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.

2 months ago

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

(YHN)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 months ago

Where is the best fried chicken in Alabama?

(YHN/Pixabay)

In an online voting showdown, Simply Southern TV set out to declare a winner to the long asked question, where can you find the best fried chicken in Alabama?  

Over a two week period, eight restaurants were pitted against each other in a bracket-style tournament.

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Luverne’s Chicken Shack was declared Bama’s Best Fried Chicken winner.

In its three matchups, the Crenshaw County restaurant chalked up nearly 12,000 votes.  Throughout the contest over 31,000 votes were casts among all contestants.

Simply Southern TV, a cable television show hosted the challenge on its Facebook page.  As winners, Chicken Shack owners Mike and Drew Money will receive a plaque and $300, along with being featured in the fourth season of “Simply Southern TV.”

Bama’s Best Fried Chicken contest was sponsored by the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association and the Alabama Poultry Producers.  Simply Southern TV is a produced by Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

 

 

5 months ago

7 Alabama state parks earn total of 9 TripAdvisor Hall of Fame honors

(State Parks photo/Billy Pope)

Seven Alabama State Parks earned nine Hall of Fame honors from TripAdvisor and 12 parks in the 22-park system earned Certificates of Excellence from the world’s largest travel website. Overall, the parks received 16 Certificates of Excellence for 2018.

To earn Hall of Fame recognition, a park, attraction or business must have received a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years. The certificates are awarded based on users’ reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor.com.

The Hall of Fame winning parks are Cathedral Caverns State Park, Chewacla State Park, DeSoto State Park, Gulf State Park, Joe Wheeler State Park, Monte Sano State Park and Oak Mountain State Park.

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“The most rewarding facet of this recognition is that it comes from visitors’ opinions and rankings,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. “For seven parks to receive Certificates of Excellence for five straight years is remarkable. We are so proud of our staff and volunteers for the hard work they do that is reflected by the high regard our visitors hold in the parks.”

According to TripAdvisor, to qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, a business must “maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five; have a minimum number of reviews; and have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least twelve months.”
The awards are announced annually in May.

The Hall of Fame recognition for the Alabama State Parks system totaled nine as Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores was recognized in three areas: Beaches/State Parks/Nature; Parks/Outdoor Activities; State Parks/Piers; Boardwalks, Nature; Parks, Sights and Landmarks, Outdoor Activities; and the Gulf State Park Campground for Specialty Lodging.

The other Hall of Fame designees are Cathedral Caverns State Park in Woodville (Caverns; Caves/Nature; Parks); Chewacla State Park in Auburn (State Parks/Nature; Parks); DeSoto State Park in Fort Payne (State Parks/Nature;
Parks); Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville (State Parks/Nature; Parks); Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville (State Parks/Nature; Parks); and Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham (State Parks/Nature; Parks/Biking Trails/Outdoor Activities).

Four parks – or parks attractions – were back-to-back winners, picking up Certificates of Excellence in 2017 and 2018. Those are Cheaha State Park in Delta (State Parks/Nature; Parks); DeSoto Falls (Mountains/Nature; Wildlife
Areas/State Parks/Waterfalls/Nature; Parks); Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail at Gulf State Park (Hiking Trails/Nature; Parks/Outdoor Activities); Lake Guntersville State Park (State Parks/Nature; Parks); and Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City (State Parks/Nature; Parks).

Two parks were awarded Certificates of Excellence for the first time: Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort (State Parks/Nature; Parks); and Rickwood Caverns State Park in Warrior (State Parks/Nature; Parks).

About Alabama’s State Parks System

The Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division maintains 22 parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Download the State Parks app at pocketranger.com. For more information about Alabama State Parks, go online to www.alapark.com. Partners Pay the Way.

Calling all nonprofits

(Pixabay)

Make plans now to attend the 2017 South Alabama Nonprofit Summit to be held in the Student Center at the University of South Alabama from 9am until 3:30pm on Wednesday, June 27th .

The Summit provides an excellent opportunity for professional development for all nonprofit leaders, staff, and board members. The cost for registration is $60 except for members of the South Alabama Coalition of Nonprofits. To join the Coalition, visit this link.

To register, please follow this link.

Registration ends on June 20th .

1

Specialty car tag unveiled for Alabama during Lineman Appreciation Day

(Thank a Lineman vehicle tag/State of Alabama)

The Energy Institute of Alabama is proud today and every day of the men and women who work on the front lines ensuring that Alabamians have reliable electricity. Whether engaged in routine installation and maintenance or restoring electrical service in the wake of a storm, linemen leave their homes and families and work until every customer has power.

“We’re excited to celebrate the hard work of the men and women who serve to keep our lights on, keep our homes cooled in the summer and heated in the winter, and who work tirelessly to restore our power after natural disasters and storms,” said Seth Hammett, EIA chairman. “Lineman Appreciation Day is just one day out of the year that we pause to say thank you for your service to our state and its people.”

EIA officials today announced the creation of a vehicle tag honoring this group of unsung heroes. The Thank a Lineman tag was officially unveiled to the public at the Lineman Appreciation Day celebration at the Alabama Power Company Gunter Park Crew Headquarters.

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“I am delighted to announce the creation of the Thank a Linemantag, which recognizes a group of people who work through good weather and bad to ensure that we have the electricity needed to enjoy our everyday activities,” Hammett said.

“Our hopes are that proceeds from the sale of the tag will benefit 501(c)(3) charities that support linemen, utility workers and their families,” said Blake Hardwich, EIA executive director.

Those wanting to purchase the specialty tag may do so by visiting the Alabama Department of Revenue Website at https://precommit.mvtrip.alabama.gov.

In honor of the utility professionals that go above and beyond, EIA representatives presented the organization’s first Outstanding Service Award to not one, but three exceptional individuals.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma last September, Baldwin EMC’s Kevin Dorman and Louis Ruffin were working 16-hour shifts near Gainesville, Fla., helping Clay Electric Cooperative restore power to its members. Baldwin EMC Vice President Jody Taylor learned that a resident of the affected area, 74-year-old Carol Grozier, had been without power for three days. More importantly, she had been without power for her medically prescribed oxygen concentrator. Taylor located Dorman and Ruffin’s Baldwin EMC truck nearby and the two linemen installed a life-saving generator to power the oxygen concentrator until electrical service could be restored a few days later. The actions of Taylor, Dorman, and Ruffin likely prevented a medical emergency for Grozier.

Baldwin County EMC’s Louis Ruffin, Kevin Dorman and Jody Taylor receive the Outstanding Service Award from EIA Chairman Seth Hammett (Energy Institute of Alabama)

For their willingness to provide emergency assistance and commitment to their profession, the Energy Institute of Alabama awarded its Outstanding Service Award to Kevin Dorman, Louis Ruffin and Jody Taylor of the Baldwin EMC.

“As we recognize the heroic acts of these three selfless individuals, it is important to honor all linemen for their contributions and bravery,” said Hammett.

6 months ago

University of Alabama wins fourth straight championship — in robotics

(University of Alabama)

Make it four in a row.

University of Alabama students who competed in a NASA robotics contest came away with the top prize again, making it four straight years for the team from UA to win.

Alabama Astrobotics took the top prize at the NASA Robotic Mining Competition, besting student teams from more than 50 other institutions in the challenge to build a robot capable of navigating and excavating simulated Martian soil, or regolith.

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Made up of about 65 students from across eight disciplines including engineering and computer science, Alabama Astrobotics is the only team to win more than once in the nine-year history of the NASA contest, placing first in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and, now, 2018.

“Our team is just like a football team, you have seniors who graduate at the end and you have new people coming in at the beginning, so every year it’s a completely different team,” said team lead and electrical engineering student Max Eastepp. “For us to be successful this year says a lot for this team and says a lot for how we adapt to new challenges each year.”

Eastepp, a native of New Orleans, said teamwork is critical as students worked from July through the contest this month to design the robot and tackle the new problem NASA presented this year.

Contest organizers revised the rules and rubrics this year to reflect the discovery that water ice is prevalent throughout the Red Planet. The challenge is to mine the precious icy regolith, simulated with gravel in the contest, since water ice will provide oxygen, water and fuel for future off-world colonists.

What that meant for the contest, though, is no points were awarded to teams for digging the top foot of regolith. Teams earned points for collecting the gravel 12 inches below the surface.

UA’s robot mined more of the gravel than any other team in the contest, with many teams failing to mine any gravel.

Also, Alabama Astrobotics was the only team with a robot that competed entirely autonomously, meaning the robot used computer programming to guide itself, mine and deposit the soil and gravel without any directions from students during the contest.

The team placed first in five of nine categories: mining, autonomy, systems engineering paper, efficient use of communications power and outreach reports. In all, the students won $11,000 for use on next year’s robot.

Dr. Kenneth Ricks, team adviser and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, said the team’s consistent success comes from a culture of sticking to a plan – meeting deadlines, testing thoroughly before competition and paying attention to detail.

“We know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done,” he said. “If our students buy into that process, they know they will have opportunities to be successful.”

The team received funding from the Alabama Space Grant Consortium, NASA, DyneticsFitz-Thors EngineeringCrank N Chrome and the university.

(Courtesy of University of Alabama)

6 months ago

Auburn University named Alabama’s first Bee Campus USA

(Pixabay)

Bee Campus USA recently announced Auburn University as the first university in Alabama to be certified as an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators.

The university joins a group of 39 campuses nationwide aiming to raise awareness of pollinators, food production, native plant species and integrated pest management, all while stimulating the nation’s economy through species protection and the services that those efforts support.

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“Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of 90 percent of the world’s wild plant and tree species,” said Phyllis Stiles, Bee Campus USA director. “Auburn University is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and the broader community. Their talented faculty, staff and students offer an invaluable resource for Alabama residents in seeking ways to manage ornamental landscapes in more wildlife-friendly ways.”

These efforts enable Auburn’s faculty and staff to bridge the academic and operational divide to create new opportunities in research, instruction and extension related to pollinators and environmental health.

The Auburn Bee Campus USA Committee began as an informal working group in early 2017 focused on unifying the multifaceted, pollinator-related efforts already underway on campus. The committee now serves as a network of representatives from the academic, extension and operational areas of the university.

“It really was a team effort and a testament to the forward, sustainable thinking of many folks on campus,” said Geoffrey Williams, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and member of the Auburn Bee Campus USA Committee.

To receive the Bee Campus USA designation, Auburn must uphold seven commitments focused on protecting pollinators and their habitats, along with promoting awareness of the roles they play and how others can join efforts to support them.

The student organization Auburn for Bees is transforming campus awareness as the members educate students about the importance of bees and work directly with the Auburn University Laboratory of Insect Pollination and Apiculture, also known as Williams’ “Auburn Bee Lab.”

“This designation is an excellent step toward the protection and education of bees, and I’m proud to see Auburn follow in the steps of other big schools participating in Bee Campus USA,” said Kressie Kornis, president and founder of Auburn for Bees. “Spreading awareness is the easiest step a person can take if they would like to contribute to this cause.”

Auburn for Bees established Beeducation, a new program in which students travel to local elementary schools and talk to children in the Auburn community about bees.

“Seeing how passionate children are about the bees through Beeducation makes me wish older generations like mine had that positive and inquisitive attitude toward bees,” said Kornis. “I know I was never taught about bees in school, and I think this is how that begins.”

Other members of the Auburn Bee Campus USA Committee include representatives from the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; the Department of Geosciences; the Department of Horticulture; Tiger Dining; Facilities Management; Campus Planning and Space Management; and the Office of Sustainability.

More information is available online.

(Courtesy of Auburn University

6 months ago

UA Study — State crash data shows seat belt use critical in saving lives

(State Farm/Flickr)

Those involved in auto crashes while not wearing seat belts are 40 times more likely to die than those who buckle up, according to an analysis of state crash records from the past five years.

For the study, University of Alabama researchers at the Center for Advanced Public Safety examined crash records from 2013 through 2017 provided by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, or ALEA.

Crash records showed about one out of every 25 unrestrained motorists involved in a crash will suffer a fatal injury, but only about one out of every 1,000 restrained motorists involved in a crash will have a fatal injury. This means that people are 40 times more likely to be killed without restraints.

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One reason for this is those ejected from vehicles during crashes have 50 times the death rate as those who remain in the vehicles, and the probability of being thrown from vehicles increases about 337 times for those not restrained.

“There is no doubt that seat belts are the most effective way of reducing the chances of getting killed in a crash,” said Dr. David Brown, a research associate at CAPS who led the study. “The chances of avoiding a crash altogether that involves injury over your driving lifetime is very low, so these are not just hypothetical or extreme examples. They are real life-and-death probabilities.”

Along with an increased chance of dying in a crash if unrestrained, there is an increased chance of serious injury. About one in seven unrestrained motorists involved in a crash will sustain a serious injury, while only about one in 50 properly restrained motorists will have a serious injury.

The chances of serious injury for those unrestrained increase by more than a factor of seven. For those who buckle up, nine out of 10 are not injured during a crash.

Some of the other interesting factors include driver and passenger demographics and other correlations:

–Those between the ages 17 and 36 are unrestrained significantly more than average.
–Males are about twice as likely to be unrestrained as females.
–If all back-seat occupants were properly restrained, it would result in an estimated saving of 62 lives per year in Alabama.
–Unrestrained drivers are about 2.5 times more likely to have their crashes in the rural areas than in the cities.

Brown said there are many things drivers should do to prevent severe traffic crashes in addition to the use of seatbelts. They include, in the order of ability to prevent fatal crashes:

–Slowing down, as the probability of fatality doubles for every 10 mph increase.
–Pulling over to a safe stopping point until distractions, such as cell phones, are resolved.
–Never driving or riding with anyone who has had any alcohol or who has taken any mind-altering drugs, even if prescribed.
–Anticipating and avoiding bad weather, especially when coupled with darkness.
–Watching for deer if traveling just after dark and slowing down.
–Driving defensively to reduce risk by putting distance between others vehicles, staying out of the blind spots of large trucks and letting aggressive drivers pass.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama)

6 months ago

Birmingham Legion FC announces Post Consumer Brands as first corporate sponsor

(Legion)

Birmingham Legion FC today announced Minnesota-based Post Consumer Brands – producers of such cereals such as Honey Bunches of Oats, Pebbles and Malt O Meal Bag Cereal – as the club’s first corporate sponsor for its inaugural 2019 season.

“Legion FC is proud to partner with such a community-oriented company as Post Consumer Brands,” said President and GM, Jay Heaps. “We believe this partnership will allow us to continue to build a strong bond in our community.”

“Post Consumer Brands is excited to partner with Legion FC via a co-op opportunity with local Piggly Wiggly franchise owners,” said David Kearney, senior account manager for Post Consumer Brands. “Partnering with Legion FC is a meaningful way for us to connect with soccer fans of all ages and backgrounds. We are looking forward to working with Legion FC going forward and supporting a top-level soccer team in Birmingham that we really feel the community is going to embrace and get behind.”

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As part of the partnership, Legion FC and Post Consumer Brands will host a free soccer clinic for children, with information forthcoming. Specifics surrounding additional corporate sponsorships – including the club’s title sponsor – will be released as details are finalized.

Legion FC will play their first season in 2019 at the soon to be renovated stadium at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Season ticket deposits for the inaugural season can be made by visiting bhmlegion.com. Fans are encouraged to follow Legion FC via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by using the handle @bhmlegion.

About Post Consumer Brands

Post Consumer Brands is a subsidiary of Post Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POST), formed from the consolidation of Post Foods and MOM Brands in May 2015. Headquartered in Lakeville, Minn., Post Consumer Brands today is the third largest cereal company in the United States, with the broadest portfolio in the industry — from iconic household name brands and value ready-to-eat cereals to natural/organic and hot cereal varieties. As a company committed to high standards of quality and to our values, we are driven by one idea: To make better happen every day. For more information about our brands, visit this link

6 months ago

Alabama REALTORS® announces endorsements for 2018 primary elections

(YHN)

The Alabama REALTORS® Political Action Committee (ARPAC), the political arm of the Alabama Association of REALTORS®, has made its endorsement of candidates for the primary elections to be held on June 5, 2018. The list includes candidates for Constitutional, Statewide, Legislative, Judicial, Public Service Commission and State Board of Education offices. The candidates endorsed exhibit a commitment to home ownership, private property rights, economic growth and development.

“We are proud to endorse each one of these candidates,” said Kim Hallmark, ARPAC Trustees Chair. “They recognize the vital role REALTORS® play in promoting our state and helping grow thriving, safe and sustainable communities.”

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“These candidates understand what Alabama needs to continue to grow, to create jobs and opportunities and reach its full potential,” said Jeremy Walker, Alabama REALTORS® Chief Executive Officer. “This pro-business, pro-growth focus will help advance the real estate market, and in turn, provide opportunities for our members to help more Alabamians experience home ownership and everything our great state has to offer.”

The Alabama Association of REALTORS® (AAR) is the largest statewide organization of real estate professionals comprised of over 15,000 members from 26 boards and 1,200 real estate companies. United by adherence to a Code of Ethics, our members work as real estate professionals in the sale, lease, appraisal, management and development of residential, commercial, rural and resort properties throughout Alabama.

For the Constitutional and Statewide races, ARPAC endorses:

▪    Governor: Kay Ivey

▪    Lieutenant Governor: Twinkle Cavanaugh

▪    State Treasurer: John McMillan

▪    Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 1: Jeremy Oden

▪    Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 2: Chip Beeker

For the Alabama Senate, ARPAC endorses:

▪    District 1: Tim Melson, R-Florence

▪    District 2: Tom Butler, R-Madison

▪    District 3: Arthur Orr, R-Decatur

▪    District 4: Paul Bussman, R-Cullman

▪    District 5: Greg Reed, R-Jasper

▪    District 6: Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia

▪    District 7: Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville

▪    District 8: Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro

▪    District 9: Clay Scofield, R-Arab

▪    District 11: Jim McClendon, R-Springville

▪    District 12: Del Marsh, R-Anniston

▪    District 13: Randy Price, R-Opelika

▪    District 14: Cam Ward, R-Alabaster

▪    District 15: Dan Roberts, R-Birmingham

▪    District 16: Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills

▪    District 17: Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville

▪    District 18: Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham

▪    District 19: Priscilla Dunn, D-Bessemer

▪    District 20: Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham

▪    District 21: Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa

▪    District 22: Greg Albritton, R-Bay-Minette

▪    District 24: Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro

▪    District 26: John Knight, D-Montgomery

▪    District 27: Tom Whatley, R-Auburn

▪    District 28: Billy Beasley, D-Clayton

▪    District 29: Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva

▪    District 30: Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville

▪    District 31: Jimmy Holley, R- Elba

▪    District 32: Chris Elliot, R-Daphne

▪    District 33: Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile

▪    District 34: Jack Williams, R-Wilmer

▪    District 35: David Sessions, R-Mobile

For the Alabama House of Representatives, ARPAC endorses:

▪    District 1: Phillip Pettus, R-Killen

▪    District 2: Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville

▪    District 4: Parker Moore, R-Decatur

▪    District 5: Danny Crawford, R-Athens

▪    District 7: Proncey Robertson, R-Decatur

▪    District 8: Terri Collins, R- Decatur

▪    District 9: Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle

▪    District 10: Mike Ball, R-Madison

▪    District 11: Randall Shedd, R-Cullman

▪    District 12: Corey Harbison, R-Cullman

▪    District 13: Connie Rowe, R-Jasper

▪    District 14: Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley

▪    District 15: Allen Farley. R-McCalla

▪    District 16: Kyle South, R-Fayette

▪    District 18: Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville

▪    District 19: Laura Hall, D-Huntsville

▪    District 20: Howard Sanderford, R-Huntsville

▪    District 21: Rex Reynolds, R-Huntsville

▪    District 22: Ritchie Whorton, R-Owens Cross Roads

▪    District 23: Tommy Hanes, R-Bryant

▪    District 24: Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville

▪    District 25: Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville

▪    District 26: Kerry Rich: R-Guntersville

▪    District 27: Wes Kitchens, R-Arab

▪    District 29: Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden

▪    District 31: Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka

▪    District 32: Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston

▪    District 33: Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga

▪    District 34: David Standridge, R-Hayden

▪    District 35: Steve Hurst, R-Munford

▪    District 36: Randy Wood, R-Anniston

▪    District 37: Bob Fincher, R-Woodland

▪    District 38: Debbie Wood, R-Valley

▪    District 39: TJ Maloney, R-Heflin

▪    District 40: K.L. Brown, R- Jacksonville

▪    District 41: Corley Ellis, R-Columbiana

▪    District 42: Jimmy Martin, R-Clanton

▪    District 43: Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham

▪    District 44: Danny Garrett, R-Trussville

▪    District 45: Dickie Drake, R-Leeds

▪    District 46: David Faulkner, R-Birmingham

▪    District 47: David Wheeler, R- Vestavia

▪    District 48: Jim Carns, R-Birmingham

▪    District 49: April Weaver, R-Alabaster

▪    District 50: Jim Hill, R-Moody

▪    District 51: Allen Treadaway, R – Morris

▪    District 52: John Rogers, D-Birmingham

▪    District 53: Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville

▪    District 55: Rod Scott, D-Fairfield

▪    District 56: Louise Alexander, D-Bessemer

▪    District 57: Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham

▪    District 58: Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham

▪    District 59: Mary Moore, D-Birmingham

▪    District 60: Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham

▪    District 62: Rich Wingo, R- Tuscaloosa

▪    District 63: Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa

▪    District 64: Harry Shiver, R-Bay Minette

▪    District 65: Elaine Beech, D-Chatom

▪    District 66: Alan Baker, R-Brewton

▪    District 67: Prince Chestnut, D-Selma

▪    District 68: Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville

▪    District 69: Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville

▪    District 70: Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa

▪    District 71: A.J. McCampbell, D-Livingston

▪    District 72: Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro

▪    District 73: Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo

▪    District 74: Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery

▪    District 75: Reed Ingram, R-Montgomery

▪    District 76: Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery

▪    District 79: Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn

▪    District 80: Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix City

▪    District 82: Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee

▪    District 84: Berry Forte, D – Eufaula

▪    District 85: Dexter Grimsley, D-Newville

▪    District 86: Paul Lee, R-Dothan

▪    District 87: Jeff Sorrells, R-Hartford

▪    District 88: Al Booth, R-Prattville

▪    District 90: Chris Sells, R-Greenville

▪    District 92: Mike Jones, R-Andalusia

▪    District 93: Steve Clouse: R-Ozark

▪    District 94: Joe Faust, R-Fairhope

▪    District 95: Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette

▪    District 96: Matt Simpson, R-Mobile

▪    District 97: Adline Clarke, D-Mobile

▪    District 98: Napolean Bracy, D-Mobile

▪    District 100: Victor Gaston, R-Mobile

▪    District 101: Chris Pringle, R-Mobile

▪    District 102: Willie Gray, R-Citronelle

▪    District 103: Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile

▪    District 104: Margie Wilcox, R-Mobile

▪    District 105: Chip Brown, R-Mobile

For the Alabama Supreme Court, ARPAC endorses:

▪    Supreme Court Chief Justice: Lyn Stuart

▪    Place 2 Associate Supreme Court Justice: Tommy Bryan

▪    Place 3 Associate Supreme Court Justice: Will Sellers

▪    Place 4 Associate Supreme Court Justice: Jay Mitchell

For the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals, ARPAC endorses:

▪    Place 1 Court of Civil Appeals Judge: Michelle Manly Thomason

▪    Place 2 Court of Civil Appeals Judge: Terri Thomas

▪    Place 3 Court of Civil Appeals Judge: Terry Moore

For the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals, ARPAC endorses:

▪    Place 1 Court of Criminal Appeals Judge: Richard Minor

▪    Place 2 Court of Criminal Appeals Judge: Chris McCool

▪    Place 3 Court of Criminal Appeals Judge: Bill Cole

For the State Board of Education, ARPAC endorses:

•   Place 2: Tracie West

•   Place 6: Cynthia McCarty

7 months ago

Huge Birmingham workout event to provide clean water around the world — Saturday!

(Neverthirst/Facebook)

Hundreds of people are expected to gather at Avondale Park in Birmingham on Saturday, May 5th to workout for a great cause.

Birmingham based Neverthirst and Iron Tribe Fitness will partner to host the 9th annual Workout for Water, their largest fundraising campaign of the year. This year’s goal is to raise $450,000 to serve 18,000 people with clean water projects in Chad, Uganda, India, Nepal, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Workout for Water events will take place at Iron Tribe Fitness in seven states.

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The campaign culminates with a group workout.  In Birmingham, the event will take place Saturday, May 5th at 9 a.m. in Avondale Park.  All are invited, but it’s not necessary to participate in the workout to make a difference.  Anyone can give.  Generous partners of Neverthirst have provided matching funds up to $225,000 through the day of the event.  Every dollar raised will be matched.  Mark Whitehead, the director of Neverthirst says their work would not be possible without the generous support of people in Birmingham.

Neverthirst was founded in 2008 in Birmingham and has provided access to clean water to more than 513,000 people in seven countries.  More than 663 million people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water.It’s estimated more than 800 children under the age of five die every day from lack of access to clean water according to UNICEF.

Neverthirst was selected as a 4 Star Charity (the highest rating) by Charity Navigator. For more information or to support the work Neverthirst is doing go to neverthirstwater.org. To learn more about Workout for Water go to workoutforwater.com.

(Neverthirst news release)

7 months ago

OWA welcomes Trattoria Pizza and Italian

(Trattoria/Facebook)

Trattoria Pizza and Italian will soon be opening its newest location at OWA, Coastal Alabama’s award-winning resort destination. Trattoria Pizza & Italian has quickly become a regional favorite being recently voted both best pizza and best kept restaurant secret in South Alabama. Trattoria is scheduled to open early Summer 2018.

“Having an Italian offering at OWA has always been a key component in our planned culinary journey,” said Greg Rawls, Director of Business Development for Creek Indian Enterprises/OWA. “There will be nothing better than sitting down after exploring a day at OWA’s entertainment amenities than with a great glass of wine and authentically inspired Italian dishes. The Petersons and Trattoria have the same passion for Italian food that we have for creating an authentic, memorable experience at OWA.”

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Greg and Jill Peterson have brought a slice of Little Italy in New York City to Coastal Alabama. From traditional, delicious Italian dishes, to hand-tossed, stone-fired pizza, Trattoria Pizza & Italian will soon be a favorite at OWA as well.

“OWA is the newest and most exciting entertainment destination in South, we are thrilled and humbled to become part of this great project,” said Greg Peterson, co-owner and operator. The key to success has been the Peterson’s eye for detail. All of Trattoria’s sauces, dressings and soups are made fresh from scratch.

“The experience we have created is very special,” said Jill Peterson. “We will take it a big step forward at OWA. Our bakery will produce fresh, hand tossed pizza dough and homemade, fresh baked bread for our delicious sandwiches as well as our signature Garlic Ballz. The sights, sounds and smells will be as inviting as everything on our menu.”

7 months ago

Milo’s Tea Company to host job fair Saturday, April 28

(Milo's Tea/Instagram)

Milo’s Tea Company announced today that they will be adding 30 positions – including a third shift – to their team in the coming weeks. This announcement follows the opening of their newly expanded 15.5 acre headquarters in Bessemer, Ala. last fall. The Milo’s Tea campus now encompasses more than 150,000 square feet of production, shipping, storage and office space.

Applications are available here. A job fair will also be held on Sat., April 28th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Milo’s headquarters located at 3112 Dublin Lane in Bessemer. All interested in learning more about the job openings are encouraged to attend.

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Full time Milo’s employees receive competitive compensation as well as a comprehensive benefits package including company paid family health and life insurance, paid time off, a 401(K) match program and performance incentive reward programs. As part of their Best Place to Work initiative, Milo’s updated production facility features upgraded locker rooms and break rooms, as well as a large covered patio.

Milo’s fresh brews and bottles more than 250 gallons of all-natural beverages per minute at their Bessemer facility. Milo’s beverages are then shipped to over 13,000 retailers in 46 states, selling two units of Milo’s every second. Milo’s continues to grow rapidly as people across the country seek out their award-winning beverages made with high-quality, fresh ingredients and no preservatives or added acids.

“Milo’s continued growth is a testimony to our investment in our people and our community, as well the support of our loyal fans,” said Patricia Wallwork, CEO of Milo’s Tea Company. “Due to our rapid growth, the addition of a third production shift is a must and we are excited to host a job fair to find talented, motivated people to add to our fantastic team.”

Milo’s culture of continuous investment and improvement ensures an operation that can produce and distribute the freshest beverages to its passionate fans across the country. While Milo’s is investing in production and distribution, the company is also focused on ensuring consistent product quality, world-class work environments for its employees and being a leader in sustainability.

7 months ago

New organization to promote Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

(Alabama Delta Alliance)

A new group known as the Alabama Delta Alliance has come together to promote the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta (MTRD) and its many natural resources. The Delta Alliance Alliance will support the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, which is America’s second largest delta and the most bio-diverse body of water in the world.

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This alliance is comprised of a diverse group of individuals, organizations and businesses that want to promote and enhance this ecological wonderland.

“The Alabama Delta Alliance is a group that shares a deep appreciation for the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta and the many benefits it offers the people of this state,” said Britton Bonner, chairman of the board of the Coastal Alabama Partnership. “Our goal is to build a robust, diverse coalition and effort focused solely on promoting the MTRD region — now and in the future.”

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson called the initiative “an idea whose time has come,” adding, “The delta is a hugely untapped resource for eco-tourism.”

For generations and well over a century, Alabamians and others have enjoyed the way of life and serenity of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. The MTRD is home to more than 600 species of fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. With habitats that include huge swaths of swamps, marshes and wetlands, it is a veritable maze of tributary creeks, rivers, streams and bayous.

“Our newly created effort will serve as a resource to further educate the public on the biological and ecological diversity of the MTRD, the expansive flora and fauna, as well as the many recreational opportunities available to all regardless of interest or income level,” said state Rep. Randy Davis, whose legislative district abuts the delta. “A major goal of our effort will be to catalog the many access points, boat ramps, trails, local businesses and other important destinations the public will want to have at their fingertips when planning a trip in the MTRD.”

The Alabama Delta Alliance is encouraging people to learn more about the delta in hopes they will be inspired to visit the region. With the goal of promoting ecotourism in the area, the Alliance has created a new website as a tool for both visitors and residents alike, at www.alabamadelta.com. The website offers visitors a history of the delta, places to visit and information about alliance and steering committee members who are committed to the effort.

“Our website will be representative of the diverse people and organizations that are working with us,” said steering committee member Russell Ladd. “The interactive map will serve as a great resource that we can promote through social media and other digital channels, encouraging more visitation and driving ecotourism in the region.”

This steering committee is comprised of long-time delta supporters. Additionally, the organization has the support of more than 40 members from across the state.

Steering committee members believe that state and local management practices are adequately protecting and expanding access to the MTRD region. Federal designations and oversight often come with limitations on access and management of those properties, and it’s important to maintain the quality of life and outdoor recreational heritage by continuing to allow the state to manage this important natural resource.

“Our goal is to protect the many natural resources and the vast biological diversity that the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta enjoys,” Ladd added. “By getting involved in our effort, people are ensuring that we can continue to provide these important lands all throughout the region for future generations to enjoy.”

Alabama First Class Pre-K named nation’s highest quality pre-kindergarten program for 12th consecutive year

(ASRA)

Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary First Class Pre-K program was today named the highest quality state-funded pre-kindergarten program in America. This is the 12th year in a row the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds has received this distinction.

The title was bestowed upon Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program by the National Institute for Early Education Research in its 2017 State of Preschool Yearbook. The State of Preschool Yearbook is an annual report measuring the quality of state-funded early childhood education programs across the country. In this year’s report, NIEER’s 15th edition, Alabama was one of only three states, along with Michigan and Rhode Island, to meet or exceed all ten of the benchmarks NIEER measures to determine program quality.

In its report, NIEER also featured Alabama as one of six states to watch. NIEER profiled the state’s sustained commitment and incremental approach to giving more families an opportunity to voluntarily enroll their four-year-olds without lowering the pre-k program’s quality standards.

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Advocates from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance welcomed today’s announcement.

“NIEER’s endorsement of the state’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program is another sign that the investments state leaders have made in early childhood education will have a strong return,” said Allison Muhlendorf, the executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. “However, being number one in the nation for quality should be only half of the state’s goal. State leaders should also strive to also be number one in access for four-year-olds.”

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is managed by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The 2017 State of Preschool Yearbook looks at pre-kindergarten programs operating during the 2016-2017 school year. That year, approximately 14,688 four-year-olds were enrolled in a First Class Pre-K classroom. State leaders have since grown the program to nearly 17,000 four-year-olds. Governor Ivey recently signed into law an additional $18.5 million expansion for next year that, combined with year four of Alabama’s four-year federal Preschool Development Grant, will further increase the size of the program.

In addition to NIEER’s findings, a recent study of Alabama third graders found that students who voluntarily participated in the state’s high-quality First Class Pre-K program are more likely to be proficient in reading and math than their peers. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Among the findings, researchers observed that First Class Pre-K

— Narrowed the gap in reading proficiency by 28 percent for all children in poverty; 32 percent for White children in poverty; 31 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; and, 26 percent for Black children in poverty.

— Narrowed the gap in math proficiency by 57 percent for all children in poverty; 71 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; and, 37 percent for Black children in poverty.

— Increased reading proficiency for children in poverty by 12 percent overall; 25 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; 23 percent for Black children in poverty; and, 3 percent for White children in poverty.

— Increased math proficiency for children in poverty by 13 percent overall; 17 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; 16 percent for Black children in poverty; and, 10 percent for White children in poverty

A complete breakdown of the research on Alabama First Class Pre-K outcomes can be found here: http://www.alabamaschoolreadiness.org/alabama-pre-k-results/.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance advocates for the expansion of high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten. ASRA works to ensure that pre-k is a continuing priority for Alabama’s children, parents, community leaders, legislators and governing officials. ASRA is a collaborative effort of A+ Education Partnership, Alabama Giving, Alabama Partnership and VOICES for Alabama’s Children. Visit www.alabamaschoolreadiness.org to learn more.

8 months ago

Does this mean no more colonoscopies? HudsonAlpha scientists find colon polyp markers

(Hudson Alpha)

Huntsville, Ala – HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology researchers announce the discovery of a measurable indicator in blood plasma that could identify patients who have colon polyps. The finding is an important first step in developing a blood test to screen for colon polyps that could become cancerous or even for colon cancer. The study was published online last week in Clinical Cancer Research, a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“A blood test that fulfills the role currently played by colonoscopies would have major positive impacts,” said Brian Roberts, a senior scientist in the Myers Lab at HudsonAlpha and the lead author for the published study. “A lot of people joke about how they’d love to avoid the discomfort of colonoscopies,” he said, “but there’s a serious issue with people not actually getting screened.”

According to the American Cancer Society, of the adults age 50 and older for whom physicians recommend a colonoscopy screening, only about 65 percent comply.

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For the project, Roberts and a group of scientists from four labs across HudsonAlpha studied small RNA – short strands of ribonucleic acid – in blood plasma collected from patients at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine. The sample collection was part of a strong collaboration with Robert Kimberly, MD, and Meredith Fitz-Gerald at the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at UAB; and C. Mel Wilcox, MD, director of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division in the Department of Medicine at UAB.

RNA is present in all cells, and while its best-known role is to act as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA for making proteins, the RNA types found in this study have diverse and complex functions. The team focused on “cell-free” RNA, found outside of cells in the liquid portion of blood, called plasma. Differences in the amount of certain cell-free RNA molecules identified patients with colorectal adenomas from those without. Colorectal adenomas are the type of colon polyp that can turn into cancer.

The patients in the study were a diverse group, representing nearly equal numbers of men and women mostly over 50 years old, with some younger patients as well. In addition, about 30 percent of the patients were African American, which means the RNA measurement method described in the paper works nearly equally well for men and women of both African and European descent, across a range of ages.

In the short term, these findings won’t affect patient care, according to Richard Myers, PhD. The study was conducted in the Myers Lab at HudosnAlpha, where Myers is president and science director as well as a faculty investigator.

“There’s a lot more work to do before patients might see a test like this at the clinic, but we’re optimistic that with more research and after clinical trials, eventually, we will see blood-based screening for colon polyps and colon cancer itself offered routinely to patients,” Myers said.

Moving forward, the group is considering other physical markers that could be measured in blood, such as cell-free DNA, proteins or immune system measurements, that could add to the RNA signature found in their study. They are also looking to repeat the study in a larger patient population.

In addition to Roberts and Myers, HudsonAlpha researchers who worked on the study include Andrew Hardigan, Dianna Moore, Ryne Ramaker, Angela Jones, and Greg Cooper, PhD.

Research in this publication is funded by the State of Alabama, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science NIH grant at UAB, and a generous donation from an anonymous private donor.

Roberts and Myers explain the significance of their research in the following video

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. Opened in 2008, HudsonAlpha’s vision is to leverage the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in genomic sciences to improve the human condition around the globe. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit hudsonalpha.org.

8 months ago

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café announces new CEO

(Contributed)

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café has named Dan Simpson as its new CEO. Simpson previously served as the restaurant’s Chief Innovation Officer from May 2016 through February 2018.

During this time, Simpson was instrumental in the growth of the restaurant brand visiting Taziki’s locations in all 16 states where the chain has a presence, gathering both customer and employee feedback. Taziki’s recently opened its 83rd restaurant in West Chester, Ohio earlier this month.

Simpson is working closely with Founder Keith Richards as the restaurant plans include having 100 locations open by 2019. The two have worked closely with Taziki’s board and staff to form a clarified purpose, mission and brand values to guide the next 20 years.

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“Keith’s vision for his restaurant is an inspiration to so many, he has created an environment that combines extraordinary food with meaningful human experience,” said Simpson. “He has led the charge to offer fresh, healthy, diverse, and affordable food options to the tables of ten of thousands of people for the past 20 years.”

Richards is managing the flagship market in Birmingham, Alabama and will continue to lead Taziki’s culinary R+D and the HOPE program, Taziki’s signature charity.

The HOPE Program began after Richards decided to get more involved with special needs education. His restaurants have always employed those with special needs, but he realized they needed more opportunities.

The fresh, locally grown herbs – parsley, oregano, cilantro, basil, and rosemary – are grown by students at various HOPE programs across the U.S. and used to flavor the local restaurant’s Mediterranean-style foods. The overall goal of the HOPE Program is to teach students with special needs all aspects of the herb business using skills that will transfer to other jobs.

Virginia just began its own HOPE Program last week and is the ninth of its kind, with others in Little Rock, AR, Nashville, TN, Morgantown, WV, Atlanta, Ga., as well as Birmingham, Huntsville and Dothan, AL.

Richards will be traveling to Greece with his wife Amy and two sets of twins this summer to develop new menu items for the restaurant.

“Dan is working closely with me to carry out my vision for the next 20 years of Taziki’s,” said Richards. “His passion for working to create the new ‘Mediterranean-Coastal’ design for our restaurants has been an integral part of this process.”

The new design elements that Simpson launched for Taziki’s restaurants include community tables established to create a welcoming environment for conversation within the exposed stone and painted white shiplap adorned walls. Shades of bright white and deep ocean blue can be found in the restaurant’s interior accent pieces.

Hanging wicker lanterns provide a warm yet fresh ambiance, highlighting Taziki’s delicious menu teeming with original chef-driven recipes prepared daily from more than 100 fresh produce items as well as more than 60 herbs and spices flavoring the food. All meals are prepared from raw ingredients much like you would use in your own home. Taziki’s does not use fryers or microwaves while preparing meals for customers.

Natural lighting streams from windows and exposed wooden beams in the ceiling provide the experience of dining outdoors. In the back of the restaurant, a community board lists local non-profit events with information about how to participate, furthering the at-home, communal feel.

As a Taziki’s franchisee and managing partner at Fresh Hospitality from January 2015 until May 2016, Simpson learned what customers wanted and observed an over 60% increase in the amount of online and to-go orders in the past five years.

Prior to joining the Taziki’s family, Simpson was also the founder and CEO of ToGo Technologies from May 2012 until January 2015.

“Expanding Taziki’s technology capabilities for our customers including our app offerings, accessibility to ordering online as well as a new website is a big focus for our team,” said Simpson. “We are working to anticipate consumer trends and seeking innovations that enhance guest experiences.”

Later this year, Simpson will be launching TazRewards, Taziki’s rewards loyalty program, that works both in-line and on-line through Taziki’s app, as a way to say thank you to the restaurant’s growing community of loyal guests.

Simpson was also the Chief Development Officer of Dispensary of Hope, Nashville, TN from May 2008 until May 2012. Similar to Taziki’s Founder Keith Richards, Dan’s heart seeks to tie Taziki’s back to local communities and bring people together over delicious food.

Dan earned his BS from Clearwater Christian College followed by his MBA from West Virginia University.

Born in urban Philadelphia, raised in rural Maine, Dan and his wife, Kim now live in Nashville, TN with their 3 kids. Dan serves on the boards of the Shalom Foundation/Moore Pediatric Surgery Center and Dovehouse Ministries and is a member of TedXNashville Society of Fellows.

8 months ago

BioAlabama highlights strength of bioscience industry to Alabama leadership

(BioAlabama)

Members of BioAlabama, Alabama’s statewide organization that connects the bioscience ecosystem, met with members of the Alabama Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor Kay Ivey’s staff recently to discuss the importance of the state’s life sciences industry. During the meetings, representatives from BioAlabama touted the economic, human health and agricultural significance of biosciences across Alabama.

“Alabama is home to a thriving bioscience sector,” said Peggy Sammon, chair of BioAlabama. “BioAlabama enjoys a close relationship with the state’s leaders as we work together to grow this industry, bringing more quality jobs to Alabama. Our meetings were an opportunity for us to report to the administration and legislature about the significant impact this industry has on all areas of the state.”

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Alabama is home to more than 800 bioscience establishments that span all sub-sectors of the biotech industry. Areas represented within Alabama biosciences include agriculture, pharmaceuticals, drug discovery, drug development, health IT, genetics, genomics, medical devices, diagnostics, research testing and medical labs.

“BioAlabama’s role is to support, promote, and convene a collaborative bioscience ecosystem throughout Alabama. We have a tremendous presence in Alabama including R&D capacity at our institutions, international companies, and a growing number of startups in the state,” said Blair King, chair-elect of BioAlabama. “We want to support an ecosystem that sees these existing assets thrive in Alabama, as well as position Alabama as a place where companies will consider new investments, locations and partnerships.”

Participants in BioAlabama’s annual legislative day included: Peggy Sammon, Chair of BioAlabama and CEO of GeneCapture in Huntsville; Blair King, Chair-elect of BioAlabama and Manager, Economic Development and Existing Industry with Alabama Power in Birmingham; Carter Wells, past Chair of BioAlabama, Vice President for Economic Development with HudsonAlpha and CEO of iCubate in Huntsville; Watson Donald, Senior Director of External Affairs at Southern Research in Birmingham; and Happy Fulford, Executive Director of Governmental Relations for the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

8 months ago

Thanks to tax cut, Great Southern Wood enhances employee health, vacation, and education benefits package

Great Southern Wood has begun an active and ongoing process to increase employee benefits by reinvesting its tax savings in its people, the company has announced. The company expects full implementation to take place in 2018.

In late 2017, Congress passed and the president signed into law legislation providing significant tax breaks for corporations. Across America, many companies have chosen a variety of options for applying these savings, such as providing one-time bonuses to employees, increasing charitable giving and reinvesting in facilities upgrades.

For its part, Great Southern Wood will make investments on an ongoing basis to lower healthcare costs for eligible employees, allow employees to accrue more paid time off based on length of service, develop scholarships for dependents of employees and enhance other benefits going forward.

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The new scholarship program allows students attending four-year universities, community colleges, technical schools or trade schools to apply for funding, and eligible students could receive awards for one year with option to re-apply for future years.

“I’m very pleased that every employee across the company will see the results of the change in tax laws,” said Jimmy Rane, Great Southern Wood’s founder, president and CEO. “The success we’ve enjoyed as a company comes from every one of us working hard and doing our part, and I can’t think of a better way to apply our tax savings than by further investing in benefits programs for our employees. We strive to be an employer that draws the best and brightest to our company, and we believe that providing stronger benefits is essential to this continuing effort.”

Great Southern employs almost 1,200 at locations in eleven states.

National Archery in the Schools Program holds state championship in Montgomery on April 6

(Outdoor Alabama)

The largest youth archery competition in Alabama — the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Alabama State Championship — will be held Friday, April 6, at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl located at 220 Hall St., Montgomery. Archers will begin shooting at 9 a.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m.

This year’s event will feature more than 1,200 young archers in Grades 4-12 from schools across the state who earned a berth at the state championship after competing in one of nine regional qualifying tournaments. These students will compete for the title of state champion and the opportunity to advance to the NASP Eastern National Championship on May 10-12, 2018, in Louisville, Ky.

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The NASP is a joint venture between the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) and the Alabama Department of Education. NASP instills discipline and concentration. Participants also learn a life skill as part of a school’s physical education course or after-school program. Scoring is based on Olympic-style, target archery in three divisions – elementary, middle and high school. Competition is on team and individual levels.

The state championship would not be possible without the generous sponsorships of the Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Morrell Manufacturing, the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Alabama Wildlife Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

For more information about the NASP in Alabama, contact WFF Hunter Education Coordinator Marisa Futral at 334-242-3620 or Marisa.Futral@dcnr.alabama.gov. Learn more about the state championship here.

Mark Richenderfer joins Birmingham Business Alliance as vice president of investor relations

(Birmingham Business Alliance)

Mark Richenderfer, an executive with over 20 years of business experience, has joined the Birmingham Business Alliance’s (BBA) investor relations team as Vice President of Investor Relations. Richenderfer will be responsible for recruiting new investors to the BBA by messaging how the BBA positively impacts regional development, business growth and quality of life in the region.

“Mark comes to the BBA with a wealth of knowledge and experience established over the past 20 years across various industries,” said Craig Hill, Chief Financial Officer for the BBA. “I look forward to him continuing to strengthen the relationships we have with our current investors and establishing new relationships with potential investors.”

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Richenderfer comes to the BBA from Ironline Advisors (formerly Transworld Business Advisors), where he has served as Healthcare Practice Lead since 2015. In that role, Richenderfer consulted and advised companies through the mergers and acquisitions process, including due diligence, for both sell-side and buy-side transactions.

Richenderfer has also owned contracting and consulting company OE Execution LLC since 2012. OE Execution designs and implements the strategies, processes and analytics needed to enable companies to determine the feasibility and risk assessment of expansion into new markets and countries. He has previous experience consulting for companies including Hewlett-Packard and CHEP, and industries including manufacturing, printing, pharmaceuticals, and food, beverage and household goods.

Richenderfer graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and Drexel University with a Master of Business Administration degree. He also has a Master Certificate in Six Sigma from Villanova.

“Mark is the right person to help communicate our message to our investors,” said BBA President and CEO Brian Hilson. “Because of his background and proven expertise, I am confident Mark will be a strong contributor to the work we do at the BBA to grow jobs and capital investment in the region.”

The Birmingham Business Alliance is the lead economic development organization for the Birmingham region. For more information about the BBA visit its website here.

Alabama State Legislature approves $18.5 million pre-k expansion

(Pixabay)

The Alabama Legislature last week inched a step closer to providing high-quality pre-k to every family in the state that wants to voluntarily enroll their four-year-old.

The legislature gave final approval to the HB 175, the FY 2019 Education Trust Fund Budget. The bill appropriates a total of $96 million to the state’s pre-kindergarten program; $18.5 million more than the program’s current funding level.

Once signed into law, the $18.5 million expansion, along with funding from the final year of the state’s four-year federal Preschool Development Grant, would enable the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, which manages the First Class Pre-K program, to add at least 100 new classrooms. This would allow at least 1,800 additional four-year-olds to enroll in the state’s high-quality, voluntary First Class Pre-K program in the 2018-2019 school year.

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Advocates from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and its Pre-K Task Force, a coalition of more than 40 prominent leaders from the business, education, civic, medical, legal, philanthropic, military and child advocacy communities, estimate that it would take an annual appropriation of $144 million to provide high-quality, voluntary pre-k to every family in the state that wanted to enroll their child. Today’s legislative action means that Alabama is on track to forseeably reach this goal within the next few years.

“Research released last month reaffirms that students who participate in Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary First Class Pre-K program outperform their peers in reading and math; however, too few four-year-olds are able to participate because of a lack of funding for the program,” said Mike Luce and Bob Powers, the co-chairs of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s Pre-K Task Force. “The state legislature today voted to give more families an opportunity to enroll their children in First Class Pre-K. We applaud their commitment to expanding Alabama’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program and we encourage state leaders to continue to make pre-k investments a priority until the program is fully funded.”

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is managed by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. For 11 years in a row, it has been ranked the number one state-funded pre-kindergarten program in the country for quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

There are currently 941 Alabama First Class Pre-K classrooms located in various public and private schools, child care centers, faith-based centers, Head Start programs, and other community-based preschool settings. However, that is only enough classrooms to enroll 28 percent of four-year-olds across the state.

A recent study of Alabama third graders found that students who voluntarily participated in the state’s high-quality First Class Pre-K program are more likely to be proficient in reading and math than their peers. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Among the findings, researchers observed that First Class Pre-K:

— Narrowed the gap reading proficiency by 28 percent for all children in poverty; 32 percent for White children in poverty; 31 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; and, 26 percent for Black children in poverty.
— Narrowed the gap in math proficiency by 57 percent for all children in poverty; 71 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; and, 37 percent for Black children in poverty.
— Increased reading proficiency for children in poverty by 12 percent overall; 25 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; 23 percent for Black children in poverty; and, 3 percent for White children in poverty.
— Increased math proficiency for children in poverty by 13 percent overall; 17 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; 16 percent for Black children in poverty; and, 10 percent for White children in poverty.

A complete breakdown of the research on Alabama First Class Pre-K outcomes can be found here.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance advocates for the expansion of high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten. ASRA works to ensure that pre-k is a continuing priority for Alabama’s children, parents, community leaders, legislators and governing officials. ASRA is a collaborative effort of A+ Education Partnership, Alabama Giving, Alabama Partnership and VOICES for Alabama’s Children. Visit here to learn more.

Alabama GOP chairman applauds the Alabama Republican Caucus’ accomplishments during the legislative session

(Alabama Republican Party/FB)

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan made the following statement regarding the Alabama Republican Caucus’ positive progress during the 2018 legislative session:

“We are proud that our Alabama Republican legislators worked so well together this session to pass legislation that will greatly benefit our state. We are thankful for Governor Ivey’s leadership in partnering with our legislature to make sure our state reaches its maximum potential. From historic middle-class tax cuts to teacher pay raises, our Republican legislators have worked hard to improve the quality of life for countless Alabamians.”

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This year Alabama Republicans led the way to pass the following pieces of legislation:

— The first tax cut for middle-class Alabamians since 2008
— The largest state education budget since 2006
— A 2.5% pay raise for teachers
— The first state employee pay raise in a decade
— The Parks for Patriots Act which welcomes Alabama veterans to state parks for no charge
— The Alabama Rural Broadband Act which expands broadband services in rural Alabama
— The Alabama Data Breach Notification Act which requires private companies and state agencies to report data breaches to consumers
— The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, (announced by Governor Ivey in her State of the State address) to be built in Huntsville, AL
— The 2019 Alabama State Budget which: ‘increases funds for prisons and state troopers, and protects taxpayers by avoiding any new taxes’

“These legislative acts are an example of the many reasons we must keep a Republican majority in the state house and senate. Alabama voters will remember lower taxes, technology advances, better education and fiscally conservative budgets when they head to the polls this November. We look forward to watching our GOP team continue to serve our citizens as they strive to make our state a better place to live and call home. As we close this chapter of 2018 and journey toward a busy election season, we will keep our vision clear and move ahead with a determination to be a party of purpose and strength.”

Alabama House Republican Caucus enacts all items in its 2018 ‘Flag, Family, and Country’ legislative agenda

(AL House Republican Caucus/FB)

Montgomery – House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) on Thursday announced that members of the body’s Republican Caucus successfully enacted all of the items in its “Flag, Family, and Country” legislative agenda during the 2018 regular session.

“House Republicans have once again kept our promises and followed up our words with actions,” Ledbetter said. “The new laws in our Republican agenda will provide new jobs and opportunities to the military veterans who protected our nation, shield children from the traumas of domestic violence, and begin to address Alabama’s on-going opioid crisis. All of those are worthy accomplishments that should make Alabamians proud.”

Among the enacted items included in the agenda are:

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Childhood Trauma Prevention Bills

In order to protect against extreme trauma that can be experienced by children and family members who witness first-hand acts of domestic violence against a parent or guardian, two new laws will increase the penalties for domestic violence in the presence of a child.

The first law allows for the death penalty or life in prison without parole for murder of a parent or guardian in the presence of a child.

The second dramatically increases the penalties for acts of domestic violence committed against a parent or guardian in the presence of a child.

The Veterans Employment Act

This law dramatically expands the “Heroes for Hire Act” previously passed by House Republicans and provides incentives to businesses that hire honorably discharged veterans who are currently unemployed. Veterans covered by this incentive program will be hired for full-time jobs and earn at least $14 per hour. Because the program is modeled after the “pay as you go” method of awarding economic incentives, it will have no negative fiscal impact on the budgets.

Parks for Patriots Act of 2018

This law provides free, year-round admission to all Alabama state parks for all active military personnel and veterans, including members of the National Guard and Reserves.

Resolution urging respect to be shown for the U.S. Flag

This House Republican Caucus resolution urges all Americans to show proper honor and respect to the U.S. Flag during the playing of the National Anthem, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and other displays of patriotic pride.

Resolution supporting construction of a U.S. – Mexican border wall

This House Republican Caucus resolution urges Congress to fund and expedite the construction of a secure wall across the border between the United States and Mexico, which continues to be a cornerstone priority of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Fentanyl trafficking bill proposed by the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council

The on-going opioid epidemic is proving to be among the most serious public health and law enforcement crises in recent years, so Republicans in the Legislature approved a new law that increases penalties for the unlawful distribution of fentanyl and sets minimum mandatory sentences based on the weight.

Prioritizing of rural development proposals and initiatives

Recognizing the need to bring infrastructure and development to rural Alabama, Republican legislators created a $10 million grant program designed to expand high-speed broadband Internet service in rural portions of the state.

The three previous House Republican Caucus legislative agendas that were proposed and passed through the body this quadrennium were:

The 2015 “Alabama First” legislative agenda was designed to combat the liberal mandates that were being handed down by the Obama administration and sought to put our state firmly on the road toward being first in education and first in economic development. It included bills that reduced government regulations, promoted religious liberties, provided school choice opportunities, and provided employment incentives for businesses in rural Alabama.

The “Right for Alabama” legislative agenda in 2016 placed a continuing focus on improving education, creating jobs, reforming government, and protecting unborn life. It included the “Alabama WIRED Act,” which ensures the poorest schools in Alabama have the same broadband access as the most well-funded schools, implementation of zero-based budgeting reforms, a “Right To Work” constitutional amendment that voters ratified by an overwhelming margin, and a generous but affordable pay raise for public school teachers.

The “Alabama Proud” legislative agenda, which was unveiled in 2017, sought to highlight, improve, and protect the aspects that make our state a special place to live, work, and raise our children. It included increased funding for Alabama’s nationally-recognized “First Class” Pre-K kindergarten program, implementation of an electronic notification system for active shooter situations and other school emergencies, protections for long-standing markers and statues that preserve our history, and passage of a constitutional amendment declaring Alabama a pro-life state.