The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

    Excerpt:

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

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

12 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

(Pixabay, YHN)

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

14 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

(Maynard Cooper Gale/Contributed, YHN)

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

(AIDT/Contributed, YHN)

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

15 hours ago

Redstone bunkers serving as relics from Cold War era

(Eric Schultz/The Redstone Rocket)

Hundreds of bunkers on Redstone Arsenal have led to hundreds of questions over the years, from when were they built and why, to is that where the hobbits live? Did Wernher von Braun’s family have their very own bunker? And what are they currently used for?

Rick Cooper, the space manager at the Arsenal, said the bunkers were built in “1942-ish” for storage of explosive ordnance and were probably among the first constructions when the installation was established.

In later years, the bunkers were reportedly used as fallout shelters.

“My understanding is during the Cold War, everyone on post was assigned one of the ‘igloos,’” said Ben Hoksbergen, the cultural services manager at the Arsenal. “At the time, apparently they had shelving with survival supplies,” such as canned food.

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Hoksbergen is not sure whether the bunkers were also used during tornadoes, but said there were probably fallout drills.

An Aviation and Missile Command website on the history of Redstone Arsenal notes such an exercise during the week of Sept. 17, 1962: “During this week, about 1,600 RSA military personnel participated in a passive defense measures test. They were evacuated from the barracks on signal to designated fallout shelters (old World War II-era storage igloos), where they remained for 48 hours before they returned to the barracks. The test provided a wealth of information on shelter occupancy.”

Cooper said most of the 406 bunkers were originally each 2,100 square feet, but some have since been modified. Their original cost was $7,600 each, he said, but today’s replacement cost is a whopping $1.1 million.

“They appreciated over time,” Cooper said, adding that today the bunkers now serve a variety of uses, including explosives storage, regular storage and even lab space.

Some have been modernized, some have electricity and others are preserved in their historic states.

In fact, Hoksbergen said 19 of the bunkers must remain in their original World War II condition because of their historic significance. The Army doesn›t normally list historic properties on the National Register, he said, but if it did, the “igloo farm” would qualify.

At their time of construction, they were part of the Gulf Chemical Warfare Depot, Hoksbergen said. “That whole area is a historic district.”
Today, the untouched bunkers are “pretty bleak,” he said. “A lot of moisture problems. Big concrete vaults.”

The section of bunkers that remain in their original condition are adjacent to each other in an “underutilized site,” he said.
Jake Roth, chief of master planning, calls the bunkers by a more official name.

“We refer to them as ECM, Earth Covered Magazines,” Roth said of the concrete structures, which are each covered by a 3-foot berm and feature a heavy steel door.

The military is still building similar modernized structures for use as control houses to observe various tests, he said. “It’s a great model.”

At the Arsenal, the retrofitted bunkers are ideal for storing explosives since they are required to be a certain distance from other building structures, Roth said.

They are also useful for storing a lot of other things because of their environment inside.

“It’s fairly low humidity and it’s somewhat temperature controlled,” Roth said.

Some of the bunkers have also been water proofed. About 20 of the structures were upgraded in the last few years “to be used by somebody for something,” Roth said.

“Over the years, as we use them, we have been going back, taking the dirt off, putting on a waterproof barrier, and putting the dirt back on,” he said, adding that grass is then planted on top to prevent erosion.

The bunkers are still functional and useful, he said. “We just have too many of them. They do come in handy from time to time.”
Cooper said while many of the bunkers are empty, the process of using one for storage takes several steps, beginning with submitting a work order, followed by a lot of paperwork.

Meanwhile, passers-by continue to speculate about them.

“We’ve heard everything from ‘that’s where we keep all the aliens,’ to ‘that’s where we keep the top-secret technology,’” Hoksbergen said.
To his knowledge, no one from Hollywood has approached anyone at the Arsenal about making a film on the site, but in the future, who knows. “It would be perfect for a zombie movie,” he said.

This article was first published in the Redstone Rocket and is republished here with the permission of the U.S. Army Garrison Office.

17 hours ago

Governor Ivey ceremonially signs key legislation aiming to drive innovation

(Hal Yeager/Governor's Office)

Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Thursday hosted a ceremonial bill signing for legislation passed during the 2021 regular session, which includes two key pieces of legislation aimed at accelerating the growth of Alabama’s innovation economy.

She signed in ceremony House Bill 540 and House Bill 609, both of which were recommended by the Alabama Innovation Commission that Governor Ivey established early last year.

House Bill 540, sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) and Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper), creates the Alabama Innovation Corporation, a first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership in Alabama to serve as a catalyst for the state’s growing innovation economy.

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House Bill 609, which was sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika) and Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), creates the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program to provide matching grants to eligible businesses that have received federal Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer Research awards.

The governor formally signed the bills into law earlier this year. The legislation garnered bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature, as many saw the bills as prerequisites for economic growth and entrepreneurship.

Two other bills were signed during the ceremony.

HB 192, an additional bill sponsored by Poole and Reed, reauthorizes the Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act, two economic development programs which provide business incentives to in-state and out-of-state companies wishing to expand or locate to Alabama. It also provides a funding mechanism for certain economic development projects in Alabama. This was a priority bill for Governor Ivey in the beginning of the session.

SB 77 was sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). This bill abolishes the Division of Purchasing in the Department of Finance and replaces it with the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer within the Department of Finance. It also authorizes the Chief Procurement Officer to make and supervise state purchases of supplies and services.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

18 hours ago

Alabama Medical Association hosting Facebook Live COVID update discussing child safety, classroom protocols

(Pixabay, YHN)

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama will host a Facebook Live webcast on Thursday at 4:00 p.m CT with State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and pediatric infectious disease expert Dr. David Kimberlin to discuss vaccinating children against COVID-19, the safety of masking and best practices for safely returning to school.

The format allows parents and others to watch and submit questions. The Medical Association’s President Dr. Aruna Arora will also join the discussion.

The Medical Association says that children 12 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and doctors advise that everyone 12 and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect themselves and others from the virus.

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“Many parents have questions and concerns as their children get ready to start school at the same time COVID infections and hospitalizations are on the rise,” said Dr. Arora. “The Medical Association is pleased to host this event where parents and others can get the accurate and reliable information they need. It’s perfectly normal to have questions, and anyone with questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines should talk to a medical doctor.”

The discussion is part of a weekly Facebook Live COVID update sponsored by the Medical Association that takes place every Thursday when Dr. Harris and other medical experts discuss the pandemic and how individuals can protect themselves against the virus.

The public is encouraged to view and participate in the conversation, which will be live streamed on the Medical Association’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MedicalAssnAlabama.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

19 hours ago

Brooks introduces bill to help DOD pilots qualify for civilian licenses

(Wikicommons)

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has introduced legislation that would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to modify regulations regarding its recognition of pilot ratings for Department of Defense (DOD) civilian pilots.

The Civilian Aviation Certification Equity Act would allow Defense Department civilian pilots who have received the same training, instruction and qualifications as their non-civilian counterparts to receive the same treatment from the FAA.

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently allows active-duty, reserve, and national guard pilots to use their training and flight hours earned from their time in the military to qualify for a civilian pilot license and for type ratings,” explained Brooks.

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The North Alabama congressman noted that DOD civilian pilots do not currently enjoy these same privileges and expressed his desire to bring fairness to licensing requirements.

He continued, “It is unjust to force DOD civilian pilots to pay out-of-pocket, which can easily exceed $20,000, in order to qualify for FAA pilot’s license and/or type rating when they have proven to be as competent flying their aircraft as other military pilots. This issue was brought to my attention by a Meridianville pilot who recently asked the FAA if he could add ‘pursuant to existing regulations for military pilots’ a certificate or type rating based on the qualifications he earned as part of his job as a DoD civilian. When the FAA declined his request, the pilot contacted my office for help.”

Brooks concluded, “By requiring the FAA to expand the definition of ‘military pilot’ to include DOD civilians, I aim to ensure equal treatment of pilots with the same training and qualifications no matter if they serve as a civilian or as an active-duty, reserve, or National Guard pilot.”

Alabama’s fifth congressional district, which Brooks represents, is home to a substantial retired military population and civilian military workforce. Recent studies have ranked the Yellowhammer State as one of the best states to live for military retirees.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

23 hours ago

AG Marshall: New law protects against mandated vaccines by eliminating enforcement mechanism — ‘You cannot compel proof of vaccination’

(S. Marshall/FB)

On Tuesday, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office issued guidance that addressed questions about COVID-19 vaccinations as they pertained to a new law passed by the Alabama Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey in May.

According to a press release from the attorney general’s office, there had been a “sharp increase” in vaccine-related inquiries and complaints.

During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Marshall said those inquiries had come from both the public and private sectors.

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“I think a couple of things were in play that caused us to issue that guidance,” he said. “Number one is we had been receiving calls, kind of from a variety of sectors, whether it be from our educators, whether it be from governmental entities or governmental bodies, as well as generally citizens and private business that wondered specifically about the bill that passed in the last legislative session. Folks really just sort of generically reference it as a vaccine passport bill. But when you actually dive into it, though it is not actually a very long piece of legislation, it actually has an impact in a variety of areas. So, we felt it would be helpful to go ahead and put together at least some draft guidance to be able to help those that called us with questions and those that may want to have a little bit better understanding of what the legislature did and what the Governor did end up signing.”

Marshall also pointed out that given the law prohibited vaccination proof, the unvaccinated were protected against efforts to mandate vaccinations because the enforcement mechanism of requiring proof of vaccination would not be legal.

“In a nutshell, I think what we concluded as a result of the passage of this bill is that no government, school or business can demand a constituent, a student, a customer or any of those respective categories that they be vaccinated for COVID-19 or show proof of that vaccination,” he advised. “There are specific provisions that are directed at business that involves their customers. There are specific and targeted provisions relating to schools or academic institutions. The crux of that bill is even if somebody were to develop a policy that was directed at the unvaccinated, frankly, there is no enforcement mechanism because you cannot compel proof of vaccination.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

23 hours ago

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier shuts down municipal buildings in wake of COVID-19 spikes

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

The town of Dauphin Island is taking proactive measures in the midst of a COVID-19 spike, says Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Collier announced all municipal building lobbies would be closed to the public, which included the town hall, public works, police department and welcome center.

Collier told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5 on Wednesday none of his staff had been infected and that he hoped those measures would “keep it that way.”

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“What we decided is to try to be proactive, hopefully,” he said. “We have our EMS, and I met with him. He’s been kind of handling all of our COVID protocol throughout the pandemic to date and made some good decisions throughout that time period. I met with him Monday, and he just made the recommendation that we move to close public access to the lobbies of our municipal buildings because of the increase in infections that are not only occurring in our area but throughout the country.”

“We haven’t had any effects just yet within our staff,” Collier added. “And we would like to keep it that way. We’re hoping by making these changes, we can help prevent further spread.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 days ago

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks moves to block federal funding for ‘sanctuary cities’

(Congressman Mo Brooks/Flickr)

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) on Wednesday announced that he has filed an amendment to H.R. 4505, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which would block all funds from the appropriations bill from being provided to any jurisdiction that breaches U.S. immigration law.

In a statement promoting his amendment, Brooks highlighted federal government-reported statistics that present crime-related data associated with illegal immigration.

“Sanctuary policies endanger American lives,” said Brooks. “Look at the data. According to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency issued 122,233 detainers in [fiscal year] 2020. Those subject to detainers had criminal histories including more than 1,900 homicide-related offenses, 1,900 kidnappings, 3,600 robberies, 42,800 assaults, and 11,900 sex crimes.”

Brooks pointed to the case of Kate Steinle, who was killed at the hands of illegal alien and Mexican National Garcia Zarate.

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“Many will recall the tragic murder of American citizen Kate Steinle, who was gunned down in San Francisco, a sanctuary city, by a violent illegal immigrant with seven felonies on his record and five deportations,” continued Brooks. “If this federal data is any indicator, illegal aliens are far more likely to commit violent and dangerous crimes than the average American or lawful immigrant. Sanctuary policies shield illegal alien criminals from deportation and justice. I’m for whatever it takes to help get dangerous illegal alien criminals off American streets.”

Conservatives in recent years have undertaken efforts to bar cities from providing asylum to those residing in the country unlawfully. In citing opposition to “sanctuary cities,” many have pointed to crime data accompanying illegal immigration, as well as attempts by progressive
lawmakers to register foreign nationals to vote in what they see as an attempt to gain political advantage.

The Tennessee Valley congressman joins fellow Alabama Republicans in introducing legislative remedies to target cities that provide safe harbor to illegal immigrants, shielding them from deportation.

Under current Alabama law, local governments and municipalities are prohibited from infringing upon federal immigration law, with civil penalties applied to any such violation. A recent attempt was made in the 2020 regular session by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) to strengthen penalties for such violations to a Class C felony. The bill advanced through committee among a party-line vote but failed to pass the legislature’s upper chamber.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

2 days ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen announces reelection bid, vows to embrace culture battle

(Gerald Allen State Senate/Contributed, Pixabay)

State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) on Wednesday announced his intentions to seek reelection to the Alabama State Senate, District 21.

The senator is seeking a fourth term in the legislature’s upper chamber. The West Alabama lawmaker previously served 16 years in the Alabama House of Representatives.

The seasoned senator credited fiscally conservative policies to economic and budgetary accomplishments.

“Tuscaloosa and Western Alabama are growing. I’m proud of what our area has accomplished. I’m committed to ensuring that our pro-business, pro-growth economic atmosphere remains,” said Allen.

“The pandemic has tested our social and economic resilience, but I know we are on the way back. Financially, our state budgets are recovering far better than most other states because of our conservative approach to the state budgets. I’ve long championed that conservative approach, and I’ll continue to work hard to keep taxes low and fight wasteful spending,” stated Allen.

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Allen says he shares the concerns of constituents regarding secure elections.

“Everywhere I go, people ask me about election integrity. Thankfully, we don’t have the kinds of problems we saw in Georgia last year. I’m proud to have sponsored Alabama’s photo ID voter law. That law has helped ensure that we have safe and fair elections in Alabama,” said Allen.

“There is so much coming down from Washington right now,” he continued. “Whether it is a federal takeover of our elections, critical race theory, or the cancel culture, I’m going to push back against the liberal left and make sure that Alabama sets an example for the rest of the nation to follow.”

Throughout his career in public service, Allen has consistently promoted socially conservative policies regarding cultural issues. Last session, he sponsored SB 12, a bill to propose a constitutional amendment that would have required Alabama public schools to play the national anthem at least once per week and at all public school sporting events. The bill failed to garner the support necessary to advance the legislature.

Earlier this year, Allen was successful in his efforts to extend the coal severance tax, which will maintain important funding for West Alabama counties. The fee, which is levied upon the amount of extracted coal, was slated to expire this year. Due to Allen’s passage of the legislation, the tax will now be extended until 2031.

Sen. Allen is a lifelong resident of Tuscaloosa. He graduated from Holt High School and earned a degree from the University of Alabama. Allen and his wife, Sheila Bailey Allen of Taylorville, have been married for 47 years. He and his wife are active members of Gilgal Baptist Church in Duncanville where Allen serves as a Deacon.

The senator serves on the Confirmations, Finance & Taxation Education, Finance & Taxation General Fund, Rules, Transportation & Energy committees.

Alabama Senate District 21 includes parts of Lamar, Pickens and Tuscaloosa Counties.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

2 days ago

U.S. Space Command chief says protecting space assets crucial to daily life

(Youtube Screenshot)

During a virtual event hosted by Auburn University, U.S. Army General and Commander of the U.S. Space Command James Dickinson explained the need to protect U.S. national security interests in space. The general drew a direct correlation between protecting space operations and daily life activities.

The event was broadcasted live earlier this week on YouTube and moderated by Frank Cilluffo, director of Auburn University’s McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security. The space and cybersecurity-centered discussion was co-sponsored by the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

Gen. Dickinson believes that most Americans don’t fully grasp that many functions of life on earth are intrinsically linked to space assets.

“Our space-based capabilities enable virtually every element of our national power that provides diplomacy, economics and finance,” said Dickinson. “These enable basically every facet of the modern American way of life. You use an ATM, you’re relying on space capabilities. Tap into a navigation system on your cell phone, you’re relying on space capabilities. Even if you’re enjoying live broadcasts of the Auburn Tigers football team, you’re relying on space capabilities.”

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The general noted that the luxuries of modern-day life have paved the way for American adversaries to take advantage of potential cyber vulnerabilities.

“Those vulnerabilities provide openings our competitors try to exploit,” Dickinson said.

This threat necessitated the creation of the U.S. Space Command and Space Force, which Dickinson said “provides the tools to protect the space domain.”

Dickinson, a U.S. Army veteran of 35 years who has also served as commanding general of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, said the evolving world climate necessitated a move to protect U.S. interests in space.

“We have more peer adversaries and competitors with capable and rapidly advancing technologies,” he said. “We have established the structures necessary to protect and defend our assets against their capabilities.”

Dickinson added, “One of the reasons [the U.S. Space Command] was stood up was to have an organization and someone like me that all day every day thinks about the activities in orbit and what this means not only to our economy, but what our adversaries might be doing.”

Established as the newest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces since the Air Force’s creation in 1947, the U.S. Space Force is the nation’s militarized power that defends multi-purpose satellites and interests in space. The U.S. Space Command is designed to deter aggression, defend U.S. and allied interests, and deliver space combat power.

Earlier this year, the secretary of the Air Force selected Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location to host the Space Command Headquarters, expanding the role North Alabama plays in safeguarding United States national security and space missions. The Alabama-based command will be responsible for deterring aggression, defending U.S. and allied interests and delivering space combat power.

The region recently played a critical role in supporting the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), a joint Department of Defense-Intelligence Community organization, when a United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket successfully launched the NRO’s NROL-82 mission. Following shortly after, the Decatur-built ULA Atlas V rocket powered the Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS) Flight 5 mission for the U.S. Space Force, strengthening America’s intelligence-gathering capabilities.

North Alabama is considered to be a premier hub for the nation’s defense industry. The Tennessee Valley has seen enormous growth and expansion in recent years, as the private sector and federal government alike continue to invest resources in the Huntsville metropolitan area. As the leader in carrying out space missions and other boundless national defense objectives, Alabama’s vigorous aerospace and defense industry has solidified itself as vital in protecting U.S. national security.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

2 days ago

Fmr Gov. Bentley: ‘I wouldn’t blame the unvaccinated’ for COVID spike — ‘Please get vaccinated,’ ‘Don’t listen to Dr. Fauci’

(Gov. Robert Bentley/Flickr)

If former Gov. Robert Bentley were in charge of Alabama’s COVID-19 response, he would put an emphasis on working with local officials, especially with regards to any efforts to raise the state’s vaccination rate.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Bentley, a board-certified dermatologist who continues to practice in Tuscaloosa, acknowledged the “complicated” nature of the pandemic but also cautioned against blaming those that remain unvaccinated.

However, he also encouraged vaccinations, adding individuals should base any medical decisions on those that they trust.

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“It’s very complicated, and I understand that,” he said. “I’m not trying to tell somebody else how I would do things. But I do have ideas on how I would handle it. First, I wouldn’t blame the unvaccinated because you can’t pit one side against the other. It’s not a blame situation. Look, I deal with patients who have to make decisions on whether or not they want a cancer removed, or this or that. And they have to make the decision. But you just have to give them good advice, and they have to trust whoever gives them advice. Now look, you can’t give this advice to Fox News or CNN or places like that. You really need to listen to people who know what they’re talking about, their physician, primarily. I just think we need leadership on this issue. This is a state issue. It is not a federal issue.”

“If I were governor, I would be out all over the state,” Bentley continued. “I would set up some task forces on a state level. But I would work with the locals, also — especially the local doctors, the local nursing situation, the local doctors’ association and the hospitals. But I would also work with the local officials, and some of the most important ones are county commissioners and mayors and our elected officials out there. So, I would work with them. I would even use the state health department, but I would be in charge of it, not the health department. And then, also, I would even use my national guard if I needed to. But what I would try to do for the people is get their trust, and I would give them good advice, scientific advice on whether or not these things are safe or not. When you read Facebook, or you watch the news, you really don’t get the truth because these people are not interested in the truth. They’re interested in ratings. You need somebody they would trust, and that’s what I would try to do as governor. I would be out all over the state, especially in areas we know there is a spike in this Delta virus.”

Bentley indicated he was a proponent of vaccinations but discouraged listeners from putting too much stock in National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has commanded the lion’s share of the spotlight.

“Again, I would encourage everybody to please get vaccinated — those that are not vaccinated,” he added. “Please look at it. And look at real science on it. Don’t listen to Dr. Fauci, and don’t listen to some of these other people.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 days ago

Montgomery technical student awarded Lockheed Martin Vocational Training Scholarship

(Lockheed Martin/Contributed, YHN)

Trace Strock, a student at Trenholm State Technical College, has been announced as a recipient of the 2021 Lockheed Martin Vocational Training Scholarship. The scholarship is a first-of-its-kind program that is awarded to students with a high school diploma seeking training from an accredited vocational-technical institution to prepare them for a career in technology and advanced manufacturing.

Strock, who is working toward his certification in Mechanic & Repair Technologies, expressed the need for formal vocational training in the modern workforce.

“As I continue my academic career, this scholarship will be so helpful in completing my degree on time so that I may enter the workforce and begin my career,” said Strock. “It seems to me that many of my peers have lost sight of the importance of individuals that are formally trained in a trade.”

A total of 150 Vocational Training Scholarships were awarded in 2021, with each recipient receiving a $6,600 stipend to help cover the cost of tuition.

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Strock concluded, “[Lockheed Martin’s] support of students that plan to enter a trade is paramount to ensuring that America’s upcoming generations understand the dire need and importance of formally trained tradespeople.”

In total, Lockheed Martin is donating more than $6.5 million to students in need this year. This contribution is part of a 2018 initiative to create 8,000 new workforce development programs and invest $50 million in educational enrichment programs. The awards are funded by proceeds from corporate tax reform and are part of a larger investment of $460 million by Lockheed Martin in education and innovation over a period of five years.

Lockheed Martin holds a decades-long relationship with the state of Alabama. In recent years, the aerospace and defense giant has ramped up its investment in the Yellowhammer State, particularly in the Tennessee Valley.

In 2019, Lockheed Martin announced that North Alabama would become its flagship location for its hypersonics program. Last year, the defense contractor began construction on its hypersonics manufacturing facility based in Courtland at the Lawrence County Industrial Park, where it would conduct assembly, integration and testing of hypersonics programs.

Further adding to this investment and bolstering its presence in the Rocket City, Lockheed Martin recently acquired Huntsville-based Integration Innovation Inc.’s hypersonics portfolio.

Lockheed also operates a missile production facility at its Pike County Campus in Troy, where the company plans to ramp up Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) production beginning in the latter part of next year.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

2 days ago

State Sen. Orr touts vaccine passport ban as protection for health care decisions, civil liberties as aggressive vaccine push underway

(Senator Arthur Orr/Facebook)

When the Alabama Legislature was deliberating earlier this year the possibility of a vaccine passport ban, some in the political class and in the media derided those efforts.

However, as cases of COVID-19 are back on the rise and the push by health officials to vaccinate the unvaccinated has become hyperaggressive, that effort led by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) seems to be more relevant and justified than ever.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Orr explained why it was important to put a vaccine passport ban in place to protect the civil liberties of Alabama residents.

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“I certainly agree with you and the way you’re seeing people who are making their personal decisions regarding the vaccine,” Orr said. “You know, there are some downsides to the vaccine, particularly for those who have religious concerns. You know the [Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System] reporting network shows 6,000-12,000 deaths because of the vaccine, and the people who reported after getting it resulted in the death of the recipient. There are some people concerned about it. But my point is really not so much about the vaccine. It’s about letting people make that health care decision on their own and the civil liberties of Alabamians.”

“You’re right — I was mocked and just trying to see boogeymen about there that didn’t exist,” he continued. “But it’s troubling to see particularly elected officials, again, vilifying people who have serious issues with just receiving the vaccine. We’ve never done this before in the middle of a pandemic requiring vaccination. It’s something — we need to move cautiously, and that’s something I think we were able to achieve in providing some level of cautionary defense for those who have concerns about being vaccinated with this emergency use authorized vaccination.”

The Morgan County lawmaker said there was a tendency in higher education to follow the example set by Ivy Leagues schools.

“Particularly in higher ed, you find once the Ivy [League] said we’re going to mandate vaccinations across the board for everybody, and all the other schools want to follow suit, and just take the plunge, follow the herd and do what the Ivy Leagues schools want to do,” he replied. “It’s just one of those things — again, we need to move cautiously with this, get all the information out there, let people make sound medical decisions and go from there, rather than just across-the-board trample on people’s rights for the body as to what they put in them, and just allow some flexibility when it comes to that process.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 days ago

U.S. Commerce Dept. invests $450K in Birmingham area for bioscience job growth

(Pixabay, YHN)

The Birmingham Business Alliance (Alliance), in partnership with Jefferson and Shelby Counties, is leading an effort to spur job growth in the bioscience industry throughout the seven-county Birmingham region.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) Disaster Recovery Program awarded funds for the execution of a bioscience market intelligence study, strategy and implementation plan that will be led by the Birmingham Business Alliance.

Focus areas of the plan include identifying the following:

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• Key bioscience assets, as well as opportunities for growth and investment
• Opportunities for existing bioscience businesses to grow capacity
• Opportunities for economic developers and communities to attract bioscience businesses

The Alliance CEO Ron Kitchens says the partnership aims to seize upon growth opportunities made possible by the role Birmingham played in pandemic recovery efforts.

“We are seizing a perfect opportunity to build on the national attention Birmingham received during the pandemic,” said Kitchens. “Based on the role the University of Alabama at Birmingham played in building a COVID-19 treatment and on the work of local companies like BioGX around testing, we will create a comprehensive plan for our region to work with bioscience companies to address the immediate needs of a post- pandemic world and grow jobs as a result.”

The Alliance, the Jefferson County Commission, the Shelby County Commission and 58 INC. led the grant application on behalf of over 45 economic development officials across the Birmingham seven-county region. Letters of support were provided by nearly 20 key stakeholders throughout the community.

Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons says the goal of this project is for Birmingham to work in unison and stake its claim as a national leader in bioscience.

“The Birmingham Region of Jefferson County is fortunate to call many quality health care systems home,” said Ammons. “These systems have drawn, and continue to draw, assets to our region. This grant will help us map out those assets and tailor our recruiting efforts by identifying companies that would be an agreeable addition to our ecosystem.”

By the year’s end, the Birmingham Business Alliance and its partners will convene a stakeholders meeting, at which a Request for Proposal will be published and a consultant will be selected to begin work.

“The study and implementation plan will help the region maximize and build on its strengths in life sciences,” said Amy Sturdivant, managing director for Shelby County’s economic development corporation 58 INC. and current board member of BIO Alabama and Southeast Life Sciences.

The project is made possible by funding from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act and administered by the EDA to assist communities in preventing, preparing for and responding to COVID-19.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

2 days ago

John Roberts announces candidacy for Alabama’s fifth congressional district

(John Roberts for Congress/Contributed)

Huntsville economic developer John Roberts on Tuesday announced his intentions to seek the GOP nomination to represent Alabama’s fifth district in Congress.

“I built my career in Huntsville as a job creator,” said Roberts. “I worked to bring opportunity directly to the district. The 5th District is pro-business and supports jobs that keep our country safe. I plan on keeping it that way.”

“As an economic developer, I’ve seen firsthand how bad policies out of Washington hurt our economy,” added Roberts. “As your congressman, I will fight to strengthen our border and end illegal immigration so we can establish good paying jobs right here in the district. I’ll cut burdensome regulations that restrict us from growing. From small business to rockets, manufacturing to farming, we have the chance to bring new opportunities home, but we need the right people.”

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He continued, “In Congress, I’ll put Alabama’s values first: the right to life, the defense of the second amendment, and the right to practice your religion or operate your business without government interference. I will help the Republicans take back the House, and fire Nancy Pelosi. I will go to Washington to fight day in and day out to stop the Left’s radical and dangerous agenda.”

Roberts served as Business Retention & Expansion director for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. According to the release, Roberts helped recruit over $3 billion of investment, and grow more than 4,000 jobs in the area.

He concluded, “This is the time for a new generation to step up and lead, not the same politicians with 50 years of running for office. This is about you, not me. Conviction, not calculation. The future, not the past. I’m running for Congress to create a better future for you, your family and the fifth district.”

Roberts co-founded the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy, a free education workforce program offered to individuals to equip them with the skills to begin a successful career in the homebuilding industry.

In addition, John serves on the executive team for Free 2 Teach, the North Alabama American Red Cross Board, the Huntsville Housing Authority Advisory Committee, and remains involved with the University of Alabama’s Blackburn Institute and the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy.
He is a lifelong resident of North Alabama and a graduate of the University of Alabama. He grew up in Hartselle and lives with his wife, Madison, in Huntsville. John and Madison are both Christians and are members of Asbury Methodist in Madison.

The release states that a formal kick-off event will be held at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, August 14th in Hartselle, Alabama at the Hartselle Fine Arts Center located at 307 College St NE, Hartselle, AL 35640.

Roberts is the fifth candidate to formally enter the race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is running for the U.S. Senate.
Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong, former Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski, Huntsville educator Andy Blakock and Harris Wright have all formally entered the race.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

3 days ago

State Department of Education launches teacher recruitment effort amid statewide shortage

(Pixabay, YHN)

The state of Alabama continues to confront the challenge of developing the next generation of its workforce, and the education community is no exception.

That is why the Alabama State Department of Education says it has kicked off a new teacher recruitment campaign aimed at building the state’s pool of highly-qualified educators.

The campaign will be a long-term advertising and public relations effort targeted toward high school and college students via social media, YouTube, pre-roll, streaming radio and display advertising.

Dr. Eric Mackey, state superintendent of education, explained that the current job market demands an emphasis on recruitment.

“Like many other states, Alabama is experiencing a growing teacher shortage and needs a new focus on the recruitment of new talent to fill an ever-expanding pipeline,” he noted while announcing the campaign. “We need young people who want to make a difference in their community and our state by teaching.”

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The department has established WeTeachAlabama.com as a hub for the campaign and information relating to the teaching profession in the Yellowhammer State.

The website is designed to provide how-to and explanatory resources for those considering careers in education, as well as a platform for current teachers to share their own stories and encourage others to pursue teaching as a career path.

“From kindergarten to graduation, our focus is helping prepare students to become more productive citizens through subjects including reading, math and science – and teachers are the key,” Mackey stated. “We must recruit more high-quality teachers to help prepare our state for the future in a high-tech economy. This campaign will encourage young people to answer their calling and join a valued community that makes a difference in countless lives.”

The Department of Education plans to roll out additional resources in the coming months.

“Our intent with all of our collective campaign efforts it to raise perceptions of the teaching profession overall, stressing how vital teachers are to both the input and outcome of public education,” added Mackey. “We want to arm interested students with information to prepare them for life after high school as they make their career choices while instilling knowledge of the importance teachers have on literally every person – and ultimately every other profession.”

Mackey formed the Alabama Teacher Shortage Taskforce in 2019 to better understand the depth of the problems the state was facing in the area of teacher recruitment.

The task force reported that 123 of 144 school districts in Alabama have turned to hiring teachers on emergency or provisional certificates – a majority in rural areas.

Earlier this year, Governor Kay Ivey May signed an increase in the teacher pay scale into law, as well as the Teacher Excellence and Accountability for Mathematics and Sciences (TEAMS) salary schedule program. TEAMS seeks to fill an estimated 3,000 math and science teacher positions with the potential addition of $20,000 in annual pay.

“We want to show those in our state and beyond how much Alabama values its teachers, and that if someone chooses to answer this calling, we will be here to support that person in every way possible,” Mackey concluded. “Teachers are vital to the future of Alabama’s workforce, and so our focus on recruiting this career sector is equally paramount.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 days ago

State Rep. Faust cites Alabama Highway 181 widening, property tax freeze in reelection bid announcement

(Rep. Joe Faust/Contributed)

On Tuesday, veteran lawmaker State Rep. Joe Faust (R-Fairhope) made it official by announcing he would seek another term in Montgomery representing House District 94.

Faust, whose district includes Fairhope, Magnolia Springs, Silverhill and Summerdale in Baldwin County, was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2004.

“Throughout my career in public service, I have always worked to find common-sense solutions to the issues that our citizens face every day while strongly defending the values that we in Alabama hold dear,” Faust said in a release. “I have been blessed to represent District 94 and would be humbled to continue working for the people here.”

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In his announcement, Faust cited his efforts to widen Alabama Highway 181, which stretches from Spanish Fort to U.S. Highway 98 between Fairhope and Foley and freezing property tax rates for Baldwin County residents 65 and older who have lived in the county for more than 10 years.

He also touted efforts to secure “millions of dollars in grant funding for Baldwin County during his years in office for schools, the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance and historic treasures like Fort Morgan, Blakeley State Park and Bicentennial Park.”

“My job as your State Representative is to fight for our fair share of state resources, while also doing everything I can to prevent the government from getting in the way of our daily lives,” Faust added. “I’ve worked hard over the past few years to ensure that our voices are heard, and our concerns are met. I’m proud to be working hard for District 94, and would be honored to have the opportunity to continue doing just that.”

The Republican primary election will take place on May 24, 2022.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

3 days ago

ULA enters final prep on its Alabama-built rocket ahead of Starliner launch

(Boeing Space/Twitter)

United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket is set to power the next important mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Alabama-built rocket is scheduled to launch Boeing’s Starliner capsule on Friday as part of the Orbital Test Flight-2 (OBT-2). The launch is the last uncrewed mission before the spacecraft carries three astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.

ULA has configured the Atlas V for OFT-2 exactly the same as it will be for the upcoming crewed mission.

“This second orbital flight test provides us with an opportunity to further analyze the unique technologies developed for our Atlas V launch vehicle in support of NASA’s human spaceflight program,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, in a release from the company. “Our ultimate focus is on the safety of the crew and this flight will ensure we are one step closer to preparing to safely fly astronauts in the near future.”

The NASA and Boeing teams completed the flight readiness review last week.

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During a press conference announcing completion of the review, Norm Knight, director of NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate, provided his perspective on what OFT-2 will mean for the upcoming crewed flight.

“Spaceflight is hard,” he explained. “It’s definitely not easy. I will just tell you that the crew greatly appreciates the effort by NASA, Boeing and the ULA partnership for safe space flight for our astronauts.”

OFT-2 is scheduled to launch on July 30 and dock at the ISS 24 hours later. It will stay at the ISS until August 5 and return to Earth on the same day with a landing in the New Mexico desert.

It will carry cargo on both legs of its trip.

The Atlas V was built at the company’s 1.6 million square foot manufacturing facility in Decatur. Boeing’s design center in Huntsville has provided all of the structural design for the Starliner, while its Phantom Works division, which has an operation in Huntsville, has provided the power systems for the capsule.

Modified specifically for the Boeing Starliner spacecraft, the Atlas V configuration does not include a payload fairing. Instead, the Starliner’s own protective surfaces take the place of the fairing to protect the uncrewed spacecraft during ascent.

The Atlas V Centaur is powered by dual Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A-4-2 engines, each producing 22,600 pounds of thrust.

This will be the 88th launch of the Atlas V rocket and the 100th launch from Space Launch Complex-41 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. To date, ULA has launched 144 times with 100% mission success.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 days ago

Tuberville announces opening of Hoover office

(Tommy Tuberville/Facebook)

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Tuesday announced the opening of his new regional office, which will be located in Hoover. The office is set to officially open August 2.

He has appointed Mike Raita to serve as Hoover regional director. Although casework and constituent service requests for the area have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, the Hoover office location will formally open its doors to constituents this week.

The Hoover office will service Lamar, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Fayette, Walker, Jefferson, Bibb, Shelby, Chilton, Talladega, Blount and St. Clair Counties.

“Many folks in the greater Birmingham area already know my Hoover staff to be responsive and accessible, but it’s great to have a new physical location to welcome our constituents as we continue our work for Alabamians,” said Tuberville.

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He added, “With Mike Raita serving as Hoover Regional Director, constituents have an advocate that’s spent his career working with the public and who understands the needs and priorities of Central Alabama.”

A graduate of Ohio University in Athens, Raita spent 28 years of a 35-year career in broadcast journalism in Central Alabama. Raita, a recipient of several Emmys and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award, has worked as an instructor at the University of West Alabama.

He is a member of the Birmingham Barons Hall of Fame and serves on the board of the Reed Foundation.

Earlier this year, Tuberville announced two staff members of the Hoover Regional Office, Deanna Frankowski and Gil Hanahan.

Deanna Frankowski will serve as the Hoover constituent services. Frankowski has been extensively involved in local, state, and federal campaigns and conservative grassroots causes for 25 years.

A resident of Alabama since 1985, she currently serves as secretary of the Jefferson County GOP Executive and Steering Committees and is active in various local organizations.

Gil Hanahan will serve as the state health care liaison. Hanahan spearheaded the first graduate medical education program at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

He received his Bachelor’s Degree with distinction from Auburn University in Health Services Administration with a minor in Business and also received his Master’s of Science Degree in Health Administration from UAB.

The following is the address and contact information for Senator Tuberville’s Hoover Regional Office:

Galleria Tower
3000 River Chase, Suite 915
Hoover, AL 35244
Phone: (205) 760-7307

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

3 days ago

It takes a research university like UAH to meet the needs of Redstone, Cummings Research Park

(Michael Mercier/UAH)

It’s quickly apparent when you drive onto the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville that you have entered a place serious about academics, research and student success. As an illustration, the name of the road into the main entrance is Knowledge Drive.

Just a short distance beyond that entrance is a directional sign that leads you to several locations on the campus — the Engineering Building, Von Braun Research Hall, the Optics Building followed by the Materials Science Building and Propulsion Research. In that first minute of the drive onto campus a visitor is acquainted with the nature of UAH.

This institution of higher learning is unlike any other university campus in Alabama. Nearly half of UAH’s graduates earn a degree in engineering or science. Much of that is dictated by the Huntsville-Madison County economy.

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“It’s incumbent upon UAH to recruit the best students possible to fulfill the advanced workforce needs of our community,” said Dr. Bob Lindquist, who is the vice president of Research and Economic Development and is also serving as the interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The federal agencies at Redstone and the hundreds of companies in Cummings Research Park rely on UAH to supply smart workers who are prepared to make immediate contributions to their success.”

UAH students have impressive academic records. Of the freshman class that enrolled in the fall of 2020, more than half (52.1%) achieved an overall high school GPA of 4.0 or higher. Their average GPA from high school is 3.88. The average ACT score of a UAH freshman last year was 28. Only one other state university scored that well. Thirty-nine percent scored 30 or above on the ACT.

These students flock to UAH to position themselves for exciting, challenging and impactful careers with high wages. Redstone Arsenal employs 46,000 workers and more than 80 percent of those employees have a four-year degree and many of them earned advanced degrees. There are more than 320 companies, 26,000 employees and 13,500 students in Cummings Research Park, and the number of college graduates at those companies is even higher, approaching 90%.

Location. Location. Location.
Some may call it destiny or luck, but local folks call it visionary thinking by community leaders and their support of forward-thinking ideas by American rocket pioneer, Dr. Wernher von Braun.

“The classic economic development model that has proven successful across the country includes a partnership of government, industry and academia,” said Erin Koshut, director of Cummings Research Park. “Huntsville has had the good fortune of visionary leaders and opportunities that helped cultivate what we have today.”

As it has turned out, UAH is the anchor tenant of Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second-largest university-related research park, according to the Association of University Research Parks. Just a mile from the campus is the main gate of Redstone Arsenal. This proximity fosters partnerships between the university and the federal agencies on Redstone as well as among the companies in Cummings Research Park, just as envisioned by Dr. von Braun.

During Dr. von Braun’s address to the Alabama Legislature to encourage the creation of the Research Institute on the UAH campus, he told that legislative body: “‘It’s the university climate that brings the business. Let’s be honest with ourselves; it’s not water, or real estate, or labor, or power, or cheap taxes that brings industry to a state or city. It’s brainpower.”

The biggest beneficiary – UAH students
Prospective students choosing to enroll at UAH receive a world-class education in the classroom, but they gain other advantages as well. They can immediately get involved in hands-on research even as a freshman and the university works closely with the federal agencies and corporations to develop experiential learning opportunities through internships and cooperative education opportunities.

This added experience provides UAH students a keen edge in the job market. And the numbers provide the proof. More than 75% of UAH students choose employment in Alabama following graduation from UAH. And, it doesn’t hurt that Huntsville was recently named the third best city to live in America by U.S. News & World Report.

Another draw is that UAH students are among the highest-paid following graduation, according to several sources. Payscale reports UAH graduates have the No. 1 ROI for both in-state and out-of-state students. Smart Asset calls UAH the No. 1 Best Value College in Alabama in 2021.

Research intensive university
The other benefit that UAH provides to Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park is basic and applied research. When the UAH Research Institute opened in 1962, the mission of UAH’s Research Institute on day one was to provide research in technical areas encountered at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and with the Army’s missile defense programs as well as expand and strengthen the university’s graduate education programs, a vision advocated by Dr. von Braun.

Today, UAH has six highly ranked research areas, according to the National Science Foundation. The highest-ranked discipline shouldn’t be a surprise – federally financed aerospace/aeronautical/ astronautical research. That program is ranked sixth in the United States.

Other top programs include: atmospheric science (10th), computer and information sciences (11th), astronomy (14th), economics (15th), and industrial and manufacturing engineering (17th). Also, not surprising is the university’s ranking for NASA R&D (13th) and the Department of Defense R&D (26th).

UAH has served as an intellectual resource for the Huntsville-Madison County region since its first classes in 1950. The campus has entered its eighth decade for academic support in the community and next year the seventh decade milestone will be reached for research. It is a long-standing partnership that is showing no signs of abating.

“We view our role for academic and research support of Redstone much like the motto, ‘This We’ll Defend,’” Dr. Lindquist said. “As the global landscape changes and as threats evolve, and as space exploration’s future missions and programs evolve, we will be there proving leadership to adapt our research enterprise and academic offerings to fulfill the needs of our many partners.”

Metropolitan juggernaut
While research, engineering and technology were not prevalent in UAH’s earliest days, that changed in the early 1960s as the Space Age unfolded for America and Huntsville.

Marshall Space Flight Center Director Dr. von Braun encouraged the growth of science and engineering programs at UAH and he advocated the establishment of the UAH Research Institute. He also encouraged community leaders to create a research park adjoining UAH where the university could support the research activities of the corporations as well as develop an advanced workforce.

Today, UAH has more than 80 agreements with industry on cutting edge research and technology development that leads to improved and new products, and that technology transfer is channeled through UAH’s technology-based business incubator, the Invention to Innovation Center, which contributes to the region’s entrepreneurial econsystem. The campus has more than 200 other research collaborations with federal and state agencies.

Add 2,000 highly prepared graduates to the region’s advanced workforce then one can understand why UAH’s economic impact totals more than $615 million every year.

“This particular model of how UAH as a research university complements and supports Huntsville’s knowledge-based economy was jump started in the 1960s and has evolved quite successfully into the 2020s. There is no reason to believe the success of UAH and its partners won’t continue to be defined by this model for the next 60 years,” said Dr. Lindquist.

Ray Garner is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News.

3 days ago

Texas and Oklahoma ready to be ruled by Birmingham; Schools formally request SEC admission

(Solomon Crenshaw Jr./Alabama NewsCenter)

The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma have requested admission into the SEC.

The presidents for both schools formalized their requests in a letter addressed to Greg Sankey, commissioner of the SEC, on Tuesday.

Texas president Jay Hartzell and Oklahoma president Joseph Harroz, Jr. wrote, “We believe there would be mutual benefit to the Universities on one hand, and the SEC on the other hand, for the Universities to become members of the SEC.”

The joint request seeks admission to the conference beginning July 1, 2025. It remains to be seen if the schools’ current conference, the Big 12, can remain viable through that date.

Associated Press college football writer Ralph Russo tweeted a copy of the short, but consequential, letter:

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News of the schools’ intent to seek admission to the nation’s most powerful athletic conference broke during last week’s SEC Media Days in Hoover. It drew immediate pushback from Texas’ in-state rival, and current SEC member, Texas A&M.

Representatives of the Aggie athletic department initially said the school would oppose any move to admit the Longhorns into the SEC.

The Texas A&M administration has since clarified its position. While not saying her school would welcome Texas to the SEC, Aggie president Katherine Banks stated that her school was ready to continue moving forward as a member.

Admission of a new member requires the approval of 11 of 14 conference members. No formal opposition to the request is expected.

The move signals an acceptance of the current landscape in college football — especially for Texas — one in which the Alabama-based conference has exerted unmatched power during the last two decades. SEC programs have won 11 of the last 14 college football national championships.

In leaving the Big 12, the Longhorns will no longer fall under the direction of conferences offices in nearby Irving, Texas. The Big 12 has long been viewed as being either an extension of the UT athletic offices or beholden to the Longhorns at different times during the conference’s existence.

The SEC has its headquarters in downtown Birmingham.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 days ago

Tuberville warns of rising inflation as government spending reaches record highs

(Senator Tommy Tuberville/Facebook, Pixabay, YHN)

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Monday took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to warn of what he sees as a “big government approach” that Democrats have taken toward policy-making regarding COVID-19 recovery efforts and the economic fallout that he believes will ensue if Congress continues to spend at record levels.

Tuberville says he believes that expanding opportunity, not government handouts, should be the federal government’s economic approach.

“If we work hard and challenge ourselves to improve, we reap the benefits for much longer. That is the American way,” Tuberville said. “I’d tell this to my players over the years that I coached, lessons learned that are applied to the football field also apply in life. You know, this country owes you one thing, an opportunity.”

He added, “Sometimes people just need to be shown where that opportunity’s at and encouraged to take it. And that’s what everyone in this body should be focused on doing, opening doors for opportunity for the people of this country. President Biden seems determined to close those doors of opportunity by creating, it looks like, a future massive entitlement state.”

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Alabama’s junior senator touched on the consequences of rising inflation and the financial hardship it has placed on everyday Americans.

“My Republican colleagues and I have talked a lot about the reckless tax and spend plan and the cost of that plan on American families,” said Tuberville. “We’re seeing rising inflation, which means dollars from your paycheck are not going as far. We’re seeing costs rise on everyday goods that families need, food, gas, diapers – you name it, it’s going up. This is a direct result of untargeted spending this year as we’re trying to recover from a pandemic.”

Tuberville decried what he sees as an ever-expanding welfare state to be a political play to the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

“The reckless tax and spend spree to advance President Biden’s progressive agenda isn’t just unaffordable, it’s un-American,” he said. “The United States was founded on the ideas of personal liberty and self-reliance.”

“Since our founding, people have flocked to the United States because of the opportunity it gives citizens to succeed, not because of cushy government handouts,” continued Tuberville. “Because our society values hard work, grit, and determination more than the countries most of these folks have left behind.”

He concluded, “I say we work together to encourage people to seize the many opportunities in our country [rather than] have them wait around hoping the government will fix every problem life throws their way. That’s the culture of the United States of America, the best country on the face of the earth.”

According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measurement of the costs that consumers pay for goods and services, inflation rose 5.4% in the month of June. The rate sits at the highest it has been since 2008.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News