game-based projects that expose them to different aspects of science, technology, engineering and math education – commonly referred to as STEM.

With this contribution, Boeing — through its 2019 global engagement grants — has awarded $525,000 to Alabama communities in support of educational STEM programs for students and workforce development programs for transitioning military, veterans and their families.

The latest venture also exemplifies the importance of public-private partnerships in modern workforce development, as Boeing is partnering with the Alabama Department of Commerce and Governor Kay Ivey’s office to make Learning Blade available.

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This is one of four Boeing community grants that was initially announced October 17 in Huntsville. At that time, the company outlined its joint initiative with the Alabama Department of Commerce to offer Learning Blade, a validated STEM career awareness system, to WIOA youth serving organizations and schools throughout the state. Besides the company’s crucial contribution, the project is funded in part with federal monies made available to the Alabama Department of Commerce by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Trainings Administration.

In a statement, Ivey professed her support for Learning Blade — which continues her historic focus on workforce development, including the Success Plus initiative to add 500,000 more skilled workers to the state by 2025.

“Providing access to college and career exploration is key to developing career pathways for all Alabamians,” the governor remarked. “It is difficult to know what you want to be when you grow up if you have never been exposed to the various options that are out there.”

“Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult for Alabamians in many rural areas, and even some of our largest cities, to strive towards the career pathway the best suits their interest and aptitudes because they do not know what is available to them,” she continued. “That’s why I am so proud of the public – private partnership between the State of Alabama and Boeing to provide access to high-quality career exploration through the Learning Blade platform. Through Learning Blade, students of a variety of ages, interests, and aptitudes will be able to explore career clusters and high demand career pathways. This exposure will help individuals persist in academic coursework and workforce training programs.”

The public-private partnership will result in Learning Blade being offered at no charge to students in all Alabama schools with grades five through nine. Learning Blade’s proven tool kit exposes students to the high demand STEM and computer science careers in an entertaining manner in an effort to increase student interest in these fields.

Educators can unlock more than 200 hours of interactive, online activities and teacher lesson plans that engage students in human-centered problems that illustrate more than 100 careers and technologies in industries such as IT, Cybersecurity, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioengineering, Energy, Robotics, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and more.

“Boeing has been in Alabama for more than a half a century, with its engineers and researchers playing key roles in developing the innovative aerospace technologies of tomorrow,” stated Tina Watts, community investor for Boeing global engagement. “It is essential to expose students in the state to the critical skills that will make them successful in STEM — unlocking their futures to opportunities through emerging technologies.”

Additionally, schools can work toward winning a 3D printer if students complete 5,000 online lessons in a single school year. Learning Blade’s 3D-printer sponsor, FlashForgeUSA, is providing a free 3D printer (Adventure 3) to such successful schools.

“We are grateful that so many leaders including the Governor’s office, Department of Commerce and others who came together with The Boeing Company to provide resources that will inspire students to envision their future,” concluded Sheila Boyington, president and CEO of Learning Blade. “It is really exciting to be a part of the process to enhance career awareness in the state, and to provide tools to teachers who will show students the many opportunities in STEM and computer science fields.”

Yellowhammer State schools and organizations serving the fifth-ninth grades can sign up for the program here.

RELATED: ‘Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success’ presented to Gov. Ivey

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

6 hours ago

Montgomery Chamber appoints retired Air Force general as senior vice president

(Alabama Chamber of Commerce/Contributed, YHN)

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has named Brigadier Gen. Trent H. Edwards (USAF, Ret.) as senior vice president of military and community development.

The announcement was made Monday in a press release. Edwards will focus on the viability and growth of Montgomery’s military missions while leading new community-wide initiatives that fuel the regional economy and stimulate quality of life for all.

In a statement, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Anna Buckalew said, “Trent is an incredibly skilled and experienced leader, and we are so fortunate to have recruited him and his family back to Montgomery.”

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In addition to building on the River Region’s extensive military footprint, Edwards will work to build new strategies to fuel economic and entrepreneurial growth around Montgomery’s thriving Air Force innovation hubs.

“We want Montgomery to be recognized as a destination where military families want to locate, where public/private partnerships fuel innovation and where small businesses and start-ups find fertile ground. Trent Edwards is the perfect leader to capitalize on these opportunities,” Buckalew advised.

The general comes to the Montgomery Chamber with a distinguished military career, most recently as the Air Force director of budget operations and personnel, responsible for an $80 billion budget.

Prior to that assignment, he was the comptroller and programmer for Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO. He has commanded two Air Force wings including the largest training wing in the Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base and the 42nd Air Base Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base from 2012-2014. He also has extensive intergovernmental experience, previously serving as the Air Force chief of congressional affairs. His extensive leadership experience and familiarity with the River Region community makes him uniquely qualified for his new role at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, the release emphasized.

“I have spent 30 years serving my country and am proud to return to Montgomery and serve the community we adopted as home,” Edwards commented. “One of my primary goals will be changing the perception of Montgomery and spreading the word that Montgomery really is the best hometown in the Air Force.”

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

1 day ago

TruSpin Nanomaterials, GLOW latest winners in Alabama Launchpad startup competition

(Alabama Launchpad/Contributed, YHN)

Two Alabama companies have been awarded a total of $150,000 in the latest Alabama Launchpad startup competition round.

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) last week hosted its fourth Alabama Launchpad finale of the year in Troy. The public event was held at the Emporium in partnership with Troy University.

In this round, seven finalists competed for non-dilutive funding in one of two tracks – a concept stage for entrepreneurs launching businesses and a seed stage for entrepreneurs accelerating growth.

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In the concept stage, Bluewater Hemp, Community Owned Grocery Stores, TruSpin Nanomaterials and Yente competed for $50,000, with TruSpin taking home the money.

TruSpin, a company based out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), aims to make affordable nanomaterials with a new technology, as its fibers are usable across many different industries. The company’s founders are Anthony Brayer and Robert Agnew.

In the seed stage, Chonex, GLOW and Watts.AI competed for $100,000.

GLOW, a beauty-on-demand company with professionals offering makeup, hair and spraytan services, won this prize. The company’s clients can book on the GLOW app and get service in the comfort of their own home or wherever is convenient. The CEO and founder is Yazmin Cavale.

In a statement, EDPA president Steve Spencer said, “Alabama Launchpad was honored to conclude 2019 with a great finale on the campus of Troy University and the City of Troy. 2019 was the most competitive year yet for the number and quality of applicants as we’ve seen Alabama’s entrepreneurial spirit front and center. We are proud to be a statewide part of growing Alabama’s startup economy.”

Since its inception in 2006, Alabama Launchpad has invested over $5.3 million in 90 companies that have created more than 500 jobs and raised over $70 million in follow-on capital and revenue. Alabama Launchpad is the most active early-stage investor in Alabama, according to PitchBook, which tracks the public and private equity markets.

In this round, four judges heard from Alabama Launchpad companies during a lengthy application process, offering feedback and raising questions throughout the process. Before the public finale, all companies pitched to the judges in a closed-door event at Troy University, during which every company could answer questions posed by the panel.

Alabama Launchpad is a public-private partnership made possible through support from the business community, the state’s research universities, the Alabama Research Alliance, the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Now in its 29th year, the non-profit EDPA represents the private sector’s contribution to economic development in Alabama. EDPA is supported by more than 60 partners from across the state and works to attract, retain and grow jobs, while also encouraging innovation through its Alabama Launchpad program.

Read more about the EDPA and its important efforts here.

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

1 day ago

UAB shatters another record for research funding — ‘Powerful economic engine’

(Wikicommons, UAB, YHN)

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has now experienced its second consecutive year of double-digit percentage growth in research grant and award funding, setting yet another historic best in the university’s 50-year history.

Merely one year after surpassing $500 million in research funding for the first time, UAB on Monday announced that its faculty, staff and administration already shattered the $600 million milestone.

UAB was officially awarded $602,024,372 in research funding for the 12-month period spanning October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, according to the university’s office of sponsored programs.

That figure represents an incredible increase of $75 million in funding year-over-year — a 14.2% jump. This comes after the institution secured $527,025,137 in research grants and awards over the same time period last year, which was then a 10% increase from 2017.

The university has now averaged 10% growth in its research funding awards in each of the past three years and a staggering 34% overall increase since 2014-15, showing that UAB is truly making its mark as a world class research institution and a major economic driver for the Birmingham metropolitan area and the entire state of Alabama.

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“This impressive upward curve, particularly during the past five years, is really a reflection of the quality of our people here at UAB,” stated Christopher Brown, Ph.D., UAB’s vice president for research.

“Our faculty continue to work smarter and harder to write winning proposals. It’s also a tremendously positive reflection on our administrative staff,” he continued. “The work they do to efficiently process these proposals is such a crucial element. We continue to aim high and exceed our goals, and it is a testament to the UAB research community’s great ideas, hard work and will to succeed.”

Funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense and clinical trials were major areas of growth over the last year.

In a statement, UAB president Ray L. Watts commented, “This record amount in awards is the continuation of the most successful five-year epoch of research funding in UAB history.”

“Last year, we had a record $527 million in awards, and we immediately set the bar even higher,” he said. “Through strong collaboration and partnership — around campus, throughout our community and state, and with our Board — we continue setting and exceeding ambitious goals in research and all pillars of our mission. I could not be prouder of the work of our faculty, staff and students in advancing a research enterprise that is among the most competitive in the nation and around the globe.”

The UAB School of Medicine, which checked in among an elite national group of eight academic medical centers to see a five-year increase of more than $100 million in NIH research funding this past spring, specifically increased its overall grant funding from $303.75 million to almost $368 million — a leap of $64 million or 21.1%. The School of Medicine has increased its award funding by almost $110 million over the past five years.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., Ph.D., dean of UAB’s School of Medicine, outlined why this is so important.

“The top schools in research are also among the top facilities in health care, and research and the funding that supports it are the structural basis of any academic research institution,” Vickers stated.  “These funds also enable UAB to be a powerful economic engine for the city and the state of Alabama. When each investigator gets a grant, it is like a $1 million startup company. It means the School of Medicine has 368 startup companies — and UAB as a whole has 602 — that would never be in Alabama if it weren’t for UAB and these funding agencies. It’s a constellation of companies providing jobs at a high level and attracting new talent.”

You can read more here.

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

1 day ago

Bama team surgeon on ‘successful’ Tua Tagovailoa surgery: ‘Prognosis is excellent’

(Phil Mathis/Twitter)

University of Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Monday reportedly had a “successful” surgery on his right hip in Houston after being injured Saturday in the Crimson Tide’s game at Mississippi State.

Dr. Lyle Cain, Bama’s team orthopedic surgeon from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Clinic at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, released a statement Monday with the official update.

“Tua underwent successful surgery on his right hip Monday morning in Houston,” Cain advised.

“The procedure went as planned, and he is resting comfortably,” he continued. “Tua’s prognosis is excellent, and we expect him to make a full recovery. He will return to Tuscaloosa in the next several days to begin his rehab.”

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Tagovailoa was initially airlifted to St. Vincent’s from Starkville, MS, after being injured near the end of the first half of Saturday’s SEC contest. He was then flown Sunday evening to Houston in anticipation of Monday’s surgery.

The record-breaking quarterback has seemed to be in good spirits while hospitalized, posting pictures of himself smiling as teammates visited him. Tagovailoa has also continued to display his deep faith through the process.

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

1 day ago

Colbert County joins online business filing ranks; Merrill calls on others to follow suit

Colbert County on Monday officially became the eighth county in the state of Alabama to allow online business filings for the formation of domestic limited liability companies and domestic for-profit business corporations.

Secretary of State John Merrill’s office made the announcement in a press release. Merrill’s office has worked in coordination with the office of Colbert County Probate Judge Daniel Rosser to provide this service to the people of the county.

In a statement, Merrill said, “Judge Daniel Rosser is one of the leaders of innovative solutions throughout the state, and I commend him for his hard work.”

“This service is offered at no cost to Alabama’s 67 counties as a courtesy of the Secretary of State’s Office. I encourage other counties across the state to begin offering this opportunity to residents. My office is eager and willing to create more opportunities for business owners in Alabama!” the secretary of state advised.

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The online filing process is now available for citizens of Baldwin, Elmore, Jackson, Madison, Montgomery, Morgan and Tuscaloosa counties.

Prior to Merrill taking office, the business filing process could take up to seven months. Merrill quickly set out to make the process work for businesses and not “move at the speed of government,” as he likes to say.

His efforts have been successful, as his office in June celebrated three consecutive years of same day business filings. Additionally, with the option to file online, the wait time is shorter than ever in participating counties.

“I am proud of the results that have been consistently produced by our office. At the Office of the Secretary of State, we will continue to do all that we can to help families and businesses grow and be successful,” Merrill concluded.

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

2 days ago

Tua Tagovailoa scheduled for hip surgery on Monday — ‘God always has a plan’

(Tua Tagovailoa/Instagram)

University of Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is now set to have hip surgery on Monday, with “a full recovery” still projected.

Dr. Lyle Cain, the Crimson Tide’s team orthopedic surgeon from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Clinic at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, released a statement Sunday evening with the update.

“For the past 24 hours our medical team has consulted with multiple orthopedic experts across the country, who specialize in hip injuries and surgeries,” Cain outlined. “Based on that research, Tua is being flown to Houston tonight to be evaluated and is scheduled to have hip surgery Monday.”

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“As previously stated, we anticipate a full recovery. The main focus has been, and will remain, on Tua, his family, and making sure we are providing them the best medical care possible,” he concluded.

This comes after Cain on Saturday stated, “Tua Tagovailoa sustained a right hip dislocation that was immediately reduced at the stadium. He is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment. He is expected to make a full recovery but will miss the remainder of the season.”

Tagovailoa has been at St. Vincent’s since being airlifted there from Starkville, MS — the location of the Tide’s contest against Mississippi State in which he was injured near the end of the first half.

Pictures have been posted to social media on Sunday showing teammates visiting Tagovailoa in the hospital.

Tagovailoa retweeted former Bama running back Shaun Alexander, who said, “My confidence in life is not in my gifts, abilities, awards or accomplishments. My confidence comes from my faith in Jesus. His plan is perfect. Every part of the plan is PERFECT. Love you Tuaman. Walk through this like you was built to. Finish the Game. A legend is being made.”

With a nod to his Hawaiian roots, Tagovailoa posted a picture on Instagram showing himself smiling while surrounded by teammates.

“OHANA means FAMILY, and FAMILY means no one gets left behind,” he said in the caption.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by TAGOVAILOA🇦🇸🇼🇸 (@tuamaann_) on

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

4 days ago

J C Love appointed Montgomery County probate judge

(J C Love for Mayor campaign)

J C Love, III on Friday was sworn in as Montgomery County probate judge after being appointed by Governor Kay Ivey.

Love, 40, is considered a rising star among Alabama Democrats. His candidacy to be Montgomery’s mayor this year was his first run at political office.

Prior to his appointment, Love had been practicing law at the prestigious Montgomery firm of Rushton Stakely, Johnston, & Garret, P.A. since 2013. He has practiced law for 14 years in total.

Also active civically, Love currently serves as president of the Britton YMCA board and is a member of the Montgomery County Bar Foundation Board.

“J C Love, III has an impressive career, both in his work as an attorney and his involvement in the Montgomery community,” Ivey said in a statement.

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“I’m confident that he will hit the ground running and be able to serve as Montgomery’s next Probate Judge with character, a hard work ethic, and a sense of service. I appreciate his willingness to serve in this role and know he will do a great job,” she added.

Love earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, cum laude, from Morehouse College in 2001. He later received his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 2004.

He is married to Dr. Porcia Bradford Love, M.D. The couple has three children.

Ivey signed Love’s appointment letter on Friday. He fills the vacancy created by Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s inauguration earlier this week. Love was not immediately available for comment.

RELATED: Gen. Ed Crowell not qualified for appointment as Montgomery County probate judge, will not serve

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

4 days ago

‘Alabama is indeed open for business’: State records first unemployment rate below 3%

(Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that Alabama has pulverized five economic records once again, including posting a new historic low unemployment rate of 2.8%.

The employment numbers for October are out, showing that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down from September’s rate of 3.0% and well below October 2018’s rate of 3.8%.

This is the first time ever that Alabama’s unemployment rate dipped below 3.0%.

“Alabama has never experienced an unemployment rate in the two percent range,” Washington said in a statement. “While we have been breaking unemployment records all year, I have to say that this is one metric we really weren’t sure we’d ever surpass, but we have!”

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October’s rate represents 2,200,681 employed persons, a new record high, compared to 2,194,109 in September and 2,120,546 in October 2018. This amounts to an over-the-year increase of 80,135. Additionally, a new record low of 63,333 unemployed persons were counted, compared to 66,883 in September and 83,400 in October 2018, amounting to an over-the-year decrease of 20,067.

The number of people in the civilian labor force increased to 2,264,014, also a new record high, representing an over-the-year increase of 60,068.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “More than 80,000 Alabamians are working today than last year, and 20,000 fewer people are counted as unemployed. Our economy is supporting over 2.1 million jobs, more than ever before.”

“Those are tremendous numbers, and we are extremely proud of them,” she continued. “We continue to show the rest of the country that Alabama is indeed open for business! Employers have confidence in our economy and jobseekers who are joining the workforce are finding employment. Just [Wednesday], we celebrated Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama’s expansion which will add 200 new employees. This adds to the steady announcements we are making every month, and we will continue working hard to bring those jobs home, so that every Alabamian who wants a job, will have one!”

Wage and salary employment measured 2,101,800 in October, also a new record high, representing over-the-year job growth of 2.0%, compared to the nation’s over-the-year job of growth of 1.4%.

“For the ninth month in a row, Alabama has met or surpassed national job growth,” Washington advised. “In October, manufacturing employment is at its highest level in more than a decade and record high employment was recorded in the professional and business services sector.”

Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 41,900, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+13,300), the leisure and hospitality sector (+9,100) and the government sector (+4,000), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in October by 7,900. Monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+3,100), the professional and business services sector (+3,000) and the government sector (+2,600), among others.

Manufacturing employment measured 271,600, which is its highest level since November 2008, when it measured 273,600. Professional and business services employment measured 259,700, another record high.

“Additionally, wages continue to show improvement, with total private average weekly earnings rising by $26.49 over the year, and construction wages reached a new record high,” Washington added.

Total private average weekly earnings were $862.75 in October, up from $836.26 a year ago. Average weekly wages in the construction industry rose to a new record high of $1,060.01.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in October were: Shelby County at 1.8%; Marshall County at 2.0%; and Blount, Crenshaw, Cullman, Lee, Limestone, Madison, Morgan and Tuscaloosa Counties at 2.1%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 6.3%, Greene County at 4.8% and Clarke County at 4.7%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Vestavia Hills at 1.5%; Alabaster, Homewood and Northport at 1.6%; and Hoover and Madison at 1.8%.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Selma at 5.2%, Prichard at 5.1% and Bessemer at 3.7%.

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

4 days ago

Three venue rotation put in place for 2021-2032 AHSAA Super 7 football championships

(Protective Stadium/Contributed, Wikicommons, Auburn Alumni Association/Flickr, YHN)

Birmingham’s Protective Life Stadium, Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium and Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium will rotate hosting the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s (AHSAA) Super 7 state high school football championships over the years 2021-2032.

AHSAA made the announcement Thursday, pending final approvals in process from the association and community partners.

The new structure (the addition being Birmingham) continues the tradition of using the state’s premier football venues as the backdrop for student-athletes in all seven AHSAA classifications to compete for their football state title each year.

In a statement, AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese expressed his enthusiasm for the fresh format.

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“It is with great pride that we announce the continuation of Super 7 for 2021-2032 and our partnership with the communities of Auburn-Opelika, Tuscaloosa, and now Birmingham,” he said.

“The communities of Auburn-Opelika and Tuscaloosa helped the AHSAA take this event to a new level in 2009 and created the standard of excellence for hosting that is unmatched across high school athletics,” Savarese continued. “The AHSAA is grateful for Auburn-Opelika and Tuscaloosa embracing a new idea to include Birmingham in the rotation which will now provide three high quality venues for our member schools to showcase their football programs at the end of each season.”

The 2021 event will begin the new three-community rotation at Protective Life Stadium in downtown Birmingham, which will at that time be newly constructed. The stadium will host its first Super 7 from December 1-3, 2021, followed by the years 2024, 2027 and 2030.

The 2021 event will mark the return of the state high school football championships to Birmingham for the first time since 2008, when the Magic City last hosted the event in its Super 6 format at historic Legion Field, where the championships were played from 1996 – 2008. Legion Field also was host to the large-school championship game from 1971 – 1995.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin commented, “We are pleased to see the AHSAA Super 7 return to the city where it began more than 20 years ago.”

“The Super 7 showcases the best of high school athletics in Alabama, and Birmingham is excited to be a host city once again. As a progressive city focused on building a better future for our young people, we look forward to working closely with the AHSAA to celebrate championship-caliber high school sports for years to come,” he added.

Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium and the communities of Auburn and Opelika will host in 2022, 2026, 2028 and 2032.

The Opelika City Council voted on November 5 to approve the host years, and the City of Auburn is in the midst of its approval process. Auburn Mayor Ron Anders advised that his city is “excited to continue the great tradition of hosting this major event for our state” when that process is completed.

Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium will host in 2023, 2025, 2029 and 2031.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said, “The City of Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama have always been synonymous with great football and striving towards excellence, and we want to continue that tradition by offering the opportunity for our youth across the state to continue to come to our city to play in the same arena as some of the greats who have come before them. Tuscaloosa has been a host of the Super 6 since 2009, and we want to continue to be a part of the Super 7 in our state in future years.”

Savarese thanked all three venue communities for their enthusiastic commitment to the AHSAA’s Super 7 football championship experience for its member schools.

“On behalf of our more than 400 member high schools and approximately 150,000 student-athletes this association serves, I want to sincerely thank the community partners who have pledged their support to make this idea a reality including the City of Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, the University of Alabama, the City of Auburn, the City of Opelika, the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, Auburn University, the City of Birmingham, the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the BJCC,” he concluded. “This event not only highlights our football student-athletes and coaches, but provides an opportunity for members of bands, spirit programs, and the entire communities that these schools represent to be showcased annually at our state’s most iconic venues for which the AHSAA is truly grateful.”

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

4 days ago

Tuberville: Reception for Trump at Bryant-Denny ‘brings tears to your eyes’ — ‘I was just ecstatic’

(WVTM/Twitter)

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville on Thursday spoke to WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” about his Republican campaign for the U.S. Senate and what he thought about President Donald Trump’s attendance at the Alabama-LSU game this past weekend.

Asked at the beginning of the interview by guest host Stan McDonald about the big game, Tuberville said it “was an awesome day” of football and patriotism.

“What brings tears to your eyes is the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, comes and watches an SEC game in the state of Alabama, and the reception that he and his wife received — you know, he takes a beating everywhere he goes, especially up north,” Tuberville remarked.

Tuberville added that while the president has a lot of support across the country, he does not often get to see that support expressed firsthand.

“So I was just ecstatic at how the people in Tuscaloosa — [including] the people from LSU, everybody — were on their feet, standing and cheering,” Tuberville said. “I just hope it made him (Trump) feel good and made a good day for him. Because he made a bright day for the people in Tuscaloosa and the people of Alabama by coming to that game.”

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With the interview occurring the morning after the first public impeachment hearings were held in the U.S. House of Representatives, Tuberville’s next topic turned to Democrats trying to remove Trump from office.

“It’s a joke, to be honest with you,” Tuberville decried.

He said what Democrats are doing is “an embarrassment” to our country.

“It’s all a show,” Tuberville remarked. “All they’re trying to do, the Democrats, they’re trying to make him (Trump) look bad right before an election. They know they can’t beat him. But they’re trying to make him look bad, because they know if he gets there four more years he’s going to stick it to them — and he should. He should. He should do everything he possibly can to put the Democrats back in their place and make a statement for how they’re treating him.”

As the interview progressed, Tuberville made the argument that Trump needs more true conservative fighters in Washington, D.C. working on his team rather than “wishy-washy” Republicans and career politicians.

“I’m not going to change. I’m not going to listen to special interests — I’m going to listen to the American people, the people of Alabama and Donald Trump,” Tuberville advised.

Listen:

RELATED: Palmer on Trump in Tuscaloosa: ‘I went to a football game and a Trump rally broke out’

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

5 days ago

Judge rules Alabama-born ‘ISIS bride’ not an American citizen, has no right to return

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh0qlEAN5Do

Hoda Muthana, who left Hoover in 2014 to join ISIS in Syria, has no right to return to the United States, according to a Thursday ruling by a federal judge.

Muthana has been begging to return to America since at least early this year, claiming she made “a big mistake.”

She has previously called for the killings of Americans on U.S. soil, as well as the assassination of then-President Barack Obama.

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Muthana was 19 years old when she left Alabama and headed to Raqqa, Syria. There, she first married an Australian jihadist named Suhan Rahman, who was reportedly killed later in the town of Kobanî.

After Rahman’s death, Muthana – called “one of Isis’s [sic] most prominent online agitators” as well as one of the most militant – took to social media in a vengeful call for the blood of American citizens to be spilled by radical jihadists living in the country.

“Americans wake up! Men and women altogether. You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping! Go on drivebys, and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriots, Memorial, etc day … Kill them,” she once tweeted.

After the death of Rahman, she married a Tunisian fighter, with whom she had her son, Adam. This second husband was soon killed in Mosul, and Muthana briefly married a Syrian fighter last year to complete her own trifecta of jihadist husbands.

It is supposedly in part out of concern for her son that she wants to return to her family in the Yellowhammer State. She also claims to have become de-radicalized over time after seeing the realities in the Middle East.

President Donald Trump’s State Department has maintained that Muthana is not an American citizen, as such has no rights to return to America and therefore would be banned from reentering the country.

On Thursday, approximately nine months after Muthana’s family sued the State Department in federal court, Senior United States District Judge Reggie Walton of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia officially sided with the government.

The judge found that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Muthana was born in America while her father, who once represented Yemen to the United Nations, still had diplomatic status in the U.S.

As reported by Buzzfeed News, “Federal regulations and international law state that children of foreign diplomats born in the US are not subject to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees birthright citizenship, because they are born under the jurisdiction of another country.”

Additionally, the judge also ruled that Muthana’s father can not provide financial support to her or her two-year-old without being subject to federal charges of providing material support to terrorism.

A lawyer for Muthana reportedly told Buzzfeed that an appeal is likely.

The ruling came days after NBC News featured the “ISIS bride” in a new exclusive. In that latest report, which was mocked by PJ Media, Muthana asserted that every American of faith must support her return, claiming, “Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were.”

That report also outlined that a return to live in Hoover was still Muthana’s goal.

“I want my son to be around my family, I want to go to school, I want to have a job and I want to have my own car,” she told NBC.

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has previously advocated that Muthana be allowed to return to America.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) disagreed with Jones’ position, saying, “Look, this is one of many ways that Doug Jones differs from the people – the vast majority of people – in the state of Alabama.”

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

5 days ago

Roby presses VA officials on staffing issues at Alabama facilities — ‘My veterans are suffering’

(M. Roby/Facebook, PIxabay)

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02), a member of the House’s Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, on Thursday participated in a hearing regarding the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection’s failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Roby questioned Michael J. Missal — inspector general of the VA — and Dr. Tamara Bonzanto — the assistant secretary for accountability and whistleblower protection of the VA.

In her questioning and remarks, Roby highlighted the importance of whistleblowers in uncovering critical issues at Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) and the urgent need for staffing improvements within the VA system.

She specifically pressed the inspector general as to why the system is not seeing any internal change impacting the lives of Alabama’s tremendous veterans.

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Roby asked, “Is there a disconnect between the administration’s view of how the VA is operating and the IG’s reports on the issues, and is the administration doing enough to implement IG recommendations?”

She commented, “This [whistleblower] hearing is important because there are some VA facilities in this country that are working well and serving our veterans well. There are others that are not, and that happens to be the one in my district…There is a tremendous problem with our veterans even having the ability to be seen. …It’s just not getting better. …I continue to be so outraged and frustrated as to why this is not getting better…My veterans are suffering because of it.”

You can watch Roby’s full remarks here.

The southeast Alabama congresswoman has long been a vocal advocate for veterans and improving the VA system.

RELATED: Roby: ‘My name isn’t on the ballot in 2020, but I still have a few fights left in me — The VA remains at the top of my list’

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

5 days ago

Alabama Policy Institute launches campaign to change state’s ‘dead last’ k-12 ranking

(Pixabay, YHN)

The Alabama Policy Institute (API) on Thursday launched the “#DeadLast Initiative” aimed at focusing elected officials and the public on Alabama’s recent ranking as having the nation’s lowest-ranked public education system.

The initiative includes the launch of DeadLast.org and an online video poking fun at the fact that Alabama is no longer even above Mississippi in its education ranking.

API is not just drawing attention to embarrassing problems — they are proposing tangible solutions.

Chief among the calls-to-action are for Alabama voters to pass Amendment One on the March 2020 primary ballot. The bipartisan proposal would be a historic overhaul of the state’s educational governance structure.

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In addition to outreach to elected officials, API is expected to invest significant time and resources into spreading the message to the public that Alabama must do a better job in educating our children, according to a press release.

“Alabama can no longer say ‘Thank God for Mississippi’,” API president Caleb Crosby said in a statement. “We are letting our children down and not preparing them for a productive life. API is going to do everything in our power to bring about change in the way we educate our children in Alabama – they deserve nothing less.”

API is also advocating for reforms such as the expansion of school choice through charter schools and scholarships; the wise use of tax dollars and not simply increasing spending for the sake of increasing spending; and reformulation of the teacher tenure system so that teacher performance and continual professional development are rewarded more than longevity.

API chief operations officer Carl Jones remarked that it is time to get away from a failing “status quo,” which he said is perfectly represented by the Alabama Education Association (AEA).

“Alabama’s worst in the nation ranking makes clear it’s high pastime we break the status quo in education in Alabama. No one more represents the same old same old as the Alabama Education Association,” Jones stated. “Unions have one goal – get the best deal for their members – that’s it. Our goal is to get the best deal for our children. We don’t want small shiny objects; we want, and our children need, real, aggressive reforms including an immediate expansion of school choice and reforming teacher tenure, among other things.”

API chief communications officer Joshua Pendergrass added, “It is simply unacceptable for Alabama to be number 52 in education – 52 out of 50 states – that means even Washington D.C. and the military are better educating their children than we are. We are committed to moving our state forward through smart, practical education reforms.”

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

5 days ago

Gen. Ed Crowell not qualified for appointment as Montgomery County probate judge, will not serve

(Gen. Ed Crowell for Mayor/Contributed)

After being appointed as Montgomery County probate judge by Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday, Brigadier General Ed Crowell (USAF, Ret.) on Thursday morning discovered he is too old under Alabama law to assume the position.

Crowell had been appointed to fill the vacancy created by Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s inauguration on Tuesday, however the state’s maximum age limit for judges apparently bars him from being eligible for the appointment.

In a statement, Ivey explained, “This morning, I was made aware that General Ed Crowell is unqualified to serve as Probate Judge due to the age required under our state’s constitution.”

“I regret he will not be able to assume this post,” she added. “General Crowell has one of the most impressive resumes that includes many years in service to our country which should be commended. I appreciate his willingness to serve and know that he will continue to be an active leader in his community.”

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Crowell commented, “It was an honor to have been selected by Governor Ivey to serve as Montgomery County’s next Probate Judge.”

“Regretfully, there was some confusion on my part about the state’s mandatory age requirement regarding judicial positions. As such, I have notified the Governor that she should choose someone who fulfills the requirements outlined in Alabama’s constitution,” he outlined.

“I apologize to the Governor for the confusion and regret the distraction this has caused and will look forward to serving my state in some other way if asked to do so,” Crowell concluded.

The relevant law states that “[n]o person shall be elected or appointed to a judicial office after reaching the age of seventy years.” In McAfee v. Milam, the Alabama Supreme Court held that this language “include[s] within its operation the office of probate judge and therefore prohibits any person seventy years of age or older from being elected to that office.” Although that case involved a prospective candidate for election to the office of probate judge, nothing in the text of the constitution or the logic of the high court’s reasoning would dictate a different outcome for prospective probate-judge appointees.

Ivey will soon name a new appointee to the vacancy.

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

5 days ago

Sessions puts MAGA hat back on for first TV ad of the cycle

(Sessions for Senate/YouTube)

It is how he first signaled his support to the world for then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015. And now, Jeff Sessions is putting a trademark red “Make America Great Again” hat on once again to try and prove he is still with the president.

In a new video posted on social media Thursday, the former U.S. attorney general first shows a clip of himself and Trump next to each other on stage at a February 2016 rally in Madison, Alabama — both wearing MAGA hats.

While Sessions has since had his difficulties staying in Trump’s good graces, the native Alabamian wants voters — and the president — to know that his loyalty has never wavered.

Entitled, “First to Endorse,” the U.S. Senate campaign video essentially argues that Sessions supported Trump before it was “cool.”

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“You know, out of the 100 United States senators, I was the very first one to stand with Donald Trump,” Sessions says in the video. “While the others were hiding under their desks, I went to work. I knew he was the one to make America great again, and I’ll keep fighting for President Trump and his agenda.”

Watch:

The video will be Sessions’ first television ad of the cycle. An ad buy has already been placed statewide on Fox News Channel and will begin on Friday, running for 10 days.

A Sessions campaign senior adviser told Yellowhammer News, “Obviously it’s a fun stunt with the hat. And obviously Sessions is having fun with it. But another part of the ad is important and should not be missed – ‘while the others were hiding under their desks, I went to work, I knew he was the one… I’ll keep fighting for him and his agenda.’ Sessions is a brawler in the US Senate. He’s not a ‘go along to get along type.'”

“He was pushing the Trump agenda before it was cool,” the adviser continued, before highlighting a quote of Sessions’: “The Washington Way is to write a tell all book. The Washington Way is not the honorable way, it’s not the Alabama way.”

The adviser concluded, “Sessions believes that Republicans in Congress are not fighting hard enough for the President’s agenda. He believes we need much more backbone and boldness in the U.S. Senate. He has said those things on the stump in Alabama this week.”

The ad comes in the wake of former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s campaign last week releasing a video ad featuring some of Trump’s past criticism of Sessions’ performance as attorney general.

A separate but similarly-themed video from GRIT PAC was also released last week, and another one of Sessions’ GOP primary opponents — Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) — has been vocal in highlighting Trump’s pejorative comments about Sessions, too.

Other Republican candidates in the Senate race include former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Sessions, after being forced by Trump to resign as attorney general in November 2018, has not uttered a bad word about the president in public, consistently saying he still supports Trump and his agenda in speeches since then. Yellowhammer News in February even reported on Sessions enthusiastically endorsing Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.

Thus far, Trump has stayed neutral in Alabama’s Senate primary, saying he would not campaign against Sessions at this time. Trump also noted, “You have some very good candidates… I mean, you have the football coach. Tommy is doing very well. You have some good people running in Alabama. Let’s see what happens.”

Sessions has since said he hopes to earn Trump’s endorsement in the race.

RELATED: Hillary Clinton running mate fundraising for ‘friend’ Doug Jones

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

5 days ago

Hillary Clinton running mate fundraising for ‘friend’ Doug Jones

(Hillary Clinton, Senator Doug Jones, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine/Facebook, YHN)

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), who was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 2016, has joined the ranks of powerful national Democrats rallying behind vulnerable Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

Kaine sent out a fundraising email this week with the subject line, “My friend Doug Jones needs our help.”

The Clinton VP nominee joined other Democratic senators in citing former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ entrance into Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate primary as the reason for the fundraising solicitation.

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“Last week, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he’s running against Doug Jones for Alabama’s Senate seat,” the email decried. “At a time when Washington is already too partisan and polarized, we can’t afford to lose Doug’s voice. Will you chip in to Doug’s campaign to help him hold on to his place in the Senate?”

Kaine proceeded to state that Jones has “spent the last two years working hard on behalf of the people who sent him there.”

“I’m proud to work with him, and I need your help to keep him fighting next to me in the Senate,” Kaine concluded.

The landing page linked to the fundraising email disclosed that contributions would be split between Kaine and Jones. The email was paid for by Kaine’s campaign committee.

In the 2018 cycle, Jones campaigned for Kaine’s reelection to the Senate.

RELATED: Schumer deputy fundraising for Doug Jones

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

5 days ago

Byrne on impeachment: Democrats ‘have underestimated the resolve of the American people’

(Rep. Byrne/YouTube)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on Wednesday evening delivered a nearly 20-minute speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives tearing into both the process and the substance involved in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Byrne’s remarks began by briefly touching on some of the important issues that the House has been neglecting because of the Democrats’ focus on impeachment.

“We haven’t been working on the US-Mexico Canada free trade agreement that President Trump worked so hard to negotiate. We haven’t been working on funding the military or bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” he lamented. “No — 100% of the energy of this place has been devoted to the impeachment of President Trump.”

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He then bashed the process extensively, outlining its flaws and detailing his personal ventures down to the basement room where House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been hosting the closed proceedings.

While the first public impeachment hearing was finally held on Wednesday, Byrne advised that the process is still “a total sham.”

“Democrats made a big spectacle about holding their first public hearing today,” he explained. “The truth is that today’s hearing is little more than a public showcasing of witnesses they’ve already interrogated and vetted in that little room to ensure they will say only what the Democrats desire.”

Byrne then refuted the supposed substance involved in the impeachment inquiry before getting down to the heart of the matter.

“The truth is this isn’t about removing the president. They know that the votes in the Senate aren’t there for that. This is about satisfying their resistance base and defeating President Trump in the 2020 election,” Byrne decried.

He concluded, “This entire process, from its very inception, has been a hypocritical, shameful exercise in partisan political opportunism. There is no substance here. None of President Trump’s actions even approach anything remotely near impeachable conduct. But Democrats have made a critical error in orchestrating their scheme. They have underestimated the resolve of the American people that elected this President. The facts are on our side, and we will rise to the occasion and fight back against this radical scheme to remove President Trump.”

Watch:

The entirety of Byrne’s remarks as prepared can be read here.

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

5 days ago

Sessions: House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry like ‘old Soviet Union’ show trials

(Wikicommons)

In an op-ed for Fox News published on Wednesday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions slammed ongoing impeachment efforts into President Donald Trump by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The op-ed came the same day that public impeachment hearings commenced.

Sessions also took aim at the mainstream media for aiding and abetting the impeachment efforts, which he called “a desperate attempt to weaken a president who has deeply offended the powers that be in Washington.”

“Every day for the past month – and every day for the next several months – TV anchors will talk in very dramatic tones about the impending doom of impeachment facing America. They make it all sound so serious. But it’s not, and they are not,” the Alabamian wrote.

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Sessions added that the impeachment push is coming because of Democrats having “a political disagreement” with Trump rather than the president having committed “Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

“President Trump has not been accused of anything for which he can be credibly impeached, but the dangerous ideology of the far left does not recognize legal limits or fundamental fairness,” Sessions said.

“The president’s opponents are determined to win at all costs to undo the results of the last election and to manipulate the results of the next one. That is why – regardless of the weakness of the case presented – the conclusion of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives seems predetermined,” he continued.

Sessions compared this seemingly “predetermined” impeachment effort to Communist Soviet Union tactics.

“The old Soviet Union was famous for show trials – fake trials where the result was already understood, where everything was just for show, and where the accused was already certain to be found guilty before the case was even presented,” Sessions wrote. “Ask yourself this: Regardless of the case the Democrats layout against the president, is there any chance at all that the Democratic House will not vote to impeach him? Any chance at all?”

He continued, “The conclusion of the Democratic majority in the House is predetermined and does not rely on – or have any connection to – evidence. In other words, everything you see in Washington for the next two months is merely a show.”

Sessions emphasized that history is on the verge of being made in America — but for the wrong reasons.

“Impeachment in this circumstance is a very dangerous action. It is founded on passion, hysteria, and yellow journalism – the very things that concerned our wise founders,” he remarked.

“An impeachment by the House on such shoddy grounds would be a dark day indeed,” Sessions explained. “It would create a precedent that opens the door for the political removal of a president, undermining the validity of our elections and subverting the will of the American people.”

He concluded by stressing his support of Trump.

Sessions outlined, “This is political theater, a desperate attempt to weaken a president who has deeply offended the powers that be in Washington. He refuses to play their games, and they will stop at nothing to ensure that he is defeated.”

“Every day, President Trump is achieving things that make life better for the American people and fighting hard for them,” he concluded. “It is time for responsible Democrats to stand up for law, reason and history by stopping this reckless excess. Sadly, restraint and calm judgment seem lost on Democrats as they hurtle forward, heedless of the damage they are doing to our republic.”

Sessions is running in the crowded Republican primary field to reclaim his old U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, which is currently held by Senator Doug Jones (D-AL). Other GOP candidates include former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

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

5 days ago

General Ed Crowell appointed Montgomery County probate judge

(Gen. Ed Crowell for Mayor/Contributed)

Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced she has appointed Brigadier General Edward F. “Ed” Crowell (USAF, ret.) to serve as Montgomery County’s probate judge effective immediately.

Crowell fills the vacancy created by former Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed becoming mayor on Tuesday. Crowell was himself a candidate to be Montgomery’s mayor in the August election but did not make the runoff.

He recently was the president and chief executive officer for VT Kinetics, parent company for VT Miltope and VT MAK based in Cambridge, MA, and VT Miltope based in Montgomery County. Prior to his work in the private sector, Crowell served in the United States Air Force and the reserves for 35 years.

Crowell has become a pillar of the Montgomery community, in part because of his incredible civic leadership.

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He currently serves on the board of directors of the Montgomery Metro YMCA, Auburn University in Montgomery advisory board, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival board and the Air University Foundation board. He is the recent past chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.

In a statement, Ivey said, “When I think of General Ed Crowell, the word ‘service’ is the first word that comes to mind.”

“I know that that he will carry his strong work ethic and commitment of service and duty into his role as Montgomery’s Probate Judge,” she continued. “From his long-career in the military, his work in the private sector, and his service in the community, he is more than qualified to serve in this role.”

Crowell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Economics from Alabama State University in 1971. He later received a Master of Business Administration from then-Troy State University in 2001.

He has since served as a trustee for Troy University.

Update: Crowell not qualified for appointment as Montgomery County probate judge, will not serve

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

6 days ago

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama investing $410 million, adding 200 jobs through new vehicle line

(Sydney A. Foster)

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday joined Hyundai executives and local leaders on the steps of the State Capitol to announce that the automaker plans to add a new vehicle to its Alabama production lineup as part of a $410 million expansion that will create 200 more jobs at the state-of-the-art Montgomery facility, along with approximately 1,000 supplier jobs in the area.

During the press conference, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama (HMMA) president and CEO Byungjin Jin said workers will assemble the brand-new Santa Cruz compact utility vehicle at the facility, with production slated to begin in 2021.

Hyundai intends to begin filling the new positions being created by the latest expansion project during the second half of 2020.

HMMA currently produces the Santa Fe SUV and the Sonata and Elantra sedans in Montgomery. The addition of the Santa Cruz will provide the company with greater flexibility to adjust its product mix based on market demands.

Jin expressed that this announcement demonstrates continued commitment to and confidence in HMMA’s Montgomery operations and Alabama workforce.

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“Bringing the Santa Cruz to HMMA demonstrates that Hyundai Motor Company is confident our more than 3,000 team members are ready to build a quality crossover for the U.S. market,” Jin said.

The Santa Cruz was first introduced as a concept crossover at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Hyundai said it’s designed for younger buyers who want the traditional attributes of a compact utility vehicle but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed.

Business climate, partnerships made announcement possible

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield acted as the master of ceremonies for the Wednesday press conference. Introducing Governor Kay Ivey to the podium, Canfield advised that her leadership in nurturing Alabama’s world-class pro-growth business climate makes this type of job creation announcement possible.

“[T]o have the right type of (business) climate takes the right kind of leader at the top,” Canfield said. “The type of leader that governs the state with a business saviness and a knowledge and an awareness of what needs to be done to nurture business and also provide great opportunities for the people here across the state of Alabama.”

Ivey then addressed the crowd, which included workers at HMMA’s Montgomery facility.

Calling it an “exciting occasion,” Ivey reiterated that her “top priority” since taking office in the spring of 2017 has been economic development.

The state continues to shatter economic record after record under her administration, and major job announcements and new private sector investments have become commonplace.

She advised that HMMA and the State of Alabama have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship since the company came to Montgomery in 2005.

This announcement is the latest in a series of recent major investments by HMMA.

“We are so honored that in just 18 months HMMA has invested over $1.1 billion in the Montgomery area,” Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Willie Durham stated. “Partnership and teamwork are key to this kind of economic growth, and we are grateful for the impact this kind of investment will have on the entire region.”

Earlier this year, Ivey and local elected officials joined the company for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of HMMA’s cylinder head machining plant in Montgomery. That plant represents a $388 million total investment to manufacture engine cylinder heads and enhance existing operations to support the production of new Sonata and Elantra sedan models.

Even more recently, HMMA announced an additional $292 million investment in new machinery and equipment to facilitate the production of the redesigned Elantra and Santa Fe vehicles and a new, more fuel-efficient Theta engine at their North American plant in Montgomery.

This does not even account for HMMA’s philanthropic work, such as donating $250,000 to Montgomery Public Schools for STEM education.

Hyundai is already the River Region’s largest private manufacturer with 2,900 full-time and 500 part-time employees. Since it opened, the Alabama facility has produced 4.5 million vehicles for the North American market, along with more than 6 million engines.

Wednesday’s announcement underscored that the working relationship between HMMA, the state and local government entities continues to get better and better.

“Alabama and Hyundai have developed a great partnership over the years, and it’s a testament to our special relationship that this world-class automaker is expanding once again in Montgomery,” Ivey said.

Hyundai noted the $410 million investment will create 230,000 square feet of additional space in the stamping, welding and parts processing areas of the manufacturing complex. While direct employment at HMMA will reportedly increase by 200 jobs, Hyundai projects that its local suppliers and logistics companies will employ an additional 1,000 people in the River Region.

“Hyundai’s new investment is giving more Alabama families an opportunity to earn a good living while also strengthening the state’s growing auto industry,” the governor remarked.

Local leaders were also on hand to celebrate the announcement — and these individuals play a big part in the productive partnership with HMMA.

Canfield noted that Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed has only been on the job one day officially now but that Reed’s leadership has already been important with Hyundai, as he traveled to South Korea recently with then-Mayor Todd Strange to meet with company executives.

Reed spoke during Wednesday’s press conference and stressed his commitment to the relationship and appreciation for Hyundai.

“I recently had the honor of experiencing first-hand the long-standing partnership between Hyundai and Montgomery on a visit to Seoul as part of an economic development delegation including former Mayor Todd Strange,” Reed said.

“With the addition of the Santa Cruz, Hyundai is again choosing to launch a new vision. I look forward to continuing to strengthen this vital relationship in the coming years and working with our partners to support this tremendous investment,” he concluded.

Among U.S. states, Alabama ranks as the fifth largest producer of cars and light trucks. It is home to more than 150 major auto suppliers and over 40,000 automotive manufacturing jobs.

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean said that companies become family when they locate in Alabama and that the state’s leaders, along with local officials, take it upon themselves to go above and beyond in making sure companies are successful in the Yellowhammer State.

“Our commitment to our partnership with Hyundai continues to deepen, and we are so honored by this significant investment,” he added. “Together, we are charting the course for success and opportunity in the River Region.”

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

6 days ago

Shelby’s leadership paves way for authorization of Southwest Alabama Regional Airport

(Senator Richard Shelby/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

The historic leadership of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has paid off in a major way for his home state once again.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorized a new regional airport in Thomasville for residents across the southwest region of the Yellowhammer State. According to a Wednesday announcement from Shelby’s office, local airports will merge to become the Southwest Alabama Regional Airport.

This has been a longtime project spearheaded by Shelby, with support from local leaders in and around Clarke County like Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day.

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Dr. John Eagerton of the Alabama Department of Transportation stated that “the project would not have advanced without the support and effort of Senator Shelby and his staff to gain final FAA approval for the new airport.”

The 2005 Alabama Statewide Airport System Plan revealed that southwest Alabama is underserved in terms of access to aviation infrastructure. As a result, the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Aeronautic Bureau worked with FAA and the Southwest Alabama Regional Airport Authority to conduct studies outlining an approach to meet the region’s aviation needs. These studies confirmed that the area was underserved and recommended the construction of a new general aviation airport in Clarke County.

“North Clarke County is located 60 miles from the closest interstate. The new Southwest Alabama Regional Airport is vital in closing the transportation gap for business and industry in our rural region,” Day said in a statement. “We want to sincerely thank Senator Shelby! He has been a strong advocate of this new airport and has long recognized the need for vital infrastructure in rural areas to accommodate new and expanding industries. We would also like to thank Gov. Ivey and Dr. John Eagerton for their unwavering dedication to seeing the vision for this airport become reality.”

Over the past decade, various companies have been or are in the process of investing over $550 million in facilities and infrastructure to support business operations in the Thomasville area. These investments have and will continue to support hundreds of jobs, and these businesses, as well as their vendors, suppliers and customers, rely on general aviation aircraft to support their commercial needs.

The new regional airport will allow local companies to enhance operations while also attracting new business to the area.

“The recent growth and economic investment in Thomasville and the surrounding areas have created an ideal environment to host the new Southwest Alabama Regional Airport,” Shelby said in a statement.

“I am grateful for the efforts of Mayor Day, Dr. Eagerton, and Gil Gilmore over the years as we have worked to make this vision possible. I am also proud that the Federal Aviation Administration has recognized the need for this airport, and I am confident this project will contribute to the economic vitality of the region for generations to come,” he continued.

Governor Kay Ivey especially highlighted Shelby’s work and outlined that the news is another major win for rural Alabama.

“It is always encouraging to see rural areas in our state take bold, giant steps and I congratulate Senator Richard Shelby and Mayor Sheldon Day for their work in getting the Southwest Alabama Regional Airport approved by the FAA,” she commented.

“Projects like this take a long time, a lot of patience and even more persistence,” the governor added. “My Administration is totally focused on helping rural Alabama compete whether it is in infrastructure, broadband or economic development, and we’ve recently seen several major developments come to rural Alabama.”

Ivey concluded, “Special thanks to Senator Shelby and our Federal Delegation for their help. As one who grew up in Alabama’s Black Belt, helping our rural areas is top priority of mine. I’m especially grateful for the leadership of Dr. John Eagerton, chief of the Aeronautics Bureau, at the Alabama Department of Transportation. John has been working for years to help Alabama’s airports and he worked tirelessly on this project as well.”

This comes the week following Shelby’s leadership as the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee helping Alabama secure three U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grants worth a total of approximately $30 million — one each for Madison County, Gulf Shores and Lauderdale County.

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