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.

1 day ago

Watch: Nick Saban reunites with Jalen Hurts — ‘I’m proud of you’

(Alex Byington/Twitter)

MOBILE — In what might go down as one of University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban’s most raw public moments in recent memory, Saban joyously reunited with his former star quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Hurts, of course, played for the Oklahoma Sooners this past season as a graduate transfer from Alabama. He finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

Saban and Hurts have both spoken admiringly about each other since the player transferred, but the public has not gotten the chance to see the legendary coach and beloved quarterback together in person since the 2018 season ended.

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At Senior Bowl Week practice on Wednesday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Saban, though, told reporters without prompting that he still considers Hurts as one of his players — indeed, a member of the Crimson Tide family.

Yet, things gotten even more real from there when Saban and Hurts greeted each other on the field at Ladd-Peebles shortly afterwards.

In a Hallmark moment that was captured by members of the media, Saban and Hurts share an embrace, each beaming from ear to ear.

Hurts could be heard at first inquiring how Saban is doing, followed by the coach requesting to take a picture with Hurts.

“I’m proud of you,” Saban then told him.

The quarterback, who was called a “natural leader” this week by Bama’s outgoing defensive back Jared Mayden, subsequently complimented Saban’s fashion ensemble, especially his overcoat.

“Miss Terry get it for you?” Hurts inquired.

“Oh yeah,” Saban responded with a smile, prompting a chuckle from Hurts.

“Tell her to get me one,” Hurts quipped.

Saban then showed Hurts another piece of his wardrobe under the coat, leading Hurts to comment, “Man, she got you styling.”

“She got that, too,” Saban confirmed.

Saban then posed for another picture — this time with all of his players playing at the Senior Bowl, Hurts included.

The photo featured Hurts, Mayden, Terrell Lewis and Afernee Jennings:

(Alex Byington/Twitter)

It was announced Wednesday that outgoing Bama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis will not play in the Senior Bowl due to an injury.

Hurts on Monday was presented with a two-sided helmet ahead of Saturday’s Senior Bowl game; one side is a replica of his iconic No. 2 Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it. That special helmet, however, will be preserved by Hurts rather than worn during the game.

Get tickets to the Senior Bowl game here.

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

2 days ago

Aderholt: ‘I look forward to the day when there are no more abortions’

(Rep. Aderholt/Twitter)

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) recently spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives about his staunch pro-life views.

Wednesday marks the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling.

Aderholt’s remarks can be seen in a video posted to his Twitter account.

“I stand here today as pro-life, pro-family and pro-child,” he began.

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“No matter what your faith is, everyone understands that life is very precious and that life is a gift,” Aderholt continued. “I believe that as members of Congress and really as all citizens, we’re called to protect the vulnerable — and this is one of my core beliefs.”

“Being pro-life means not just pro-birth but being interested in the welfare of the child during his or her entire formative years,” the dean of Alabama’s House delegation advised. “That’s why I’m not only a longtime member of the pro-life caucus but also the co-chair of the congressional coalition on adoption.”

He showed appreciation for the Trump administration’s work on pro-life issues.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank this administration for the work they have done to defend the unborn, including changing the rules for Title X and expanding the Mexico City Policy. I look forward to continuing to work with the administration on these issues as we come to the time of January [22], where we remember the ruling of Roe versus Wade,” Aderholt remarked.

“I look forward to the day when there are no more abortions because there’s no more unwanted children,” he concluded.

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

2 days ago

Bama’s Terrell Lewis: I try ‘to honor God in any way, shape or form’

(S.Ross/YHN)

MOBILE — Speaking to Yellowhammer News during the Senior Bowl Week Media Day on Tuesday, outgoing University of Alabama Crimson Tide defender Terrell Lewis discussed how important his faith is to him and why he loves to give his testimony.

Lewis has faced a college career plagued by injuries, but he tormented opposing offenses when healthy.

Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy on Monday told reporters that Lewis is a “top 15” talent in the 2020 NFL Draft, however Nagy stressed that health concerns from NFL clubs will remain Lewis’ biggest question mark.

Yellowhammer News asked Lewis about his faith and how it has helped him overcome hurdles.

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“[I]t’s prepared me for everything I’ve gone through [in life], even in college, the adversity that I’ve gone through,” Lewis said. “Just knowing that it has to be a higher power working and living through me to be able to withstand everything that I’ve been through.”

“So, I definitely try to just basically give praise through my actions and stuff like that — and the way that I go about life and making decisions to honor God in any way, shape or form,” he continued.

Lewis then said that he tries to publicly profess his faith and testify “because some people kind of take it for granted and don’t realize what all God is doing for them.”

Yellowhammer News then asked Lewis if the University of Alabama football program under head coach Nick Saban is supportive of players who want to proclaim and openly live out their faith. Lewis spoke highly of the program in that regard.

“Yeah, they do a good job of having a great chaplain,” he responded. “They definitely give you the opportunity to be able to honor your higher power, honor God, stuff like that. So, they definitely keep it involved in the program. And you still have time to give your praise to the Lord.”

Read more of Yellowhammer’s coverage of Senior Bowl Week Media Day here.

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

3 days ago

Hurts: Time back in Alabama going ‘really well’ — ‘Love’ for Bama will ‘never go away’

(WVTM/YouTube)

MOBILE — The Senior Bowl Week Media Day was held on Tuesday at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, and former University of Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts had droves of reporters on hand hoping to capture yet another classic Hurts press conference. The humble Hurts did not disappoint.

To kick off his remarks, Hurts commented once again on being back in the Yellowhammer State. He, of course, played at Oklahoma this past season as a graduate transfer from Tuscaloosa. Hurts finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

“I think being here and being back in this state is [going] really well. I’m having this opportunity to play in this game and showcase my abilities and show what I’m made of. I’m thankful for it, I’m appreciative of it. And I’m ready to attack it,” Hurts said.

Asked on a follow-up question to compare the Alabama and Oklahoma fanbases, he responded, “I have a lot of respect for both universities. Both have rich tradition, history. I appreciate all the support.”

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The quarterback would later say both programs have “great coaches.”

RELATED: Hurts on Saban: ‘We always had a love for each other … our relationship will never die’

Of the universities, Hurts added, “The appreciation I have for them both, the love I have for them both, it’ll never go away. The way that they’ve accepted me, both schools, not many people can say that they’ve experienced that or they have that … so I’m thankful for it.”

Hurts said that during Senior Bowl Week and in the game on Saturday, he simply wants to “be the best version of” himself. He listed executing, learning and being a “student of the game” as priorities.

The former Tide star was also asked if he has had the opportunity to visit with the outgoing Bama players at the Senior Bowl, his former teammates Jared Mayden, Terrell Lewis, Raekwon Davis and Anfernee Jennings.

“Yes, sir,” Hurts answered. “It’s been well [sic]. Great seeing them. Good to be out there on the practice field with them again. I think they have the same approach I have in terms of maximizing this opportunity.”

RELATED: Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

Hurts later quipped that he plays with “a boulder” on his shoulder rather than merely “a chip.”

Asked about the reception he expected back in the state of Alabama and what it has been like so far, Hurts commented, “It’s been pretty hectic so far — in a good way. Just being back here, a lot of love. I’m appreciative of it all.”

“I get on the elevator, one of the workers at the hotel we’re staying at — she let me have it in terms of just screaming,” he continued with a smile. “‘Jalen Hurts is really on my elevator,’ just stuff like that. That’s special to me, and I know it won’t be like that forever. I’m just soaking it all in.”

You can watch Hurts’ full interview below:

Media Day followed the Senior Bowl Week introductory press conference that was held Monday evening.

RELATED: Senior Bowl Week kicks off in Mobile as director praises ‘beloved’ Jalen Hurts — ‘He’s come so far’

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

4 days ago

Montgomery honors Martin Luther King, Jr. — ‘This is a celebration’

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — The city of Montgomery, which hosted Martin Luther King, Jr. for multiple famous speeches, braved the cold and came out in force to celebrate America’s most famous civil rights hero.

The two main events in Alabama’s capital city were a morning service at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, a venue where King ministered, and a parade through the heart of Montgomery that ended with remarks from the city’s leaders on the capitol steps.

The mood remained jovial throughout the day despite the cold temperatures. Quotes from Dr. King echoed throughout each event, urging anyone who would listen to choose light and love over darkness and hate.

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Henry Pugh and the Musicians started off the morning by performing the music for the “Celebration and Prelude” at Dexter Avenue Baptist. The event was billed as a birthday party for King, who would have turned 91 in 2020.

“This is a celebration now, be happy!” Pugh admonished the audience while smiling.

True to the spirit of the morning, Reverend Handy, the church’s pastor, donned a birthday party hat in his first appearance in the pulpit.

Later in the service, Reverend Raymonda Speller brought the whole church to its feet with a powerful message about how Dr. King would not want people today to let causes that need champions pass by.

On Dexter Avenue, crowds were treated to performances by marching bands, like the much-praised Jefferson Davis High School Marching Vols.

Later, there were remarks at the capitol from Talladega Mayor Timothy Ragland, the first black American elected to lead that city. Ragland, who is considered by some a rising star in Alabama’s Democratic Party, urged the people in the audience to demand change from their government.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, also the first black man elected mayor of his city, took the podium after Ragland.

“We’re here today because of his leadership, we’re here today because of his courage, we’re here today because of his conviction,” Reed said near the beginning of his remarks.

“As a beneficiary in a different Montgomery than the one he lived in. … As the 57th mayor of this city, that he pastored in a church just one block from here,” Reed continued, noting the change that has come to the city in the 55 years since the march from Selma.

“Dr. King fought for all of mankind, he fought for all of us,” Reed remarked.

Viewers can watch Mayor Reed’s complete speech here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 days ago

Donald Trump, Jr. rallies support for Alabama Marine recovering from life-threatening injuries

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Matt Pierce/Contributed, YHN)

Matt Pierce has served his country his entire adult life. Even after retiring from the Marine Corps in 2012 after seven tours of duty, Pierce dedicated himself to a career training and educating law enforcement and military personnel.

Now, this American hero needs our help.

Yellowhammer News has covered Pierce’s incredible service in the past. The Alabamian was one of the first U.S. military service members sent on a plane to Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the nation.

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He then served three tours as an explosive detection dog handler, followed by four tours as an explosive ordinance disposal technician (EOD tech) — the person disarming bombs. All of his tours occurred in the Middle East: two in Iraq and five in Afghanistan.

As detailed in a past Yellowhammer News article, Pierce technically entered the private sector upon retirement from the Marine Corps, however, he continued to serve the United States in a similar fashion. This warrior continued to save lives; while he was no longer the individual personally handling bomb-sniffing dogs or disarming bombs in war zones, Pierce became an expert trainer of military and law enforcement personnel who were doing exactly that at home and abroad.

Pierce’s post-Marines career came through Alabama-based Xtreme Concepts and its subsidiary iK9.

It was while working at iK9’s headquarters in Anniston on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, that Pierce came to be critically injured.

Now, this is a soldier all too familiar with brushes with death. However, it was following a training accident this past December that Pierce was faced with one his toughest tests yet.

According to information provided to Yellowhammer News, Pierce was injured while disposing of black powder and smokeless powder used during iK9 military working dog training exercises.

He reportedly suffered a broken arm, second degree burns and a deep laceration to one of his legs and was airlifted to UAB Hospital.

Following that incident, his mother, Carleen, started a GoFundMe, which set a goal to raise $50,000 for his medical and rehab costs while also detailing the severity of what he faced.

Carleen stated about the aforementioned injuries that Pierce also had third-degree burns and “multiple fractures.” He had either second or third-degree burns on his face, torso and arms.

“After his second surgery to save his right arm the doctors are still unsure if he will ever make a full recovery. He remains in the ICU Burn Trauma Unit,” Carleen wrote.

“While my family asks for continued prayers that the many surgeries he has ahead are successful and that we can keep him infection free we are now also asking for help. Matthew is the father of 3 children and to make sure that they need for nothing while he battles down this long road ahead is his biggest concern. If you could find it in your hearts to either make a donation or share this with your friends it would be greatly appreciated. I understand it’s the holidays but anything donated will go directly to his children or to his medical bills and long term care,” she added.

Fortunately, things have trended in the right direction since then.

On Monday, January 20, Carleen wrote, “I wanted to post another update as we are coming up on two months since the accident. My son has undergone all of his surgeries successfully and has been released from the hospital. He is dealing with day to day life of visiting nurses, occupational therapy and physical therapy. His right arm is proving most difficult and unsure if will ever regain full mobility. He is recovering nicely and showing how strong he truly is. I want to send a heart felt thank you to everyone involved. The medical treatment he has received has been tremendous and support from our family, friends and community has been above and beyond. We thank you all for continued prayers.”

Yet, while the prognosis is positive, Pierce is still faced with a costly and lengthy process moving forward.

This is one reason why Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s eldest son, on Monday tweeted his support of Pierce and urged people to support the GoFundMe.


Money quickly poured in after the tweet from “Don Jr.,” and the GoFundMe is now “trending” due to the high volume of donations pouring in.

While the money will certainly have a tangible effect in helping Pierce with his rehab, the backing from the president’s son is also sure to be an important morale boost for Pierce as well.

In an exclusive statement to Yellowhammer News, Pierce reacted to Trump Jr.’s tweet, saying he was “blown away” that Don Jr. was willing to rally support behind him.

“As I am starting my road to recovery, my family and I are so incredibly grateful for all the amazing people that have been willing to help,” Pierce added. “I am so very blessed. May God look over each and every one of them. Semper Fidelis.”

You can support the cause here.

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

4 days ago

Watch: Kanye West, Sunday Service Choir perform at Alabama evangelist’s conference

(Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association/Contributed)

Kanye West and his 135-member Sunday Service Choir on Sunday performed during two sessions at the Birmingham-based Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association’s “Strength to Stand Conference.”

Dawson, a well-known Alabama evangelist, finished third in the Yellowhammer State’s 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary.

West has made waves internationally for his turn to religion, seemingly trading in a life often in public turmoil for one of public testimony. Beginning in January of last year, the West-led Sunday Service Choir has performed every Sunday, as well as Friday, September 27, when his album “Jesus Is King” was announced for release.

Their appearance this Sunday at Strength to Stand also featured West’s pastor, Adam Tyson. A second session was added after the first one sold out.

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West during the sessions performed “Jesus Walks” from 2004, which brought his performance full circle to identify with his relationship with Christ. The talented choir led the audience in a moving version of “How Great Thou Art,” and “Closed on Sunday” was also reportedly a crowd favorite.

In a statement, Dawson said, “We were so thankful that Kanye West and his team were willing to come to Strength to Stand this year.”

The Strength to Stand conference is an annual event that has taken place in Pigeon Forge, TN, since 1994. The conference has served over 250,000 students since then, including 17,000 taking part this Sunday.

“It was an honor to have Kanye and the Sunday Service Choir along with Kanye’s pastor, Adam Tyson, join us for the conference to tell the world about Jesus!” he added.

Dawson recently interviewed on Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “Living Life on Purpose” podcast with host Matt Wilson. Read more about that interview, in which Dawson spoke about West’s turn to God, and listen here.

Highlights of West’s Sunday performances can be viewed below or here:

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

4 days ago

Watch: Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s MLK Day 2020 remarks

(City of Montgomery/YouTube)

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed released a video featuring his remarks commemorating 2020’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The civil rights icon would have turned 91-years-old this past Wednesday. King’s legacy is honored annually on every third Monday in January.

Reed is the first black mayor in Montgomery’s history. His remarks fit into the theme he outlined in his inaugural address in recent months when Reed stressed that Alabama’s capital city is at the intersection of history and possibility.

“When your memories are bigger than your dreams, you’re in big trouble,” Reed said during his inaugural speech. “There are no chains on our imaginations.”

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In his first MLK Day remarks as mayor, Reed said, “I think it’s very important for us to remember that Dr. King led a life of service. He led a life of sacrifice. He led a life and left a blueprint for all of us to follow [of] how we can impact our communities.”

“Many of us may never be called to lead,” he continued, “but all of us are called to serve. And it’s with that that we should keep in mind this important holiday. Because while many will take a day off, it should be a ‘day on’ to remind each of us what we need to do in order to achieve a ‘Beloved Community.'”

“Dr. King was many things. … Dr. King led as any of us would: with some doubt, with some questions and even [at] times with hesitation. But he kept the faith, and he made sure that throughout all of that, he persevered to achieve the goal that he believed he’d been called to lead,” the mayor commented.

Reed called on people in modern times to take up the ideals and dedication of King to move not only Montgomery forward but the entire world as well.

“To keep us on the right path, we must remember that it’s important to challenge inequality wherever it is,” Reed said. “It’s important to challenge the lack of opportunity wherever it is. It’s important for us to stand tall in the face of challenge as Dr. King did so many times.”

He added, “For us to be more King-like, as opposed to being King-lite, we have to remember that Dr. King was not perfect. Dr. King was not a person who may not have done some things differently throughout his leadership, throughout his implementation. He did not do it by himself. But Dr. King, if anything else, stood strong, stood steadfast and stood very defiant about what was important — not just for himself, not for what was just comfortable for his circle of friends but for what was right and what was just for all of humanity. Let us remember that as we try and improve our communities…”

Reed concluded by urging listeners to take up “the baton” that King left for the world.

Watch:

RELATED: A list of MLK Day events across Alabama

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

5 days ago

A list of MLK Day events across Alabama

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Freedom Riders as they prepare to leave Montgomery for Jackson, MS, May 25, 1961.(Alabama Dep. of Archives and History)

The nation will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20, and Yellowhammer News has compiled a lengthy list of events occurring across Alabama to celebrate the life of the late reverend and civil rights icon.

King would have turned 91-years-old this past Wednesday. His legacy is honored annually on every third Monday in January.

Here is a list of 2020 MLK Day events in the Yellowhammer State:

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Birmingham

King left an indelible mark on the Magic City, with history especially remembering King’s famed Letter from Birmingham Jail. It is only fitting that the city have a bevy of events scheduled to remember the legend.

RELATED: Jefferson County to preserve jail cell where MLK was held shortly before his assassination

  • MLK Unity Breakfast at the BJCC — 7:00 a.m.
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s “MLK Day 2020: King’s Dream in 20/20 Vision’’ — 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (The institute is offering free admission all day long)
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. wreath-laying ceremony in Kelly Ingram Park to honor their fellow fraternity brother, Dr. King — 11:00 a.m.
  • Traditional MLK March, leaving from City Hall to Kelly Ingram Park — 11:30 a.m.
  • The UAB MLK Day of Service begins at UAB’s Recreation Center — 11:30 a.m.
  • SCLC Civil Rights Rally at 16th Street Baptist Church — 12:00 p.m.
  • United Way of Central Alabama’s annual MLK Day of Service — 1:00 p.m.
  • SCLC MLK “Love Fest” at the Boutwell Auditorium — 2:00 p.m.

Montgomery

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church — 9:30 a.m.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, leaving from Troy University’s campus in downtown Montgomery — 1:00 p.m.

Huntsville

  • Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast featuring U.S. Sen. Doug Jones at the Von Braun Center North Hall — 7:00 a.m.

Mobile

  • The University of South Alabama’s and Bishop State Community College’s annual Dr. King March and Rally; March begins at Bishop State’s main campus, rally at Lyons Park immediately afterward — 12:00 p.m.

Tuscaloosa

  • Tuscaloosa’s SCLC hosts its annual Unity Day, in partnership with the University of Alabama’s Realizing the Dream initiative; Read more here and here.

Auburn

  • “Reclaiming the Dream: A New Vision For the Future” breakfast at The Hotel at Auburn University — 7:30 a.m.
  • Day of service starts at The Hotel at Auburn University — 11:00 a.m.

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

5 days ago

Auburn University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week to feature speakers, service opportunities

(Wikicommons)

Auburn University will offer several campus-wide events and service opportunities as part of its Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week Jan. 20-24.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Reclaiming the Dream: A New Vision For the Future.” The week will kick off with a breakfast featuring keynote speaker civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette. The event will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The cost is $35 per person.

“With this annual week of celebration, we honor the legacy and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and encourage all in the Auburn-Opelika community to further the ideals he imparted through active engagement and service for the betterment of our world,” said Ada Wilson, assistant vice president for access and inclusive excellence.

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As part of the week’s celebration, a day of service opportunity will be offered at 11 a.m. Jan. 20 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference in partnership with the East Alabama Food Bank. Participants will assist with packing weekend and overnight book bags for children who experience hunger. Individuals interested in volunteering can register here.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m., Auburn’s Critical Conversations Speaker Series will continue with a talk by Eddie Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. For more information on that series, go here.

On Wednesday, Jan. 22 a “Lunch and Learn” focused on the topic of “Financial Freedom as a Form of Social Activism” will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Haley Center, room 1403. The featured speakers for that event are Kiersten and Julien Saunders, personal finance experts and co-creators of the award-winning blog “rich & REGULAR.” A second “Lunch and Learn” event on “Race in America: A Reflection of the Last Decade” will occur from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23 at Auburn’s Cross Cultural Center for Excellence in the Student Center.

The final event of the week involves a community service outreach effort at the East Alabama Food Bank from 7 to 9 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 24.

For more information and to register for the MLK Celebration Week events, go to http://ocm.auburn.edu/mlkweek/.

This story originally appeared on Auburn University’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 days ago

75-million-year-old sea turtle fossil in Alabama a key discovery

(McWane Science Center/Contributed)

Paleontologists in Alabama have discovered a new genus and species of fossil turtle that may fill an important evolutionary gap.

Scientists named the animal Asmodochelys parhami for Asmodeus, a deity that, according to Islamic lore, was entombed in stone at the bottom of the sea, and parhami in honor of James Parham, former curator of paleontology at the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

According to the UAB study, Asmodochelys parhami swam the oceans about 75 million years ago and may have been one of the most recent common ancestors of modern sea turtles.

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“The origin story of sea turtles is one of the great unsolved mysteries in evolutionary biology,” said Drew Gentry, a College of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and lead author of the study. “There is a great deal of evidence indicating that turtles may have evolved to live in the ocean several times over the past 150 million years. The trick is determining which of those species are actually the direct ancestors of the species we see today.”

MORE: Grad student uncovers Alabama fossils likely from oldest ancestor of modern sea turtles

To determine how A. parhami is related to present-day sea turtles, scientists performed a phylogenetic analysis. It is a method that compares the features of many different species of turtle to figure out how closely or distantly related those species may be. The analysis results in a phylogenetic tree, or genealogy, of sea turtles.

The UAB study found A. parhami is one of the youngest species to fall just outside of the group containing every species of modern sea turtle. This makes A. parhami of particular interest in the study of the sea turtle origins.

“Although it’s tempting to say ‘problem solved’ when we recover such a well-resolved tree, this is only one hypothesis in a long line of suggested sea turtle genealogies,” Gentry said. “Right now, there are several distinct trees proposed by different groups of scientists that are the front-runners in the race to solve sea turtle evolution, each with its own unique arrangement of fossil and modern species. Determining which tree most accurately represents the evolutionary history of these animals can be challenging, to say the least.”

In an effort to test the accuracy of each tree, Gentry and his colleagues examined the  proposed sea turtle genealogies and which most accurately fits the fossil record. That is to say, if the genealogy indicates that a certain species evolved first, does that species actually show up first in the fossil record?

Still lots to learn about ancient sea turtle unearthed in Alabama

Surprisingly, Gentry discovered that, although his proposed genealogy matched up relatively well with the fossil record, it was not the best fit. “Actually, a phylogeny proposed more than a decade ago matched nearly perfectly with the fossil record,” Gentry said. “The problem with that analysis was that it didn’t include nearly as many species as subsequent analyses, which may have influenced the results.”

Despite scientists around the world working for more than a century on sea turtle evolution, Gentry thinks there is still much to be learned.

“New methods for testing how fossil species are related to modern species are constantly being developed. Also, discoveries of new fossils have the potential to radically change our understanding of how certain features and species evolved in the history of life on our planet,” Gentry said. “Our study is just another piece of evidence in an ongoing mystery that shows no sign of being solved any time soon.”

The study, titled “Asmodochelys parhami, a new fossil sea turtle from the Campanian Demopolis Chalk and the stratigraphic congruence of competing marine turtle phylogenies,” was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s UAB News website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 days ago

APSO volunteers answer call to serve in celebration of MLK Day

(Gaston APSO/Alabama NewsCenter)

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Those words expressed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957 in Montgomery, Alabama, find resonance across the nation as people celebrate his legacy through the MLK Day of Service. Indeed, thousands across the country and Alabama on Jan. 20 will answer King’s call to action.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many Alabama Power employees will answer the call by helping in projects that strengthen their communities. Volunteers from several chapters of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) will work throughout the state.

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Eastern Division

  • In an event that has become an Eastern APSO tradition, volunteers will prepare plates and serve food at the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast in Talladega. The event starts at 8 a.m. in the Family Life Center at the Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church. Eastern Division Vice President Terry Smiley will be the keynote speaker.
  • Volunteers will serve Calhoun County residents at the annual MLK Breakfast at 9 a.m. at the Anniston City Meeting Center.

Gaston

The Gaston Chapter will celebrate King’s life and legacy by cleaning the town of Wilsonville from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Meeting at 8 a.m. at the town pavilion, members will pick up trash along Shelby County Road 103, Hebb Road and Highway 25.

Magic City

  • Magic City APSO members will join Friends of Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover to clean up and remove invasive plants along walking trails from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Members will prepare and serve lunch to about 60 families at the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on MLK Day. The members will split into teams, cleaning the kitchen pantry, cabinets and drawers, refrigerator, playground and around the building’s exterior. A team will disinfect the toddler area and toys, as well. To prepare for the event, a team will spend time Saturday, Jan. 18, buying food, paper plates, cups and utensils.
  • Volunteers will work from 8 a.m. to noon at the downtown YWCA, cleaning and refreshing the lobby and second-floor chapel. They will perform heavy-duty cleaning, such as sprucing up the chapel, baseboards and stairwells. If the weather permits, members will clean the first-floor interior windows and exterior windows.

Miller

Miller APSO members will work at Cordova Health & Rehabilitation, a long-term care and rehabilitation center, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of a beautification project. Volunteers will clean the facility’s courtyard, and several Miller APSO members will pressure-wash, perform landscaping and repair the gazebo.

Mobile Division

Mobile APSO volunteers will join together for Keep Mobile Beautiful’s communitywide partnership for the MLK Day of Service. The project will benefit the Strickland Youth Center, which assists troubled teens. Members will plant trees, some of which were funded by the Alabama Power Foundation’s Good Roots Grants project to improve the quality of the environment in communities, towns and cities across Alabama.

Southeast Division

Members will take part in the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber’s Day of Service from 8 a.m. to noon. Volunteers from other groups will help in serving the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Eufaula, Barbour County Humane Society, Fairview Cemetery, Jewish Cemetery and more.

Southern Division

In what has become an annual project, Southern APSO volunteers will assist at the Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts at Troy University. Volunteers will help seat guests attending the MLK Celebration at the 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. shows.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 days ago

City of Lights Dream Center restores women seeking freedom from substance abuse in Alabama

Pastor Jamie Massey is a woman on a mission. Since September 2019, she and her husband, Sumiton Church of God Pastor Victor Massey, have operated City of Lights Dream Center, which provides substance-abuse counseling and recovery to women in Dora, Alabama. The Masseys hope to expand the center’s program to include men with substance-abuse issues in September 2020. The center focuses on whole-family care, additionally providing day care and after-school care to needy families. (Donna Cope/Alabama NewsCenter)

Life can sometimes squash one’s dreams.

Especially for people suffering from substance abuse, hope gets lost in the problems of daily life, said City of Lights Dream Center founder Jamie Massey. But scratch below the surface, and everyone has a story about how they got there and hopes – even though clouded – for a better life.

For the past year and a half, Massey has listened to the hopes and dreams of the facility’s 12 women clients, who are part of the center’s Celebrate Recovery program for people fighting addiction.

“I wish you could hear their stories,” said Massey, who operates City of Lights Dream Center with her husband, Victor, lead pastor at Sumiton Church of God. “A good 90 percent of people have something in their background that left them broken.”

Most clients come from a dysfunctional upbringing, have a history of sexual molestation, or domestic abuse and violence.

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“People say others choose drug addiction,” said Massey, who mentors the women into new lives. “You don’t know their stories. There have been things that have gone on that have caused the behavior. We have clients from different states, and even have a woman from Russia. Some girls struggle with a lot of anger. I see people in emotional and physical pain.”

The rehabilitation center provides clients a free 12- to 18-month treatment program, including drug counseling and therapies provided by doctors, nurse practitioners and counselors who volunteer their time.

“We had a girl with a serious mental illness,” Massey said. “With help from our volunteer doctors, counselors and medication, the woman is now getting to a place where she can work through the issues of the past.”

Massey has found that emotional and mental health issues are a leading factor in drug and/or alcohol addiction. Left untreated or misdiagnosed, she said, many people self-treat through prescription medications, which can lead to hard drugs.

People need mental health help, and treatment will prevent addiction, she said. Untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues can be a big factor in addiction, Massey believes.

“I see God work here every day,” Massey said. “We’re here to tell people they don’t have to live that way anymore. Your brain thinks that emotional pain is the same as physical pain, and you’ve got to confront the pain. Some feel almost helpless. We encourage the women to stay in recovery.”

Clients find recovery and new life

Massey and her team have created a homey atmosphere where clients – many of whom were homeless – find respite and healing. Such was the case for Melissa Lamb, who left her home in North Carolina when she was 16 years old.

“There are ones who have been in domestic violence,” Lamb said. “I ran.”

A few years ago, Lamb attended the Massey’s church in Atlanta, before they were led to start a ministry in Alabama. When Lamb briefly relapsed into substance abuse, she lost custody of her daughter. She found it very difficult to regain her parental rights.

“I spiraled downhill,” Lamb said. “I needed a fresh start.”

Searching the internet for the Massey’s new church, Lamb saw that the couple had founded the City of Lights Dream Center. Lamb packed up her belongings and made her way to Alabama, sometimes living in a tent along the way.

“I called Jamie and told her, ‘I’m coming to check myself in,’” Lamb said. Massey picked up Lamb at the WalMart in Sumiton.

The past few months, Lamb has worked hard to re-stabilize her life. She wants to earn an associate degree from Bevill State and has plans to become a commercial truck driver.

“My daughter is that important to me,” said Lamb, who has a part-time cleaning job with a commercial company. “Once I could focus on what I needed to do, I can use healthy coping skills. I know now what to do to prevent a relapse.”

“The determination, heart and passion to succeed is influential with the women here,” Massey said. “We want to see moms reunified with their children. People have to get on their feet. They just need that chance.”

Lamb is grateful for the opportunity to start anew.

“Jamie is a miracle soldier, a warrior woman,” Lamb said.

Birthing the Dream Center

The Masseys moved from Atlanta three years ago to pastor Sumiton Church of God. Performing a demographic study of the area, they discovered needs within the community that couldn’t be handled on a Sunday morning. For several years, Jamie Massey had desired to provide a center where people could receive treatment for substance and alcohol abuse.

“Starting the City of Lights Dream Center has been an amazing journey,” said Massey, who operates the center through Jamie Massey Ministries. “This is definitely a God thing.”

Searching for a location, Victor Massey found the old T.S. Boyd school property, which had been closed a few years before and had been put up for bid by the city of Dora. The couple placed a modest bid on the property. The Masseys learned they were the only bidders.

Massey said the center has received much help from the Walker Area Community Foundation, the Walker County Coalition for the Homeless, and other churches and organizations seeking to improve conditions not only in Dora and Sumiton but all of Walker County.

For example, several members of the Miller Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) helped prepare the center for opening. Miller APSO members volunteered 400 hours. In 2019, Miller APSO gave a donation for school supplies to help with the Dream Center’s Back 2 School Bash for needy families.

Massey plans to use the entire 18 acres of the property. Coming phases, which will require property improvements, will include housing for single mothers and battered women and children. Behind the Dream Center, Massey added a new mobile home that will house a current client when her baby is born. She hopes to expand the center’s program to include men with substance-abuse issues in September 2020.

A Bevill State Community College instructor provides onsite job training to clients, helping with computer training and teaching business skills. Several clients are receiving tutoring to earn GEDs.

The Dream Center provides free day care after-school care to about 30 children of approved families, picking up the children by bus after school and delivering them home at 5:30 p.m. daily. The children are fed a nutritious meal made in the center’s community kitchen and engage in learning activities on computers donated to the center.

Many members of the Sumiton Church of God have volunteered their help.

“I thank God for a church family that is so supportive of this,” said Massey, who has shared the Dream Center’s mission with several churches and other groups. “I always say God must love this place. God has said, ‘I want you to love these people like I love them.’ We are helping change outcomes in Walker County, one person at a time.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 days ago

Goat Island Brewing is an Alabama Maker concocting interesting beers

(Brittany Dunn/Alabama NewsCenter)

Their slogan is “Life is too short to drink baaad beer” and Goat Island Brewing Co. is doing its part to produce nothing but good brews in Cullman.

Started by a couple of homebrewing friends, Goat Island has added a head brewer, who is a microbiology major with no homebrewing history. The result is an array of tasty beers that are finding a following in northern Alabama.

“People across the board love all of our beers,” said Mike Mullaney, president and co-founder of Goat Island Brewing. “If you want to come in and have a whole bunch of good, variety of craft beers that have a lot of flavor, try us out.”

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Goat Island Brewing is an Alabama Maker of interesting beers from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The brewery is open to community events and fundraisers in Cullman.

“I like the fact that we are kind of a cultural community center,” Mullaney said.

With seven beers on tap – excluding a seasonal or a small batch – there is always something for any beer drinker. The Blood Orange Berliner Weisse is the bestselling beer on tap, and keeping up with the demand has been a little challenging. A new canning line should help.

The growth is welcome, but the beer has to be the star.

“We always emphasize quality and making sure everything we put out of here is up to the highest standard,” said Paul White, head brewer and operations manager.

Goat Island Brewing Company

The product: Craft beer.

Take home: A growler of Blood Orange Berliner Weisse.

Goat Island Brewing Co. can be found online and on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 days ago

Renew Our Rivers kicks off 21st year

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

The third decade of Renew Our Rivers (ROR) gets underway in February with the first of the year’s 32 cleanups of Alabama rivers and waterways. If last year is any indication, there will be more volunteers and more trash removed in 2020, said Mike Clelland, ROR coordinator.

Since 2000, when the program began, 122,000 volunteers have collected almost 16 million pounds from waterways and shorelines in the South. In 2019, more than 5,000 volunteers removed almost 450,000 pounds of trash, including old boats, mattresses, tires, appliances and other unsightly items, a 4% increase over the previous year’s haul.

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“We not only picked up more trash in 2019. We also had more volunteers,” said Clelland, an Environmental Affairs specialist for Alabama Power who helps coordinate the cleanups with multiple partners. “Twenty years in and the enthusiasm and participation remain strong. I fully expect 2020 to be just as successful as 2019, if not more so.”

An Alabama River cleanup in Autauga County on Feb. 15 leads off this year’s schedule, which concludes the first week of November at Lake Martin.

Volunteers elevate Alabama through Renew Our Rivers from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Renew Our Rivers began in 2000 with a cleanup by Alabama Power employees along the Coosa River at the company’s Plant Gadsden. It has grown to become one of America’s largest river cleanup initiatives, with the help of community partners, volunteers and organizations.

“Alabama is a beautiful place with extraordinary natural resources,” said Susan Comensky, Alabama Power vice president for Environmental Affairs. “Protecting those resources, while providing reliable, affordable electricity for our customers, is at the heart of our company’s mission. The commitment by Alabama Power employees to Renew Our Rivers remains strong, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our community partners across the state who support the effort year after year.”

Renew Our Rivers is one of many initiatives in which Alabama Power partners with others to promote conservation and environmental stewardship in communities across the state. The 2020 schedule of Renew Our Rivers cleanups is below. For updates to the schedule, visit alabamapower.com/renewourrivers.

2020 Renew Our Rivers Schedule

Feb. 15: Alabama River

Contact: John Paul O’Driscoll at 334-850-7153

or johnpaulod@juno.com

 

Feb. 29: Bankhead Lake (Warrior River)

Contact: Ronnie Tew at 205-908-4857

 

March 7: Lake Eufaula (Chattahoochee River)

Contact: Brad Moore at bmooreless@gosuto.com

 

March 14: Valley Creek (Spring)

Contact: Freddie Freeman at 205-424-4060, ext. 4188

or ffreeman@bessemeral.org

 

March 21: Lake Mitchell (Coosa River)

Contact: Mike Clelland at 205-354-9348

 

March 28-April 4: Logan Martin (Coosa River)

Contact: Bud Kitchin at 256-239-0242

 

March 28: Minor Heights Community at Village Creek

Contact: Yohance Owens at 205-798-0087

or yohancevilcreek@yahoo.com

 

March 28-April 4: Lay Lake (Coosa River)

Contact: Judy Jones at 205-669-4865

 

April 11: Lay Lake at E.C. Gaston Plant (Coosa River)

Contact: Tanisha Fenderson at tfender@southernco.com

 

April 4: Cahaba River

Contact: David Butler at

info@cahabariverkeeper.org

 

April 14-15: Mobile River (Plant Barry)

Contact: Bo Cotton at 251-331-0603

 

April 18: Lake Jordan (Coosa River)

Contact: Brenda Basnight 334-478-3388

 

Date TBD: Plant Miller (Locust Fork)

Contact: TBD

 

April 22-23: Smith Lake (Winston County)

Contact: Allison Cochran at 205-489-5111

 

April 24: Smith Lake (Cullman County)

Contact: Jim Murphy at 205-529-5981

 

April 25: Weiss Lake

Contact: Sam Marko at 404-626-8594

 

May 1: Plant Gorgas (Mulberry Fork)

Contact: John Pate at 205-686-2324

or johpate@southernco.com

 

May 15: Lake Seminole

Contact: Melanie Rogers at mlrogers@southernco.com

 

May 16: Chattahoochee River (Plant Farley)

Contact: Melanie Rogers at mlrogers@southernco.com

 

May 18-19: Smith Lake (Walker County)

Contact: Roger Treglown at 205-300-5253

 

Aug. 8: Holt Lake (Black Warrior River)

Contact: Becky Clark at 205-799-2449

 

Aug. 14: Plant Miller (Locust Fork)

Contact: Madison Maughon at 205-438-0150

or mtmaugho@southernco.com

 

Aug. 15: Valley Creek

Contact: TBD

 

Aug. 15: Upper Tallapoosa River

Contact: Lex Brown at 256-239-6399

 

Sept: 8-9: Smith Lake (Walker County)

Contact: Roger Treglown at 205-300-5253

 

Date TBD: Village Creek

Contact: Yohance Owens at 205-798-0087

 

Sept.18: Smith Lake (Cullman County)

Contact: Jim Murphy at 205-529-5981

 

Sept. 24: Smith Lake (Winston County)

Contact: Jim Eason at msgjeason@yahoo.com

 

Oct. 2-3: Lake Demopolis

Contact: Jesse Johnson at 334-289-6160 or 251-238-1257

 

Oct. 13: Dog River (Mobile County)

Contact: Catie Boss at 251-829-2146 or clboss@southernco.com

 

Oct.17: Lake Mitchell (Coosa River)

Contact: Dale Vann at 205-910-3713

 

Oct. 20-22: Lake Harris (Tallapoosa River-Lake Wedowee)

Contact: Sheila Smith at 205-396-5093

or Marlin Glover at 770-445-0824

 

Oct. 26-31: Neely Henry Lake (Coosa River)

Contact: Lisa Dover at 256-549-0900

 

Nov. 6-7: Lake Martin (Tallapoosa River)

Contact: John Thompson at 334-399-3289

or 1942jthompson420@gmail.com

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 days ago

Alabama hunter grants wishes for kids

(Pine Hills and Oak Hollars Child Classic/Contributed)

Jeff Carter didn’t have a plan in 2011 when he started Pine Hills and Oak Hollars Child Classic, an organization that takes sick kids on a weekend hunting trip in northwest Alabama.

“At that time I really didn’t know what it looked like,” Carter said. “The Lord put it on my heart and he called me to do this. We stepped out on faith.”

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Pine Hills and Oak Hollars Child Classic grants wishes for kids from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Carter’s faith paid off. The event, now in its ninth year, has grown from a hunting trip for one child into an extended weekend experience for three kids at a time. The kids are selected through the United Special Sportsman Alliance, all recovering from a life-threatening illness, such as cancer, or a life-altering disorder like autism.

“This is just an opportunity that God has given us to be able to give these kids and their families a chance to get away and get their mind off of a lot of what they’ve been dealing with,” Carter said.

Beau Terry, 18, is one of the young people hunting in this year’s classic. Terry said he was thrilled to get the chance.

“It’s kind of like having a lot of uncles around,” Terry said. “It means a lot.”

In addition to the hunting trip, the kids are given hunting clothes, a DVD video of their weekend and a canvas picture. Carter said their smiles are a blessing to him and his volunteers.

“It’s awesome,” Carter said. “When God calls us to do something, there’s no sense in worry about how much and how, just step out on faith and roll with it because he’s got it figured out already. He will provide.”

For more information about the Pine Hills and Oak Hollars Child Classic, visit the organization’s Facebook page here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 days ago

Alabama Music Hall of Fame celebrates 30th anniversary in 2020

(Alabama's Music Hall of Fame/Facebook, YHN)

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame (AMHOF) has been cataloging and putting on display the many pieces of Alabama’s musical history for 30 years.

“We have singers, songwriters, producers, musicians, all from the state of Alabama,” Sandra Burroughs, Executive Director of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame told WHNT.

“They were either born and raised here or moved here quickly afterwards or have a really strong tie to Alabama,” she added.

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The Hall is located on Highway 72 in Tuscumbia, a charming city in the northwest corner of Alabama. Nearby is the town of Muscle Shoals, a town with a musical history so rich it warranted its own documentary.

In addition to celebrating its 30th birthday, the Hall of Fame is hosting an induction banquet on January 25.

The Hall will be inducting Gary Baker, Mervyn Warren, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton and Elton B. Stephens. The institution’s website describes the acts as, “two Grammy Award winners, a legendary blues singer and the philanthropist who spearheaded the revival of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.”

Performing at the induction will be the Backstreet Boys, Taylor Hicks, Jamey Johnson, Bo Bice and Chris Thompkins. The Backstreet Boys are friends with Gary Baker and will be there to support his induction.

Also at the induction ceremony on January 25 will be the handing out of the first-ever AMHOF Advocacy Award, which will go to Mitchell Self. According to a detailed piece on the award in the Florence Times-Daily, Self was a legendary radio owner and promoter of the Muscle Shoals music scene. He died in 1990 after 20 years running WLAY in Muscle Shoals.

“As any family would be, we’re quite proud of the legacy he left,” Kevin Self, Mitchell’s son, said of his father.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

7 days ago

It’s a time of fellowship and renewed unity in Can’t Miss Alabama

(David Campbell/Alabama State University)

MLK Unity Breakfast in Birmingham

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual Unity Breakfast at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Monday, Jan. 20 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The breakfast is a support event for the annual MLK Scholarship Essay program, providing direct scholarships to high school students throughout the Birmingham region. For ticket information and other questions, call 205-585-6463 or inbox acarlton@gmail.com.

King’s Dream in 20/20 Vision

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 20, is special at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Admission is free to the public, with extended hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. BCRI observes MLK Day with programming that includes live performances, music, games and giveaways. Tour the permanent exhibitions as they come to life with poetry and spoken word performances throughout the day or test civil rights history knowledge for a chance to win a prize in the BCRI Jeopardy game. There will be family-friendly activities for all ages.

MLK Day 5K Drum Run in Birmingham

The 4th annual MLK Day 5K Drum Run is a fun way to celebrate the holiday weekend beginning Saturday, Jan. 18. Since its 2012 inception, the Drum Run has grown to more than 2,000 runners and walkers. Drum Run will have more than 200 drummers from metro area schools and groups to help runners keep up the beat. The event will begin and end in the 4thAvenue Historic District of Birmingham’s Civil Rights District on Saturday at 8 a.m. Registration opens at 7 a.m. Purchase tickets here. For more information, call 470-444-9844 or inbox info@leftoverenergy.com.

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Right or Privilege? Alabama Women and the Vote

Vulcan Park & Museum joins communities across the nation to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 through Jan. 2, 2021. The exhibit and programming will examine the specific challenges faced by suffragists in Birmingham and analyze the racial issues that caused the suffrage movement to be a primarily white campaign. It will explore the efforts of black men and women to achieve the right to vote. Entrance to the exhibition is included with general admission to Vulcan Park & Museum. Admission to the exhibit is $6 for ages 13 and older, $4 for children ages 5-12 and free for children ages 4 and younger. Vulcan Center Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6.pm.

ASU to Co-host Sixth Annual MLK Celebration in Montgomery

Alabama State University will co-sponsor the sixth annual communitywide celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Friday, Jan. 17, in Montgomery. The theme of this year’s event is Because of them, I am.” A mixture of music and drama will feature the MLK Interfaith Community Choir, ASU Dramatic Guild and ASU BFA Dance Company. Performances are 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 for the matinee and $10 for the evening show. Admission for children ages 10 and younger is $7.50. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the show at the Davis Theatre Box Office, 251 Montgomery St. Learn more at keepersofthedream.org. For more details, call 334-229-6755 or 334-229-4104.

Miranda Lambert in concert in Birmingham

Country music singer and songwriter Miranda Lambert will perform at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Saturday, Jan.18. Lambert rose to fame in 2003 when she finished in third place on the USA Network’s “Nashville Star.” Her greatest hits are “Kerosene,” “Over You” and “Little Red Wagon.” Tickets start at $23.

The Market at Pepper Place 20th Anniversary Celebration

The Market at Pepper Place is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the opening of the 2020 Indoor Winter Farmers Market. Choose from winter veggies, farm eggs, sheep cheese, herbs, breads, pastries, meats, poultry and other market goods. Hot coffee, tea and a selection of breakfast items will be available every week. Dogs are welcome, but must remain outside. The Market opens Saturday, Jan. 18-April 4, from 7 a.m. to noon. The venue is at 2805 Second Ave. South. For more information inbox info@pepperplacemarket.com.

Gulf Coast Comedy Fest 2020

Professional standup comedians and a surprise act will make it a great night of entertainment at the 3rd annual Comedy Fest Friday, Jan. 17 in Foley. The audience is welcome to participate in the show. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Alcohol will not be served at the event, but purchases can be made at nearby restaurants. There will be an intermission for attendees to leave for refills. General admission is $32 and VIP tickets are $37. The venue is at 1501 S. OWA Blvd.

Southeastern Outings Dayhike at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Experience the thrilling sight of thousands of sandhill cranes, wild geese, ducks, herons and other birds Saturday, Jan.18 at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur. Retired Refuge Manager Dwight Cooley will lead visitors through bays and sloughs. Bring binoculars, a birding field guide and a spotting telescope, if possible. Children ages 8 and older must have an adult supervisor. To register call Dan Frederick, 205-631-4680 or inbox seoutings@bellsouth.net by 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16. The outing is limited to 33 people.

Alabama Dance Festival

The Alabama Dance Festival is one of the largest gatherings of dancers and dance enthusiasts in the Southeast. Immerse yourself in master classes with world-renowned teachers, audition opportunities, teacher training, networking and performances by regional dance groups. This year’s guest company is Wideman Davis Dance. See a range of styles and traditions by schools, studios, companies and choreographers in the annual New Works Concert and Alabama Dance Festival Showcase. Register for classes at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Jan. 17-26.

Thurgood Marshall play Jan. 17-19

Steel Magic Theatre of Birmingham presents “Thurgood” at the Dorothy Jemison Day Theater Jan. 17-19. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall changed the American legal landscape, setting the stage for civil rights pioneers such as Fred Shuttlesworth, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The presentation tells the remarkable and triumphant story of Marshall, who rose from a childhood in the backstreets of Baltimore to the Supreme Court of the United States. Along the way, Marshall overcame many adversities, but through them all remained focused and positive to maintain the great country he wanted to serve. Tickets are online.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 week ago

Birmingham duo to become first high school team allowed to fish in Bassmaster Classic

(H. Thornton/YHN)

BIRMINGHAM — Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith, who have won back to back B.A.S.S. high school national championships, will be the first high school duo allowed to fish at the Bassmaster Classic.

The announcement was made in front of a raucous crowd in Briarwood Christian School’s (BCS) auditorium on Thursday morning. Smith recently graduated from BCS while Morris is still a student at the school. They were joined for the announcement by their boat captain J.T. Russell, who is a BCS alum.

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Grayson Morris, who said he had been fishing since he was five years old, told the media that he “had no idea” when asked if he knew about today’s recognition from Bassmaster.

“When they made the announcement I was super surprised,” he added. “I can’t wait till March.”

In 2020, the Bassmaster Classic will be in Birmingham from March 6-8. It is the competition’s 50th anniversary. The fishing will take place on Lake Guntersville. Morris and Smith will be participating, but not as official competitors.

“I remember watching the Bassmaster Classic on TV when I was a little boy, and now I get to go out there and do that,” Morris happily told Yellowhammer News.

Academy Sports and Outdoors is giving the duo’s boat a new coat of paint for the special occasion.

“I think it looks good. It will look good out there at the Bassmaster Classic,” he said of the freshly-painted boat.

“To be the first high schooler’s, that’s a great honor,” Smith told reporters after the event. He also thanked his coaches for making everything possible.

“It’s going to be crazy to fish against those guys,” he said of the anglers he will be sharing a lake with come March.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 week ago

Terry Saban celebrates birthday on Wednesday

(Nick's Kids Foundation/Facebook)

Terry Saban, the “better half” of University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, is celebrating her birthday on Wednesday.

“Miss Terry,” as she is fondly known, married Coach Saban on December 18, 1971. She is the former Terry Constable.

Both are from West Virginia.

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The couple met in seventh grade at a 4-H science camp. The two subsequently started seriously dating when Coach Saban was a student at Kent State and Miss Terry was teaching in West Virginia.

Terry and Nick Saban have two children: Nicholas and Kristen.

Some of Coach Saban’s most endearing moments while coaching in Tuscaloosa have centered around his relationship with – and love for – Miss Terry.

RELATED: Nick Saban on birthday plans: ‘It’s going to be whatever Miss Terry tells me to do’

One favorite from this past season is when the legendary coach admitted Miss Terry made him run on the treadmill after he received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the Tide’s opener against Duke.

She is also respected as a recruiting asset, even showing off some impressive dance moves at a recent event.

Then, of course, there is the Nick’s Kids Foundation, which is largely run by Miss Terry. The Sabans’ philanthropy is renowned for the work it does for youth in Alabama.

RELATED: Sabans’ ‘Nick’s Kids’ awards $560,000 to 130 non-profits

Find out more about the foundation here.

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

1 week ago

Scott Dawson talks Kanye’s faith, nation’s challenges – ‘Leadership begins at the feet of Jesus’

(Scott Dawson/Contributed, YHN)

Scott Dawson believes servant leadership is essential to spreading the gospel and healing society, and he highlighted famed musician Kanye West’s spiritual growth as one example of where that leadership can make a difference.

Dawson, founder and CEO of the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, spoke on these topics and many others when he sat down recently with Matt Wilson on his “Living Life on Purpose” podcast.

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As a former candidate for governor in Alabama, confronting the issues facing society and the nation is familiar ground for him.

When asked by Wilson what he viewed as the greatest challenge facing the country, Dawson was unequivocal in his response.

“Pride,” he stated.

He remarked that pride includes both arrogance and false humility.

“I sense that with all of us, including me,” Dawson said. “I’m speaking to you going, ‘this is my struggle’ because if we could understand how powerful the principle is to humble yourself before the Lord, things can happen.”

He cited Proverbs 16:18, which says, “Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

“That’s the reason why I say it’s the greatest problem of our country because when we are so proud that we are not listening to anyone else’s counsel, we’re bent on doing it our own way, then we’re up to be left to our own destruction,” said Dawson. “And that’s what needs to take place in the country.”

He believes it will take Christ-centered leadership to overcome these problems.

“Leadership begins at the feet of Jesus,” he stated. “We have got to be servant leaders. We have got to exemplify that in our own lives. People say there’s one life in the church, one life outside the church. There needs to be just one life. Jesus is not what I do, He is who I am. Do I still have those struggles? Yes. But every day, I’m in a relationship with Him. I’m being molded into his image. John the Baptist said, ‘He must increase and I must decrease.’ That happens in that life transformation that we’re walking through. I’m not acting like I used to act. And, hopefully, in five years I’m not acting then like I’m acting now because I’m growing in that relationship.”

Having established his ministry in 1987, Dawson described his calling as an evangelist as “an exciting adventure” as he continues seeking ways to answer the question of “how can I present the gospel in unique situations?”

One of those unique situations is with 21-time Grammy Award winner Kanye West.

West, whose album Jesus is King was released late last year, is set to participate in Dawson’s Strength to Stand conference. The event is taking place in Pigeon Ford, Tennessee, on January 18 through 20.

“Kanye has had this conversion experience and most people are talking about, ‘Well, is it genuine, is it genuine?’” Dawson explained. “I’m reminded that those are the same questions they had about Saul. Saul turned out to be the greatest missionary we’ve ever seen. Now, most people know him as Paul, but in the New Testament he was Saul of Tarsus.”

Dawson sees the spiritual walk for someone like West as a leadership opportunity for other believers.

“Even people that are cynics toward Kanye, they cannot get over the fact that his entire countenance has changed,” he said. “Something has taken place in his life. So us as leaders, let’s exemplify it. Let’s be quick to meet people where they are. Scripture does say very pointedly, ‘Without vision, the people perish.’ We’ve got to have some leaders around here that can see further down the road than past the end of their nose and say, ‘This is where we need to go.’ People don’t mind following a leader if they trust him or her and they believe that he or she has vision for the future.”

West’s growth as a Christian is something to which Dawson has paid close attention.

“His pastor, a young man from southern California, he’ll tell you,” he noted. “Kanye to his own admission, he’s a better husband, he’s a better father, he’s a better son because of what Christ has done in, and what he’s doing through, his life.”

And it has left quite an impression on Dawson.

“Jesus says ‘I have come that you have life and that you have it more abundantly’ and what I see coming out of Kanye right now is pure life,” he concluded.

Listen to the entire episode of Living Life on Purpose to hear Scott Dawson explain how he became an evangelist, how he handles life’s pressures, who he works to compare himself to in his ministry and much more.

For more stories of how people have lived their lives with a purpose, listen and subscribe to Living Life on Purpose with Matt Wilson on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify and Google Play. Matt’s guests include Andy Andrews, UAB head football coach Bill Clark, Congressman Gary Palmer and many others.

1 week ago

Birmingham Episcopalian church buys and forgives millions of dollars in medical debt

(St. Luke's/Facebook)

This past holiday season St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham bought $8.1 million in medical debt owed by about 6,500 families across Central Alabama and then forgave it all.

Because many hospitals sell off the debt they are not sure they can collect, St. Lukes was able to purchase the $8.1 million in debt for about $78,000. Many Americans are not so lucky to have a benefactor like St. Lukes in their lives. The most common purchases of overdue medical debt are predatory debt collectors who then use aggressive tactics to turn a profit on their investment in other’s medical expenses.

As first reported by ABC 33/40, the church partnered with the charity RIP Medical Debt, which specializes in buying debt from hospitals with the intent to forgive.

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RIP Medical Debt’s website says the charity targets “the portfolios for those in or near the poverty level” as the recipients of medical debt forgiveness.

The generous action comes on the 70th anniversary of Saint Luke’s founding.

“Saint Luke in the Christian tradition didn’t just write one of the four gospels,” St. Lukes Associate Rector Cameron Nations told Over The Mountain Journal.

“There’s been this long association in the Christian faith of Saint Luke with doctors, nurses, any kind of health care and healing in general. So we thought, ‘What better way to celebrate our 70th birthday than doing this fundraiser?’” he continued.

The envelopes telling Central Alabama’s poorest citizens that their debt had been forgiven arrived right around Christmas.

For background on RIP Medical Debt watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 week ago

Christian non-profit expanding free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds to Birmingham

(LIfe on Wheels/Facebook, YHN)

Montgomery-based Life On Wheels, a Christian non-profit organization, is expanding its Image Clear Ultrasound (ICU Mobile) services to Birmingham, free of charge.

ICU Mobile is a licensed, mobile, medical clinic that offers free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds for women who are not under the care of a physician. The service itself was founded in Akron, OH, and Life On Wheels brought it to Alabama.

The premise of ICU Mobile, according to an organizational release, is that “89% of women who see their own baby on ultrasound will choose to parent, even if they were initially considering abortion.”

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Since December 2016, Montgomery’s ICU Mobile has parked in central locations and offered free pregnancy testing, obstetric ultrasounds, community resources and referrals to women who may think that abortion is their only option.

During this time, ICU Mobile Montgomery has reportedly served 2,869 women, reviewed 2,572 Pregnancy Tests, performed 2,347 ultrasounds and seen 2,296 clients who decided to parent. According to a release, 206 women planning on getting abortions changed their minds after seeing their own baby on ultrasound through the Montgomery service. ICU Mobile staff in the location have followed up with clients 5,039 times, given clients over 859 Bibles and 101 clients and family members have professed their faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, the same services will be extended to the streets of Birmingham Monday-Friday, beginning February 6.

To lead up to the Birmingham launch, a “Blessing of the Bus” for the new Magic City-based ICU Mobile Unit will take place on Thursday, January 30, at 6:30 p.m. CT at St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church. The public is invited to attend and tour the new mobile unit.

Walk-ins are welcome at all ICU Mobile parking locations. You can see the Birmingham location schedule here and the Montgomery location schedule here.

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

2 weeks ago

Zellner will highlight UAH MLK commemoration

(EMU.edu/Contributed)

The University of Alabama in Huntsville will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Thursday, January 16, at 3 p.m. in Room 112 of the Student Services Building.

Bob Zellner will be the special guest and featured speaker during the commemoration program on the UAH campus. Zellner is the son and grandson of Ku Klux Klan members, but he risked his life – and nearly lost it – many times in the fight to achieve The Second Emancipation.

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As an organizer of The Freedom Rides of 1961 and the first white southerner to serve as field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Rosa Parks and many other civil rights leaders.

Famous for battles with the KKK, segregationist lynch mobs and violent police, Zellner is now the individual that a new generation turns to with questions on the racial, historical and cultural assumptions on which they were raised, as they ask themselves, “What is my place in this struggle?”

Zellner captivates audiences with the untold stories of the Civil Rights Movement and his dedication to fighting for the rights of others. Drawing on decades of experience guiding the movement and his ongoing active role, he presents a modern-day message for combating deep-seated racism, discrimination and prejudice and sparking widespread social change.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville)