The Wire

  • Fmr US Rep Jo Bonner named Kay Ivey chief of staff as Steve Pelham takes job at Auburn University

    Excerpt:

    In a move that had been rumored for the last few weeks, former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner has assumed the role as chief of staff for Gov. Kay Ivey.

    Last November after Ivey was elected to a full term, Bonner was named a senior adviser to Ivey.

    Bonner is replacing outgoing chief of staff Steve Pelham, who will become Auburn University’s vice president for economic development and the chief of staff to Auburn University President Steven Leath.

  • Historic Inauguration Day in Montgomery heralds continued growth for Alabama

    Excerpt:

    It was a day of celebration, unity and tremendous optimism as Governor Kay Ivey and other statewide elected officials were officially sworn into office on Monday.

    The weather played into the symbolism of the occasion, as a cold, overcast day – a storm almost certainly imminent – gradually became sunnier and sunnier as the afternoon pushed on, much like the outlook of the state under Ivey’s steady guidance.

    Political insiders and everyday Alabamians from every nook and cranny of the state gathered in front of the Alabama State Capitol steps for the inauguration ceremony, which began promptly at 10:00 a.m. From the state’s richest man to the single mom who checked her little girls out of school just to see Ivey’s historic oath of office, it was a day that transcended the lines that divide us.

    Because Ivey’s inauguration message of “Keep Alabama Growing” is a theme meant for all. It is a message of hope – that even a little girl from Camden, Alabama can rise to be duly elected as the state’s chief executive through hard work and perseverance.

  • Ivey orders flags lowered to half-staff to honor fallen police Sgt. Wytasha Carter

    Excerpt:

    Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff to honor Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter, who was killed in the line of duty on Sunday.

    “I am directing flags be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Birmingham Police Sergeant Wytasha Carter who was killed in the line of duty early Sunday, January 13, 2019,” Ivey said in a statement. “Sergeant Carter laid down his life protecting the people of Birmingham, and the entire state of Alabama mourns this tremendous loss.”

3 weeks ago

Sixteen must-read books by Alabama authors

(Amazon)

With 2019 just around the corner, many of us are starting to map out our New Year’s resolutions, lists of goals and annual plans.

Reading more books seems to be a perennial goal for many people, but where to start? Well, if you’re an Alabamian, here are 16 books by Alabama authors — broken down into a handful of different categories, depending on what you’re looking for — that could get your year started off right.

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Faith

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

When David Platt wrote this New York Times Bestseller in 2014, he was pastor of Birmingham’s Church at Brook Hills.

From Multnomah: “In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple — then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a ‘successful’ suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.”

How to Be a Man: Pursuing Christ-Centered Masculinity by Rick Burgess 

From YM360: “Manhood is in crisis. In the majority of our churches, men make up the minority of regular attenders, and many of the men who show up on Sunday mornings are disconnected from the work and life of the church. How can men become who God wants them to be? And what does it even mean to be a man anyway? The truth is that it’s impossible to be a man without grounding your definition of manhood in the person of Christ… Using 8 core characteristics, this devotional experience will challenge men to exemplify these in their own lives as they passionately pursue a Christ-centered manhood.”

The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm and Love Well in a Culture of Compromise by Chris Hodges

From Thomas Nelson: “Christians today face a dilemma: in a world that seems to reject everything we believe, how do we walk closely with God without caving to pressure or alienating those we hope to reach? In this eye-opening new book, Chris Hodges, pastor of Alabama’s Church of the Highlands, provides a solution by examining the life of the prophet Daniel, who persevered in a corrupt culture that closely resembles our own—and emerged as an influential force in God’s redemptive plan.”

Classic Novels

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

From Grand Central: “The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Alabama town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.”

Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

From Vintage: “The modern classic that inspired the beloved movie starring Tom Hanks. Six foot six, 242 pounds, and possessed of a scant IQ of 70, Forrest Gump is the lovable, surprisingly savvy hero of this classic comic tale. His early life may seem inauspicious, but when the University of Alabama’s football team drafts Forrest and makes him a star, it sets him on an unbelievable path that will transform him from Vietnam hero to world-class Ping-Pong player, from wrestler to entrepreneur. With a voice all his own, Forrest is telling all in a madcap romp through three decades of American history.”

Sports

Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith and Football by Bobby Bowden

From Howard Books: “In this New York Times bestseller, legendary coach (and Alabama native) Bobby Bowden gives readers an inside look at the path that led him to become one of college football’s most successful coaches.”

Game of My Life by Mark Murphy

From Sports Publishing: “Several prominent Auburn football players of the past share their fondest single-game experience and memories. Some of these games involve championships, while others seem ordinary save for extraordinary personal meaning. In each case, it is the player who singles out the game, the moment in time that to him is the most defining of his Auburn Tiger football career. Each player has his own unique story, but together they weave a tapestry of Auburn’s legendary history.”

The Storm and the Tide: Tragedy, Hope and Triumph in Tuscaloosa by Lars Anderson

From Sports Illustrated: “On April 27, 2011, a powerful tornado ripped through the heart of Tuscaloosa, Ala., leaving 53 dead and a path of unimaginable devastation. In the aftermath, Alabama coach Nick Saban and his football team went out into the community, sharing its grief and aiding in the recovery. Together they forged an unbreakable bond, and in a place where Saturdays are dedicated to Crimson Tide football, ‘Let’s play for Tuscaloosa’ became a rallying cry, an emotional touchstone that transcended the playing field.”

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania by Warren St. John

What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care? In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is not only a hilarious travel story, but a cultural anthropology of fans that goes a long way toward demystifying the universal urge to take sides and to win.

Hometown Heroes

Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, legendary NASA engineer based at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center

From Random House: “One of the most beloved bestsellers in recent years, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir. A powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the end of the 1950s, it is the story of a mother’s love and a father’s fears, of growing up and getting out. With the grace of a natural storyteller, Homer Hickam looks back after a distinguished NASA career to tell his own true story of growing up in a dying coal town and of how, against the odds, he made his dreams of launching rockets into outer space come true.”

Send the Alabamians: World War I Fighters in the Rainbow Division by Nimrod Thompson Frazer

From the University of Alabama Press: “Send the Alabamians tells the remarkable story of a division of Alabama recruits whose service Douglas MacArthur observed had not ‘been surpassed in military history.’ The book borrows its title from a quip by American General Edward H. Plummer who commanded the young men during the inauspicious early days of their service. Impressed with their ferocity and esprit de corps but exasperated by their rambunctiousness, Plummer reportedly exclaimed: ‘In time of war, send me all the Alabamians you can get, but in time of peace, for Lord’s sake, send them to somebody else!'”

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

In one of the most famous autobiographies in American history, Booker T. Washington tells the remarkable story of his rise from a childhood of slavery to a life of extraordinary accomplishment. He earned a wide range of titles along the way, from author and educator to entrepreneur and presidential advisor.

Current Events

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson 

From Spiegel & Grau: “A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time,” Bryan Stevenson of Montgomery, Alabama’s Equal Justice Initiative. This No. 1 New York Times Bestseller will soon be a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House by Cliff Sims

 From St. Martin’s Press: “The first honest insider’s account of the Trump administration, due out January 29. Sims stood with the President in the eye of the storm raging around him, and now he tells the story that no one else has written―because no one else could. The story of what it was really like in the West Wing as a member of the President’s team. The story of power and palace intrigue, backstabbing and bold victories, as well as painful moral compromises, occasionally with yourself. Team of Vipers tells the full story, as only a true insider could.”

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think by Andy Andrews

From Thomas Nelson: In this New York Times Bestseller, “Andy Andrews [shows] that good answers come only from asking the right questions. Through the powerful, provocative question, ‘How do you kill eleven million people?’―the number of people killed by the Nazi German regime between 1933 and 1945―he explores a number of other questions relevant to our lives today.

Career Advice

 Climbing the Hill by Amos Snead and Jaime Harrison

From Yellowhammer News’ Sean Ross: “For young people seeking careers in public service or politics, it is often the lessons learned outside of the classroom that make the difference between success and failure. Now, one Alabama native is providing a guide to help aspiring politicos find their way.” In Climbing the Hill, Alabama native Amos Snead has co-written a book chock full of advice and insight for anyone seeking a career in the political arena.

1 month ago

BJCCA hosts groundbreaking ceremony for new stadium

(BJCCA)

Local and state leaders came together yesterday at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex to break ground on a new open-air stadium that will serve as the home of UAB football and host other sports and entertainment events.

 The $175 million stadium will seat up to 55,000 people.

Speakers at the groundbreaking event noted that a new stadium in Birmingham has been discussed for more than three decades, and that there have been two previous groundbreakings for stadium projects that never came to fruition.

“This one,” said Birmingham City Council President Valerie Abbott, “is going to stick.”

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Officials from the Jefferson County legislative delegation, the Jefferson County Commission and the City of Birmingham said the long-sought project is happening now because of an unprecedented level of cooperation and commitment among public and private partners – cooperation that bridged racial, partisan and geographical divides.

“This transformational change we’re witnessing today is happening for this one reason: cooperation,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Everyone has come together to say what can be and make it a reality.”

Said State Rep. Jim Carns, “This is a good day when we’ve got everybody pulling in the same direction.”

Utility work and other site preparations are already underway at the stadium site. Construction is set to begin in the early summer of 2019, with completion targeted for mid-2021, in time for The World Games, said Tad Snider, BJCC executive director and CEO.

The stadium will be home to the UAB Blazers, but President Ray Watts noted that the stadium project will have a much bigger impact for Birmingham. “On the 350 some odd other days, it’s going to be a great attribute for the city of Birmingham,” Watts said. “This is going to be the finest facility of its kind in Alabama.”

Officials said the multi-use stadium – along with anticipated renovations of Legacy Arena – will spark additional development in the area surrounding the BJCC.

“This is just the beginning for this part of Birmingham. You’re going to see, in my opinion, north Birmingham explode,” said State Sen. Jabo Waggoner. “North Birmingham will come back to life.”

The benefits will go beyond the north Birmingham area, officials said. “This project is only the beginning for what I think is going to be a golden renaissance time for Jefferson County,” State Sen. Rodger Smitherman said.

Said Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens: “I can’t think of a better time to live in Birmingham, Alabama … A rising tide raises all ships, so hold on: The tide is about to come in.”

Rep. Rod Scott said the cooperation that led to success for the stadium will be a foundation for other successes moving forward. “This is just the beginning … to begin making Jefferson County what it always should have been, and of course, that is the best county in Alabama,” he said.

Carns said the stadium project is coming to life in a Birmingham that is already experiencing considerable momentum. Carns recalled his time as a county commissioner when no construction was happening downtown.

“When I walk outside of any building downtown now, you can hardly see the sky for all the cranes,” he said. “That is an unbelievable thrust forward.”

The stadium will allow the BJCC to attract additional sports and entertainment events – and boost the tourism revenues that have a huge economic impact.

Dennis Lathem, chairman of the BJCC Authority board of directors, said the complex is already “a tremendous asset” that supports 2,500 jobs, produces $73 million in earnings, and generates $217 million in spending.

Rather than being satisfied with success, Lathem said, “The people you see here today …  had the courage to look beyond that and look to the future and ask how can we be a bigger asset.”

Woodfin noted that new revenues generated because of projects in the BJCC area will support a revitalization fund that will assist all 99 neighborhoods in the city of Birmingham.

“Elevating small businesses, boosting tourism and entertainment options, and stimulating neighborhood revitalization is what we’re committed to doing,” Woodfin said. “This groundbreaking today has allowed us to lay that foundation.”

1 month ago

Auburn University honors Lionel Richie, Judy Woodruff at 25th annual International Quality of Life Awards

(Auburn University/Flickr)

The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University honored singer, songwriter and actor Lionel Richie and journalist Judy Woodruff during the 25th annual International Quality of Life Awards (IQLA) Monday, December 3 at the United Nations in New York City “as exemplary contributors to the well-being of individuals, families and communities around the world.”

Launched in 1994, Auburn’s College of Human Sciences aims “to recognize people and partnerships representing all sectors of society that demonstrate a strong commitment to empowerment through public policy and educational initiatives to enhance quality of life.”

“This evening, we are privileged to honor Judy Woodruff and Lionel Richie,” Auburn Provost Bill Hardgrave said, per a news release. “Two individuals who have reached the highest pinnacles of success in their respective professions and have chosen their celebrity to champion causes that advance medical research, promote a free press and address issues of poverty and social injustice.”

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Presenting the “true music icon and international superstar” Richie with the 2018 IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award was his “American Idol” coworker, Ryan Seacrest.

“It is an honor to be recognized by Auburn University and my fellow Alabamans,” Richie said of the award. “I am so proud to receive this prestigious award and to be included in the incredible company of past IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.”

Vernon Jordan, civil rights leader and advisor to former President Bill Clinton, presented Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” with the 2018 IQLA Laureate for her “powerful legacy of truthful, ethical reporting and trailblazing for women in the journalism industry.”

“I am humbled to be standing here as the 25th anniversary IQLA Laureate,” Woodruff stated. “To be included among the distinguished list of prior IQLA Laureates such as John Lewis, Madeleine Albright and Norman Borlaug is an honor I will never forget.”

Auburn said of the two award recipients, “Both Richie and Woodruff are powerful role models that embody the College of Human Sciences’ mission. IQLA recipients have gained unrivaled professional success in their respective industries and have contributed greatly to the quality of life of those far beyond the bounds of Alabama. For 25 years, the school has been proud to call attention to these esteemed individuals through IQLA.”

2 months ago

Dave & Buster’s opens first Alabama location

The national restaurant and entertainment chain Dave & Buster’s opened its first Alabama location last week. The new Dave & Buster’s in Hoover features a 33,000 square foot venue of arcade games, premium sports viewing in addition to its food and drink offerings, according to a company release.

The company’s 120th overall location will reportedly bring 240 new jobs to the greater Birmingham area.

 The facility includes more than 175 of the latest arcade games, a chef-crafted menu and the state-of-the-art D&B Sports Bar filled with dozens of large HDTV screens. Patrons can use the brand-new multi-player virtual reality attraction platform featuring Jurassic World as part of the Hoover location’s interactive virtual reality experience.

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Dave & Buster’s also offers event spaces to service corporate events and meetings, birthday parties and other activities.

The new Dave & Buster’s is located in the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover. The company is headquartered in Dallas and operates complexes throughout North America.

2 months ago

House Speaker McCutcheon ‘thankful’ for Alabama’s ‘confidence’ in Republican agenda

(Speaker MacMcCutcheon/Facebook)

Much like Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) predicted, Republicans in Alabama saw great success in Tuesday’s midterm election.

The state saw 76 Republicans running for the House of Representatives win, to only 28 Democrats with one race still not yet called — although The New York Times has the Republican in that race holding a 54-46 lead with 78 percent of the votes counted.

In a statement, McCutcheon said he is “thankful” that the citizens of Alabama had the “confidence” and “strong support for the conservative, reform-minded agenda that Republicans have pursued since gaining control of the Legislature.”

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Statement as follows:

With their vote on Tuesday, the citizens of Alabama signaled their strong support for the conservative, reform-minded agenda that Republicans have pursued since gaining control of the Legislature, and we are thankful for their continuing confidence.

Much progress has been made over the course of the past eight years, but Alabama still has endemic problems that must be addressed.

Our infrastructure is in decay, and our roads and bridges must be given much-needed attention. Our public schools are in need of further improvement, and we must invest in security measures that ensure children who are sent to school in the morning return home safely in the afternoon. And our ethics laws must continue to ensure that elected officials who violate the public’s trust feel the firm hand of justice and the sting of substantial punishment. Our mission is clear and well-defined, and it’s now our job to accomplish it.

The men and women who offer themselves for public service make great sacrifices. Time away from jobs and family, frequent and long hours of travel to and from Montgomery, and the often unpleasant criticism that comes with life in the public spotlight are just a few examples.  I thank everyone who stepped forward and displayed the courage to place their names on the ballot, and I look forward to serving with those who won their hard-fought House races.

Serving as Speaker of the Alabama House has been the greatest professional honor of my life, and I hope to continue in that role as we move our state toward even greater heights.

3 months ago

Sessions takes aggressive stand against wildlife poaching and trafficking

(G. Skidmore/Flickr)

During remarks at a forum on combating wildlife poaching and trafficking last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to devote “every available resource” to bringing to justice the individuals responsible for the illegal wildlife trade around the world.

“The United States views the poaching and trafficking of protected wildlife as a threat to good governance, a threat to the rule of law, and a challenge to our stewardship responsibilities for this good earth,” Sessions said. “Ending this criminality, with its devastating consequences, is a worldwide conservation imperative.”

Last year, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice to prioritize wildlife tracking as part of its overall efforts against transnational organized crime. Sessions said the DOJ is embracing that mission.

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“Poachers, wildlife smugglers, and black market merchants operate all over the world,” he said. “Their criminal networks cross borders, transport their illegal goods worldwide, and sell them to the highest bidder. The United States government, wherever possible, will take action with our partners worldwide to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks.”

The Department of Justice estimates that the illegal wildlife trade generates as much as $23 billion in annual revenue. Just one kilogram of a rhinoceros horn can fetch up to $70,000 on the black market. The horn is particularly sought after in Asia where it is an ingredient used in traditional medicines.

The illegal trade has driven the population of African elephants — which numbered 1.3 million just a few decades ago — down to fewer than 400,000 today. The Asian tiger population has plummeted over 90 percent.

To combat this growing issue, the Trump administration announced $90 million in funding to counter-wildlife trafficking programs. Sessions also laid out a multi-part plan for the effort going forward.

“First, we need to close the markets to these products,” he said. “Second, we need to cut off the flow of financing to the traffickers and poachers and their criminal benefactors. … Third, we must do more to cut off the traffickers’ transportation routes—on air, land, and sea—and block their use of the darknet to facilitate illegal trafficking of all types. … Fourth, we need to take a closer look at extradition laws and agreements. It should be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for poachers and smugglers in one country to escape prosecution by fleeing to other nations. … Fifth, we need to consider enhancing criminal penalties for those who engage in this illegality… Sixth, we need to find new and better ways to tackle wildlife challenges in the nations the U.S. State Department has identified as ‘countries of concern’ and ‘focus countries.'”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a longtime conservationist, also recently announced plans to increase the number of criminal investigators at American embassies, and President Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement included a provision for increased customs inspections, which the countries believe will combat wildlife trafficking.

The government’s aggressive approach has already reaped some results. A California man was recently arrested trying to sell black rhino parts to a federal agent posing as a taxidermist.

Activists are hoping the United States’ leadership on this issue will result in other countries following suit.

“The US is an indispensable global leader in combating wildlife crime in terms of resources, influence, and on the ground support overseas,” Crawford Allan of the World Wildlife Fund said. “But the challenge of wildlife trafficking that conservation, enforcement, private sector and communities face is getting bigger every year. … The U.S. needs to encourage other nations to join them with significant contributions.”

3 months ago

Meet Anthony, story of Birmingham teen goes viral

(Facebook)

Shelia Spencer of Birmingham had an awful feeling on Wednesday night after realizing she was missing both her wallet and iPhone.  After retracing her steps that day, Spencer had determined the only possible place she could have left the items was Piggly Wiggly on Highway 78.

Sure enough, after a call to the store manager, she was amazed to find that not only were her items still there, over $270 in cash remained in the wallet.

That is when Shelia met Anthony, a high school student at Central Park Christian responsible for finding her wallet during his shift at the grocery story that evening.  “We hear very little about kids when they do something positive,” says Spencer in a post on Facebook that has been shared nearly 17,000 times.  “It’s always a lot of talk about the bad things that happen.”

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After “blessing” the teenager with a $100 for “showing honor and doing the right thing”, Spencer also called Anthony’s mother, Joyce, who “cried tears of joy” upon hearing what a great job she was doing with her son.

Since posting the story on Facebook, Spencer has received multiple requests from others who wish to extend a blessing to Anthony. He can be found at the Piggly Wiggly located at 1617 Forestdale Blvd in Birmingham.

4 months ago

Birmingham area post office named for fallen hero

(Facebook)

The United States Post Office (USPO) Meadowbrook Station has been designated as the “Lance Corporal Thomas E. Rivers Jr. Post Office Building” in a ceremony held on Tuesday.

The official dedication comes as the result of legislation introduced by Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL 6) to honor Rivers, a Hoover native who was killed in action while serving with the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan in 2010. The legislation was signed into law by President Donald Trump on July 24.

“Lance Corporal Thomas Rivers was a courageous young man who laid down his life in service to our country,” Palmer remarked at the dedication ceremony. “He knew from a young age that God had called him to be a Marine and he was determined to live up to that calling. While his loss is still deeply felt in our community, his strong faith in God and his courage and selfless commitment to his fellow Marines should challenge and inspire us all.

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“I hope every person who looks at this building and sees the name Lance Corporal Thomas Rivers will be reminded of not only his sacrifice, but of the sacrifices of all those who have gone into harm’s way to defend our freedom.  I’m proud to be part of this dedication alongside his mother and father and with his family and friends to honor his service and sacrifice.”

Rivers grew up in Hoover, AL, the son of Dr. Tom and Charon Rivers. Both of his grandfathers were combat veterans and he showed interest in the Marines from an early age. He attended Briarwood High School and wrote a ninth-grade essay titled “Why I Want to be a Marine.” In it, he wrote that he believed God’s plan for him was to be a warrior and that this path would teach him to rely on God. According to his parents, Rivers was not the best athlete or top student, but his determination drove him to work hard to reach his goal of becoming a Marine.

At 17, Rivers joined an “early entry” Marine recruiting program that allowed him to participate in training regimens and classes before he officially joined. Upon his high school graduation in 2007, he formally enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and went on to complete boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina.

In March 2008, Rivers’ battalion was deployed to Iraq, from which he returned safely seven months later. In his early days as a Marine, his faith in God became stronger and he expressed confidence that God was watching over him. He had his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 91:1, tattooed across his back: “He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

After his first deployment, Rivers trained for another year and was then deployed to Afghanistan in March 2010. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, which supported combat operations in the Helmand Province. On the morning of Wednesday, April 28, 2010, he tragically lost his life by an improvised explosive device (IED). He was 22 years old.

Briarwood Christian School has established the Thomas Rivers Jr. Warriors Scholarship in Rivers’ honor, and Dr. and Mrs. Rivers have started the nonprofit organization “Support Our Soldiers,” which sends care packages to deployed troops. Their hope is that the program will help spread Rivers’ love for his country and for God.

Rivers is buried at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo and is the first soldier killed in action to be buried there.

4 months ago

Tickets now available for Yellowhammer Multimedia 4th annual Power of Service reception

(YHN)

Yellowhammer Multimedia announced today that tickets are now available for the 4th annual Power of Service reception. The event – which has sold out every year – will take place Thursday, October 25 at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa.

This event honors the Yellowhammer Power & Influence 50 who have leveraged their stature to make a positive impact on Alabama. The Power & Influence 50 is an annual list of the most powerful and influential players in Alabama politics and business, from elected officials and governmental affairs pros to CEOs and economic development heavyweights.

“This year’s list is a true reflection of Alabama’s evolving power structure,” said Yellowhammer Multimedia Editor and Owner Tim Howe. “With our audience engagement at an all-time high, we have received input from across the state that led to an exceptional number of nominees.”

The much-anticipated list of 2018 awardees will be revealed October 1. It will showcase both the state’s most prominent political and economic leaders, as well as several behind-the-scenes power players.

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In addition to the list of 50, two special honorees are selected for the prestigious Power of Service award for their generous contributions to improving our state. This year will honor Alabama House of Representatives Speaker Mac McCutcheon and renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Swaid Swaid of the Swaid Clinic.

“While the Power & Influence 50 list is a great reason to celebrate, our two Power of Service honorees exemplify a lifetime of service to the people of Alabama,” said Howe. “Dr. Swaid and Speaker McCutcheon have chosen to utilize their positions of leadership to serve others for the good of the state. We expect another sellout crowd this year to commemorate all of our awardees.”

In previous years, Power of Service Awardees include Protective Life Executive Chairman John D. Johns, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, Great Southern Wood Preserving founder Jimmy Rane, Alabama Power Company Chairman, President and CEO Mark Crosswhite, U.S. Representative Gary Palmer and Alabama State Senator Jabo Waggoner.

Opportunities to sponsor this event are available. For more information email events@yellowhammernews.com

5 months ago

Save the date: Oct. 25, 2018 Yellowhammer Power of Service reception

Yellowhammer Multimedia announced today that the 4th annual Power of Service reception will take place Thursday, October 25th at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa.

For the last seven years, Yellowhammer has released an annual list of the most powerful and influential people in Alabama business and politics. The 2018 list will be released October 1, and the Power of Service event will celebrate these individuals who leverage their power and influence to better the Yellowhammer state.

In previous years, the event has attracted a who’s who of Alabama political and business leaders, including the governor, lt. governor, speaker of the house, pro tem of the Senate, numerous members of Congress, dozens of state legislators and many of the state’s top executives, lobbyists, opinion leaders and political activists.

Ticket sales will begin today. Stay tuned to Yellowhammer News for event details and mark your calendar now to ensure you do not miss this exciting event.

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5 months ago

Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha names Dr. Elaine Lyon as new director for its Clinical Services Lab

(HudsonAlpha)

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has chosen Elaine Lyon, PhD, FACMG, as its new director of its Clinical Services Lab (CSL).

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Lyon join the CSL team,” Shawn Levy, PhD, executive director of the CSL and faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha, said in a press statement. “Her clinical genomics and research expertise will accelerate our mission to advance personalized patient care.”

To join the HudsonAlpha team, Lyon is leaving her post as medical director for molecular genetics, genomics and pharmacogenetics at the Associated Regional and University Pathologists (ARUP) Laboratories, located at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

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“I’ve been impressed with HudsonAlpha’s commitment to quality in human genomics ever since I learned of their work through the CSER (Clinical Sequencing Evidence-generating Research) program,” Lyon said, according to a press release. “I am delighted to join their team and work with the Clinical Services Laboratory to provide answers to patients, families and clinicians who have sought these services.”

During her tenure at Utah, Lyon helped establish four laboratory sections at ARUP: Molecular Genetics, Fragment Analysis, Genetics Sequencing and Genomics. She also held a faculty position as professor of pathology.

Lyon, who has more than twenty years of clinical genomics experience, received her PhD in medical genetics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and completed a fellowship in clinical molecular genetics at the University of Utah.

The CSL was established in 2014 to advance the application of genomic technologies in clinical research and diagnostics. The lab offers whole genome sequencing and analysis, and is developing a number of new genetic and genomic clinical tests.

Read more here.

5 months ago

Alabama native Jamarcus Russell using his story to teach kids while coaching at his alma mater

(WRKG/Facebook)

Mobile-native and former LSU quarterback Jamarcus Russell has returned to his high school to coach.

In a recent interview with WKRG’s Randy Patrick, Russell talked about going back to his alma mater of Williamson High School in Mobile to coach quarterbacks, helping his successors fill his shoes.

“I get a chance to be back on the same field,” the former NFL player told Patrick. “We cried, we bled, we sweat at the same time.”

It’s an opportunity to reminisce about his days as a high school football player and to invest in the players.

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“We sat in the same locker room and played on the same field and [I] just try to give them that spirit to let them know that it can happen,” Russell said.

Russell went on to discuss his favorite moment playing for Nick Saban at LSU when as a freshman, the two were in the pre-game tunnel and Saban told him he was going to start the second half against Oregon State.

Russell also spoke about his short-lived career as an NFL quarterback.

“If I had been meant to have a long and prosperous time in the NFL I would have, but God, he gave me some stuff that I can carry on that I can give to the kids, youth, grown men, whoever,” he said.

Watch the full interview here.

5 months ago

Birmingham public transit gets funds to make buses electric

(MAX Transit)

The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority has been granted $1.5 million by the U.S. Transportation Department for new, fuel-less buses.

The funds, dispersed as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 Low or No-Emission (Low-No) Bus Program Project, will be used “to purchase battery electric buses and charging stations,” according to a department project description.

“The main purpose of the Low-No Program is to support the transition of the nation’s transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy efficient transit vehicles,” the department described earlier this year.

The federal agency has dispersed $84,448,990 in Low-No funding to 41 states, and Birmingham is the only Alabama city that has been granted Low-No money.

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5 months ago

President Trump: Sessions never took control of the Justice Department

(Fox News, TIME/YouTube)

President Trump publicly voiced his regret for his decision to make Jeff Sessions the attorney general, in an interview that aired Thursday with “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt.

“The reason he got nothing is the Dems are very strong in the Justice Department,” Trump said of Imran Awan, a former aide to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who on Tuesday was sentenced to three months of supervised release plus time served for bank fraud.

“I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions,” Trump continued. “Never took control of the Justice Department, and, uh, it’s sort of an incredible thing.”

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Trump went on to praise other cabinet appointments, contrasting their work with Sessions.

“We have this country going so well,” he said. “Mike Pompeo is doing incredibly. All of my people are doing incredibly, but the whole thing going on with Justice and the FBI, when you see Stzrok and his lover, Lisa Page, when you see Comey with all the lies that he told …”

5 months ago

Jefferson State Community College gets grant to improve biomedical training program

(Jefferson State Community College)

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded Jefferson State Community College $220,817 to upgrade a program that trains students for jobs in the medical industry.

The grant, provided to the state by the Appalachian Regional Commission, will be used to purchase equipment, furniture and supplies to upgrade classroom and laboratory space for the college’s biomedical training program. The program trains students as biomedical equipment technicians in both manufacturing and healthcare.

“My administration has championed job growth in Alabama, and programs like this ensure that our workforce is trained and ready for those jobs,” Ivey said in a press release. “I am pleased that this ARC funding is helping to provide better opportunities for Alabama workers.”

Thirty-seven Alabama counties are members of the Appalachian Regional Commission and eligible for grant funds.

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5 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby comments on infrastructure priorities, new interstate proposal

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

A grassroots push to build a new interstate stretching from West Texas to East Georgia has gained significant media attention over the last few weeks, and now Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is talking about it.

Roby recently discussed with the Dothan Eagle her vision for broad infrastructure investments, saying those investments could include the new interstate, known as I-14, or a resurgence of the I-10 Connector.

“I want nothing more than the people I represent in Alabama’s Second District to see their federal tax dollars at work for them,” Roby told the Eagle’s Jeremy Wise. “Where there are opportunities for infrastructure improvements, whether it would be a new proposed interstate or any other (idea), I will advocate and fight every time for the district. If there are opportunities there, I will seek those opportunities out.”

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Roby stopped short of explicitly endorsing the new interstate project, suggesting rather that she will wait to hear back what level of support it has among her constituents.

“It’s my job that to make sure the southeast corner of our state has the appropriate infrastructure in place,” Roby also told the Eagle. “Having reliable roads, bridges, ports, and railways are vital for our ability to grow our economy in Alabama. That certainly applies to the more rural parts of our district in order to recruit the interest of job creators.”

A group called the Youth Infrastructure Coalition is leading the campaign to see the new interstate built.

According to Tony Harris, government relations manager for ALDOT, the proposal isn’t seriously being considered.

“There has been no discussion about a proposed Interstate 14 involving state transportation officials in Alabama and the advocates for this idea,” Harris recently told AL.com. “In today’s funding climate, this proposal isn’t likely to get serious consideration.”

5 months ago

Rep. Robert Aderholt remembers Aretha Franklin, her time recording in Muscle Shoals

(Guardian News/YouTube)

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) is paying tribute to Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” who died on Thursday.

Aderholt posted a video on his Facebook page documenting Franklin’s time recording at the renowned FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, along with these words:

“The music world has lost a legend in Aretha Franklin. While I was just a young child in Haleyville, I had no idea that just a few miles up the road in Muscle Shoals, she was recording some of the world’s most famous songs. She recorded RESPECT in Muscle Shoals on February 14, 1967. And what a Valentine gift it was. Her voice was one of the many that gave richly to the Muscle Shoals Music, and it will never go silent.”

“We consider it an honor that many of her songs were recorded in the 4th District and here in Alabama,” Aderholt’s office said in a statement obtained by Yellowhammer News. “Besides being an honor, it’s just plain cool.”

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5 months ago

Gov. Ivey awards nearly $2 million worth of grants for transportation safety

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs announced on Monday that it will administer a series of grants to 35 different Alabama counties to be used for improving traffic safety in coming months.

One series of grants, totaling $791,838, will go toward increasing patrols and other highway safety measures in 17 north Alabama counties during the Labor Day weekend and other major traveling holidays during the next year.

That money will cover overtime salaries and special expenses incurred during law enforcement’s “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaigns, and during other busy travel periods.

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Counties to receive grant allocations, made available to the state by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Fayette, Franklin, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pickens, Walker and Winston.

Another $1,189,899 has been awarded to 18 eastern and central Alabama counties for similar purposes, funding law enforcement participation in “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaigns, along with other localized enforcement initiatives based on “hot spots” where crashes often occur.

“These grants help put more officers on patrol during busy travel periods to keep people safe by removing dangerous drivers from Alabama roadways and enforcing traffic laws,” Ivey said in a news release. “I am pleased to support our law enforcement agencies as they protect and serve their communities.”

The second group of grants were also made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

5 months ago

Mobile quintuplets set to attend the University of South Alabama together

(University of South Alabama/YouTube)

Five Mobile teens who were born together are now all going to college together.

Fox 10 News’s Lee Peck reports that the Zimlich quintuplets – Hallie, Sophia, Isabella, Amelia Rose and the lone brother, Shipley – will kick off their college career next Monday, continuing the family tradition of being a South Alabama Jag.

“We basically do everything together,” Hallie told Peck. “So it’s really exciting to actually be going to college and doing it together. That’s really exciting.”

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The siblings have an older sister who is currently at USA. Their mother and father, Jeannette and Mark, both graduated from the school, as did their grandmother. Their grandfather, Dr. Eugene Aromi, was a long-time professor at South Alabama.

The university also did a profile on the Zimlich crew. Read it here.

5 months ago

Alabama ranks second worst state for having a baby

(Pixabay)

A newly-published ranking of states judges Alabama to be the 50th best – or 2nd worst – state in which to have a baby.

The ranking, developed by the personal finance website WalletHub, compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia using four categories: cost, health care, baby-friendliness and family-friendliness.

Its cost metric includes things like average cost of insurance premiums, cost of newborn screening and average annual cost of early childcare.

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The health care metric includes things like infant mortality rate, rate of pre-term births and number of pediatricians per capita, while the baby-friendliness metric looks at things like a state’s parental leave policy and child care centers per capita, among others.

Each state’s family-friendliness ranking is based upon another WalletHub study published earlier this year about the best states to raise a family.

According to the ranking, the best five states for having a baby are Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota, respectively. The worst five are Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Though Alabama scores low in the major categories, having the highest infant mortality rate among states, it has among the lowest average annual infant care costs.

5 months ago

‘Supermarket of Veterans Benefits’ to be held at Houston County Farm Center August 24

(V. Halford/Facebook)

The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) is hosting a “Supermarket of Veterans Benefits” on Friday, Aug. 24 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Houston County Farm Center Complex in Dothan.

At the free event, veterans and their dependents will be able to “shop” for benefits and services, receiving guidance from state and federal officials regarding their eligibility.

“There are many agencies that provide benefits and services to veterans, and this is a great opportunity for veterans to learn about many of them in one day,” Clyde Marsh, ADVA Commissioner, said in a statement. “Since we began this program, we have assisted thousands of veterans and their families receive their earned benefits.”

The department hosted a similar event last November in Florence.

For more information about the event, contact the Houston County Veterans Service Office at (334) 677-4749, or the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs at (334) 242-5084.

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5 months ago

NRA launches ad campaign in Alabama calling for Jones to support Brett Kavanaugh

(NRA/YouTube)

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) has launched an ambitious, seven-figure ad campaign in several markets across the country, including Alabama, to urge the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Beginning on Tuesday, markets throughout the state will air an ad beckoning voters to demand that Sen. Doug Jones confirm Kavanaugh.

“Four liberal justices oppose your right to self-defense,” the ad states. “Four justices support your right to self-defense. President Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh to break the tie.”

“Tell Senator Jones, ‘Defend our right to self-defense. Confirm Judge Kavanaugh,'” the ad concludes.

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Sen. Richard Shelby met with Kavanaugh in July and spoke in favor of his confirmation to the court.

“Confirming Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most important things we will do during this Congress,” Shelby said in a statement following the meeting. “I look forward to supporting his nomination to serve on our nation’s highest court, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

A recent poll conducted by North Star Opinion Research found that 54 percent of registered voters support Kavanaugh’s nomination, while 30 do not.

“The majority of Alabamians support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation and will be watching to see if Senator Jones votes to confirm Kavanaugh, or if he follows Sen. Chuck Schumer and the gun control lobby,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA.

Similar ads will be aired in North Dakota, Indiana, and West Virginia.

Trump won each of those states in the 2016 presidential election, and each has an incumbent Democratic senator – Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, and Joe Manchin, respectively – who voted in favor of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the court.

The ad campaign will also air in Alaska.

Sen. Jones told reporters in late July that he is keeping an “open mind” on the subject of Kavanaugh’s nomination, though many of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate have come out firmly against the Kavanaugh’s placement on the court.

Jones also recently told Todd Stacy, publisher of Alabama Daily News, that he is seeking to meet with Kavanaugh following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

6 months ago

City of Good Hope awarded grant to help bring in its first manufacturing plant

(City of Good Hope)

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded the city of Good Hope in Cullman County a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant to go toward extending sewer service to AGCOR Steel’s new 128,000-square-foot facility.

The city will use grant funds to provide 3,600 feet of sewer force mains, 1,000 feet of gravity sewer mains and a new lift station for the facility.

“Working with communities to create new job opportunities is vital to the success of Alabama’s economy,” Gov. Ivey said in a statement. “I am pleased to award this grant which is a first step in helping Good Hope and AGCOR generate new jobs and new business within the community.”

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The Good Hope city council voted in February to offer AGCOR a tax incentive to be paid for by a half-cent sales tax increase. The company will relocate from Vinemont.

“This is the first manufacturing plant ever for the City of Good Hope,” Mayor Jerry Bartlett told the Cullman Times in February. “That’s a big deal.”

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer the grant, which was made available to the state by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

6 months ago

WATCH: Anti-gun protesters gather at the Alabama State House

(T. Isner/Twitter)

A group of Alabama protesters showed up at the Alabama State House Wednesday in Montgomery to voice their disdain for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

In the video sent to Yellowhammer News, protesters can be heard chanting, “The NRA has got to go.”

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Democratic congressional hopeful Tabitha Isner tweeted Wednesday that she was at the Alabama State House as students, joined by a mix of older people, pushing for common sense gun reform.

Isner also said protesters were not allowed inside the state house.