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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.

Steve Marshall: The high price of protecting the public

Barely three weeks into the New Year – a time that is supposed to be full of optimism for the future – Alabama has already reached a somber milestone. Our state is tied with Texas for the highest number of law enforcement line-of-duty deaths in the country for 2019.

Two Sundays in a row, major cities of our state suffered the sudden loss of a beloved police officer. Each officer was performing his sworn duty to protect the public and uphold the law when he was fatally struck down by gunfire. Both faced danger without hesitation and both acted with courage and commitment, just as they had been trained. And each gave his life.

The daily actions of our law enforcement personnel in the performance of their duties may seem routine work to the public, but they only see the outside. Behind the badge, polished shoes and friendly smile stands a person dedicated to protecting the lives of Alabamians, even if their job places them directly in harm’s way.

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While there are other occupations that can be hazardous to a worker, few demand that a person enter the unknown on a daily basis to face potential personal injury and even death. Why would anyone want to take on such a job? To those who train and take an oath to become a law enforcement officer, it is not a job. It is a calling. They do not seek fame and fortune. They wear a badge with pride out of a special commitment to safeguard their community.

And let us not forget the sacrifice of the families of law enforcement who wait up nights for their loved one’s return. They need no reminder of the too often perilous nature of the work of our men and women of law enforcement.

All of us want to live in peace and safety, but how many would be willing to walk the beat of a law enforcement officer to help guarantee that safety? Birmingham Police Sergeant Wytasha Carter and Mobile Police Officer Sean Tuder did just that.

At approximately 2:00 a.m., Sunday, January 13, Sgt. Carter was on the lookout for vehicle break-ins when he was notified of suspicious activity and responded along with other officers. Two persons were stopped in a parking lot and were being searched when one pulled out a gun and shot Sgt. Carter and another officer. Carter lost his life that morning, but his 17 years’ service for the Birmingham, Leeds and Fairfield police departments and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office were celebrated by a tremendous public response. Alabama sends condolences to Carter’s family.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., Sunday, January 20, Officer Tuder was attempting to serve an arrest warrant on a suspect in Mobile. During the arrest, the suspect shot and fatally wounded Officer Tuder, a three-year veteran of the Mobile Police Department who was previously honored as Officer of the Month. Prior to coming to Mobile, Officer Tuder served with the Palatka Police Department in Florida for two years. Tuder’s funeral service is this Friday, and I am certain there will also be an overwhelming public turnout. His death is a painful reminder of the loss of another young Mobile police officer, Justin Billa, less than a year ago. I know I join all of Alabama in sending condolences to Officer Tuder’s family.

More than 500 Alabama law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty during the last 100 years of record keeping. Each is a hero. All gave everything so their communities could be safe. There is a high price to pay for putting on the uniform of a peace officer. This month, Alabama knows as much about the sacrifice of law enforcement as any state in America.

Law enforcement continues to take on more responsibility, sometimes with less manpower and funding. In addition to responding to calls of domestic violence, burglaries, armed robbery, assault and drug trafficking – to name but a few -t hey also deal with homeland security concerns and the growing reach of cybercrime.

As the attorney general and chief law enforcement official for the state of Alabama, it is my honor to stand with our law enforcement as they stand on a daily basis between order and chaos.

We cannot thank law enforcement enough for what they do for us, and we will never forget their sacrifice.

Steve Marshall is the Alabama attorney general

Marshall: A personal New Year’s message

(AG's Office)

My fellow Alabamians, for many of us 2018 has been a year of hardship, of pain and loss. Our state as a whole has had its challenges, too. We’ve seen headlines of lives shattered by addiction, crime and violence. We’ve seen families torn apart and communities at odds. I am sure that I am not alone in my eagerness for a new year and a new chapter. Yet, as I reflect on the past year, I recognize that a year of hardship has brought to light some new perspectives that I want to carry into 2019. I share them with you in hopes that, as a state, we can look back over the coming year and say that we did our best to make Alabama a better place to live.

In 2019, I want to be kinder than I would normally be because, as the saying goes, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. As everyone now knows, my family was fighting a quiet battle for many years. The conversations that I’ve had with families across the state have opened my eyes to the fact that we were not alone in that. You really never know what burdens people are carrying and how your words can build them up or tear them down. I read something by Stephen Covey recently that resonated with me. He said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” How different would our interactions with others be if we kept this in mind? In the New Year, I want to be more compassionate and patient with people I meet who may not be as easy to understand.

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In 2019, I want to be more forgiving. If I have learned anything over the past year, it’s that life is too short to carry around anger and bitterness. And unforgiveness is a heavy load to carry. As evidenced by the local news around our state, the determination to settle a score has repeatedly resulted in the loss of life in some communities. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the wrong done to us was right, and it often doesn’t come with an apology from the person or people who hurt us, but it frees us to focus on what is ahead rather than what is behind.

In 2019, I want to invest more in people. Admittedly, before I became attorney general, I was able to give more of my time to a variety of philanthropies — one of which remains very close to my heart, mentoring at-risk youth. Although my involvement may have to look a little different now, I want to make time to stay involved. The truth is, if we are tired of high crime rates and bad neighborhoods, then we have to be willing to play a small part in the solution. Alabama is blessed with numerous non-profits organized to serve children and teenagers who are statistically more likely to end up in prison. Find one in your area and get involved. Everyone can’t commit to mentoring, but studies show that simple hospitality, even just sharing a meal, can make a difference in the life of an at-risk youth. The first step is believing that you can have an impact.

Despite the difficulties of the past year, it was a great honor to be elected to serve as your attorney general. I appreciate your confidence in me and your support, even in the midst of some of my darkest days. I pray God’s blessings upon you and your families.

Happy New Year!

Steve Marshall is the Alabama attorney general

No, Justice Stevens, the Second Amendment must be preserved

(YouTube, Flickr)

I recently read with interest an op-ed written by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens calling on the American people to “repeal the Second Amendment” in the name of making us safer. I could not disagree more.

I have been a prosecutor for 20 years. I support efforts proven to reduce crime, protect children, and keep criminals from buying or possessing firearms. But the Second Amendment recognizes and protects, not grants, an individual right that is central to citizenship in an enlightened republic—the right to protect one’s home, family, and community. What Justice Stevens apparently views as frivolous could not be any more serious. Like the right to free speech or free association, the right to bear arms is a natural right—recognized in English law and early state constitutions—that pre-exists the Constitution itself.

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The New York Times is not the first forum in which Justice Stevens has advocated for repealing the Second Amendment—frighteningly, he did so from the bench. In 2008 in Heller v. District of Columbia, Justice Stevens adopted a view of the Second Amendment that would render it a nullity. His position then was the same as it is now: that the Second Amendment was a historical mistake that has more to do with military readiness than the individual right to self defense.

Five members of the Supreme Court rejected Justice Stevens’ attempt to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution in Heller, and for good reason. It was well-established in the country’s early years that American citizens had the God-given individual right to bear arms in defense of themselves and their families. That is one reason why the Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1856 infamously refused to recognize African Americans as citizens. The Court knew (and feared) that such recognition would give them the right “to keep and carry arms wherever they went.” This historical understanding of the right to bear arms is also why one of the nation’s first civil rights law, the Freedman’s Bureau Act of 1866, announced that freed slaves would have the right to “full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings concerning personal liberty, personal security, and the acquisition, enjoyment, and disposition of estate, real and personal, including the constitutional right to bear arms.”

Though I vehemently disagree with Justice Stevens, I will give him credit for his honesty—that he’s not just for stricter gun control, but is for doing away with the right to bear arms altogether. Many who share his view would have the public believe that just one more law or regulation will be enough, both to ensure safety and to satisfy the “common sense gun control” movement. They scoff at the anger and alarm from those who sense that a much broader “fix” is the true aim, while pursuing precisely that agenda.

We can recognize the right of an individual to protect himself and, at the same time, do far more to secure our schools and keep guns out of the hands of criminals. My office is working on ways to do both. The freedoms we enjoy in America come with great responsibility and we must continue to hold to account those who despicably abuse their freedoms to harm others; yet, in doing so, we need not be complicit in the erosion of a fundamental right that has stood the test of time for over 200 years.

The Second Amendment—the explicit protection of our right to bear arms and defend ourselves—must be preserved.

Steve Marshall is the attorney general of Alabama.