The Wire

  • Assistant U.S. attorney to replace Hart in leading Special Prosecutions Division

    Excerpt:

    Multiple sources have told Yellowhammer News that Anna “Clark” Morris, the first assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, will take over the Special Prosecutions Division of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

    The announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday. Attorney General Steve Marshall accepted the resignation of Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart, who has led the division for years, on Monday morning.

    Morris served as the acting U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s middle district last year, in between President Donald Trump firing former USA George Beck in March of 2017 and now-USA Louis Franklin being confirmed that September.

  • EPA official resigns after indictment on Alabama ethics charges, replaced by Alabama native

    Excerpt:

    Even with Trey Glenn leaving his post as the EPA’s Region Four administrator, Alabama will still have strong ties to the leader of that office.

    According to The Hill, Mary Walker was named by EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler to fill the vacant role in an acting capacity after Glenn resigned on Monday following his indictment on ethics charges in Alabama.

    Walker is a native of the Yellowhammer State and had been serving as Glenn’s deputy.

  • Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine coming to Birmingham in 2019

    Excerpt:

    The Tim Tebow Foundation’s “Night to Shine,” a magical prom night experience for people with special needs, is coming to Birmingham.

    Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church will serve as one of the nearly 500 churches around the world to host Night to Shine on February 8, 2019.

    Night to Shine is an event for people 14 and older with special needs to receive royal treatment. Guests will enter the event on a red carpet filled with a crowd and paparazzi. Once they make it into the building, guests will be able to choose from an array of activities to partake in including hair and makeup stations, shoe shining areas and limousine rides. They can also choose their corsages and boutonnieres.

6 hours ago

Nominations being accepted for ‘Bama’s Best Breakfast Joint’

(Simply Southern TV/Facebook)

Alabama is well known for its Southern hospitality and cooking, and now one contest will attempt to crown the best of the best when it comes to the Yellowhammer State’s breakfast joints.

“Breakfast — It’s the most important meal of the day, and ‘Simply Southern TV’ wants to know which local restaurant butters your biscuit by serving up the state’s best breakfast,” a release from the Alabama Farmers Federation announced.

From coffee shops, downtown diners or donut dives, Alabamians can now nominate their favorite local breakfast spot in the Bama’s Best Breakfast Contest.

To make a nomination, simply comment on the Facebook post here. Comments must include the respective establishment’s name and city.

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Please note that Bama’s Best Breakfast seeks to promote Alabama-based restaurants, so national chains will not be eligible. However, specific locations of Alabama-based chains will be eligible to compete.

Nominations close November 29 at 1:00 p.m. The top eight nominees will be ranked in a bracket and then compete in daily head-to-head matchups from December 10-20.

The winner, which will be announced December 20, will receive a $300 cash prize and a commemorative plaque, along with being featured in the fifth season of “Simply Southern TV.”

This contest is sponsored by the Alabama Wheat & Feed Grain Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “Simply Southern TV” is a production of the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Farmers Cooperative. It airs on Sunday mornings in each media market across the state.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Heroic Tuscaloosa tow truck driver receives national medal for heroism after rescuing baby from burning car

(Bambarger Wrecker Service Inc./Twitter, Facebook)

While André Harris gave God all of the credit when he rescued a baby from a burning car back in July, it was Harris who was recognized on the national stage this weekend for his incredible act of heroism.

A few months ago, Yellowhammer News highlighted Harris’ bravery, and his inspiring testimony, after his now-famous act of courage.

On Saturday evening in Baltimore, Harris was awarded the American Towman Medal in a ceremony at the American Towman Show, according to the tow service that Harris works for in Tuscaloosa, Bambarger Wrecker Services.

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Bambarger noted that the prestigious medal honors “some of the most amazing acts in the annals of human rescue.”

The company’s post added, “Indiana Jones and Superman have nothing on the American Towman. The Medal Ceremony has evolved over the years into the March of the Heroes.”

You can read Yellowhammer News’ original article on Harris’ incredible story here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Where is your theology? An internal political assessment

(Contributed)

With the conclusion of the 2018 midterm elections, I have one question, specifically for the faith-based community: Where is your theology?

If you conduct a quick Google search you will find out the word “theology” means “the study of the nature of God and religious belief.” If theology is the study of God, then how does an individual apply theology in the real world? How does what we know about our theology affect our personal and political views? Conceivably, what we study becomes a part of our outlook, infiltrates our system of thought and helps to shape our day-to-day life.

According to the Pew Research Center (PRC), 80 percent of United States adults believe in God, 56 percent believe in the God of the Bible and 33 percent of those surveyed believe in a “higher power,” but not the God of the Bible.

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Whether we want to admit it or not, much of what we believe, and the way in which we vote, has to do with our religiosity. The majority of individuals surveyed by the PRC claim to believe in a god. Of these individuals, 84 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of people with no political party leaning consider religion to be either a “very” or “somewhat” important part of their life. Our study of God, mainly the God we serve or do not serve, influences our morals, values and belief system. And most assuredly, what we believe impacts how we vote.

Therefore, to my Democratic, Republican and independent friends, family and colleagues, I say again, where is your theology? We live in a cultural climate that is not uncommon to man. Division has always seemed to creep into our institutions. Hate has always run marathons across our landscape. Racism has always plagued our societies like a never-ending disease. With these difficult realities in mind, I say again, where is your theology? We should not be surprised by what we see in our nation or our world. Division and dissension are a part of mankind. Trouble will always find its way into the hearts of man, and bad things will always happen as long as this Earth exists. The question now becomes: What should our response be?

Should it be to treat your neighbor as yourself and to show mercy and compassion, love and respect, gentleness and kindness? Should your response be to be of good cheer when you face trials and tribulations because your joy does not come from things of this present age? Should your response be to let your light shine brightly in dark places? Should your response be to be alert and vigilant, to be set apart, to be not conformed to the behaviors and actions of this
world? The answers are obvious, which is precisely why the question is not, “What is your theology?” but where.

Many of us know what our theology should be. We know what our religious literature says about how we should operate in life. And through spiritual revelation, we know how our God has called us to live. But many of us have lost our way. Some of us have lost sight of compassion, love, and respect for our neighbor. Some of us have forgotten “The Golden Rule.” We have misplaced our theology — but there is hope.

When politics gets involved, it seems as if answering questions regarding theology becomes difficult for people of faith. It seems as if our knowledge of God begins to take a backseat to the gods of greed, malice, anger, racism, temporary pleasures and those many other things that take one’s focus off the one true God. This truth should cause us to pause and ponder.

Where is your theology? Who is your God? What do you know about him? Would your God be okay with your behavior? Would your God be pleased with how you treat the least of your community? Would your God be satisfied with the way you treat your friends, foes, and other fellows? How has your knowledge of your God influenced your vote and your life? How should it?

I ask these questions because it seems as if people of faith can sometimes find themselves expressing their God with their lips, but their hearts are far from that very thing they claim to believe and worship. In America, especially during election season, we sometimes present God in two ways: a God of love or a God of hate. Sadly, even those who serve and represent a loving, merciful, compassionate God miss the mark sometimes. And their failure is understandable, for we all are merely human. This dichotomous image of a deity continues to project itself in various forms. For Christians, a misrepresentation of God is toxic to the society we claim to love and desire to reach.

Our nation saw these images during slavery, where some who believed in the God of the Bible would use biblical references to subjugate a group of people. Instead of relaying the words of God in the way they were intended, these enslavers presented apocryphal elements of God’s divine nature and desire, which led to a bloody, bloody war between the free and slave states. We then saw these same misguided “Godly” expressions during the Period of Reconstruction and then Jim Crow. In today’s political and social climate, we still see the complicated nature of theology play tug-of-war with right versus wrong, good versus bad, love versus hate.

With this in mind, I must raise the question once more: Where is your theology?

Is your knowledge of God exegetical in that it adequately represents the God you claim to serve? Is it committed to exuding what your God would find acceptable, reasonable, and honorable? Is your knowledge of God eisegesis, in that it has consciously or unconsciously pushed out the core principles and ideals of the theology you claim to know and believe? We should all examine the way we vote, how we treat people, if we support the least of these, and ask ourselves whether or not our actions are in line with our God’s will.

Our nation is in trouble. There is hate, division and intimidation around every corner. And, though these negative and tumultuous elements are not new to our society, I fear that we are on our way to digging a pit so deep, it will be nearly impossible to climb out of in the future. I also fear that people’s theological amnesia has caused this trouble.

For generations, counterfeit religion has been used as a tool to control, oppress and intimidate people. However, I believe that rediscovering proper theology can be the solution to our nation’s problem. Peoples’ knowledge of God is mixed with numerous theological theories, hypothesis, and critical observations. As humans, we may not — and we will not — agree on everything. But one thing we should strive toward is the ability to respect each other, treating each other with dignity and showing compassion to both our supporters and dissenters.

Are we as believers in God doing that in the United States?

Democrats, Republicans, and independents: Where is our theology?

Wherever it is, I hope we find it.

Our nation’s future, our children’s future and our future depends on it.

Christian Crawford is a graduating senior at Auburn University at Montgomery from Birmingham and will be receiving a Bachelor’s in Social Science and Liberal Arts in political science in December of 2018. In 2015, Crawford conducted an impromptu prayer at his high school graduation that went viral across the country, and the world. That prayer led him to be featured in numerous news and media articles, and it also allowed him to appear on local and regional news outlets such as “Good Day Alabama” on Fox 6, “Good Morning America” on Fox and Friends, and more. Crawford has been a motivational speaker for eight years.

5 days ago

Community delivers ‘Christmas miracle’ for Alabama woman

(CBS 42/Youtube)

According to a report by CBS 42, “Christmas arrived a little early for one Hueytown woman.”

When 71-year-old Jo Ann Stone’s neighbors took notice that she did not have working heat inside her home, they showed the true spirit of the season right here in Alabama.

This week, their neighborly compassion was matched by the altruism of the workers from Brown Heating and Cooling, who came out to Stone’s house on Tuesday wearing their Santa hats, repairing the heating system at no cost. And just in time for Wednesday’s wintery weather.

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Stone explained that her heat went out months ago, but she did not pay attention to the issue in the stifling summer months.

However, as colder weather has crept in, Stone turned to using space heaters to keep warm. That is when Taylor Cater and other neighbors realized her predicament and took action.

“I just knew it was the right thing to do,” Cater told CBS 42. “I couldn’t stand the thought of her sitting over here cold when the rest of us had heat.”

Cater is a member of the Hueytown Chamber of Commerce with Jamie White, the owner of Brown Heating and Cooling, so she immediately knew who to call for expert help.

And while Cater was only seeking an estimate, with neighbors planning to pay for the repairs, White took it from there.

He sent someone out the very day after Cater called, and the repairman realized the needed repairs were extensive and expensive.

While working on the HVAC unit, White’s team member noticed some damage that could have potentially been deadly.

CBS 42 reported, “He said the damage could have released carbon monoxide throughout the home, and it’s a miracle they caught it.”

White’s help, free of charge, and the neighbors’ proactive Christmas good deed did not go unnoticed by Stone.

“I just cried when they told me they were going to do this,” Stone emphasized.

She continued, “I couldn’t imagine, because I didn’t have any extra money for a big thing, you know, heating and air is not cheap.”

For White, he just knew it was the right thing to do.

“It really makes you feel good. I mean ’tis the season. It’s that time of year, you know, it’s just what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to help your neighbors, especially in the community of Hueytown. It just makes us feel good to help someone out,” White shared.

“Everyone is family here. We are all very close and we take care of our own,” Cater added.

Then, a great closing line from CBS 42, before adding, “Stone says White is her Santa Claus this year.”

“The workers were able to turn the heat on, warming Stone’s home and the community’s hearts,” the report said.

Watch:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

Watch: Para-Commandos jump into Bryant-Denny Stadium

(Alabama Athletics/Twitter)

Before the University of Alabama’s home football game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Para-Commandos jumped from a military aircraft and landed in Bryant-Denny Stadium as part of the pregame, Veterans Day weekend festivities.

The Para-Commandos are the United States Special Operations Command’s “premier aerial parachute demonstration team.”

In an incredible video posted by the university, you can watch one of the commandos’ approximately three-minute descent into the packed stadium.

Watch:

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The Para-Commandos are members of current Special Operations Forces. They are comprised of active duty special operators, including Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force Combat Controllers and Marine Raiders. Their jump into Bryant-Denny has become an annual tradition for UA.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

How an Alabama WWII vet created Veterans Day

(U.S. VA/Flickr)

With November 11 falling on a Sunday this year, the official recognition of all of the American heroes who have served as members of the nation’s armed services will be observed on Monday.

As people around our nation celebrate the United States’ 64th annual Veterans Day, Alabamians can take special pride in knowing that this occasion was inspired by one legendary veteran from the Yellowhammer State.

And while Veterans Day parades are always memorable events, those taking in the Magic City’s annual parade (Monday starting at 1:30 p.m.) are carrying on an especially powerful legacy, whether they realize it or not.

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In 1945, a World War II veteran from Birmingham, Raymond Weeks, led a delegation to Washington, D.C. to urge then-Army Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower to support their efforts to create a national holiday honoring all American veterans.

Consider that since 1919, Americans had celebrated Armistice Day each year on November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I. It was President Woodrow Wilson that year who declared it a day of remembrance and reflection to honor the bravery and heroism of World War I veterans.

Then, it was Weeks, some 26 years later, who hoped to expand the holiday to honor all U.S. veterans. While Eisenhower was receptive to his idea immediately, he was not in a position to unilaterally make the change quite yet in 1945.

This did not stop Weeks’ dream from coming to fruition. The Alabama veteran took it upon himself in 1947 to organize an unofficial “National Veterans Day,” which included parades and other festivities. That year, it was indeed Birmingham that held the nation’s first ever Veterans Day parade.

Seven years later, with Eisenhower now occupying the White House, Congressman Ed Rees from Eisenhower’s home state of Kansas pushed a bill through Congress establishing Veterans Day. Eisenhower proudly signed it into law almost a decade after Weeks had first come to him with the idea.

And on one historic Veterans Day, November 11, 1982, President Ronald Reagan presented Weeks with the Presidential Citizens Medal, declaring him the “Father of Veterans Day.” Reagan, in a moving ceremony at the White House, described Weeks as a person who “devoted his life to serving others, his community, the American veteran, and his nation.”

(LifeLeadersTV/YouTube)

Indeed, for 38 consecutive years (from 1947 until his death on May 6, 1985) after Weeks organized the nation’s very first Veterans Day parade in his hometown of Birmingham, this Alabama hero served as the city’s director of the National Veterans Day Celebration.

So as Alabamians around the state attend their local Veterans Day parades this year, they’ll not only be honoring America’s courageous servicemen and women, they’ll also be carrying on the legacy of an American hero and Alabama legend — Raymond Weeks.

To quote Reagan once more, “So let us go forth from here, having learned the lessons of history, confident in the strength of our system, and anxious to pursue every avenue toward peace. And on this Veterans Day, we will remember and be firm in our commitment to peace, and those who died in defense of our freedom will not have died in vain.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Byrne: No place, no time for hate

(Pixabay)

At a recent church service, the sermon focused on the 12th chapter of Mark’s gospel, which describes Jesus’ answer to a question from a scribe about which Commandment is “first of all.”

In it, Jesus replies with the Shema. He says, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Even though Jesus was not asked about a “second Commandment,” he adds to the Shema, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

In response, for once, a scribe agrees with Jesus.

It seemed timely to hear this verse and to hear a modern-day minister preach on it. Just a few weeks ago, 11 people were tragically killed at a Jewish synagogue near Pittsburgh. These innocent Jews were killed by a man filled with hate, much like the murders of innocent African-American Christians in a Charleston church three years ago. These horrific events remind us that evil is not a superstition, but an all too real presence in our society.

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The Old Testament and Jesus are crystal clear: the very essence of God is love.

Therefore, anyone who hates another person acts against God and his purposes for humankind. Jesus took it another step by joining the Commandment to love one another with the Commandment to love God. Saint John in his first letter is explicit. He writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Our obligation to love one another applies to everyone. Indeed, the very presence of hate inside us is the work of evil, and we should all strive against that evil in our own lives. And when a particularly tragic work of evil happens, as happened in Pittsburgh, we need to speak out so that we reinforce our collective resolve against it.

In the heart of election season, it is especially important to remember that more unites us than divides us. As Americans – and as humans – we are united by common bonds of love, faith and understanding. Far too often, we get caught up in the areas of disagreement, instead of realizing that far more brings us together.

We are all imperfect humans made by our Creator. While we are often divided by where we live, our age, our background, our race or our gender, we are brought together by many important common factors.

My study of U.S. history long ago convinced me that our national principle of the equality of all people, explicit in The Declaration of Independence and reiterated by President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, is rooted in our Founders’ understanding of the Bible’s clear teaching that we are all created and loved by God, and therefore must love and must value one another. So violent attacks on people because of their race or religion are truly un-American as well.

An attack on any human because of their religious beliefs or the color of their skin or their background is an attack on all of us and the values we hold most dear. When we let these actions further divide, we only fuel the fire of hatred. Instead, we should use events like we saw in Pittsburgh to unite us and bring us closer together.

So, please allow me to add my voice with many others against the evil of these and other acts of violence. There is no place, and this is no time, to hate.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

2 weeks ago

Birmingham police officer inspires community with ‘random acts of kindness’

(Fred Davenport/Facebook)

In a Facebook video published on Friday, Birmingham police Officer Christopher Lassinger can be seen performing “random acts of kindness” that are inspiring the low-income community he patrols in western Birmingham.

In the video uploaded by WVTM’s Fred Davenport, Lassinger is found playing basketball with children in a local neighborhood during his downtime.

One resident told WVTM that this type of neighborhood-focused, caring policing is “what the community needs.”

She added, “They need the officers involved within the community.”

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The video then shows Lassinger explaining why he is so involved, noting that when he noticed their basketball net was tattered, Lassinger went and bought the children a new net and basketball. He also said it is a small deed compared to actions of his fellow officers.

Lassinger explained that this type of compassion, and going the extra mile, by police officers is not often reported on by the media.

“I think it’s important to get out and do things like this, but it happens all the time. It really does. It happens way more than anybody notices,” Lassinger remarked.

He added, “People just don’t realize – every day, officers are doing something [like this]. And a lot of times it’s the bad things that get seen and put on the news, but everyday officers are out there doing positive things, I can assure you of that.”

Watch:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 weeks ago

The story of an Alabama dog rescuer with a ‘heart of gold’

(Saje Cox Loftin/Facebook)

The story of one dog’s rescue from deplorable conditions in the Wiregrass is starting to pick up steam on social media.

According to a post from Saje Cox Loftin, a previous post of hers inspired her friend Erica to go above and beyond in saving a husky that “was chained up and starving” in Houston County.

(Saje Cox Loftin/Facebook)

Erica, after seeing the post and getting “a little reassurance that [Loftin would] have her back if she got arrested,” “went and took the dog from the property and left a note saying she was going to have the dog vetted.”

Loftin again assured Erica that she “would have the couple arrested for animal cruelty” before letting her go to jail for saving the dog. So, when the owner “called LIVID demanding she returned the dog” and “claimed [the dog] was being treated for a condition & that’s why he looked the way he did,” Erica stood her ground and took the husky to see a vet.

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According to the vet, the owner’s claim “was a lie and the dog is healthy besides being extremely malnourished.” With this information in hand, Erica responded to the owner with the credible possibility of “pressing animal cruelty charges,” and the owner quickly “said Erica could keep the dog.”

However, not only did Erica save the dog’s life, she has discovered that he has a previous owner who has been desperately trying to get him back.

After scanning the husky for a microchip, Erica discovered the original owners, who were from Alaska of all places.

(The husky pictured in the past when healthy and with his original owners).

As Loftin outlined, “Two years ago, their daughter was sick & they believed that she was allergic to the dog so they rehomed him hoping to keep her out of the hospital (it was actually a severe sun allergy). The family immediately regretted it & contacted the [new owner] but she wouldn’t give them any information on where the dog was.”

Now, Erica is getting the dog healthy again and will return him to his original owners, “where he’ll get to spend the rest of his life.”

Loftin commented, “Can you imagine the look on that babies face when he’s reunited with his people after being on a chained & starved?!”

She added, “I’m thankful for people in my circle who aren’t afraid to risk going to jail in order to save a dogs life… Not all stories have such a happy ending but this one deserves to be shared. It’s also a great reminder of why you should microchip your dog & that animal cruelty is happening EVERY DAY. Please stay alert & report anything that looks suspicious or animals that look to be neglected.”

Loftin explained that even though Erica wanted no credit for the good deed, she had to share the story to showcase Erica’s “heart of gold” and inspire others who may encounter abused pets.

Loftin runs a Facebook group called “Wiregrass Rescue Pets,” about which she emphasized, “We constantly need fosters, donations, transports, & people to share posts to network animals.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 weeks ago

Video of Moody Elementary School students surprising school custodian with big ‘thank you’ goes viral

(ABC World News/Facebook)

A video of students in Moody, Alabama, surprising their school custodian with a grand show of appreciation went viral on Monday.

In the heartwarming video, students from Moody Elementary School surprise “Mr. Eugene” on National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, which was October 2.

Once surprised, Mr. Eugene is overcome with emotion and then takes a bow for the students, thanking them for showing their appreciation.

The story has now been picked up by national shows and outlets, including “The Today Show,” “ABC World News Tonight” and CNN.

Watch:

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Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 weeks ago

‘Redneck Housewives of Alabama’ set to premiere

(Redneck Housewives of Alabama/YouTube)

TV viewers longing for a reality show featuring housewives who shoot guns and love the outdoors are in luck.

“Redneck Housewives of Alabama” is set to make its premiere next month in Huntsville.

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The show features eight truck-driving, gun-toting, beer-swilling, family-raising women, Al.com reported.

A trailer for the pilot made its debut in August on YouTube, showing cast members doing everything from working on a farm to mudbogging to getting a tattoo.

Its pilot episode will be shown during a free public screening Nov. 10 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

The screening is part of an event that will also include appearances by the cast.

The 30-minute episode offers a sneak peek at the show created by a Huntsville company, Helen Evans LLC, and directed by Kevin Wayne of Kevin Wayne Films.

Wayne, a Birmingham filmmaker, also serves as executive producer of the series, which started recruiting cast members in May 2017 and began filming later that year.

“From mud bogs to overcoming addiction and divorces, these ladies are just the beginning of what life in Sweet Home Alabama is like,” the series website states, touting a “new Southern drama filled with Southern charm.”

It’s unclear if the series has hooked a network deal or not, but updates on the show are posted on the official website and Facebook page, Al.com reported.

Cast members made an appearance on Sept. 29 at the Smith Lake Country Music Festival, for example, and Seawright, a singer-songwriter from Fort Payne, performed there with her band.

When “Redneck Housewives” announced its casting call last year, a representative for the show said the ideal candidates would be outgoing, outdoorsy women who are adventurous and colorful.

At the time, the show’s website said the creators also were looking for drama, via women who are “battling with serious and realistic issues such as suicide, divorce, broken relationships, bankruptcy, infidelity, family feuding, alcoholism, deadbeat dads and foreclosures.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 month ago

Watch: Dog goes crazy after Alabama owner returns from deployment overseas

(J. Williams)

Seeing military service members reunited with loved ones after lengthy periods of time overseas is always emotional, but this time it is man’s best friend stealing the show.

Alabama’s Captain Josh Williams just returned from a ten-month deployment on the Korea peninsula with his brigade, which is part of the 3rd Infantry Division. In a video recorded by his wife Anna, Williams is greeted by one very happy canine companion.

Watch:

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The dog’s name is Milo, and, as you can tell, he is excited to have Captain Williams back home.

Williams is a Cavalry Troop Commander and earned his commission as an Army Officer through Auburn University’s ROTC program. He is a fourth-generation Army officer, and his grandfather did a tour in Korea 55 years ago this year. When Williams first arrived on the Korean peninsula in January of this year the tensions were at their highest level since his grandfather was there, but diplomatic tensions have eased to the calmest levels in recent years during his deployment.

“Praise God,” Williams’ father, state Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City), told Yellowhammer News, referencing the deescalation of tensions with North Korea and his son’s safe return.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Watch: Mobile Fox 10 news crew picks up American flag ripped down by Hurricane Michael

(FOX10 News - WALA/YouTube)

In the aftermath of tragedy, sometimes the smallest of gestures can bring a world of hope.

As Hurricane Michael tore through the Panama City Beach area, Mobile-based FOX 10 News photojournalist Rodney Rocker and meteorologist Adam Olivier noticed an American flag lying in a parking lot while they were driving around.

The duo returned later when the weather conditions were safe for them to exit their vehicles, and retrieved the flag that had been ripped to the ground by the hurricane’s gusts and will transport it back to the news station in Alabama where it will be cleaned and honored.

Watch:

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“It’s a simple gesture, but I think it’s something that will make someone very happy around here, because it’s a symbol of our country and it really is something we can bond over and see as something that tears us down [but] also builds us back up with just a little help from each other,” Olivier said in the video.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Alabama man stuns judges on ‘The Voice’ with his rendition of ‘God Bless the Broken Road’

(The Voice/YouTube)

An Alabama man impressed the nation with his singing of “God Bless the Broken Road” by Rascall Flatts on Monday night’s episode of NBC’s “The Voice.”

As reported by WSFA, 22-year-old Kirk Jay blew the four judges away, getting them all to turn their chairs around during his performance, indicating that they each wanted Jay on their team in the singing competition. The Bay Minette native, who now lives in Montgomery, eventually chose to be on Blake Shelton’s team.

Jay was introduced with a moving video that reflected on his life, giving background on his struggles, his experiences, his family and his faith that led to his inspiring song selection.

Watch:

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At the beginning of the video, Jay described growing up in poverty, as he showed a film crew the small mobile home he and his family shared. The home often lacked lights or water and Jay reflected on the many days when there was no food and having to use the bathroom outdoors.

His step-dad worked overtime to provide more for the family and ultimately got them out of the situation.

Jay explained how he and his family persevered in the toughest of times.

“Faith kept us together and, of course, music,” he said.

“I always prayed that I would make it out someday,” Jay added. “But I’m appreciative of the struggle. It really made me who I am today.”

In the audition itself, Jay described why he chose “God Bless the Broken Road.”

He recounted, “It’s the first country song I ever heard in my life. I was on the way to school one day and ‘God Bless the Broken Road’ came on. I started crying and chills came all over my body.”

From there, Jay’s love of country music took off, and his ascent appears to be far from complete.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Eight-year-old Alabama girl gives up birthday party to feed the homeless

(Jimmie Hale Mission)

She might be a little girl, but Dothan’s Kayla Glover has a big heart for a person of any age.

As reported by WSFA, Kayla, at first look, is your typical eight-year-old. The Alabama girl loves watching her favorite show, Spongebob Squarepants, and spends the weekend working on her multiplication skills.

However, her caring nature and generosity display a unique personality that transcends her years.

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“It’s all about giving and that’s what she’s about,” Kayla’s father, Roosevelt Glover, said.

This year, Kayla has decided to sacrifice a birthday party with friends and will instead spend her ninth birthday feeding the homeless in the Wiregrass area.

At first, Kayla’s parents were taken aback when their young daughter said she wanted to give up having a typical celebration for her birthday.

“This was a couple of months ago,” Roosevelt explained. “We gave it a little time to kind of smoke over and see if the answer would change. So, about two weeks ago, she said it again. We asked what she wanted to do for her birthday and she said that she wanted to feed the homeless.”

Her big heart has been on display countless times before this extraordinary gesture.

“Since the first grade, Kayla will always wanted me to bring extra snacks to the school for the kids I didn’t have a snack,” Kayla’s mother, Karon Glover, reminisced.

She continued, “When she actually brought this up, I was like, I know you have a big heart, but for you to sacrifice your friends coming over and having a big birthday party, it was very heartwarming.”

Kayla’s birthday is a few days after Thanksgiving, so she wants to do a Thanksgiving theme for the food she passes out. Now, her family is working hard to make sure this birthday wish turns into a tremendous success.

“It’s real big because she’s 8,” Roosevelt added. “You wouldn’t expect that, but we’re going to make it happen.”

1 month ago

Watch: Alabama native, Auburn linebacker kneels in prayer pregame

(Simone Eli, CBS 42/Twitter)

In a video posted last week by CBS 42’s Simone Eli, Auburn football player Deshaun Davis can be seen walking hand-in-hand with a young boy to the edge of the end zone, where the two kneel in prayer together before the Tigers’ game versus Southern Miss.

In a tweet of his own, Davis responded to the video by saying, “God blessed me with this platform and I’ll be sure to use mine the RIGHT way!”

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“#MyLilHomie,” he added.

The Prichard native and Vigor High School graduate has not been afraid to share his faith in college, which is evidenced by his senior spotlight interview.

“Keep God first,” Davis said. “For a lot of people, it’s not going to be what you are thinking, especially when it comes to short-term things such as playing time. It’s easy to feel like you’re losing faith, but don’t.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Alabama woman paralyzed by domestic violence 11 years ago walks into her birthday party (VIDEO)

(CBS 42/YouTube)

In what CBS 42 is calling “a walk to remember,” an Alabama woman who was paralyzed 11 years ago held a different kind of surprise birthday party.

Birmingham’s LaShundra Glenn Smith recently shocked guests at her own birthday celebration by walking in, with the help of leg braces and a walker. She has been using a wheelchair, without feeling in her legs, since being shot two times by her then-husband. Smith was shot one time in the back and one time in the thigh.

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The mother of four kids still gets emotional when thinking about the betrayal that led to her paralyzation.

“The person that said they loved me then shot me, and I never a thought that this would ever happen to me, you know, I didn’t know the signs because I’d never been in a domestic violent relationship or around it,” Smith said.

Smith, who now speaks to young people about her experiences to save others from domestic violence, managed to bring the group of friends and families to tears of joy at her 43rd birthday celebration.

“You know I just wanted to surprise them,” she shared. “I didn’t want to tell nobody. They were surprised, especially my kids they had no earthly idea. … To take steps in there and to see their faces was just priceless because it hasn’t been just me going through this – my kids, my support system, I have a great support system.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

‘God is a changer of men’: First class graduates from Birmingham Theological Seminary Prison Initiative

(ALDOC)

As CBS 42 reported, the Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent, Alabama, graduated the first class from the Birmingham Theological Seminary (BTS) Prison Initiative recently, with one inmate saying, “God is a changer of men and we’re living proof of that.”

Ten inmates were awarded with certificates of completion, including four graduates earning a Master’s of Arts in Biblical Studies. The initiative, which is privately funded, is an intensive two-year ministry training program for inmates in the state corrections system. Fifteen inmates are selected after interviews every other year to be transferred to Bibb County in order to take the seminary classes.

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The first class of students to complete the program, which was launched in September 2016 by the Alabama Department of Corrections, took classes four days per week, including Bible, theology, counseling, discipleship and practical ministry courses. Birmingham Theological Seminary, in collaboration with other ministries, also offered inmates workshops and seminars in areas of biblical manhood, conflict resolution, relational wisdom and life skills.

Dr. Thad James, BTS Vice President and director of the prison initiative, welcomed the graduates and guests to the inaugural graduation ceremony, which was held on September 14.

“This first cohort group is a true testimony and affirmation to the redemptive and transformation work of Jesus Christ in the hearts and minds of men,” James emphasized.

Over the course of the two-year program, James said he observed the students growing both theologically and spiritually in their relationship with God and man. He referred to scripture to describe their spiritual transition.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” James said, citing Romans 12: 1-2.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Commissioner Jon Ozmint, who has spent most of his adult life serving on all sides of the criminal justice system and instituted a successful, model prison ministry program in that state, delivered the commencement address to Alabama’s first class.

Ozmint outlined that “empirical evidence demonstrates that faith-based programming reduces recidivism and while not a quick-fix, the intensive and demanding BTS program will improve the culture in ADOC, making prisons and neighborhoods safer for Alabama taxpayers.”

After receiving his certification in Biblical Studies, one graduate said he and his fellow classmates were indeed evidence that men can change.

“God is working in all of us and just because you have a prison mindset, doesn’t mean you can’t change.  God is a changer of men and we’re living proof of that,” Patrick Johnson said.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

WATCH: Blount County football fans join together in prayer before game

(Brittany Decker/Twitter)

After it was announced earlier this week that Blount County Schools would no longer allow student or volunteer-led prayer over the intercom before games, fans were worried that their prayer would be silenced.

However, if Friday’s Locust Fork High School game was any indication, prayer in Blount County will continue.

In a video posted on Twitter, the crowd of students and fans can be seen banding together to use the designated pregame moment of silence to fill the stands with the Lord’s Prayer.

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NBC 13 reported many in the stands were also wearing “We Believe” T-shirts provided by local churches before the game.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Watch: Birmingham food truck owners win $10,000 Food Network prize

(Food Network/Instagram)

Granny’s Fish ‘N Grits, a popular family-owned food truck in Birmingham, was featured on the premier of Andrew Zimmern’s new Food Network show “Big Food Truck Tip” on Wednesday and won a $10,000 “tip” to help grow their business.

In a viral video clip posted on Facebook, you can see the emotional moment when the truck’s owners are surprised with the valuable prize.

“You didn’t clean out the tip jar last night,” Zimmern quipped.

The celebrity chef and host then pulled out a $10,000 wad of cash from the truck’s tip jar, with the owners’ reactions showing the emotion of the moment.

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“You guys take that and grow this thing,” Zimmern said after revealing the prize. “And get that coleslaw in every single supermarket in America, because that is magic. Congratulations.”

Granny’s Fish ‘N Grits parks near Birmingham Daiquiris located at 324 9th St N in Birmingham. Their normal hours are 5:00-11:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m. on Friday and 6:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m. on Saturday. Follow their Facebook page here for special hours and events.

The food truck out of Chubbfather’s restaurant in Alabaster and Highway Kabobery out of Huntsville were also featured on the same episode. The new TV Network show will award one featured truck per episode the $10,000 “tip.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Alabama, Charlie Daniels headlining benefit concert for JSU

(Alabama/Facebook, C. Lender/Flickr)

Music legends Alabama will headline a concert on Wednesday, September 26 at Burgess-Snow Field to benefit Jacksonville State University (JSU). The Charlie Daniels Band will join them, as will other well-known entertainers with Alabama roots, including Jamey Johnson, Shenandoah and Jason Isbell.

Per WHNT, when the EF-3 tornado rolled across JSU’s campus in March, founding Alabama band member and JSU graduate Randy Owen could only think of one thing.

“Well, I hope nobody’s killed, honestly. That was the big thing,” Owen said. “I’ve got lots and lots of friends in that part of the world. Besides family, it was obviously, hopefully, nobody at the university gets hurt.”

His biggest concern “was the people.” “That’s the first thing that went through my mind,” Owen added.

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After the storm, he knew that he wanted to help.

“We’ve been given this really great opportunity to help people. So why not do that while you’re alive in this world,” Owen advised.

Owen also serves on the JSU Board of Trustees and Jeff Cook’s wife, Lisa, is a fellow graduate, too. When he went to Jacksonville and saw the damage done to his beloved school, it reportedly broke his heart.

“Once I talked to Teddy and he said ‘Hey, we’d love to do something’ and then I got in touch with Jeff. I knew that we wanted to do something similar to what we did with Bama Rising in Birmingham,” he reflected to WHNT. “I really thought it was important, for as far as the healing process, to do it on campus with all the kids and the alumni from all over, that they could be part of it and help.”

The tornado relief concert will be at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium on Wednesday, September 26. This will be the only chance to catch Alabama in concert in the Yellowhammer State this year.

“I want to do something spectacular for the university and once again, to bring the spirit of everybody up as much as we could because that’s what we do, we play music and try to bring hope and happiness and a look toward the future for everybody for Jacksonville State because we need it,” Owen added.

“If that spirit can be lifted up any more, we hope to do,” he emphasized. “It’s important to the university. It’s important to the spirit of our school.”

The concert starts at 6:00 p.m. and will be held rain or shine. For ticket information, click here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Cullman County to display ‘In God We Trust’ motto in schools

(WVTM 13 News/YouTube)

All of Cullman County’s schools will display “In God We Trust,” the national motto, after a unanimous vote by the local school board on Thursday.

This came after the state legislature this March voted to allow the motto’s use in Alabama schools, courthouses and other public property. Cullman County becomes the second county after Blount County, which has been called the “guinea pig” for the law, to make the move to display the motto in public schools.

While liberal organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have criticized the law, supporters have said it is a way to show national pride.

“I think it’s important for students to know the history and how this came about in our nation’s early years,” Cullman County Superintendent Shane Barnette told the Cullman Times.

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He added, “Some people may disagree with it, but the legislature voted to allow it.”

On the other hand, Brock Boone, an attorney for the ACLU in Alabama, said, “I think it is unfortunate the county school board wants to make people who disagree, or may not be religious, or of a different faith feel alienated. If someone wants to attend a private religious school, then that’s fine to post it.”

The motto, which does not reference a specific faith or god, has been official since 1956, as declared by a joint resolution of Congress. As you can read more about here, “In God We Trust” has also appeared on U.S.-minted coins since 1864.

A similar phrase, “In God is our Trust,” appears in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was adopted as the national anthem in 1931. Written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, the fourth stanza includes the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.’”

State Rep. David Standridge (R-Hayden), who sponsored the legislation and said that the idea came in part out of recent debate about school safety, also views displaying the national motto as a way to bring added comfort to students, teachers and staff while they are at school.

“It’s a simple message, but I believe it’s a powerful message,” Standridge said in a recent appearance on “Fox and Friends First.”

Blount County School System Superintendent Rodney Green echoed Standridge, advising, “I think having a basic, fundamental national motto in ‘In God We Trust’ gives our students a level of comfort that our national motto supports a recognition of a higher authority and we can depend on that higher authority for protection.”

The sentiments expressed by Standridge and Green are shared by a Cullman County resident and mom interviewed by NBC 13.

“I think now, more than ever, we need God,” Terri Peppers said.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

WATCH: Former Alabama football star Dre Kirkpatrick dances with elderly woman at nursing home

(WLWT/YouTube)

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback and former University of Alabama star Dre Kirkpatrick hosted a tailgate party at a local nursing home before playing the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football, and the six-year NFL veteran participated in a dance battle with an elderly woman.

Kirkpatrick, who is a native of Gadsden, played for the Crimson Tide from 2009-2012, winning two national championships.

However, in the video posted by Brandon Saho of WLWT, Kirkpatrick was not the star.

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Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

HOAX: Viral tweet showing massive Muslim prayer rally in Alabama isn’t real

(AP Archives/YouTube)

A tweet that went viral on Sunday depicting a massive Muslim prayer in “Birmingham, Alabama” is #FakeNews.

A simple Google Image check reveals that the prayer occurred in the capital city of Tirana, Albania in 2015 in celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan.

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Embed from Getty Images

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