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  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    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


    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


    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.

3 days ago

Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inducts eight


This past weekend, the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame kicked off National Engineers Week by inducting into its membership eight accomplished individuals for their contributions to the state through their profession.

The Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame was formed in 1987 to recognize individuals, projects and companies who have made a lasting impact on the state through the field of engineering.


List of those inducted:

• Lowell Christy, founding principal, Christy Cobb Consulting Engineers
• Stephen Cook, executive vice president of Corporate Development, Dynetics
• Dorothy Davidson, CEO, Davidson Technologies
• Tanya Fratto, director, Boart Longyear
• Carl Register, managing director, Railcar Solutions, Ltd
• Jonathan Sharpe, director of Weapon Systems Integration, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Co.
• Zeke Smith, executive vice president of External Affairs, Alabama Power Company
• Norman Tew, vice president and general manager, The Boeing Company

Yellowhammer News spoke with Stephen Cook and Zeke Smith about the induction. Both shared their appreciation of the honor and spoke of those who helped them get to where they are in the profession.

“First I’m very honored and humbled by this recognition,” Smith said. “I’m very appreciative to Chris Roberts and Jim Killian of Auburn University for nominating me, the Board of Directors for considering me, and my teammates at Alabama Power for their long-standing support. Anything good that is accomplished in life cannot happen without the support of your family and other people. I am blessed and certainly inspired to live up to the high standards that this hall of fame represents.”

“It’s an incredible and humbling honor to be inducted into the hall of fame,” said Cook. “My faith in God and my wonderful family provided the foundation which allowed me to have a wonderful engineering career.”

There are seven universities in Alabama which offer engineering programs to their students.

Cook and Smith offered valuable insight for those studying in those programs.

Cook’s advice for aspiring engineers was “to seek out areas where they can be passionate about contributing and constantly striving for excellence in how and what they do.”

“My engineering background helps me in everything I do,” Smith said. “Engineers take a problem, analyze it, develop a plan of action and see it to the end. My experiences of learning – whether in engineering classes many years ago at Auburn or through my career at the company – have taught me discipline and how to think strategically. I’ve applied engineering to every job I’ve had, including the one I have now.”

“Alabama engineers have accomplished many great things over the years and I’m excited to see what the next generation contributes in the future,” Cook added.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

4 days ago

Del Marsh opposes Doug Jones’ continued calls for Medicaid expansion

(D. Jones, D. Marsh/Facebook)

Last week, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) renewed his call for Medicaid expansion in Alabama, and one state leader says the government run healthcare program already gets more than enough funding.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Alabama senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said Jones does not have a realistic view of the costs associated with the program.


“The reality is that we are handful of states that chose not to take the money,” Marsh pointed out. “These states that have taken the money ultimately will see the costs, the down the road costs, they weren’t anticipating when the federal government steps away. We don’t want to be in that position because once you offer services, and then have to take them back, it’s a very painful experience.”

According to Marsh, Medicaid gets more discretionary money out of Alabama’s general fund budget than any other state agency. He said it totals approximately $750 million.

“They get their share,” Marsh said.

“We have worked over the last four years to bring Medicaid costs under control,” he added. “And we are going to continue to do that. We’ve made changes in the system to make it more efficient. And I think the worst thing we could do as a state right now is to change that philosophy and just let these [state] agencies spend all the money they can spend, and they will.”

Marsh believes the health of Alabama’s economy should feature prominently among the reasons not to expand the program.

He said that some Medicaid recipients should be coming off the rolls because of the strength of the economy.

“We worked to improve the economy,” he said “We’ve got a great economy right now. Unemployment is at record lows. When you’ve got a good economy, the pressure on Medicaid goes down.”

Marsh simply thinks the risk posed by increased spending for Medicaid far outweighs any available benefit.

“We want to encourage a good economy,” he said. “We want to encourage an efficient system and the last thing we want to do is send a message that ‘spend as much as you want because the federal government is coming to the rescue and oh, by the way, they are leaving in a few years and then it’s all on us.'”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

6 days ago

Del Marsh on Trump declaration: ‘It is an emergency — It is about protecting this country’

(Del Marsh/Facebook, ICE/Flickr)

Alabama Senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) voiced his support for President Donald Trump’s latest action on border security while blaming Democrats for their inability to fix the long-standing issue.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Marsh said he supports Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency along the Mexican border.


Marsh explained that the urgency of the threat made it necessary.

“It is an emergency,” Marsh stated. “It is about protecting this country. That’s where the threat is. The threat is the southern border. All our borders should be secure. But the threat right now is the southern border. No one can deny that.”

When asked where border security should rank among the country’s priorities, Marsh said border security should be number one.

And he expressed frustration at how policy-makers have approached the issue.

“I cannot for the life of me understand how people in Congress can put people who are not citizens of this country above our citizens’ welfare, and that’s what I see happening,” he remarked.

He cited a single reason why, in his mind, the issue of border security has gone on for so long without resolution.

“Politics,” Marsh declared.

Specifically, he believes Democrats view illegal immigration as providing a pool of potential new voters and that has threatened national security.

“They have put that above the safety of the citizens of this country,” he said. “Democrats are basically saying, ‘Don’t worry about a process. Come on! We’re your buddies!’”

Marsh also pointed out the fact that he has already filed a bill in the Alabama legislature to allow Alabamians to help build the wall.

The legislation would provide taxpayers the option of checking a box on their tax returns should they want to donate to We Build the Wall, Inc.

Marsh has already donated to the fund himself.

“It’s about sending a message to this president, President Trump, that we support him and by sending these dollars to build the wall, showing our support for him,” he explained. “I believe it and I think the people of Alabama believe that security is the most important thing, the most important issue at this point in time. We want to support the wall, and we want to see the wall built.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 week ago

California Senator Dianne Feinstein joins the fray against Alabama aerospace companies

(D. Feinstein, M. Rogers/Facebook)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has joined Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) in objecting to the competitive bid process that resulted in pioneering opportunities for two Alabama aerospace companies.

In a letter dated February 4 and addressed to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Feinstein and a colleague called for modifications to a process which resulted in major contracts for United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Alabama’s newest aerospace company, Blue Origin.


The letter contends that the requirements included in the process have prevented other companies from qualifying as launch providers.

Rogers cited many of the same concerns in a similar letter to Secretary Wilson in November 2018.

Feinstein’s objection was reportedly on behalf of a California-based launch company.

These calls for revisions in the process could create obstacles for future participation by the Alabama companies.

The U.S. Air Force awarded the contracts in October 2018 for the development of new space vehicles for use on American national security missions.

The contract award resulted in ULA receiving the go-ahead to begin manufacturing the Vulcan Centaur rocket at its Decatur plant.

Blue Origin broke ground this year on a massive new facility in Huntsville that will represent a $200 million investment by the company in the state and create more than 300 jobs.

The company plans to manufacture engines capable of powering ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) previously praised the award as “great news” for Alabama.

At the Blue Origin groundbreaking, Governor Kay Ivey paid tribute to the leading role Alabama and companies like Blue Origin and ULA will play in shedding the nation’s dependence on foreign rocket components.

The competitive bid process at the center of the controversy had been put in place as a response to a congressional mandate to move away from foreign-made rocket engines.

“We built the rocket that took man to the moon and returned him safely,” Ivey said. “And now it’s going to be Alabama that takes men and women into deep space and returns them safely. The United States will no longer be dependent on other countries. Now we will be leading space exploration and it will start right here in Sweet Home Alabama.”

She also highlighted the partnership between Blue Origin and ULA as an example of Alabama’s manufacturing success.

“Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, they represent what we are all about in Alabama: growing opportunities for our people, being innovative and finding success when we work together,” Ivey concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 weeks ago

Alabama author pens ‘The Remarkable Housewives of the Bible’ series

(Contributed/Erin Brown Hollis)

Alabama author Erin Brown Hollis has written a book she hopes will engage women spiritually and provide the same sort of outlet many seek through reality television.

Hollis recently published The Remarkable Housewives of the Bible which she says is the first of a three-part series.


In an interview with Yellowhammer News Hollis said she became inspired to write the book after realizing she would occasionally watch reality television shows as an escape from the realities of her own life.

According to Hollis, she asked herself, “‘Why can’t we have something that fills the void we have but instead be pouring into ourselves spiritually?’”

That’s when she knew women in the Bible provided the answer.

“If you read the Bible it gives you actual relevant stuff that you can take to improve your own life day-to-day,” she pointed out.

That applicability, along with the color and flavor of the stories, brought her to the idea.

“Sometimes we look at Biblical characters as so out of touch because they lived thousands of years ago, and they wouldn’t have a clue what we were doing now,” said Hollis. “But when you really dig into their stories, they are more relevant than the housewives of Bravo could ever be. And their stories are actually more drama-ridden and soap opera-esque than anything you are going to find on TV.”

The format of the series is simple.

Each book contains the stories of five women who had a significant role in the Bible, with the women telling their story in first person or as Hollis envisions they would.

Hollis then recounts that story and acts as, what she calls, “a hostess of a girls’ night out” attempting to engage the reader on the story they just read.

Three lessons are built into the women’s individual stories, and a Bible study component is included in the back of the book for individual or small group study.

As for Hollis’ own personal favorite woman in the Bible, she says that it is “a tossup” between two.

“Hannah, she trusts and she teaches us that if we pray, we are heard, and that God will answer us,” she elaborated. “And then I love Ruth because — well my grandmother’s name was Ruth so I think I have a little leaning there — but I love how loyal she is to a fault, and that she gave up her own selfish desires for others. I think that’s such a challenge to us today to do the same.”

Hollis said that one of her goals is to allow the reader to know they are on a journey together.

“If you can captivate an audience and make them feel as if you are sitting on the couch and talking with them and not talking at them, that is so key for my writing style,” she said. “I never want the reader to feel like I know more than them. I’m the writer that says, ‘Hey, I’m right there with you. We’re on a team. We’re together. I’m just opening this conversation for us to chat.”

As a lawyer with a journalism degree from Samford University, writing has always been part of her life.

She recalled editing the newspaper with her grandmother, an English teacher, as “my idea of fun on the weekends.”

It was not until after she had children that Hollis began writing professionally.

“I realized that I really wanted to leave a legacy for my girls because if I was going to teach them to chase their dreams then I needed to show them how,” said Hollis. “So I just started writing.”

And choosing women as her audience for her first few books was an easy decision.

“I can only write from my personal experience,” she said. “I was discovering that I would go to lunch with friends or Bible study or just out at night, and I found that we were talking about the same things. And I was discovering recurring issues coming up in all of my friends’ lives, whether that would be in parenting or in marriage or in day-to-day not feeling up to the challenge, and I thought that these are areas where women really need to feel heard. They need to feel like there’s a place to find something.”

So Hollis will continue to write to address that need.

“We can scroll social media all day long and 55 people will give you a Chinese proverb and inspirational quote but at the end of the day that’s going to kind of leave you looking for more,” she added.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 weeks ago

Mark Crosswhite sees Alabama’s people, universities vital to economic growth

(Alabama Power Company, Pixabay)

In a speech at UAB’s Hill Student Center, Mark Crosswhite provided a detailed blue print for how he believes Alabama’s university system can help the state’s business community build for the future.

The Alabama Power chairman, president and CEO addressed the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees and, in doing so, outlined a plan for the universities and state to capitalize on its people.


Crosswhite began by applauding the work of Alabama’s universities.

“You’re educating thousands of the state’s, and really the nation’s, best and brightest,” he said. “Tracking hundreds of millions of dollars of sponsored research. Providing support through economic development and community development programs. You’re improving healthcare in the state.”

Even with all the accomplishments, Crosswhite said that, in his view, the success of the state and its universities are tied closely together moving forward.

In accordance with that belief, he presented three areas for the universities and the business community to work more closely together.

The first was in the area of attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

Based on statistics he cited, Alabama has room for significant improvement when it comes to workforce retention.

He suggested focusing on the things that motivate people beyond merely employment.

“Let’s get them a job, but let’s get them involved in our community,” Crosswhite said.

Research that his own company had done points toward community involvement being an important factor for people looking to enter the workforce.

“Civic engagements drive them,” he emphasized. “It gives them a sense of ownership and creates a sense of place for them, and that’s something that they value.”

For Crosswhite, the collaborative goal is clear.

“We want to work with the system to find a way to keep students here in the state,” he said.

The second area he thinks the two groups can work on is in leveraging relationships.

The value in the relationships held by the universities is something they should seek to realize, according to him.

“The system has great and unique relationships all over the world,” he pointed out.

His plan is to tap into those relationships and engage in specific recruitments.

“Actively ask them to come back, come here, start a business here, open a business here,” said Crosswhite. “We try to do that at Alabama Power. When we go out across the state, we look for connections and we will target people and go after them.”

He characterized some of the existing connections for the universities as ripe for this type of approach.

“The system has some real world-class faculty performing sponsored research for prominent companies around the world,” he said. “How can we go back to those companies if you’re having research done in Alabama? Let’s see if we can’t get some of your business located here.”

The final piece to Crosswhite’s plan involved expanding the spotlight on innovation and entrepreneurship.

“I know that’s already a big focus for all campuses now,” he acknowledged.

But the results he has seen lend to an even more intense focus.

Crosswhite mentioned the success of Alabama LaunchPad, an early-stage business investment program through the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.

According to Crosswhite, the mentoring and funding program for start-ups has provided $4 million to 82 Alabama start-up businesses which collectively now have a valuation of more than $200 million.

“Those type of activities would be another way business and the university system can work together,” he added. “We know that in the startups we’ve seen here already from Alabama Launchpad, the successful ones often have someone from the university involved.”

The key, he said, is pursuing those partnerships for a defined purpose.

“We want to find people who can come in and make their idea into a business,” he outlined.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 weeks ago

UA System Board of Trustees names freshman hall for John England, Jr.

(Contributed/UA System)

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees bestowed a high honor on one of its own Friday.

The board voted unanimously to name the newest freshman residence hall at the University of Alabama after trustee John England, Jr.


The board’s passage of a resolution to name the building included several emotional speeches from trustees during which members celebrated England’s service.

Joe Espy set the events in motion for the board, calling England “a dedicated public servant” and “an individual who has made many contributions to our system, our institutions, our state and our local communities.”

Board member Vanessa Leonard first met England while she was a law student.

Leonard recalled England serving on a panel helping to provide advice to law students. Now she was in her sixteenth year serving alongside him on the board.

Of England, she said that he “continually gives of his time, energy and wisdom.”

Interim Chancellor Fess St. John said, “The board has passed a lot of resolutions, but this might be my favorite.”

University of Alabama President Stuart Bell called the naming “a well-deserved tribute.”

Board President Pro Tem Ronald Gray called England’s impact on the state and the system “profound.”

Trustee Emeritus John McMahon spoke reverently of his friend and former colleague.

“When I think of Judge England, I don’t have the words to express what John has meant to the board of trustees, to the University of Alabama, to UAB, to UAH,” he said. “He was the heart and soul of the board of trustees while I served.”

McMahon called the new John England Jr. Hall a “permanent testament to what John has meant to the university and everyone in this room.”

An equally appreciative and stunned England called the honor “a complete, total surprise.”

“I’m at a loss for words,” he said.

In addition to his time on the board, England has served on the Alabama Supreme Court, as a circuit judge and on the Tuscaloosa city council.

He is a recipient of the Most Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 weeks ago

Del Marsh wants to allow Alabamians to help build border wall

(D. Marsh/Facebook, U.S. CBP/Flickr)

Having grown tired of Washington’s lack of progress on funding a border wall, Alabama Senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) wants to give Alabamians a chance to make their own contributions to the effort.

According to his office, Marsh prefiled a bill which would put into Alabama law the option for taxpayers to check a box on their tax returns should they want to donate to We Build the Wall, Inc.


“It is obvious that many people in the Federal government have little desire to address border security, so this is an easy way for people in Alabama, if they choose, to check a box and make a donation in support of building a border wall,” Marsh said.

Marsh has little doubt in his mind where people’s priorities lie right now, he shared.

“As I talk to people in my district and around the state, border security is the number one thing I hear about,” he added. “This is obviously an issue that has people very concerned and one that needs to be addressed.”

In addition to simply checking a box, taxpayers would be able to designate a specific amount of money they want to contribute to the fund.

We Build the Wall Inc. is the non-profit which was created by Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage to raise money to build the wall along the United States border with Mexico for national security purposes.

Marsh expects to take up the issue once Alabama’s legislative session begins March 5.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 weeks ago

Two Alabama ministries team up to help each other

(Contributed/Kings Home)

Two long-standing Alabama ministries recently found a way to help each other in a unique way.

The Jimmie Hale Mission handed over its thrift ministry to King’s Home, creating for King’s Home a much-needed source of donations, according to a release from the group.


Tony Cooper, executive director of The Jimmie Hale Mission, sees the transition as a timely move for his ministry.

“This opportunity came at a time when the leadership of The Jimmie Hale Mission felt the Lord leading our ministry in a different direction,” he said. “We are excited to be handing over our three thrift stores into the care of King’s Home.”

For King’s Home, the store locations in Eastwood, Pinson and Hanceville will fill a void created by the ending of its 30-year partnership with America’s Thrift Stores in 2017.

“Losing $750,000 in funding was a heartbreaking disappointment, especially for our residents who need help the most, but God has blessed us with this opportunity to begin recouping some of this lost revenue,” said Lew Burdette, president of King’s Home. “The public needs [to] know that now 100% of their donations go to King’s Home because in the past the America’s Thrift Stores kept a large majority of the profits.”

King’s Home is a ministry serving youth, women, mothers and children who face difficult circumstances such as domestic violence, abuse and neglect. It was formed when King’s Ranch and Hannah Homes combined their work in 1998 and became King’s Home in 2010.

King’s Home operates twenty-two residential group homes and has six campuses in four Alabama counties.

This year, The Jimmie Hale Mission is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding, with Cooper having served as its executive director since 1990.

Following its slogan “Our Product is Changed Lives!” The Jimmie Hale Mission seeks to care for the community and share the gospel through its men’s shelter, women and children’s shelter, after-school Bible clubs, learning centers and recovery programs.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

3 weeks ago

Bannon to Sims: ‘The … Yellowhammer is here?! The Hammer?! Epic’

(Contributed/C. Sims, G. Skidmore/Flickr)

Breitbart News co-founder Steve Bannon had some enthusiastic words for Cliff Sims and his Alabama news outlet during their first meeting, according to Breitbart News White House correspondent Charlie Spiering.


On his Twitter account, Spiering highlighted a particular passage in Sims’ book Team of Vipers in which Sims describes his introduction to Bannon during the presidential campaign.

After introducing himself, Sims found himself the recipient of a spirited endorsement of his work and his company.

Sims founded Yellowhammer News in 2012.

He then went to work for Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, after which he served a 500-day stint in the Trump White House.

For Sims, the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of television appearances and Twitter exchanges with Trump as more details of his book have come to light.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

4 weeks ago

Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


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.


Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield pointed out that the project took seven years to come to fruition and required numerous partners working to make it happen.

He expects those relationships to endure.

“Partnership continues to be important,” said Canfield. “The partnership between the state of Alabama, Madison County, Huntsville and this great region.”

The engines built by Blue Origin will be used on rockets built by United Launch Alliance at its manufacturing facility in nearby Decatur.

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith credited a highly-skilled workforce in Huntsville and the business climate in Alabama with enabling his company to play a critical role in the nation’s space program.

“It is a great day for Alabama,” Smith said. “It’s a great day for Huntsville. It’s a great day for our partner United Launch Alliance. And obviously its a great day for Blue Origin.”

Smith noted the partnerships Blue Origin has formed allow it to deliver state-of-the-art rocket engines that help meet commercial and national defense needs.

“Blue Origin is all-in on Alabama,” he concluded.

United Launch Alliance  (ULA) CEO Tory Bruno welcomed Blue Origin to Alabama as it joined 200 other ULA suppliers located within the state.

Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine will power ULA’s cutting edge Vulcan Centaur rocket for the delivery of national security satellites.

“The Vulcan rocket is specifically and uniquely designed for national security space missions,” said Bruno.

Bruno emphasized the importance of those missions.

“Space is the ultimate high ground in national defense and no longer uncontested,” he said.

Bruno conveyed his appreciation to Ivey and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), among others, and attributed their support of the aerospace industry to its advances in the state.

“It is no coincidence that we build these rockets here in Alabama because the people of Alabama have provided us with wonderful leadership in this state that is as passionate about rockets as we are,” he said.

Ivey enthusiastically touted the more than 300 jobs that will be created by Blue Origin and the $200 million investment it is making in the facility opening in March 2020.

She also conveyed the far-reaching impact of the project.

“Engines that will be built in this facility will be game changers not just for Blue Origin and the state of Alabama but these will be game changers for companies around the globe and certainly throughout our nation,” said Ivey. “We built the rocket that took man to the moon and returned him safely. And now it’s going to be Alabama that takes men and women into deep space and returns them safely. The United States will no longer be dependent on other countries. Now we will be leading space exploration and it will start right here in Sweet Home Alabama.”

With more than 16,000 new jobs created during her administration, according to Ivey, the state is sending a message as to its potential.

“We show companies that if they want to be made in Alabama, they can expect excellence,” she said.

For Ivey, the partnerships and the resulting collaboration are fundamental to Alabama’s economic success.

“Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, they represent what we are all about in Alabama: growing opportunities for our people, being innovative and finding success when we work together,” said Ivey.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

4 weeks ago

Innovation the topic of discussion at Mobile school choice event

(Charlie Szold)

Students, parents, educators and elected officials continued their participation in School Choice Week with a discussion about some of the innovative approaches to education made available through school choice.

At a recent event in Mobile, State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) and State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) took part in a panel discussion hosted by the National Coalition for Public School Options, according to a coalition release.

The common belief among the panelists was that parents should have the greatest say in their children’s education, a principle fundamental to the school choice movement.


Parents want their children to succeed more than anything in the world,” Pringle said. “And they want options so they can give their kids the best education they can get.”

Albritton was quick to point out that school choice has brought new ways to improve education while also issuing a reminder that there is still work to be done.

“Charter schools were an innovation that took a whole lot of work, but we did it,” he said. “Slowly, surely, we’re starting to realize that more choice is better, but we still need to overcome some bias against it.”

A consensus also formed among the panelists that virtual education should be one of the options made more fully available to parents in Alabama as part of that innovative approach.

“I think you will start to see more and more of a blend, where students in virtual schools, and home school students, start to participate more in band, sports, etc, and students in brick and mortar schools start to more fully utilize virtual learning,” said Pringle.

Albritton and Pringle were joined on the panel by Wei Barr, her daughter Abby Barr and Alabama Virtual Academy Head of School Kayleen Marble.

Abby Barr, a sophomore in the Alabama Virtual Academy, thinks the focal point of education should shift toward learning and away from testing.

“I want to see schools more focused on the individual and less focused on teaching for tests,” Abby said. “It seems silly but the future of education is to actually focus on learning and less on testing what you’ve already learned.”

Efforts to reform education through school choice have ramped up in recent weeks, including the formation of a new group spearheaded by Phil Williams of the Alabama Policy Institute.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

4 weeks ago

Cliff Sims’ ‘Team of Vipers’ continues to climb best sellers list


Leaving both The Wonkey Donkey and Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild in its wake, Cliff Sims’ new book Team of Vipers reached number six on Amazon’s best sellers list by late Tuesday.

Team of Vipers chronicles Sims’ time working in the Donald Trump White House, including his daily encounters with the president and those around him.

Tantalizing excerpts from the book have begun to leak out ahead of Viper’s January 29 release.


The Washington Post provided insight into a fascinating interaction Sims had with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly:

Sims recounts that Kelly once confided to him in a moment of exasperation: “This is the worst [expletive] job I’ve ever had. People apparently think that I care when they write that I might be fired. If that ever happened, it would be the best day I’ve had since I walked into this place.

The outlet also shared a raw look at Trump’s relationship with former speaker Paul Ryan:

“Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your a– for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’” Trump told Ryan, then a Wisconsin congressman. “Why do you think Nancy [Pelosi] has held on this long? Have you seen her? She’s a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth another Republican gets elected. But they stick with her .Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?”

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie also has a Trump-themed book slated for release on January 29. It has not cracked Amazon’s top 50.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Alabama rocket builder ULA powers critical national security mission


The state of Alabama and one of its manufacturers proved again how vital their work is to the country’s national security when United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully powered a new intelligence satellite into space.

ULA’s Alabama-made Delta IV Heavy rocket launched the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite into space on Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Delta IV Heavy is built at the company’s manufacturing plant in Decatur, with the plant being the largest such facility in the western hemisphere.


“The Delta IV Heavy’s unique capabilities, as the only rocket with the ability to complete many [NRO] missions, have given our military the tools to keep America secure,” said ULA CEO Tory Bruno in a statement from the company.

The NRO is a joint Department of Defense-Intelligence Community organization and is tasked with operating the nation’s intelligence satellites used for national security.

ULA has a long history of providing the American intelligence community with launch capabilities.

“For generations ULA and our heritage rockets have launched national security payloads – providing critical communications capabilities to the intelligence community. Today’s launch marks ULA’s 51st successful launch supporting the defense community,” said Bruno.

Saturday’s launch was the eleventh time a Delta IV Heavy has been put to use and the 132nd mission overall for ULA.

ULA’s work has drawn the attention of some of the state’s most prominent elected officials lately.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) paid a visit to ULA’s plant this past week to view the progress of the Vulcan Centaur program.

The Vulcan Centaur is ULA’s newest program and is being manufactured and assembled in Alabama.

Bruno was quick to point out Saturday that the Vulcan Centaur will only enhance the ability of the nation’s military to gather global intelligence.

“ULA looks forward to strengthening our partnership with the Air Force as we develop our next generation rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, which will meet all DoD’s national security needs, delivering even greater capabilities than are available today to meet our Nation’s future challenges,” said Bruno.

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) noted that he had met with Bruno to discuss the company’s activity in the state.

ULA is a large employer within Orr’s state senate district.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

State Sen. Shay Shelnutt: ‘Maxine Waters needs to leave Alabama banks alone’

(M. Waters/Twitter, 60 Minutes/YouTube, S. Shelnutt/Facebook, Pixabay)

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have taken over the House Financial Services Committee, and one Alabama state senator is already pushing back on their agenda.

Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) is the incoming chairman of the Alabama Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee, and he told Yellowhammer News that he fears the approach Waters and Ocasio-Cortez take could end up harming the Alabama banking community and the consumers who depend on it.


“Maxine Waters and Ocasio-Cortez have no idea what it takes to build a business and take care of customers day in and day out,” said Shelnutt. “They are going to try to take sound bites that sound good to their liberal base and turn that into policy. The only thing that will end up doing is hurting our hometown banks and the families and small businesses that depend on them.”

Shelnutt sees the measures taken by President Donald Trump to loosen burdensome regulations as a good thing for Alabama’s economy.

“Our banks and small businesses finally got some relief from Trump when he got in there and cut a lot of the red tape Obama left behind,” he continued. “Now the Democrats in Congress are taking over, and they want to put the Obama restrictions back in place and maybe even worse.”

As a first-year chairman of his chamber’s banking committee, Shelnutt thinks his committee can play an important role in maintaining a sound environment for Alabama businesses.

“We have an outstanding group of senators on Banking and Insurance,” noted Shelnutt. “I feel confident we can do some things, from a policy-making standpoint, that will really help our state. We’re committed to helping consumers and small businesses, and we can do that by making sure we have healthy financial institutions.”

Shelnutt thinks there is a lot at stake and said he will continue to closely monitor what happens in Washington.

“There are banks in small communities all across Alabama that are depending on us,” he added. “I hope this is nothing more than posturing by Washington politicians. Bottom line: Maxine Waters needs to leave Alabama banks alone.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Marsh donates to border wall construction fund

(D. Marsh/Facebook, U.S. CBP/Flickr)

As a demonstration of his commitment to border security, Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has personally donated to an online campaign to fund the construction of a wall on America’s southern border.

“It is obvious that we cannot rely on politicians in Washington to do their job,” Marsh said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “I have always believed that controlling our borders and our national security is of the utmost importance which is why I supported immigration reform in Alabama in 2011 and why today, I am putting my money where my mouth is and personally donating to build the wall.”


The state senate leader cited a distrust of the current system and its impact on Alabama as part of his decision to donate.

“As we have seen twice just this month in Alabama, our nation’s immigration system is broken,” said Marsh. “While Washington politicians bicker and accomplish nothing, our national security remains vulnerable.”

President Donald Trump’s effort to fund the border wall remains at the center of the standoff over the government shutdown, a controversy which continues to escalate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) renewed her call to cancel Trump’s State of the Union address and took the opportunity to reiterate her opposition to fortifying the country’s border.

“I’m not for a wall,” Pelosi said.

In a column recently published on Yellowhammer News, Marsh wrote pointedly of what he sees as one of the biggest obstacles to a secure border.

Excerpt as follows:

Over the past several weeks, squabbling over the border wall has filled the airwaves and newspaper pages. Washington politicians have bickered endlessly about how much our sovereignty and our security is worth, but outside of the Washington bubble the need for the wall, and an immigration system rooted in the rule of law, is clear.

Washington politicians are to blame for the massive failure. They have played politics with our national security, and the American people have suffered because of it.

The online effort to which Marsh contributed has raised millions of dollars to help fund the border wall, according to the Hill. The money raised through GoFundMe has been transferred to a non-profit corporation led by wall supporter Brian Kolfage.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Buffalo Rock sues PepsiCo to protect its Alabama territories

(Buffalo Rock Company/Facebook)

Alabama-based beverage company Buffalo Rock announced today that it has filed suit against PepsiCo.

In a company statement, Buffalo Rock cited violation of franchise agreements and intrusion into exclusive territories as the events that precipitated the lawsuit.


“For years, we have tried to resolve this issue by working proactively with PepsiCo to address our ongoing concerns,” the company said. “Unfortunately, after years of discussions with PepsiCo, the problem has not been resolved, and we feel we have no choice but to file suit to protect our Company and our employees.”

Having been in business for 118 years, Buffalo Rock is one of the state’s largest employers and an iconic brand among Alabama consumers.

With 10 divisions and more than 2,000 employee-partners, Buffalo Rock is the largest independent single shareholder owned Pepsi bottler in the United States.

Buffalo Rock manufactures and sells almost one billion containers of product annually, according to company statistics.

The company recognized its own history and financial well-being, and that of its employees, while also speaking of a desire to favorably resolve its dispute with PepsiCo.

“We are a proud fourth generation family business that was founded in 1901,” said the company. “It is our responsibility to protect our company, our employees and their families, and the integrity of our franchise agreements. We hope and expect to resolve this issue favorably but in a way that allows us to continue our longstanding partnership with PepsiCo.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Andy Andrews to host special leadership event in Orange Beach


Renowned author, speaker and Alabama native Andy Andrews is planning to host a leadership conference in Orange Beach this year.

Andrews’ event, The Traveler’s Summit 2019, is set for March 9 and includes several guest speakers.


In addition to being a sought-after speaker and host of the Alabama-based podcast The Professional Noticer, Andrews has written the New York Times bestsellers The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer. And his thought-provoking How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think is on Yellowhammer News’ list of Alabama-authored books to read in 2019.

The theme of Andrews own speech at the conference is “The Leader’s Secret Weapon.”

A recent email to subscribers outlined the topics he planned to cover:

Have you ever fully considered the difference in a boss and a leader? Have you lately experienced a hint of personal or professional frustration? Do you know how to build upon the success you’ve experienced in your life thus far? Have you marked your map…are you ready to move quickly to the next level?

Do you even have the map…? At The Traveler’s Summit, Andy will explain in simple terms a hidden truth about leadership that will slightly shift your focus…and profoundly change your results.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at AndyAndrews.com.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

CNBC names Alabama company’s invention one of its top five cool things


At a recent tech show designed to show off cool things, Birmingham-based AerBetic was recognized as having one of the coolest devices.

CNBC named AerBetic’s wearable alert device for diabetics as one of the Consumer Electronic Show’s five coolest things.

The first-of-its-kind device can be worn as a watch, a bracelet or a pendant and uses gas sensors to inform and alert diabetes patients and their caregivers.


According to the company’s website, the device applies the same science behind the use of service dogs to help diabetics.

When diabetic episodes occur, people’s skin and breath emit certain gases. Some dogs have been trained to use their heightened sense of smell to detect those gases and alert their owners they are about to suffer an episode.

The AerBetic device uses state-of-the-art technology to detect those same gases at the parts per billion level.

The AerBetic product also includes a mobile app that alerts device users and caregivers when their condition warrants.

The non-invasive nature of the product sets it apart from other detection devices.

“The ability to determine a patient’s status without the need for invasive and costly sensors will enable a higher quality of life for diabetes patients and their caregivers worldwide,” AerBetic CEO Arnar Thors told Made in Alabama.

The company launched in July 2018 and has already enjoyed significant support from within the Yellowhammer State.

AerBetic won the Alabama LaunchPad startup competition and was awarded the i6 Challenge Grant from Southern Research.

As the company continues its effort to bring the product to market, it is looking for beta testers. Those interested may contact the company through its website.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Swinney on connection with mentor from Atmore: ‘This is how God works through the game of football’

(FOX Sports Southwest/Twitter, YHN)

Dabo Swinney delivered a powerful message at the award ceremony named in honor of Paul “Bear” Bryant.

In front of a bronze statue of the legendary Alabama football coach, Swinney recalled the providential meeting he had with former Tide assistant coach Woody McCorvey.

“This is what the game of football does,” remarked Swinney. “This is how God works through the game of football.”


In his speech, Swinney shared the story of how the two men met and mapped out the connection that has always existed.

“So Woody McCorvey’s from Atmore, Alabama, Highway 31 which runs all the way through the state of Alabama,” Swinney explained. “He’s from Atmore, Alabama. I’m from Pelham, Alabama. Highway 31, that’s the only road I knew my whole life until they built I-65 through Pelham sometime when I was in middle school.”

“Football brought a guy from Atmore, Alabama together with a young guy from Pelham, Alabama and we meet up at the University of Alabama,” continued Swinney. “He came to Alabama with Gene Stallings, and I’m a young sophomore in 1990. He became my position coach and then he is very instrumental in me getting into coaching, he and Coach Stallings.”

When McCorvey became the first African-American offensive coordinator in the history of the University of Alabama, McCorvey elevated Swinney to serve on his staff.

“Fast forward to 1996, and he’s the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama, broke down a barrier, and he wants me to be his receiver’s coach,” Swinney recalled.

Swinney went to work for McCorvey that year, and the two men have shared a special bond ever since.

“You don’t know how impactful Woody McCorvey has been in my life,” Swinney said. “If you don’t think football matters, are you kidding me? Highway 31 and the little pigskin brought these two men together and he’s been a best friend and a father to me in life.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Coalition forms to support children, parents seeking better schools


A new coalition has formed to support school choice in Alabama.

A statement from the Alabama Policy Institute (API) identified the coalition as “one of the first collaborative efforts among the various stakeholders and advocacy groups in the school choice fight in Alabama.”

The AAA Coalition includes schools, children’s advocacy organizations, scholarship funds and a business organization.

The group’s name is derived from the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) which is the law put in place to allow children in failing schools to attend better ones.


Phil Williams, API’s Director of Policy Strategy, sees its formation as a way to highlight the initiative’s success.

“By banding together we are able to pool resources and collaborate on messaging in such a way as to maximize the message that the AAA is working and working well,” Williams told Yellowhammer News. “The various stakeholders in the school choice arena in Alabama now have a history of data to rely on that shows how successful the AAA has become. But it is also far more than just data. There are anecdotal success stories at every turn in which parents, students and educators point to life changing events that were precipitated by a scholarship through the AAA.”

Williams also noted that the time is right for the group to come together to show its collective strength on the AAA.

“We’ve also seen unfortunate and misguided action from local school boards calling for such a repeal,” said Williams. “The members of the AAA Coalition chose not to allow the positive impact of the AAA to be overshadowed by those who simply want to maintain the status quo in Alabama’s education environment.”

According to Williams, the AAA Coalition is formed around two fundamental beliefs: education dollars should benefit children rather than systems and parents and guardians should have the greatest say in their children’s education.

“No child should be trapped into a school environment that is not serving their needs simply because of where they live, or the income of their household,” he said. “The AAA affords families the right to have the final word over what is best for their child and what is best for the education of their child.”

More than 4,000 students received AAA scholarships during the 2016-17 school year, according to the coalition’s website.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Red Tail Scholarship Foundation honors legacy of Tuskegee Airmen

(Red Tails Foundation/Instagram)

Alabama has for more than a century reveled in its role in America’s aviation history.

The nation’s first civilian flight school started in Alabama. The state’s Air Force and Army bases have always been essential to the nation’s national security. Some of the most enduring advances in aviation and aerospace technology have occurred within the borders of the state.

Perhaps the Yellowhammer State’s greatest contribution to aviation history is the Tuskegee Airmen.

And it is in their honor that an Alabama non-profit is providing scholarships to African-American high school and college students that have an interest in working in the aviation industry.


The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation seeks to provide opportunities for African-American students in all areas of the aviation industry through funding, resources and mentorship.

The foundation is named after the Tuskegee Airmen who were known as the “Red Tails” because of the paint scheme on their planes.

The group desires to see increased participation of African-Americans in the industry as pilots, aeronautical engineers, airframe and power plant mechanics and avionics technicians.

Foundation co-chairman Maj. Richard Peace explained the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen is that of excellence and opportunity.

“Being the best at what you do will always create opportunity,” said Peace.

Not surprisingly, “Red Tail” success stories have begun to pile up.

When Col. William Sparrow, also a foundation co-chairman, sought the first candidate, a trusted friend and fellow pilot suggested Torius Moore.

Moore is a Tuskegee University triple-major getting degrees in aerospace engineering, physics and mathematics.

Moore has a keen awareness of the legacy left by the Tuskegee Airmen and what that means to him.

“I’m walking the same footsteps as they are,” said Moore. “So I want to continue the tradition by going even further. I know they broke a lot of barriers. I want to be one of the Tuskegee Airmen who was an astronaut.”

Scholarship recipient Jasmine Smith is a mechanical engineering major at Tuskegee University. Her interest in aviation began in an unexpected fashion.

“My love for flying started back in high school when I was accidentally placed in an aerospace class,” Smith said. “Some of my classmates and I went to work a booth showing off our school engineering program at the Blue Angels Airshow and, surprisingly enough, though I was thoroughly impressed with the Blue Angels, it was the opening act of the WWII re-enactment that amazed me.”

Smith also understands the lasting impact the Tuskegee Airmen had on aviation and American history.

“When someone says ‘Tuskegee Airmen,’ my first thought is that this is a very big legacy,” said Smith. “I want to continue the excellence by breaking boundaries in the aerospace industry not only as a female but as an African-American female and keep doing things that only help me become a better engineer and a pilot.”

In addition to carrying forth the legacy of the Red Tails, Peace and Sparrow both emphasize that careers in aviation will have their own benefits.

“There are so many great opportunities inside aviation, great careers that can sustain you for a lifetime,” said Peace.

Sparrow adds, “Aviation careers have excellent pay, they are essential to our economy and the tip of our national security spear.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Cliff Sims to embark on high-profile Team of Vipers media tour


Yellowhammer News founder Cliff Sims is about to embark on a high-profile media tour coinciding with the upcoming release of his book Team of Vipers, according to Axios’ Mike Allen.

Team of Vipers chronicles Sims’ time serving in the White House and is the result of hundreds of pages of notes taken by Sims and countless interactions with President Donald Trump.


For anyone not enticed to read the book simply because of its name, Sims will soon be appearing on Good Morning America, The View, Nightline and other ABC platforms to talk about its contents and his time with Trump and many key figures around the president.

Allen called Vipers “a delicious, unsparing memoir.” A publishing source with whom Allen had spoken foreshadowed that “[n]o one emerges unscathed.”

With Vipers providing an unprecedented look into one of the most unique presidencies in American history, publishers have devoted significant resources to the book and its promotion, including a seven figure advance to Sims.

Sims joined Trump’s campaign communications team in the months leading up to his defeat of Hillary Clinton. It was during this time that Sims became a trusted ally of the soon-to-be president being among those with daily access to him while working out of the Trump Tower headquarters.

Sims made the natural transition to the West Wing where his office was only a few steps from the Oval Office until his departure in May 2018.

Team of Vipers is set for release on January 29 and is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.


2 months ago

‘LEGALIZE IT!’: Retirement Systems of Alabama all-in for sports gambling, marijuana

(Pixabay, RSA/Facebook)

The Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) is advocating for the legalization of marijuana and sports gambling, according to its most recent newsletter.

Under the heading “LEGALIZE IT!” RSA lays out its case in the January edition of The Advisor for making those activities lawful in Alabama and taxing the proceeds.

RSA writes:


We all have our vices. For some, it’s a nightcap; for others it’s betting on sports while puffing on a joint. In what feels like a long time coming, American states are moving toward legalizing the latter. Ten states and Washington, D.C., have sanctioned medicinal and recreational marijuana use for those over age 21, and 33 more states allow medicinal use. Sports betting has been fully legalized in six states, with three more on the way, and 15 more with bills pending.

RSA is the public pension system for Alabama’s public school employees and state and local government employees. It has 358,000 members, according to the system’s website.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.