The Wire

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


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

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


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

33 mins ago

Bradley Byrne slams Democrats’ allegation of ‘bribery’ against President Trump

Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday where he slammed Democrats’ latest allegation of “bribery” against President Donald Trump.

“Unfortunately, I must rise again because – like so many times before – the goalposts for impeaching President Trump have moved,” Byrne stated. “At this rate, Nancy Pelosi must be any field goal kicker’s worst nightmare.”

“Since day one – literally day one – it has been abundantly clear that the far-left members of the so-called ‘Squad’ have been moving this Democratic majority closer to impeaching the President,” Byrne continued. “They don’t care why or how. They don’t care what evidence, real or imagined, is used. They only care about the end result – impeaching President Trump so he will not win reelection.”

He added, “As this radical faction gains dominance in the Democrat party, Speaker Pelosi has tried every justification in the book to impeach this president.”


Byrne then recalled the Democrats’ previous, failed attempts at destroying the Trump administration.

“We were told for years we’d get to impeachment from the Mueller report,” Byrne said. “They said, just wait, wait till the report! It’s going to show Russian Collusion! Well, two years and millions of dollars down the drain, Mueller showed no collusion. The Democrat narrative quickly turned towards ‘obstruction of justice,’ but that too fell flat.”

“But then, Mr. Speaker, the majority got a new gift – the whistleblower,” he continued. “Never mind he had no firsthand knowledge of what he blew the whistle on, never mind he’s a partisan Democrat, never mind he worked with Adam Schiff on his new allegations against President Trump.”

The rest of Byrne’s remarks are as follows:

It was campaign finance violations! Well, that didn’t work. So, then it was quid pro quo! For weeks, that’s all the majority has talked about. Not anymore. Apparently, Mr. Speaker, some highly-paid political consultants warned Speaker Pelosi that quid pro quo did not resonate with the American people. So now, it seems they’ve moved on to another version of impeachment that tested best in their focus groups – the nefarious-sounding ‘bribery.’ It’s bribery! That’s what we will impeach President Trump on!

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think my friends on the other side need to dust off their law books because, unfortunately for their latest impeachment fantasy, bribery isn’t just some word. It’s a real crime with a real definition. And it’s one that this majority cannot prove.

You see, bribery occurs when an individual ‘corruptly’ links receiving something of value in exchange for an official government action.

I say to the majority, show me how asking Ukraine to look into the 2016 election and into the sketchy dealings of Hunter Biden is acting corruptly! Because I’ll tell you what, I’ll show you evidence that Ukrainian officials were working to boost Secretary Clinton, and I’ll show you evidence that the Obama Administration was itself concerned about Hunter Biden’s deals. I think most Americans will say maybe the President of the United States should be looking into those things. I think they will say we want the President looking into possible corruption in our government and interference in our elections.

More importantly, I say to the majority, show me how President Trump linked aid to these investigations! Mr. Speaker, President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky, you know, the one that the whistleblower blew the whistle on, is on the internet! Everyone can read it. And I hope they will. Because nowhere in that call did President Trump ever link any aid to Ukraine in exchange for anything. The President did not one time, not one time, even mention any kind of hold on the aid. Not once!

This is not bribery. This is not impeachable conduct. Yet here we are, trying to remove the President of the United States, the leader of this country, the man chosen by the voters, over these newest allegations. Mr. Speaker, the American people see past this charade. They know this is a partisan political scheme. And at this point, I think most people who are paying attention – those who haven’t tuned out – know this is just the latest effort by Democrats to throw something at the wall and see if it sticks. President Trump has committed no ‘bribery, treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors’ – the only offenses that the Constitution says warrant impeachment.

I ask the majority – when do we stop and get back to the business of the American people? I yield back.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

2 hours ago

Alabama AG Steve Marshall leads national coalition defending Second Amendment to SCOTUS

(Marshall Campaign)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall continues to be a staunch defender of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In his latest stalwart act of advocacy for citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, Marshall on Monday filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Alabama and 20 other states.

The brief calls on the Supreme Court to hear (in Malpasso v. Pallozzi) a challenge to a Maryland law that sharply limits the right of typical, law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun outside of the home.


In a statement, Marshall commented, “The overwhelming majority of states recognize that the Second Amendment allows law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms outside their homes for self-defense.”

“However, a handful of states have decided that citizens’ rights to possess a handgun outside their residence should apply only to when they meet certain limited criteria,” he outlined. “In this case, a Maryland citizen was denied the fundamental right to self-defense because he failed to convince a bureaucrat that he faced some special danger to his safety.”

Marshall continued, “But the right to bear arms is not reserved for just a select few citizens. And there is no question that the Second Amendment right to ‘bear arms’ extends beyond the home. As Justice Clarence Thomas memorably put it: ‘I find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.’”

The States of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia joined on to Alabama’s amicus brief.

“A few states have passed laws similar to Maryland’s that severely limit Second Amendment rights, and those laws are rightfully being challenged in federal court as unconstitutional,” Marshall concluded. “Alabama and 20 other states call on the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of Malpasso v. Pallozzi and decide whether laws that deny law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms infringe on Second Amendment rights.”

Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour and Deputy Solicitor General Barrett Bowdre signed onto Marshall’s amicus brief. LaCour is listed as the counsel of record.

RELATED: Steve Marshall takes issue with multi-state lawsuit to keep 3D-printed gun plans off the internet

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

2 hours ago

Technology services veteran appointed to lead State of Alabama’s IT operations

(Governor's Office/Contributed)

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced that Marty Redden will serve as the permanent Alabama Office of Information Technology (OIT) secretary effective immediately. Redden has been serving as the acting secretary since July.

In a statement, Ivey said, “Since Marty stepped in to OIT as the acting secretary, he has run the agency effectively and with great prudence, and the state will certainly benefit from his leadership in this position. I am confident Marty will continue refining the agency, to make it run successfully and be accountable to the people of Alabama.”

“His decades of experience in the technology field is already paying off for OIT and our other state agencies, which is why I am proud that he will continue serving in this capacity,” she advised.


Redden has three decades of experience in the IT field, include 20 years in management.

He began his career in banking and finance technology. In 2007, he transitioned to a career in state service. Redden has since held high-level management positions in the Alabama Department of Corrections, the Alabama Medicaid Agency and the state Finance Department. While working with each of these agencies, Redden originated, led and implemented technology advancements and improvements, per a release from the governor’s office.

Redden remarked, “As secretary of OIT, my overriding mission is to provide Alabama’s state government with the best technology services at the smallest cost to the taxpayers we serve. Every service that the state provides to its citizens involve some form of technology, so if we do our job well, countless Alabamians will get the help they need more quickly, efficiently and effectively.”

“I appreciate the confidence Governor Ivey has placed in me and will work every day to prove it justified,” he concluded.

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

6 hours ago

Tuberville on Chick-fil-A: ‘Isn’t it horrible when liberal activists ruin something good?’

(Tommy Tuberville/Facebook, Wikicommons, YHN)

In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, lamented Chick-fil-A’s decision to stop giving money to Christian charities that have come under fire from LGBT advocates.

The two leading charities no longer receiving funds from the Chick-fil-A Foundation are the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).


“We made multi-year commitments to both organizations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Reuters broke the story on Monday.

The FCA’s statement of faith says, “We believe God’s design for sexual intimacy is to be expressed only within the context of marriage. God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Mark 10:6-9; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9)”

“The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is not only a good organization, but it positively impacts our state in many ways,” Tuberville wrote on Facebook. “The FCA’s primary mission is to grow faith in young athletes. What a shame it is that our Christianity is under attack. ”

The FCA has not publicly commented on Chick-fil-A’s decision.

The Salvation Army, famous for its bell-ringing holiday volunteers, has long come under fire from LGBT activists. The organization has a history of supporting the biblical definition of marriage, and at one point, more than five years ago, it had links to gay conversion therapy on its website.

In recent years, the Salvation Army has publicly promoted their acceptance of LGBT Americans. The group issued a statement to Reuters, saying, “We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.”

With his comments, Tuberville joins other figures on the right expressing disappointment with Chick-fil-A’s decision. Both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee voiced their displeasure on with Chick-fil-A’s decision on Twitter.

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

7 hours ago

Boeing donates over $500k to Alabama STEM education in 2019

(Pixabay, YHN)

In a Monday press release, Boeing confirmed that the company is making a $100,000 contribution to make Learning Blade available to every Alabama student in the fifth through ninth grades. Learning Blade challenges students to take on game-based projects that expose them to different aspects of science, technology, engineering and math education – commonly referred to as STEM.

With this contribution, Boeing — through its 2019 global engagement grants — has awarded $525,000 to Alabama communities in support of educational STEM programs for students and workforce development programs for transitioning military, veterans and their families.

The latest venture also exemplifies the importance of public-private partnerships in modern workforce development, as Boeing is partnering with the Alabama Department of Commerce and Governor Kay Ivey’s office to make Learning Blade available.


This is one of four Boeing community grants that was initially announced October 17 in Huntsville. At that time, the company outlined its joint initiative with the Alabama Department of Commerce to offer Learning Blade, a validated STEM career awareness system, to WIOA youth serving organizations and schools throughout the state. Besides the company’s crucial contribution, the project is funded in part with federal monies made available to the Alabama Department of Commerce by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Trainings Administration.

In a statement, Ivey professed her support for Learning Blade — which continues her historic focus on workforce development, including the Success Plus initiative to add 500,000 more skilled workers to the state by 2025.

“Providing access to college and career exploration is key to developing career pathways for all Alabamians,” the governor remarked. “It is difficult to know what you want to be when you grow up if you have never been exposed to the various options that are out there.”

“Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult for Alabamians in many rural areas, and even some of our largest cities, to strive towards the career pathway the best suits their interest and aptitudes because they do not know what is available to them,” she continued. “That’s why I am so proud of the public – private partnership between the State of Alabama and Boeing to provide access to high-quality career exploration through the Learning Blade platform. Through Learning Blade, students of a variety of ages, interests, and aptitudes will be able to explore career clusters and high demand career pathways. This exposure will help individuals persist in academic coursework and workforce training programs.”

The public-private partnership will result in Learning Blade being offered at no charge to students in all Alabama schools with grades five through nine. Learning Blade’s proven tool kit exposes students to the high demand STEM and computer science careers in an entertaining manner in an effort to increase student interest in these fields.

Educators can unlock more than 200 hours of interactive, online activities and teacher lesson plans that engage students in human-centered problems that illustrate more than 100 careers and technologies in industries such as IT, Cybersecurity, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioengineering, Energy, Robotics, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and more.

“Boeing has been in Alabama for more than a half a century, with its engineers and researchers playing key roles in developing the innovative aerospace technologies of tomorrow,” stated Tina Watts, community investor for Boeing global engagement. “It is essential to expose students in the state to the critical skills that will make them successful in STEM — unlocking their futures to opportunities through emerging technologies.”

Additionally, schools can work toward winning a 3D printer if students complete 5,000 online lessons in a single school year. Learning Blade’s 3D-printer sponsor, FlashForgeUSA, is providing a free 3D printer (Adventure 3) to such successful schools.

“We are grateful that so many leaders including the Governor’s office, Department of Commerce and others who came together with The Boeing Company to provide resources that will inspire students to envision their future,” concluded Sheila Boyington, president and CEO of Learning Blade. “It is really exciting to be a part of the process to enhance career awareness in the state, and to provide tools to teachers who will show students the many opportunities in STEM and computer science fields.”

Yellowhammer State schools and organizations serving the fifth-ninth grades can sign up for the program here.

RELATED: ‘Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success’ presented to Gov. Ivey

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

8 hours ago

Montgomery Chamber appoints retired Air Force general as senior vice president

(Alabama Chamber of Commerce/Contributed, YHN)

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has named Brigadier Gen. Trent H. Edwards (USAF, Ret.) as senior vice president of military and community development.

The announcement was made Monday in a press release. Edwards will focus on the viability and growth of Montgomery’s military missions while leading new community-wide initiatives that fuel the regional economy and stimulate quality of life for all.

In a statement, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Anna Buckalew said, “Trent is an incredibly skilled and experienced leader, and we are so fortunate to have recruited him and his family back to Montgomery.”


In addition to building on the River Region’s extensive military footprint, Edwards will work to build new strategies to fuel economic and entrepreneurial growth around Montgomery’s thriving Air Force innovation hubs.

“We want Montgomery to be recognized as a destination where military families want to locate, where public/private partnerships fuel innovation and where small businesses and start-ups find fertile ground. Trent Edwards is the perfect leader to capitalize on these opportunities,” Buckalew advised.

The general comes to the Montgomery Chamber with a distinguished military career, most recently as the Air Force director of budget operations and personnel, responsible for an $80 billion budget.

Prior to that assignment, he was the comptroller and programmer for Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO. He has commanded two Air Force wings including the largest training wing in the Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base and the 42nd Air Base Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base from 2012-2014. He also has extensive intergovernmental experience, previously serving as the Air Force chief of congressional affairs. His extensive leadership experience and familiarity with the River Region community makes him uniquely qualified for his new role at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, the release emphasized.

“I have spent 30 years serving my country and am proud to return to Montgomery and serve the community we adopted as home,” Edwards commented. “One of my primary goals will be changing the perception of Montgomery and spreading the word that Montgomery really is the best hometown in the Air Force.”

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

9 hours ago

Bradley Byrne: Donald Trump ‘absolutely does not want’ Jeff Sessions to be U.S. Senator

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Jeff Sessions’ entry into the U.S. Senate race last week has shown something Alabamians have not seen in decades: blunt criticisms, sometimes hostile, aimed at Sessions, who before serving in the Trump administration served Alabama for two decades in the U.S. Senate.

Prior to getting in the contest for U.S. Senate, Sessions was also a target of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly indicated his disappointment and frustration with Sessions’ service as U.S. Attorney General.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) discussed his former Alabama congressional delegation colleague and his decision to run against him in the March 3, 2020 GOP primary. According to Byrne, he has not seen any wavering of support.


“We’re not noticing any difference. Obviously, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked to a large number of people. I, in particular, have talked to a large number of people. You know, I’ve got former Vice President Cheney and his daughter Liz, who is in the House, coming to a fundraiser for me in Birmingham this Thursday. So, I’ve been on the phone with quite a few people about that. We’re just not hearing any difference.”

Earlier this month, Byrne was in attendance with Trump at the Alabama-LSU game in Tuscaloosa. Byrne claimed Trump did not want Sessions to be the victor in next year’s contest.

“The president was pretty clear that he’s still pretty angry with Jeff,” Byrne said. “He absolutely does not want him to be U.S. Senator from Alabama. But you know, he recognizes Jeff has a right to run. Jeff is running. I just don’t think it is going to go anywhere. A lot of the American people are either angry with him, or they’re bewildered why he is running in the first place. And these ads that he is running aren’t helping him any. I can tell you that.”

Later in the interview, when asked about his personal reaction to Sessions’ eleventh-hour decision to run, Byrne acknowledged he was surprised. Byrne also said he and Sessions had been talking over the past year and that Sessions had even encouraged him to run.

The Baldwin County Republican added he saw this as a characteristic of Sessions.

“I just got to say this, Jeff vacillates like that,” Byrne added. “That’s kind of his M.O. He has a hard time making up his mind about things. And then he’ll make a decision like that — that kind of surprises you at the last minute. It doesn’t distress me, but a lot of my supporters are pretty darn angry with him, and a lot of my supporters used to be his supporters. So, I think that makes it more difficult for him.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 day ago

TruSpin Nanomaterials, GLOW latest winners in Alabama Launchpad startup competition

(Alabama Launchpad/Contributed, YHN)

Two Alabama companies have been awarded a total of $150,000 in the latest Alabama Launchpad startup competition round.

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) last week hosted its fourth Alabama Launchpad finale of the year in Troy. The public event was held at the Emporium in partnership with Troy University.

In this round, seven finalists competed for non-dilutive funding in one of two tracks – a concept stage for entrepreneurs launching businesses and a seed stage for entrepreneurs accelerating growth.


In the concept stage, Bluewater Hemp, Community Owned Grocery Stores, TruSpin Nanomaterials and Yente competed for $50,000, with TruSpin taking home the money.

TruSpin, a company based out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), aims to make affordable nanomaterials with a new technology, as its fibers are usable across many different industries. The company’s founders are Anthony Brayer and Robert Agnew.

In the seed stage, Chonex, GLOW and Watts.AI competed for $100,000.

GLOW, a beauty-on-demand company with professionals offering makeup, hair and spraytan services, won this prize. The company’s clients can book on the GLOW app and get service in the comfort of their own home or wherever is convenient. The CEO and founder is Yazmin Cavale.

In a statement, EDPA president Steve Spencer said, “Alabama Launchpad was honored to conclude 2019 with a great finale on the campus of Troy University and the City of Troy. 2019 was the most competitive year yet for the number and quality of applicants as we’ve seen Alabama’s entrepreneurial spirit front and center. We are proud to be a statewide part of growing Alabama’s startup economy.”

Since its inception in 2006, Alabama Launchpad has invested over $5.3 million in 90 companies that have created more than 500 jobs and raised over $70 million in follow-on capital and revenue. Alabama Launchpad is the most active early-stage investor in Alabama, according to PitchBook, which tracks the public and private equity markets.

In this round, four judges heard from Alabama Launchpad companies during a lengthy application process, offering feedback and raising questions throughout the process. Before the public finale, all companies pitched to the judges in a closed-door event at Troy University, during which every company could answer questions posed by the panel.

Alabama Launchpad is a public-private partnership made possible through support from the business community, the state’s research universities, the Alabama Research Alliance, the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Now in its 29th year, the non-profit EDPA represents the private sector’s contribution to economic development in Alabama. EDPA is supported by more than 60 partners from across the state and works to attract, retain and grow jobs, while also encouraging innovation through its Alabama Launchpad program.

Read more about the EDPA and its important efforts here.

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

1 day ago

UAB shatters another record for research funding — ‘Powerful economic engine’

(Wikicommons, UAB, YHN)

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has now experienced its second consecutive year of double-digit percentage growth in research grant and award funding, setting yet another historic best in the university’s 50-year history.

Merely one year after surpassing $500 million in research funding for the first time, UAB on Monday announced that its faculty, staff and administration already shattered the $600 million milestone.

UAB was officially awarded $602,024,372 in research funding for the 12-month period spanning October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, according to the university’s office of sponsored programs.

That figure represents an incredible increase of $75 million in funding year-over-year — a 14.2% jump. This comes after the institution secured $527,025,137 in research grants and awards over the same time period last year, which was then a 10% increase from 2017.

The university has now averaged 10% growth in its research funding awards in each of the past three years and a staggering 34% overall increase since 2014-15, showing that UAB is truly making its mark as a world class research institution and a major economic driver for the Birmingham metropolitan area and the entire state of Alabama.


“This impressive upward curve, particularly during the past five years, is really a reflection of the quality of our people here at UAB,” stated Christopher Brown, Ph.D., UAB’s vice president for research.

“Our faculty continue to work smarter and harder to write winning proposals. It’s also a tremendously positive reflection on our administrative staff,” he continued. “The work they do to efficiently process these proposals is such a crucial element. We continue to aim high and exceed our goals, and it is a testament to the UAB research community’s great ideas, hard work and will to succeed.”

Funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense and clinical trials were major areas of growth over the last year.

In a statement, UAB president Ray L. Watts commented, “This record amount in awards is the continuation of the most successful five-year epoch of research funding in UAB history.”

“Last year, we had a record $527 million in awards, and we immediately set the bar even higher,” he said. “Through strong collaboration and partnership — around campus, throughout our community and state, and with our Board — we continue setting and exceeding ambitious goals in research and all pillars of our mission. I could not be prouder of the work of our faculty, staff and students in advancing a research enterprise that is among the most competitive in the nation and around the globe.”

The UAB School of Medicine, which checked in among an elite national group of eight academic medical centers to see a five-year increase of more than $100 million in NIH research funding this past spring, specifically increased its overall grant funding from $303.75 million to almost $368 million — a leap of $64 million or 21.1%. The School of Medicine has increased its award funding by almost $110 million over the past five years.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., Ph.D., dean of UAB’s School of Medicine, outlined why this is so important.

“The top schools in research are also among the top facilities in health care, and research and the funding that supports it are the structural basis of any academic research institution,” Vickers stated.  “These funds also enable UAB to be a powerful economic engine for the city and the state of Alabama. When each investigator gets a grant, it is like a $1 million startup company. It means the School of Medicine has 368 startup companies — and UAB as a whole has 602 — that would never be in Alabama if it weren’t for UAB and these funding agencies. It’s a constellation of companies providing jobs at a high level and attracting new talent.”

You can read more here.

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

1 day ago

Ivey praises Austal, meets veterans-only apprenticeship class

(Fox 10 News WALA/Twitter, YHN)

Austal USA, the shipbuilding company with a large facility in Mobile, has a veterans apprenticeship program dedicated to helping Americans who have served our nation find jobs once they return home.

U.S. Army veteran Chase Thornton left active service about two years ago and is now a member of the apprenticeship program. He told FOX10 in Mobile, “Not many people would think it would be a tough thing for a veteran to come out and actually get a job, but it’s pretty tough to find a job.”

Governor Kay Ivey visited Mobile last week and had nothing but praise for Austal and its program.

“I am so glad we have veterans in our group here today, and that Austal pays attention to our veterans,” Ivey said at the event as recorded in WKRG’s livestream.


Ivey also lauded Austal’s workforce as “game changers” and expressed gratitude for their strong work.

During her remarks, the governor outlined that “Alabama has some 400,000 veterans in our state. One out of 10 people have worn a military uniform, ” adding, “I am proud that we are a people dedicated to country, and service.”

“Your workforce has been a model for the state of Alabama,” Ivey told Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle in the speech.

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

1 day ago

Grants to help fund water wells in 10 Alabama counties

(Pixabay, YHN)

A national nonprofit group says grant money will help provide loans to increase the amount of safe drinking water that’s available in 10 Alabama counties.

The North Carolina-based Water Well Trust says it has received a $300,000 federal Agriculture Department grant that will fund new and improved wells for rural households.


Combined with matching funds from the Water Systems Council, the money will be available in Bullock, Barbour, Dallas, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Pike and Wilcox counties.

A statement from the group says the grant money will provide low-interest loans of as much as $11,000 per household.

The money is for homeowners who don’t have access to a public water system.

Prospective applicants can apply online or get an application form from Water Well Trust website.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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1 day ago

Bama team surgeon on ‘successful’ Tua Tagovailoa surgery: ‘Prognosis is excellent’

(Phil Mathis/Twitter)

University of Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Monday reportedly had a “successful” surgery on his right hip in Houston after being injured Saturday in the Crimson Tide’s game at Mississippi State.

Dr. Lyle Cain, Bama’s team orthopedic surgeon from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Clinic at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, released a statement Monday with the official update.

“Tua underwent successful surgery on his right hip Monday morning in Houston,” Cain advised.

“The procedure went as planned, and he is resting comfortably,” he continued. “Tua’s prognosis is excellent, and we expect him to make a full recovery. He will return to Tuscaloosa in the next several days to begin his rehab.”


Tagovailoa was initially airlifted to St. Vincent’s from Starkville, MS, after being injured near the end of the first half of Saturday’s SEC contest. He was then flown Sunday evening to Houston in anticipation of Monday’s surgery.

The record-breaking quarterback has seemed to be in good spirits while hospitalized, posting pictures of himself smiling as teammates visited him. Tagovailoa has also continued to display his deep faith through the process.

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

1 day ago

Colbert County joins online business filing ranks; Merrill calls on others to follow suit

Colbert County on Monday officially became the eighth county in the state of Alabama to allow online business filings for the formation of domestic limited liability companies and domestic for-profit business corporations.

Secretary of State John Merrill’s office made the announcement in a press release. Merrill’s office has worked in coordination with the office of Colbert County Probate Judge Daniel Rosser to provide this service to the people of the county.

In a statement, Merrill said, “Judge Daniel Rosser is one of the leaders of innovative solutions throughout the state, and I commend him for his hard work.”

“This service is offered at no cost to Alabama’s 67 counties as a courtesy of the Secretary of State’s Office. I encourage other counties across the state to begin offering this opportunity to residents. My office is eager and willing to create more opportunities for business owners in Alabama!” the secretary of state advised.


The online filing process is now available for citizens of Baldwin, Elmore, Jackson, Madison, Montgomery, Morgan and Tuscaloosa counties.

Prior to Merrill taking office, the business filing process could take up to seven months. Merrill quickly set out to make the process work for businesses and not “move at the speed of government,” as he likes to say.

His efforts have been successful, as his office in June celebrated three consecutive years of same day business filings. Additionally, with the option to file online, the wait time is shorter than ever in participating counties.

“I am proud of the results that have been consistently produced by our office. At the Office of the Secretary of State, we will continue to do all that we can to help families and businesses grow and be successful,” Merrill concluded.

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

1 day ago

Texas group resumes search for missing Aniah Blanchard

(Texas EquuSearch/Facebook, Blanchard Family/Contributed, YHN)

A Texas-based nonprofit that works to find missing people is resuming its search for the missing stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris.

Destinie Duvall with Texas EquuSearch told the Opelika-Auburn News that Aniah Blanchard is “tugging at our hearts, so it’s tough to sit still and wait.”

The horse-mounted search group headed home last week after Duvall said it used “every resource available” to find the 19-year-old Blanchard.


Duvall said then that the group would revive the search pending new leads.

But she now says searchers want to keep looking despite there being no new leads as of Saturday.

Blanchard was last seen on Oct. 23 at a gas station in Auburn, Alabama.

A man spotted there at about the same time, 29-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed, is charged in her disappearance.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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1 day ago

Ainsworth: Impeachment ‘a sham’ — ‘This is definitely just a witch-hunt’


If folks outside of the state want to know what most Alabamians think of the so-called impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, they need to look no further than their lieutenant governor.

Lieutenant Gov. Will Ainsworth was at Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium earlier this month to meet Trump when he attended the Alabama Crimson Tide-LSU Tigers college football game.

During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” this week, Ainsworth discussed his interactions with Trump and weighed in on impeachment, which he described as a “sham” and a “circus.”


“I think that’s just a sham,” he said to host Don Dailey. “It’s a circus. I think when you look at what’s going on, it’s really ridiculous. I don’t think there is anything there, and I think it is unfortunate that they’re trying to do that, you know, with an election coming up to try to make him look bad. If you look at the transcript, look at the testimony, there is nothing to it. I think it is unfortunate.”

“But you know, sometimes politics are dirty,” Ainsworth continued. “And unfortunately, that’s what some of the Democrats up there do. What they need to do is focus on what they can do to improve people’s lives. And quit playing politics. So we briefly talked on that. And you know, he’s confident that not only the American people but also the people up there are going to do what’s right. I believe that.”

Ainsworth suggested Democrat elected officials in Washington, D.C. reevaluate their priorities given they have failed in their efforts against Trump thus far.

“I think when you look at it, Democrats have just continued to come after him and come after him on all kinds of different issues,” Ainsworth added. “And every time they come up empty-handed. That’s the sad thing about politics that people just try to destroy other people. What we need to do in this country is how can we get people job-ready? How can we actually improve the economy? And we need to work on actual things that improve everyday life. That’s what people expect elected officials to do.”

“What’s going on in D.C. right now is people are just trying to destroy a good man,” he continued. “And they continue to do it, and they just come up empty-handed. The same thing will happen here. This is definitely just a witch-hunt.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

Jeff Sessions takes aim at Doug Jones in Huntsville early campaign stump speech

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

HUNTSVILLE — Saturday during the monthly meeting of the Madison County Republican Men’s Club, GOP voters got one of the first looks at former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the campaign trail.

Sessions, a latecomer to the Republican field, had made a number of Fox News Channel appearances in the very early stages of his campaign. It now appears the veteran Alabama politician is transitioning from his rollout to hitting the ground around the state with a March 3, 2020 primary looming.

Sessions’ Huntsville appearance was once again vintage Sessions, touching on the hallmark issues of immigration, trade and foreign policy. He did not mention any of his GOP primary opponents by name, two of which, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), were in attendance. However, he did go on offense against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook).


With roughly a few hundred in attendance, Sessions criticized the Democrat successor of the seat he held for two decades for not representing the “real interests” of Alabama.

“The other thing a United States Senator has to do is represent the real interests of the people of this state and defend them against people who have different agendas for them,” he said. “It cannot be that Doug Jones represents Alabama in the United States Senate. This is not thinkable. We have got to have a victory in this race. He is a total advocate for activist judges. It is not the kind of senator that we need to have.

Sessions also dinged Jones for not doing enough to prevent the Democratic Party’s push toward left-wing values concerning the courts, specifically referring to the 2018 confirmation of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the high court last year.

“The radical left and the Democratic Party is taking this country down the exact wrong path,” Sessions said. “Is Doug Jones doing anything to stand up for that? Not one I will tell you.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 days ago

Flight Works Alabama partners with university students to provide tours of Airbus final assembly

Emily Fogt was among nine University of South Alabama hospitality and tourism management students who led tours of the Airbus Final Assembly Line facility for a recent conference. (USA)

Nine University of South Alabama students got on-the-ground training for a career in hospitality and tourism management by acting as tour guides for Flight Works Alabama during a recent visit from participants at the Titanium International Conference held in Mobile.

More than 1,000 business people, including corporate owners and vendors, attended the conference where one of the highlights was a tour of the facility where Airbus builds the A320 family of aircraft.


“Our students just knocked it out of the park,” said Dr. Evelyn Green, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management, which prepares students for careers in a variety of businesses, including the hotel industry as well as nonprofits and government agencies that promote tourism and travel.

“Flight Works Alabama had asked for our tourism and hospitality students to show their visitors real Southern hospitality by acting as their tour guides. We had only one day to train these students how to be tour guides and to learn everything there is to learn about the basic assembling of an aircraft. That was a tall order we put on them, but they handled it extremely well,” Green added.

Green, director for USA’s Hospitality and Tourism Workforce Innovation Alliance, designed the customized training, and Robin Fenton, consultant for Flight Works Alabama, wrote scripts for the students. With the help of Barry Bukstein, a volunteer and seasoned tour guide, the Alliance trained the students for their assignments in one day.

Flight Works Alabama is an innovative facility under construction at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. When it opens in June 2020, it will be a gateway for public tours of the Airbus Final Assembly Line as well as offering educational opportunities for the public. Flight Works Alabama has partnered with nine universities, but USA is the only one that will offer hospitality training.

“Each student learned different aspects of the presentation, ranging from the history of Brookley Field, the history of Airbus coming to Mobile and then moving into how Airbus’ A320 planes come together on the assembly line,” Green said. “Each presentation lasted about four minutes, which means each student had to tell their portion of the story in four minutes. We put attendees in groups of 10 to 15 with three to four groups touring at the same time. A tour took about 40 minutes to complete.”

Fenton described the students as “amazing and exceeding all our expectations.”

“They did an excellent job of sharing the Airbus story. They took their scripts and put them into their own words. I received only positive comments from the conference attendees. Dr. Green’s team will continue working with us, and we hope to hire some of these students when Flight Works Alabama opens,” Fenton said.

Dr. Robert Thompson, chair of hospitality and tourism management, said “the students were taken a little out of their comfort zones initially, but it didn’t take long for those essential skills in hospitality to kick in, and they showed these visitors warm and welcoming Southern hospitality.”

Carson Riley Bentley, a junior from Muscle Shoals, came to South because of the reputation of its hospitality and tourism department.

“At first, I was really nervous, but after the first group went through, I realized I had been overthinking it,” Bentley said.

He began his presentation by welcoming the visitors to Airbus, introduced himself, then launched into how there are only four facilities like Airbus Mobile in the world, and the one they were visiting is the only one in the United States.

“Every 28 days, Airbus gets enough new parts to build four new airplanes, and I told them where some of the parts came from because this was an international group,” Bentley added. “It was definitely a learning experience, and I won’t forget it because I have more confidence now because of it.”

(Courtesy of the University of South Alabama)

2 days ago

UAB doctor advises how to keep flu germs from spreading at home


Flu season can take its toll on your health, but one way to fight the virus is to stop the spread of germs at home. University of Alabama at Birmingham Assistant Professor Neena Xavier, M.D., shares these tips to help you and your family strengthen your defenses this flu season.

What are some of the best ways to germ-proof your home?


You cannot really germ-proof your home, but you can clean and disinfect things to improve your chances of preventing the flu.

First, cleaning surfaces using soap and water and disinfectant sprays can decrease the number of germs and lower the chances of spreading them around.

Second, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces can kill germs and help lower the chances of getting sick. Avoid touching used tissues or other waste when emptying your trash, and wash your hands afterward to avoid getting those germs.

What are the biggest germ culprits in your home, and how should you disinfect them? 

Commonly touched surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, toys, phones and faucet handles are major culprits for carrying germs. Make sure the product you are using is EPA-registered to both clean (remove germs) and disinfect (kill germs). Read the directions on the product on how to use it because different chemicals have different procedures on how many wipes are needed or how long to keep the surface wet – usually three to five minutes.

How can a humidifier or air filter help keep your home flu-free? 

Dry air can cause scratchy throats, congestion and nosebleeds. While there are no scientific guidelines about the use of humidifiers to prevent flu, the germs may be able to survive in the drier air conditions. So the thought is that if you keep the humidity level up in a room, the virus is less likely to survive. Just be careful of warm mist humidifiers because, if not cleaned properly, they can grow bacteria and mold, which can cause serious illness.

How often should you wash sheets and towels during flu season? 

Most studies have shown that the flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. However, it is not necessary to wash surfaces every day. Using harsh chemicals to wipe every surface often can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin and aggravate asthma if you suffer from it, so you may cause more harm than good. In general, the important thing is to make sure you wash regularly and do not share towels or sheets with those who are sick without washing them first.

Remember, the virus is killed by hot temperatures, so if you do clean your sheets and towels, use the hot temperature setting instead of warm.

What are the best tips to protect yourself if someone in your house already has the flu?

If it is possible, choose a bathroom for the sick person to use and their own bedroom to sleep in. Plan to clean these rooms daily. Have some disposable face masks at the house for other members, especially those who have other medical conditions that make them more likely to get sick.

Xavier is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences and faculty member with the Physician Assistant Studies program in the UAB School of Health Professions.

For more information on prevention, symptoms and vaccines, visit
(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)



2 days ago

University of Alabama student veterans march to bring awareness to veteran suicides

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — While many University of Alabama students will drive or fly to their destinations for the Thanksgiving break, one group of student veterans will be marching to theirs — all the way from Tuscaloosa to Auburn.

Almost 80 students and support personnel from UA’s Campus Veterans Association and Auburn’s Student Veterans Association will take part in Operation Iron Ruck, Nov. 27 – Nov. 30.

A ruck march is a military term for a hike with a heavy backpack, explained Slade Salmon, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, who is a junior operations management major from Atlanta and president of UA’s Campus Veterans Association.

“Operation Iron Ruck is a 151-mile ruck march from Bryant-Denny Stadium to Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn,” Salmon said. “It’s going to take about three days. Last year, it took us 73 hours.”

“It was one of the most miserable three days of my life, and I couldn’t wait for it to come around again.”


The student veterans are marching to bring awareness to veteran suicides and to support Mission 22, a national veteran suicide campaign.

“For people who don’t know, 22 veterans commit suicide every day,” Salmon said. “We’re trying to raise public awareness for that and get the message out that this is happening.”

“I feel like all veterans need to ban together. One veteran that commits suicide is too many. We all spent however long it was, or however short it was, in the military. We became brothers and sisters in arms, and we need to check on each other and make sure everybody is ok.”

In addition to supporting Mission 22, each student veteran will carry 22 pounds of donations in their rucksacks for the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City and Three Hots and a Cot, an organization that assists homeless veterans. The donations include socks, gloves and other winter clothing, toiletries and canned goods. Monetary donations will also support Mission 22.

During the three-day trip, each student veteran will hike approximately 50 miles. They walk for 2 ½ hours before climbing into a support vehicle for about five hours of rest before their next hike.

On Thanksgiving Day, the students will take an extended break at a church that is about halfway between the two stadiums and enjoy a meal prepared by a few of their families.

Operation Iron Ruck will end Saturday morning outside Jordan-Hare Stadium in time for the student veterans to see Alabama and Auburn face off in the annual Iron Bowl.

To make a donation or to learn more about the UA Campus Veterans Association, contact Salmon at or 205-348-0983.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama)

3 days ago

Legendary owner of Bessemer’s Bright Star restaurant, Jimmy Koikos, passes away

(Contributed: Koikos family)

I have sad news to share with you: Our friends at The Bright Star restaurant have confirmed that longtime owner Jimmy Koikos has passed away at the age of 81.

Bob Carlton was one of the first to report Jimmy’s passing.

Jimmy, who has been fighting a cancer diagnosis for months, was born in Bessemer. For over six decades, Jimmy, together with his brother, Nicky, brought thousands of satisfied diners great food and hospitality.

A University of Alabama grad, Jimmy could count the likes of Coach Bryant, Gene Stallings, Joe Namath, Nick Saban, Sandra Bullock and hundreds of others as his good friends.

Still, Jimmy treated every one of his customers with respect and kindness, as for years he reminded us how to treat one another.


On behalf of my extended family and patrons throughout America, I bring the Koikos family my heartfelt condolences.

RELATED: The Bright Star, Alabama’s oldest restaurant, still shines

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

3 days ago

UAH modeling the spacecraft for NASA’s nuclear thermal propulsion idea

(Michael Mercier/UAH)

Successful human spaceflight to Mars and back is bound by basic rules of physics that any home garage hot rodder knows: mass, power and fuel consumption. To complete the mission, there must be enough thrust to propel a spacecraft’s weight to the target destination and enough fuel economy to ensure there is adequate propellant.

Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) can help achieve the goals of low weight, high power and good economy. An NTP engine uses low enriched uranium (LEU) to heat a lightweight propellant such as liquefied hydrogen to 2,800 degrees Kelvin through channels in the core.

The expanding gas exits the nozzle, providing thrust. If something goes awry and the craft crashes to Earth, the engine design and use of LEU reduce the chance of a catastrophic nuclear incident to near zero, as well as making flight safer for the crew.


NASA studied nuclear propulsion early on with the roughly two-decade-long Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) program that ended in 1972. Current NTP research can be viewed as a modern-day progeny of NERVA.

“The heartbeat of the program at this time is demonstrating that the reactor elements can be manufactured such that they will function in and survive the intense environment internal to the engine,” says Dr. Dale Thomas, UAH’s eminent scholar in systems engineering, who is the principal investigator for a UAH research grant with NASA’s NTP Program Office.

Under the management of NASA researcher Dr. Bill Emrich, who teaches nuclear propulsion as an adjunct UAH faculty member, that testing is underway at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in the Nuclear Thermal Rocket Element Environmental Simulator (NTREES) facility.

As all hot rodders know, swapping engines can pose technical challenges. That’s why NASA has a research grant with The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to model how a spacecraft might be engineered to work with NTP, en route to an eventual test flight. NASA is currently focused on determining the feasibility and affordability of an LEU-based NTP engine with solid cost and schedule confidence. The space agency has started looking into a potential flight demonstration as a follow-on project in the mid-2020s.

UAH’s Propulsion Research Center (PRC) manages the university’s role in the project. The university’s Complex Systems Integration Laboratory in its Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center (RSESC) is working closely with MSFC and private contractors to solve the challenges and exploit the opportunities created by a nuclear reactor at the heart of a rocket engine.

“We’re trying to figure out – assuming you can make the engine – can we fit it to the vehicle and make it work,” says Dr. Thomas, who incidentally is swapping engines to hot rod a classic pickup truck at home.

UAH’s research focus is not on the reactor design, but rather on modeling the spacecraft during a human mission to Mars.

“How does the utilization of NTP affect the mission architecture and the spacecraft design and operation within that mission architecture?” Dr. Thomas asks. “What all do we have to change in what we’re used to doing in designing a human crewed spacecraft?”

NTP is such a radical departure from liquid fuel rockets that even the NASA phrase “We have ignition” becomes obsolete because the propellant isn’t burning. The crew will be shielded from the LEU in the reactors and will “get more radiation from deep space than from this engine,” Dr. Thomas says. Yet the reactor poses other design challenges.

One of the first problems that NASA asked UAH to research is the heating effect that the NTP engine’s gamma ray and neutron emissions will have on the hydrogen stored in the propellant tanks.

“Hydrogen, which must be in its liquid state to be used as NTP propellant, must be chilled to near absolute zero,” Dr. Thomas says. “And it turns out that hydrogen is a great absorber of neutrons and a good absorber of gamma rays.”

As the hydrogen absorbs the particles, heat is generated.

A team led by Dr. Jason Cassibry, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is modeling the behavior of the hydrogen in the system with the goal of keeping it liquid until the precise time it is to be expended.

“Storing hydrogen on a mission for months at a time is difficult, and every little thing that heats up the hydrogen is a problem,” says Dr. Cassibry.

His computer modeling explores the impacts of variables such as the craft’s trajectory and the design of the hydrogen tanks.

“Downstream of the reactor, we’re modeling the flows of hydrogen and using those to validate the data against the results from the NERVA rocket development in the ’60s and ’70s,” Dr. Cassibry says. “We’re looking at the fuel economy and the thrust that comes out of the cone.”

The initial modeling is being done at full power, but Dr. Cassibry expects that in a year or two, the team will begin to model the throttling process.

The stack of an NTP rocket begins with the nozzle, where liquefied hydrogen undergoes rapid expansion. Next up is the nuclear reactor, supplying heat to the nozzle. The reactor will only be powered up once conventional rockets have lofted parts of the craft into space so it can be assembled there. While on Earth, the reactor is in safe mode. Atop the reactor is the hydrogen storage, and atop that is the crew module.

Very cold and very light, liquid hydrogen is also a viscous fuel that can be hard to pump and utilize. UAH is investigating whether injection seeding the hydrogen with a noble gas such as argon would make it flow better. However, the argon seeding will affect engine performance.

“In rocket terms, you talk about specific impulse. How much energy can you get out of a fuel?” Dr. Thomas says. “When an engine is running hydrogen, it has one thrust level. If you seed it with argon, it generates more thrust, but at less efficiency.”

The researchers are investigating whether seeding improves thrust enough make up for the loss of efficiency, while at the same time conferring the benefit of better fuel flow.

NTP engines generate high thrust at over twice the specific impulse of the best chemical combustion engines. They also provide engineers with new opportunities for innovation.

“That’s why NASA brought us on board, to explore opportunities and to kind of look off into the distance to see what might be accomplished,” says Dr. Thomas.

One possibility that would appeal to a hot rodder: Add a conventional combustion component to the nuclear engine. Adding an oxygen tank to create an afterburner that ignites the hydrogen coming out of the nozzle could significantly boost thrust when needed.

Another intriguing opportunity lies in the reactor’s waste heat.

“When you look at it, a Mars spacecraft is going to require a big solar array to get its power, and that creates design challenges of its own in weight and strength,” Dr. Thomas says. “Plus, the farther away you get from the sun, the less efficient those arrays are going to be.”

Because it’s difficult to turn the reactor off and on due to the thermal effect on its materials, it has to idle when not in use. While idling, the reactor continues to generate heat. Perhaps hydrogen can be directed through the core to carry that heat to radiators coated with a thermoelectric compound that generates electricity, Dr. Thomas suggests. Or the heat could be used to run a mechanical generator.

“If we tap the power off the reactor, we may be able to do away with the array,” he says.

Exploring these kinds of design challenges and opportunities attracts graduate students to UAH from universities across the country, according to Dr. Thomas.

“It’s amazing, the team we have been able to build,” he says.

Besides Dr. Thomas and Dr. Cassibry, the NASA grant currently supports four graduate research assistants (GRAs). They are doctoral candidates Alex Aueron and Samantha Rawlins, and masters student Dennis Nikitaev. The team added another GRA position this fall and Dr. Thomas anticipates UAH’s role will expand in the future.

“My attraction to NTP research stems from the understanding that, from a technical standpoint, nuclear thermal propulsion is hands-down the best way to get humans to Mars in my lifetime,” Rawlins says. Because of their orbits, the energy required to travel from Earth to Mars reaches minimum expenditure every 16 years. The next opportunity is in 2033.

“We got to the moon in 8 years, so this is definitely possible, but it’ll require making sure we play our cards right,” Rawlins says.

“That’s what’s so exciting about working with Dr. Thomas on my research within the Complex Systems Integration Laboratory,” she says. “We’re using systems engineering to look ahead, question our current process and identify potential solutions or alternatives before they even become an issue.”

It’s the UAH team’s job to smooth the path for NASA to help it get to Mars, Rawlins says.

“With this research, it feels great to contribute to the next ‘giant leap for mankind,’ sending humans to Mars,” says Nikitaev. “The most challenging task is figuring out how to make all the components work together in a high fidelity NTP engine simulation.”

Being able to intellectually dream about possibilities “is one of the very best things I like about being at UAH,” says Dr. Thomas, who joined the university in 2015 after being associate center director (technical) at MSFC.

“What we’re doing here has wider implications for other areas,” he says. “NTP moves the ball on Dr. Cassibry’s work on PuFF (the Pulsed Fission-Fusion engine). It could even lead to a single stage to orbit engine.”

A hybrid NTP single stage to orbit engine could lead to the resurrection of a program similar to Lockheed Martin’s X-33, a NASA Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) testbed that was scheduled to fly 15 suborbital test hops before it was canceled in 2001.

“There’s potential to come up with an air-breathing engine in the thick atmosphere,” Dr. Thomas says, “and then use nuclear power once we get out of the atmosphere.”

(Courtesy the University of Alabama Huntsville)

3 days ago

Appalachian Regional Commission grant, Leadership Institute addressing needs in Alabama

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed, PIxabay, YHN)

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is providing a workforce development grant to Alabama and has named two Alabamians to its inaugural Appalachian Leadership Council.

Gov. Kay Ivey has announced a $280,000 ARC grant to help Jefferson State Community College construct a 5,026-square-foot facility at its Shelby-Hoover campus. The facility will allow for the expansion of the school’s welding technology program to meet the demand for welders throughout Alabama, particularly in the state’s growing automobile manufacturing industry.

“Alabama’s robust economy is calling for skilled workers, particularly in the welding profession,” Ivey said. “I am thankful that Jefferson State Community College is helping us meet our workforce demand, and I am particularly grateful to the Appalachian Regional Commission for being a strong partner in helping Alabama to grow and prosper.”


The new facility will house a welding shop, lab and classroom and is expected to train students from Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Chilton counties.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is administering the grant.

“ADECA shares Gov. Ivey’s vision of helping Alabama produce a capable workforce to meet the demands in our state’s growing economy,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “Gov. Ivey is also keenly aware that for anything to be successful you need willing partners, and Jefferson State Community College and the Appalachian Regional Commission both meet that criteria.”

The grant comes just a few weeks after ARC announced the formation of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, which aims to create a network of graduates focused on advancing the region.

“Our hope is that the Appalachian Leadership Institute will help develop leadership and problem-solving, bring advancement, and grow greater prosperity in the region,” Tim Thomas, ARC federal co-chairman said at the time. “Leadership is the essential foundation on which all of our collective efforts to enhance Appalachia rest.”

Two Alabamians are among the inaugural class of the Leadership Institute.

Bevin Tomlin, Community Development manager with Alabama Power’s Economic & Community Development organization, and Lisa Bright, founder and CEO of the Will Bright Foundation, which operates Restoration Springs in Fayette, are in the inaugural class.

“By providing grants like this and forming the Appalachian Leadership Institute, the Appalachian Regional Commission continues to show a commitment to addressing the current and future needs of Alabama and its neighbors,” Tomlin said. “I am honored to serve as part of the inaugural class of the Leadership Institute as we continue to identify and address the real needs of the region.”

The Leadership Institute will provide members with an extensive nine-month program of skill-building seminars, best-practice reviews, field visits, mentoring and networking.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. Thirty-seven Alabama counties, including Shelby County, are part of the ARC region and eligible for funds.

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

4 days ago

Tuberville has invited the Baby Trump balloon killer to a tailgate

(Tommy Tuberville, Hoyt Hutchinson, Dale Jackson/Facebook, PIxabay, Guardian News/YouTube, YHN)

He calls himself “The Slasher.” He’s a hero to some. He’s a villain that must be destroyed to others.

And now, Hoyt Hutchinson has been invited to tailgate with U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville before the Georgia-Auburn game in Auburn this weekend.


The invitation was laid out when Hutchinson appeared on the WVNN Friday morning during a discussion about him popping the Baby Trump balloon in Tuscaloosa ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit and his reasoning behind it, as well as the fallout and fame.

Hutchinson has accepted responsibility for his actions, but he refuses to see the similarity between his actions and the actions of liberals who have taken to destroying Trump supporters’ property, including MAGA hats and signs.

But isn’t it exactly the same thing?

If I wreck someone’s legal protest and destroy their manner of protest, does it matter what my reasoning is?

Hutchinson said the Baby Trump balloon is “disrespectful”, and it absolutely is, but liberals and their mobs have declared all manner of Trump support to be disrespectful and dangerous. That is how they justify fighting people in the street.

I admit that I laughed when I saw he popped the balloon, but I see my hypocrisy here. If you praise Hoyt Hutchinson for damaging people’s property for political reasons, it makes it harder to complain when others do the same.

I also know that this will be used as justification the next time a mob starts wrecking stuff because they are mad about Trump.

This arms race of property destruction and actual violence is bad for America and needs to stop.

Let these children have their stupid balloons and silly protests. We should mock them and be better than them.

Americans see these people for who they really are. Let them continue showing it with their actions.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

4 days ago

J C Love appointed Montgomery County probate judge

(J C Love for Mayor campaign)

J C Love, III on Friday was sworn in as Montgomery County probate judge after being appointed by Governor Kay Ivey.

Love, 40, is considered a rising star among Alabama Democrats. His candidacy to be Montgomery’s mayor this year was his first run at political office.

Prior to his appointment, Love had been practicing law at the prestigious Montgomery firm of Rushton Stakely, Johnston, & Garret, P.A. since 2013. He has practiced law for 14 years in total.

Also active civically, Love currently serves as president of the Britton YMCA board and is a member of the Montgomery County Bar Foundation Board.

“J C Love, III has an impressive career, both in his work as an attorney and his involvement in the Montgomery community,” Ivey said in a statement.


“I’m confident that he will hit the ground running and be able to serve as Montgomery’s next Probate Judge with character, a hard work ethic, and a sense of service. I appreciate his willingness to serve in this role and know he will do a great job,” she added.

Love earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, cum laude, from Morehouse College in 2001. He later received his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 2004.

He is married to Dr. Porcia Bradford Love, M.D. The couple has three children.

Ivey signed Love’s appointment letter on Friday. He fills the vacancy created by Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s inauguration earlier this week. Love was not immediately available for comment.

RELATED: Gen. Ed Crowell not qualified for appointment as Montgomery County probate judge, will not serve

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