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.

2 hours ago

Ivey urges patience as vaccine rollout picks up pace; State still compares poorly to others

(Amanda L Abbett/UAB Hospital/Contributed)

Governor Kay Ivey is urging Alabamians to be patient with the rollout of their state’s coronavirus vaccination system. Her comments come as Alabama has received criticism for its slow process compared to other states, though the pace has increased in the last week.

Compared to other states and territories, Alabama has ranked at or near the bottom in terms of shots given per thousand people, and in terms of the percentage of doses in its possession that it has gotten into arms.

The pace of administration notably quickened in the last five days, rising from 87,138 total shots administered as of Monday to over 130,000 on Friday, meaning around 50% of the state’s shots given out have been administered in the workweek ending on January 15.

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According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) dashboard on Friday afternoon, 130,394 doses of one of the two coronavirus vaccines have been given out of the 370,575 that have been delivered to the state.

“[State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris] and his team are continually working to more efficiently get this vaccine into the arms of Alabamians,” promised Ivey on Friday.

Since receiving its first doses in December, Alabama has focused on vaccinating health care workers and nursing home residents.

On Monday, January 18, eligibility to get the vaccine expands to any Alabamian aged 75 and over, along with first responders like police officers and firefighters.

ADPH announced earlier in the week that the hotline it created to handle appointment calls from people in the newly eligible categories was beingly regularly overwhelmed, and all slots to get a vaccine at county health departments have been filled through the end of January.

The agency said only eligible citizens, can still call the hotline and have their information added to a waiting list.

“Callers will be contacted as soon as more appointments are available,” relayed ADPH. The number for the hotline is 1-855-566-5333.

RELATED: Jefferson County running independent COVID-19 vaccination process from rest of state, creates separate hotline to call

“I am thankful so many Alabamians are willing and ready to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Please continue to be patient as we are in the very early stages of distribution,” said Ivey on Friday.

The Anniston Star reported in recent days that an online web portal to schedule vaccine appointments is in the works, but still a ways off.

Both vaccine products approved for use, from medical companies Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses given three to four weeks apart before their effectiveness takes hold.

Alabama has roughly 326,000 health care workers and around 350,000 citizens aged 75 or above, according to ADPH. Recent estimates of the number of police officers and firefighters in the state were not readily available.

The federal government has currently allocated Alabama 640,150 doses of coronavirus vaccine.

“Our current supply remains limited, but we are committed to vaccinating as many Alabamians as possible. We will get shots in the arm and off the shelf. In the meantime, be patient, wear your mask and practice good common sense. Let’s get this thing behind us,” Ivey concluded.

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

2 hours ago

Former Crimson Tide national champion Martin Houston running for mayor of Tuscaloosa

(Martin Houston campaign/YouTube)

Tuscaloosa businessman, pastor and former University of Alabama football player Martin Houston on Thursday announced his entry into the Tuscaloosa mayoral race.

During a press conference at his campaign headquarters in downtown Tuscaloosa, Houston was introduced by Crimson Tide legend Gene Stallings, who was Houston’s coach during Bama’s 1992 national championship season.

Watch Stalling’s remarks and the entirety of the announcement here.

Speaking to a small group of supporters and media at the live streamed event, Houston laid out his vision for Tuscaloosa, focusing on increased transparency, inclusion, diversity and economic growth.

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“I first knew that Tuscaloosa was an extremely special place during an official college visit to Alabama in 1988,” said Houston, who played fullback and running back for the Tide for the 1989-1992 seasons. “What I thought was just a four-year decision to play football turned into something much more. Tuscaloosa is where I married my childhood sweetheart, raised our children, and found my purpose. For 32 years, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to serve as a businessman, a pastor, a volunteer, and a coach here.”

At the university, Houston received both the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence and Charlie Compton Christian Leadership Awards. He was also the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ “Christian Athlete of the Year” in 1992. He went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993 until a knee injury ended his NFL career.

Now, Houston is senior director of Membership Growth for Alabama One, serves as the lead pastor at Harvest Church in nearby Coker and hosts “The Martin Houston Show” on Tide 100.9. Additionally, he is a faith-based, inspirational speaker and is the chief empowerment officer/lead communicator for “The Empowerment Center.”

Houston and his wife of 31 years, Cassandra, have four children and three grandchildren.

“We all know the potential that our city has. It’s time to raise the bar and take Tuscaloosa from being just a good city to a great one,” he remarked on Thursday.

“I know that many of you feel disrespected, disconnected, and disenfranchised,” Houston added. “I want everyone to know that I hear you. Everyone in Tuscaloosa deserves a place where they can be heard. When I’m your mayor, everyone will have that place—that seat at the table.”

The pastor noted, “Tuscaloosa needs a candidate who is of the people, by the people, and for the people. I am running so I can make Tuscaloosa a better place for everyone to live, work, play and worship.”

“We can and will do this with focused, determined efforts to be an economically sound City driven by innovation, diversity and inclusion at every level,” he pledged. “Your voice matters and in the coming weeks, I look forward to earning your trust, your respect and your vote.”

Earlier the same day, incumbent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced that he is seeking reelection to a fifth term. This will be Maddox’s first municipal bid since being the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018.

He released this campaign video on Thursday:

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

3 hours ago

Tuberville: Trump made a ‘mistake’ at rally but ability of armed intruders to get into the U.S. Capitol ‘very concerning’

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Trump ally Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) admits President Donald Trump made a “mistake” with his rhetoric at a rally staged in Washington, D.C., before a joint session of Congress met to certify the 2020 Electoral College results. However, he also said he had questions about how the event unfolded.

During an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Tuberville explained the challenges Trump has faced, even as his term is coming to an end, adding that the president may not have been aware of how influential he is with his base. However, the football coach-turned-U.S. Senator said there were some peculiar circumstances regarding the crowd that day.

“[A] lot of people up there cannot stand an outsider being in office, and that’s Donald Trump,” he said. “He made a mistake last week. I don’t think he even really realized how powerful he is with his base. Now, I watched all the footage of the riot. I’d never seen a Trump rally, which he has had over 600 of them, with people come wearing helmets and backpacks and those things. I don’t know who was involved in it, but it happened, and it should have never happened.”

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Tuberville also said he had concerns about the incident and what could have been done to prevent it, noting the FBI did not relay the threat to Trump.

“[It’s] very concerning,” he said. “I live next to the Capitol. I walk around it every day. I get up early in the morning, and I can walk to work. I get up, do a little exercise. It is a beautiful place. We have 2,000 people that work for the Capitol Police that day, obviously. Now my understanding is that the FBI knew they had gotten word there was going to be trouble at the Capitol the day before it happened. That word never got to the President of the United States. As a Senator, I want to know why that wasn’t passed on down the line. Is the FBI holding secrets? I don’t understand that. But, you’ve got 2,000 Capitol Hill police, and my understanding is they thought, ‘Hey, there are never any problems with Trump rallies because they come and they go.’ There’s been 600 of them, but this was different. I don’t know why it was different. I don’t know why we had people get involved in the things that they get involved in. We had people killed in this. We had a policeman get hit with a fire extinguisher. He got hit in the head, and he later passed on. We had a lady that was a veteran that was shot.”

“I went home about four in the morning, that night after we went on with confirming Joe Biden,” Tuberville added. “I was just taken aback from knowing our country is much, much better than what we went through that day. And it should never happen. Now you can see — they’re probably going overboard now. There are going to be 10,000, 20,000 National Guard people around every building. It looks like a third-world country, and it makes you feel bad for what our forefathers had built.”

@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.

10 hours ago

Another record-shattering year: Thank you, Yellowhammer readers!

(YHN)

The year of 2020 will go down in history for many things, most of which we are happy to see in the rearview mirror.

In spite of the craziness of the past 12 months, the entire Yellowhammer News team would like to say “THANK YOU” to our tremendous audience whose support helped make 2020 another record-breaking year for our company.

As evidenced by our continued year-over-year audience growth, we are proud to provide a reliable daily product that resonates with the people of Alabama. From everyone at Yellowhammer, we sincerely appreciate and value the trust you put in us.

Thank you, Yellowhammer readers!

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12 hours ago

Point Broadband to offer high-speed fiber internet on Alabama’s Lake Martin

(Point Broadband/Contributed)

Point Broadband announced plans to offer fiber-to-the-premises high-speed internet for select areas on Lake Martin in Alabama.

“In today’s digitally-driven world, fast and reliable fiber internet is crucial to keep everyone and everything connected,” said Point Broadband CEO Todd Holt. “Point Broadband is thrilled to offer residents and businesses in the Lake Martin area access to some of the best broadband technology available today.”

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The fiber broadband company based in West Point, Georgia, which operates in nine states, will provide up to 1 gigabit symmetrical broadband service with whole-home W-Fi, allowing numerous devices to run around the clock.

“With more people working, students learning and families entertaining all from their homes, we recognize the importance of ensuring your home has the right resources to meet your needs,” Holt said.

Lake Martin residents can sign up or express interest at point-broadband.com/lake-martin/.

Point Broadband is partnering with Alabama Power on the new initiative. The company will contract for a portion of Alabama Power’s fiber infrastructure to help support Point Broadband’s offering of high-speed internet on Lake Martin.

“The need for greater broadband accessibility for Alabamians to continue to learn, grow business and lead healthy lives is greater than ever before,” said Leslie Sanders, vice president of Alabama Power’s Southern Division. “We’re excited to partner with Point Broadband to be part of the solution. The advanced technology of our electric grid makes it smarter, more reliable and resilient, and can also help facilitate the expansion of broadband services.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Ivey fulfills request to send Alabama National Guardsmen to D.C. for security of Biden inauguration

Governor Kay Ivey attended the arrival of Alabama National Guard soldiers returning from overseas deployment May 9, 2018 in Birmingham, Ala. (Governor's Office, Hal Yeager)

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has authorized the sending of approximately 250 members of the Alabama National Guard to help secure the Washington, D.C. area ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

First reported Gray Television and confirmed to Yellowhammer News, the move was made in response to a request by the head of the National Guard, Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson.

According to National Public Radio, which is based in Washington, D.C., around 20,000 members of the National Guard will be in the Capitol area to help keep the peace through the inauguration. They will come from nearly all states, per NPR’s reporting.

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The dramatically-heightened security comes in the wake of a group of President Donald Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6. The violence led to the death of five people including a member of the Capitol Police.

Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, told Yellowhammer News in a statement about the National Guard’s deployment, “At the request of the Chief of The National Guard Bureau, General Daniel R. Hokanson, the Alabama National Guard has activated approximately 250 Soldiers in support of the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C.”

The activation of the soldiers comes as the FBI has warned states that protesters in the vein of those who stormed the U.S. Capitol may demonstrate in their areas over the coming days.

Ivey said at a public appearance on Tuesday that she was aware of law enforcement monitoring the situation.

UPDATE 4:50 p.m. Friday

The governor’s office provided the following update: “At the request of the Chief of The National Guard Bureau, General Daniel R. Hokanson, Alabama will now be sending approximately 750 Soldiers in support of the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.”

This marks an increase of about 500 guardsmen from the original request.

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

1 day ago

SAIL awards nearly $1 million to summer learning programs in Alabama

(SAIL/Contributed)

Summer Adventure in Learning (SAIL), a joint project of six charitable organizations, announced Thursday that dozens of organizations in Alabama that provide summer learning opportunities to children will be receiving financial support.

Forty independent programs in the state will receive a total of $898,500.

SAIL cites research showing that students from low-income families frequently lose months of reading and math skills during the summer break. The organization sets out to prevent this learning loss among low-income students by funding summer learning programs that target those kids.

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Most SAIL-affiliated programs are in the Birmingham area, though it also has six programs to whom it gives funds in the Black belt and three large programs in the Huntsville area.

“We have always known the importance of intentionally academic summer programming, but it proved more critical than ever after schools closed in the spring of 2020,” said Elizabeth Dotts Fleming, the executive director of The Schools Foundation, in a release.

The Schools Foundation is SAIL’s chief partner in the Huntsville area.

SAIL does not require the summer learning programs it funds to follow a specific curriculum, allowing a large degree of flexibility among the programs it funds.

However, all programs taking SAIL funding consent to a test of its students at the beginning and end of its run so the program’s effectiveness can be assessed.

In a release, SAIL shared that “In the summer of 2020, SAIL supported 34 programs. 14 provided in-person programs, 17 virtual, and 3 offered an at-home curriculum. Due to COVID restrictions, enrollment was down from SAIL’s normal 2,500+ students to 1,250.”

“State law requires school systems to offer summer reading camps, but leaves the implementation to each district,” remarked Mitchie Neel, the executive director of the Blount County Education Foundation.

“We know from research that how you structure a summer learning program influences how much students will learn. Partnering with SAIL allows us to meet students where they are while nurturing the whole child and bringing them up to grade level,” Neel added.

A list of the programs receiving funding from SAIL in 2021 can be found here for the Birmingham area, here for the Black Belt and here for Huntsville.

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

1 day ago

PowerSouth’s Gary Smith elected as chairman of Business Council of Alabama

(BCA/Contributed, YHN)

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) on Thursday announced the organization’s 2021 board of directors, including a new chairman of the board.

PowerSouth Energy Cooperative president and CEO Gary Smith has been elected to serve as chairman of BCA, succeeding John Mazyck. Smith most recently served as chairman of ProgressPAC, BCA’s political arm, and he previously has held several other leadership roles within BCA.

“I am honored to serve as BCA’s next chairman. It’s a privilege to be a part of this organization and the board serving the businesses of Alabama,” Smith said in a statement. “I am grateful to John for the countless contributions he made throughout his time as chairman. BCA has continued to succeed in part because of his leadership. I anticipate great things for the future of this organization.”

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Mazyck is a principal at Montgomery-based The Frazier Lanier Company.

“It has been an honor to serve as Chairman and to work with an exceptional Executive Committee, Board, and Staff. We have advanced the ball for business in Alabama in 2020, and we have led with strength,” Mazyck stated. “I anticipate continued success and progress under Gary’s leadership as BCA continues to work on behalf of the business community, ensuring a stronger, more prosperous Alabama.”

Katie Boyd Britt, BCA’s president and CEO, praised Mazyck’s tenure in a statement.

“BCA is immensely grateful for John Mazyck’s leadership and his many contributions to BCA throughout his time as chairman,” she said. “John has been instrumental in moving our organization forward, building a stronger business community, and furthering the mission of BCA to create an environment where all businesses can grow and flourish.”

Smith is a graduate of the University of North Alabama and of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. He currently serves on the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama board, University of North Alabama board, Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives board, Southern Independent Bank board and the South Alabama Regional Airport board, among others.

“Gary Smith has been a valuable partner of BCA for years and has contributed so much already through his involvement,” Britt commented. “His strong leadership has positively impacted BCA and ProgressPAC in innumerable ways, and I look forward to working alongside him as he continues to work on behalf of the Alabama business community.”

Overall, the BCA board of directors includes distinguished pro-jobs leaders from across the Yellowhammer State who are willing to donate their time and resources for the betterment of all Alabamians. View a list of the 2021 directors here.

“We again have gathered an incredible group of professionals to serve as our 2021 board of directors. Every member serves an important role and brings together diverse professional experience on issues important to Alabama business,” Britt concluded. “The board plays an instrumental part in BCA’s ability to achieve the goals of growing the state’s economy, creating jobs, and encouraging investment in Alabama. I am excited to work with and learn from them as we all navigate through the new year.”

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

1 day ago

Blue Origin highlights Huntsville engine factory, Space Camp before successful Thursday launch

(@BlueOrigin/Twitter, YHN)

Blue Origin on Thursday appeared to successfully complete its 14th mission for the New Shepard program.

The unmanned mission was meant to test in-capsule upgrades, with “Mannequin Skywalker” as the spacecraft’s occupant.

NS-14 lifted off from Launch Site One in West Texas at 11:19 a.m. CT. A mere seven minutes later, the reusable capsule had returned from suborbit and softly touched back down at Blue Origin’s landing pad at the same location.

On the quick trip, Mannequin Skywalker wore a pin from Space Camp, which is located at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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In a webcast directly before the launch, Blue Origin showcased Space Camp with a quick virtual tour.

Blue Origin is currently operating a full-rate engine manufacturing facility in the Rocket City, building BE-3U and BE-4 engines.

Both of these engines are used for the company’s in-development New Glenn heavy-lift rocket; seven BE-4s are utilized in the first stage, while two BE-3Us comprise the second stage. The BE-4 will also be used to power United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Decatur-built Vulcan Centaur rockets.

ULA’s selection of the BE-4 for this next-generation launch vehicle drew Blue Origin to Huntsville in the first place.

Since then, Blue Origin has refurbished the historic test stands at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center that once served as a the backbone for Saturn V propulsion testing for the Apollo program. The BE-3U and BE-4 engines have been tested at Marshall, and Blue Origin’s BE-7 engine is currently undergoing testing there as well.

This brings the test stands’ legacy full circle, as the BE-7 powers Blue Origin’s Blue Moon developmental lunar lander that is part of the “National Team” proposal competing to build the Human Landing System (HLS) that will eventually take the first woman and the next man to the moon’s surface as part of the Artemis program. NASA’s HLS program is managed at Marshall, and Blue Origin’s lunar work is conducted out of Huntsville.

It should be noted that a BE-3U engine is also used in decelerating the Blue Moon for lunar landing.

A full-scale mockup of Blue Origin’s lunar lander is currently on display at its Huntsville facility.

In its webcast on Thursday, the company also displayed a virtual tour of that plant and showed off its made-in-Alabama engines.

WATCH:

RELATED: Huntsville’s Dynetics submits HLS proposal to NASA

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

1 day ago

Lawmakers urge ALDOT to catch up to Mississippi, four-lane U.S. Highway 45 from state line to Mobile

U.S. Highway 45, facing south into Alabama (left), facing north into Mississippi (right) (Jeff Poor/YHN)

For nearly a century, the route that is now Alabama’s portion of U.S. Highway 45 has stretched from downtown Mobile to the Alabama-Mississippi state line, initially parallel to the old Mobile and Ohio Railroad line. Although there have been some subtle changes in the actual route, and, obviously, many coats of asphalt over the decades, the route remains true to form.

After a 278-mile jaunt down from the Tennessee-Mississippi state line down the eastern portion of Mississippi on a four-lane highway, southbound U.S. Highway 45 travelers are welcomed to Alabama by a narrowing from four to two lanes, and a sign posted “Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey.”

Although it shows some signs of age, the portion of U.S. Highway 45 from Meridian, Miss. to the Alabama-Mississippi line, a route possibly familiar to Alabama football fans driving up from Mobile to Tuscaloosa through Mississippi, was completed in 2007.

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(1928 KYSO Road Map of Alabama/University of Alabama Historic Maps Collection)

When the state legislature raised the fuel tax in the early 1990s, the route was statutorily mandated for improvement to Mobile. However, the language was removed.

“There never was a justification,” State Rep. Brett Easterbrook (R-Fruitdale) said during an interview with FM Talk 106.5 in Mobile. “They opened the bill and removed the words. There was no justification behind it.”

Easterbrook blames a lack of voters in the vicinity for the deprioritization of the route.

“It has been far down the list for years,” he said. “It is the deadliest highway in the state of Alabama. My belief is it is down the list because of the number of voters in that area of the state. North of I-65, there’s not a four-lane highway all the way to I-20 with the exception of [U.S. Highway] 43. It becomes a pig trail at Thomasville. We can’t go north, we can’t go east, and we can’t go west. Highway 45 is four lanes from the Mississippi to Chicago.”

“It would also serve as an evacuation route for hurricanes if it were four lanes,” Easterbrook added. “There’s really no excuse for this not to have already been done.”

State Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Satsuma) also says it is time for Alabama to catch up with Mississippi.

He told FM Talk 106.5 that he has met with Gov. Kay Ivey, Ivey chief of staff Jo Bonner and Alabama Department of Transportation director John Cooper to keep it “fresh in their minds.”

However, he also said officials at ALDOT appear not to be convinced of the project’s urgency, given it is not considered one of the top 10 projects under consideration.

“It is the deadliest highway in Alabama,” Stringer said. “We’re reminded of that about once a month. We have a major wreck up here. Somebodies’ lives are changed, but we’re constantly reminding them of it. I’m constantly meeting with ALDOT. I did get a list of the top 10 projects in Alabama, and Highway 45 is not on that list. Just trying to work on to see what we can do to get that, working with the other politicians, legislators trying to get as much assistance as I can to put pressure on the governor and the state to do something with this.”

@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.

1 day ago

Boeing’s Huntsville-based Missile and Weapon Systems division is booming

(Boeing/Contributed, YHN)

The Boeing Company’s Huntsville-based Missile and Weapon Systems division continues to be a significant driver of economic activity for Alabama.

In the past year alone, the Rocket City division was awarded nearly $1 billion to develop a next-generation technology for the U.S. Army’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile system.

Boeing, through recent contracts totaling $974 million, has been tasked with developing a next-generation seeker for the PAC-3 Missile system, as well as continuing and expanding production on current generations of the PAC-3 seeker. The company’s work on this program is managed in Huntsville as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin.

The seeker provides guidance data to the PAC-3 Missile system, which has protected warfighters around the world from tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and hostile aircraft for nearly two decades.

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“Boeing is proud to continue its 20-year history of delivering seekers in support of increasing and evolving air and missile defense needs,” stated Robert Green, director of Boeing Integrated Air and Missile Defense. “We remain committed to ensuring that the servicewomen and men who rely on the PAC-3 have ready and reliable protection today – and modernized, next-generation capabilities that can outpace, out-innovate, deter and defeat emerging threats of tomorrow.”

Since 2000, Boeing has produced more than 4,000 PAC-3 Missile seekers and recently set a new 12-month program production record in support of expanding air and missile defense requirements for the United States, its allies and international partners worldwide – despite working amid physical distancing and other COVID-related health and safety measures.

Boeing employs more than 3,000 people in Huntsville, supporting the nation’s defense and space capabilities. As of 2018, the company generated an estimated $2.3 billion of economic activity in the state annually. The company spent $606 million with nearly 200 suppliers, supporting about 18,000 direct and indirect jobs as of the latest available data.

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

1 day ago

Raytheon offering scholarships for U.S. Navy student veterans

(Raytheon Missiles and Defense/Facebook, YHN)

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, has begun accepting applications for its SPY-6 scholarship to benefit U.S. Navy student veterans.

In partnership with Student Veterans of America (SVA), two $10,000 scholarships will be awarded to sailors who pursue a degree at an accredited university and demonstrate leadership in their local community.

Applications will be accepted on the SVA website until April 5, 2021.

Raytheon has a large presence in Huntsville, Alabama, and is active in the surrounding community. The defense contractor recently donated $4 million to the new Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, for example.

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The SPY-6 scholarship, named for the U.S. Navy’s SPY-6 family of radars, gives student veterans an opportunity to achieve their educational goals and better position themselves for success in civilian professions.

Last year’s recipients were Francheska Salazar, a sophomore at George Washington University, and Chris Ricks, who attends Harvard Business School.

The scholarship is part of Raytheon’s long history of supporting military veterans, including a $5 million commitment to SVA, a nonprofit that focuses on the needs and concerns of American military veterans in higher education.

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

1 day ago

Nick Saban wins Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant Award for first time at Alabama

(ESPN/Twitter)

The American Heart Association on Wednesday night announced that University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has been named the recipient of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award for the 2020 season.

The award recognizes the country’s top college football coach for his contributions both on and off the field. The award is selected after all bowl games have concluded and is voted on by the National Sports Media Association.

Saban, who won the Bryant Award in 2003 at LSU, joins Alabama legend Gene Stallings (1992) as the Crimson Tide’s only coaches to ever win the prestigious honor.

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This season, Saban led the Tide to a perfect 13-0 record after securing his seventh total national championship, thanks to a 52-24 rout of Ohio State on Monday night. He has coached more games (86) as the Associated Press’ No. 1 team than any other active head coach.

With the latest national title, Saban has now broken the late Bryant’s all-time record. However, both men are tied for national championships won in Tuscaloosa, as Saban won his first at LSU.

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

1 day ago

April Weaver endorsed by Manufacture Alabama in Senate District 14 special election

(Manufacture Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

Manufacture Alabama on Wednesday announced its endorsement of former State Rep. April Weaver (R-Brierfield) for Alabama Senate District 14, which includes portions of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties.

Weaver has announced her Republican candidacy for the seat, which became vacant when former State Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) was appointed as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. The special election dates for the seat were announced last month.

“Manufacture Alabama is endorsing April Weaver for Senate District 14 due to her commitment to our state, her deep understanding of industry and the needs of our manufacturers,” stated George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama.

“Weaver has a strong track record of crafting smart policy and identifying opportunities that make Alabama an even better place to live and conduct business,” he added. “Her leadership has brought positive resolutions to challenges facing our industry and we’re proud to endorse her for Senate District 14.”

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A lifelong resident of District 14, Weaver is a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration. She has worked more than 23 years in hospital management in various roles. Most recently, she served as Regional IV director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the Trump administration.

When serving in the House of Representatives, she was the first ever woman to serve as chair of the House Health Committee. Weaver has also been a leader within the Alabama Energy Council and national Energy Council.

Manufacture Alabama, which represents hundreds of companies, is a major trade association in the Yellowhammer State dedicated exclusively to the competitive, legislative, regulatory and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses.

“I am proud to receive the support of a great organization like Manufacture Alabama. Their membership is the backbone of our business industry an invaluable part of the Alabama economy,” said Weaver. “It is important to have a strong partnership with the manufacturing industry.”

Weaver has also been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Forestry Association and Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL).

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

2 days ago

Air Force: Huntsville chosen for Space Command HQ because it was objectively ‘best suited’ for mission

(Air Force Space Command, Team Redstone/Facebook, YHN)

The United States Air Force on Wednesday afternoon officially announced on behalf of the Department of Defense that Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal has been selected as the preferred location for the U.S. Space Command’s permanent headquarters.

This confirms Yellowhammer News’ reporting from earlier in the day. Read that report here, which includes reactions from members of Alabama’s congressional delegation and elected officials on the state level.

The Air Force’s official announcement — made in a written press release — rebutted local, anonymously sourced reporting out of Colorado that claimed the Air Force had actually preferred Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, Space Command’s current temporary headquarters and one of the other five finalists for the permanent basing location, to Redstone. The Denver Gazette had alleged that President Donald J. Trump had overruled the Air Force and picked Redstone.

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However, the Air Force’s release explained, “The Department of the Air Force conducted both virtual and on-site visits to assess which of six candidate locations would be best suited to host the U.S. Space Command Headquarters based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense.”

“Huntsville compared favorably across more of these factors than any other community, providing a large, qualified workforce, quality schools, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial and recurring costs,” the release continued. “Additionally, Redstone Arsenal offered a facility to support the headquarters, at no cost, while the permanent facility is being constructed.”

The Air Force anticipates making its decision final in spring 2023, pending the results from the required environmental impact analysis — which is normally considered a formality at the end of these types of federal basing competitions.

It is expected to take six years for the Space Command HQ to be relocated to Redstone from the temporary Colorado setup.

In a detailed statement, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle reacted to the Air Force announcement.

“The City of Huntsville, Alabama is honored that Redstone Arsenal has been named as the site for the United States Space Command,” said Battle.

“We are grateful to Senator Richard Shelby for his confidence in Huntsville… Senator Shelby has been front and center of this space effort from its inception. As one of our nation’s strongest defense advocates and most knowledgeable leaders in defense matters, Senator Shelby recognized the value of a program that would focus on space assets and threats. It is his vision to protect our country in space with a dedicated command,” the mayor continued. “We thank the U.S. Air Force site selection team for choosing Redstone Arsenal from its final six candidate cities. This group was meticulous in its review and assessment of potential sites, and they put us through the paces in their research these past two years. We will make you proud of your decision.”

Battle outlined, “The site selection team recognized what we know to be true – Huntsville is a natural choice. We are space. We do space. From the Redstone Arsenal installation to the Space and Missile defense assets that are here, Huntsville has been the leader in all [things] space since day one. From the 1950s when Explorer I went into space to the birthplace of NASA, space is in our DNA. We have built the space infrastructure and technical expertise to lead this effort.”

“The site team learned about the Redstone region’s proven track record in relocating military commands to our community. Army Aviation moved here in 1995 and Army Materiel Command moved here in 2011. Our low cost of living and doing business means the country’s tax-paying dollar will stretch much farther, providing more valuable resources for our space effort and warfighter,” he concluded. “We look forward to the partnership with U.S. Space Command and pledge to make them a success from day one.”

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

2 days ago

USDA Rural Development announces three Alabama projects have received a combined $65.7 million in funding

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — Three Alabama entities – a county water authority, a peanut shelling facility and a vaccine vial manufacturer — will be receiving a combined total of $65.7 million in federal support, according to an announcement by the USDA Rural Development Alabama State Office on Wednesday.

The largest piece of funding announced Wednesday – a $40 million Business & Industry Guarantee – will help build a peanut shelling facility in Atmore from the cooperative Coastal Growers LLC.

Also receiving funds is SiO2 Materials in Auburn, which makes vials for coronavirus vaccine doses. It will receive a $22.9 million loan guarantee. The West Dallas County Water Authority will be receiving $2.8 million in loans and grants to help expand and upgrade its water system

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USDA Rural Development State Director Chris Beeker conducted the announcement at the office’s location in Montgomery. He was joined by representatives from Coastal Growers and SiO2 Materials.

“Today is a good day at USDA,” Beeker opened the announcement.

The peanut shelling facility receiving the USDA funding was first announced in the fall of 2020. Coastal Growers LLC, the cooperative of 100 farmers in the South Alabama area backing the venture, estimated at the time that the plant would cost $87 million.

Brad Smith of Coastal Growers spoke at the announcement on Wednesday.

“With the USDA support, we were able to cut the actual equity needed [to be invested] by the growers in half,” he said, further explaining that the lowered cost of investment on the farmers’ behalf made the project possible when it would not have been otherwise.

Beeker noted the facility will allow peanut farmers in the region to have a market for their product, providing them an avenue to export their products around the country and world.

Auburn-based SiO2 had already been the subject of much media attention before the USDA funding was announced Wednesday. Beeker said the $22.9 million the company is getting from the USDA Rural Development is to help offset the costs of the businesses’ COVID-19 expenditures and meet the heightened demand for their product.

A smaller project, the grants and loans to the West Dallas Water Authority will provide for new water service at 69 additional households and one church in the west Dallas County area.

Beeker noted that many of the residents who will soon have access to service from the water authority are currently reliant on independently created wells, which are not thought to be reliable sources of clean water.

Beeker remarked, “It is these three projects and many more like them which underline the importance of rural America to the entire country.”

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

2 days ago

President Donald Trump impeached again, despite opposition of Alabama House Republicans

(President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi/Facebook, YHN)

The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon voted to impeach President Donald John Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

Trump became the first president in history to be impeached on two separate occasions. He was impeached in December 2019 on two articles of impeachment and then acquitted by the Senate in early 2020.

Wednesday’s vote was 232-197, with 10 Republicans voting to support impeachment.

Alabama’s only member of the House voting to impeach the president is also the state’s only Democrat in the chamber, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07). She was also a cosponsor of the impeachment resolution.

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The six Republican congressmen from the Yellowhammer State voted against impeachment.

RELATED: Gary Palmer: Latest effort to impeach Trump ‘only serves to intensify division and anger’

The article of impeachment charges Trump with engaging “in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” This refers to his speech last Wednesday that preceded rioting at the U.S. Capitol.

The Senate will not be back in session until January 19, meaning a Senate impeachment trial will very likely occur after Trump has left office.

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) said in a statement, “The storming of the United States Capitol was an American tragedy. As someone who was in the chamber of the House of Representatives that day, I can tell you it was a dark day in American history. The actions of those who broke into the building are unacceptable and undefendable. As I stated last week, our goal now should be on unifying our nation and to prayerfully seek answers to our nation’s problems.”

“While I understand Democrats wanting to express their anger in the form of impeachment, the act, which is more symbolic than actionable, causes more division and does not advance unity or healing,” he continued. “The United States Senate leader has stated that the Senate will not be able to even begin a trial until after President Trump has already left office next week.

“I believe that it would be in the best interest of all Americans for us to focus on cooling tensions, finding common ground and praying for this nation as we face so many challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic. In all sincerity, I do not believe that the impeachment today does anything to move our great constitutional republic forward,” Aderholt advised.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (AL-01) also released a statement right after Wednesday’s vote.

“Today House Democrats moved forward with a vote to impeach President Trump,” the freshman congressman from Coastal Alabama stated. “I voted no because the reasons cited in these articles failed to reach the necessary threshold for impeachment. Furthermore, the President has publicly conceded the election and committed to a peaceful transition of power, and I trust he will uphold his promise to ensure a smooth transition to the next administration. With only a few days left until January 20th, impeachment would further divide the American people when unity is needed. I remain committed to doing the job I was elected to do, rather than wasting time on Nancy Pelosi’s personal vendetta against President Trump.”

UPDATE 5:15 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05), himself facing a censure resolution for a speech he delivered before Trump’s remarks last Wednesday, released a statement, saying, “For the second time in as many years, House Socialists who are panicking from almost losing the House in the 2020 elections foist a sham impeachment on the American people, a mere 7 days before President Trump is set to leave office. The Socialists seek to sully the President’s reputation and tarnish his legacy with baseless claims that he incited January 6th Capitol violence despite ZERO evidence. Their arguments are bunk. They paid NO attention to President Trump expressly asking American citizens to “peacefully” exercise their protest rights. Socialists also ignore growing evidence that militant groups coordinated and incited the illegal breach of the Capitol and would have done so regardless of what President Trump said at a rally 1 1/2 miles away.”

“My message to Socialists: Try being truthful, honest and honorable for a change. Do some homework. Actually read the President’s speech transcript,” he concluded. “Where in his speech did President Trump instruct anyone to commit violent acts? It is not there. American citizens have an absolute right under the Constitution’s First Amendment to engage in free speech and to assemble, protest, and petition their Congress. I am proud of those patriots who lawfully exercised their rights in hopes of helping to bring about more honest and accurate elections that are the underpinning of any republic. I hope those who engaged in illegal activity inside the Capitol are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

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

2 days ago

Workforce profiles created to show what each region of Alabama has to offer — ‘Essential for our state’s prosperity’

(AlabamaWorks!)

AlabamaWorks, a workforce and economic development organization in the state department of commerce, unveiled this week a set of seven regional profiles that display key information about what each part of the state has to offer.

The profiles were produced by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and Equivolve Consulting in partnership with the Alabama Workforce Council and the Governor’s Office. Funding was provided by a grant from the Lumina Foundation.

“Creating opportunities and empowering students for success begins with a thorough knowledge of the current workforce landscape as well as factors that impact access to education and employment,” the agencies noted in a release.

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The organizations involved aimed to produce “key data points” for each region of the state. Their ultimate goal for the profiles is to “provide a foundation for collaboration, shared resources and enhanced communication among stakeholders in order to achieve the state’s attainment goal,” per a release.

The state’s “attainment goal” is the adding of 500,000 credentialed workers to Alabama’s pool of hireable labor by the year 2025, a longtime priority of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

“Growing Alabama’s workforce is essential for our state’s prosperity, and it is why I set the goal of adding 500,000 more skilled Alabamians to the labor force,” remarked Ivey in a statement on Wednesday.

She added, “I am proud of the great work going on throughout the state, and these Regional Workforce Profiles will help broaden our efforts.”

Donny Jones, the executive director of the Region 3 Workforce Development Council/West AlabamaWorks, explained in a release that the new workforce profiles are “going to provide the regional workforce councils a framework to connect the dots and help all partners understand overall goals are and how to get there.”

“As we continue building out our skills-based hiring programs and initiatives, these regional profiles will enable us to further understand the complexities of each region and more effectively reach our target audience,” noted Alabama Workforce Council chairman Tim McCartney.

The seven workforce profiles can be accessed here.

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

2 days ago

Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal chosen to house U.S. Space Command Headquarters

(Pixabay, YHN)

The United States Air Force on Wednesday is expected to officially announce that Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal has been chosen to host the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM).

Redstone was one of six finalists nationwide for the coveted HQ. Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, Space Command’s current temporary headquarters, was one of the other five finalists, along with New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base, Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base, Florida’s Patrick Air Force Base and Texas’ Port San Antonio.

Alabama’s pitch was delivered last month, with the opening presentation coming from Governor Kay Ivey.

Space Command was approved by Congress in 2018, and President Donald Trump subsequently directed its elevation as the 11th functional Unified Combatant Command.

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It is estimated that housing Space Command HQ could bring approximately 1,500 direct jobs to the Huntsville area, as well as further solidifying the Rocket City’s status as America’s preeminent hub for aerospace and defense. The headquarters will only further add to the synergy of private sector and governmental expertise in those critical sectors, which attracts further investment and growth, including from suppliers and subcontractors.

Huntsville’s pitch focused on North Alabama’s existing prowess in defense work, workforce, military friendliness and low cost of living, among other factors.

It is also believed that the leadership of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) was especially helpful to the Yellowhammer State’s bid. Shelby is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Defense, while Aderholt is a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. Alabama now also boasts the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03).

The construction cost of Space Command facilities in Huntsville could reach $1 billion or more, per prior estimates. It will take several years for the headquarters to be relocated from Colorado.

Ivey’s office advised that Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Instillations Bob Moriarity called the governor on Wednesday morning to inform her of Secretary Barbara Barrett’s Space Command Headquarters preferred candidate basing decision. It was also reported Wednesday that Barrett is set to step down from her post ahead of January 20.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to learn that Alabama will be the new home to the United States Space Command!” Ivey said in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

“Our state has long provided exceptional support for our military and their families as well as a rich and storied history when it comes to space exploration,” she added. “This combination only enhances the outstanding relationships we have with the 65 diverse federal agencies on Redstone Arsenal, not to mention the growing presence of the FBI and other federal installations. The bottom line is simple, the Redstone Region is the most natural choice to become home to such an important mission for our country.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) also applauded the decision in a statement.

“Alabama-made rockets first launched Americans into space and later carried them safely to the moon,” Ainsworth remarked. “Huntsville’s selection as the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command further solidifies Alabama as the national leader in aerospace research and development. We welcome Space Command to Huntsville with open arms and a good dose of southern hospitality.”

A formal announcement is expected at 2:00 p.m.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.

Senator Shelby released a statement, confirming the news.

“Redstone Arsenal will be the new home to U.S. Space Command,” the statesman said. “This is outstanding news, not only for our state but also for the Air Force.”

“This long-awaited decision by the Air Force is a true testament to all that Alabama has to offer,” he continued. “Huntsville is the right pick for a host of reasons – our skilled workforce, proximity to supporting space entities, cost-effectiveness, and quality of life, among other things. I am thrilled that the Air Force has chosen Redstone and look forward to the vast economic impact this will have on Alabama and the benefits this will bring to the Air Force.”

This comes after Shelby has advocated for the selection of Redstone Arsenal for the U.S. Space Command headquarters throughout the two-year competition period, having continually highlighted to the Air Force the wide-ranging benefits that Huntsville would provide, if selected.

Selection criteria for the headquarters reportedly included installation capacity, cost and timing, future U.S. Space Command components, and Department of Defense space installations.

Rep. Aderholt released a statement of his own, commenting, “This decision is not only a good one for North Alabama, but also good for America. Locating the United States Space Command in Huntsville is smart, because it’s already the center of much of our nation’s space, military and strategic command capabilities. It’s also located near Washington; just one hour and 15 minutes by plane. The area also has a high quality, low cost of living for those who will be stationed here as part of the Command.”

“Our space program was born, raised and came to greatness from Alabama soil. So, it’s only fitting that the next great incarnation on our leadership in space would be firmly planted here as well,” the dean of Alabama’s House delegation concluded.

UPDATE 12:50 p.m.

Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) released a statement, calling Huntsville and Space Command “a perfect fit.”

“Today’s historic announcement that the Redstone Arsenal will be home to the permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Force Command is fantastic news for Huntsville, the Tennessee Valley region, and the entire state of Alabama,” the freshman senator stated. “I’m pleased that the site selection team recognized the obvious: Redstone and Space Command are a perfect fit.”

“Alabama is already widely recognized for its important contributions to our national defense, and this decision further elevates our state as a leader in space and defense technology. I applaud the work of the Huntsville community, State leaders, the Congressional delegation, and especially my colleague Sen. Richard Shelby, for helping make this decision a reality,” he added.

Tuberville concluded, “There will be a lot of work to do in the years ahead to turn today’s announcement into a reality on the ground, and I look forward to working closely with state and local leaders, Alabama’s Congressional delegation, and the Department of Defense to fully and efficiently implement this basing decision. It will be one of my top priorities.”

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.

Rep. Rogers released a statement.

“I applaud the decision by the Air Force to select Redstone Arsenal as the new home of the U.S. Space Command,” he stated. “Alabama has long been home to our nation’s premiere defense and civilian space assets. This decision by the Air Force makes sense given all the equities in Alabama. Defending our country against threats from our enemies takes a national effort. I am proud of the role Alabama plays in this overall effort.”

Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong also reacted to the announcement in a statement.

“Once again, the selection of Redstone Arsenal for US Space Command demonstrates what regional partnerships can do when we collectively work together to reach our goals,” Strong outlined. “This objective process by the Department of Defense, and in the best interest of national security, thoroughly and objectively reviewed workforce, transportation, force protection, and quality of life. I congratulate all of our local, state, and federal leaders from Alabama, particularly United States Senator for Alabama Richard Shelby for his leadership and work to bring Space Command to Alabama, along with our neighbors in Tennessee that have worked together to prove Redstone Arsenal is the true and best choice for the United States Space Command Headquarters.”

You can read the official Air Force announcement here.

This is breaking news and will be updated.

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

2 days ago

Gary Palmer: Latest effort to impeach Trump ‘only serves to intensify division and anger’

(House Budget Committee GOP/YouTube)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday is set to vote on an article of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump for allegedly “inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

The article was introduced on Monday, and Trump is set to leave office in seven days when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) is a cosponsor of the article of impeachment.

House Democrats passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for Vice President Mike Pence to convene the cabinet and invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from power in light of last week’s events at the U.S. Capitol. Pence rejected that call in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

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The article of impeachment is expected to receive a small number of votes from House Republicans on Wednesday, including House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) — the third-highest ranking Republican in the lower chamber of Congress. However, whenever the article’s ultimate fate in the Senate is still uncertain.

In a statement, another member of House leadership — Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) — emphasized his continued denouncement of what occurred last Wednesday at the Capitol. He also explained why he believes impeaching Trump is not a constructive recourse.

“This vote is not how we move forward as a country,” Palmer said. “The events of January 6 made for one of the darkest days I’ve experienced during my time in Congress, but a vote on an article of impeachment one week before a presidential transition only serves to intensify division and anger.”

“I am also concerned by the lack of process and precedent for this impeachment,” the Central Alabama congressman continued. “We are now in the process of impeaching a President because of a political speech and we’re doing it without basically no process. The bipartisan Congressional Research Service notes that there are generally three phases to an impeachment process: ‘(1) initiation of the impeachment process; (2) Judiciary Committee investigation, hearings, and markup of article of impeachment; and (3) full House consideration of the articles of impeachment.’ We haven’t even given lip service to the first two steps. Furthermore, it sets a dangerous precedent to impeach anyone for political rhetoric without due process or opportunity for defense, and it makes this process looks more like an inquisition than an impeachment.”

Palmer added, “It is critical to remember that the Constitution names ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ as the standard for impeaching a President. No matter how frustrated we become, we cannot undermine the office of the President, or our government’s crucial separation of powers, by rushing to impeach without examining the context and surrounding evidence. The lack of thorough investigation to determine who actually instigated the attack on the Capitol, and whether or not the attack was pre-planned, raises grave concerns about the motives behind this rush to impeach. The entire American public, regardless of individual political allegiances or views of the President, deserves to know all the facts. To deny them that will only intensify the distrust of the government.

“I strongly condemn the attack on the Capitol last week. There is no excuse for it, and I hope everyone who took any part will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But I do not believe an impeachment is beneficial to our country at this difficult moment. In short, this move will only encourage deeper division and bitterness on all sides at a time when we desperately need to unify,” he concluded.

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

2 days ago

Inaugural Black Belt Hunters Food Drive being held this weekend in Alabama

(Alabama Black Belt Adventures/Contributed, YHN)

The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association (ALBBAA) is encouraging hunters across the region to donate a harvested deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program during the inaugural Black Belt Hunters Food Drive this coming weekend — Friday, January 15 to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 18.

A formal program of the Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources (ACNR) Foundation, the HHH program began in 1999 and has donated nearly half a million pounds of venison to food banks across the state since that time.

“We know this past year has been difficult for many and we hope this targeted weekend will assist in providing healthy, organic and ground venison to families in need all across the Black Belt region,” stated Pam Swanner, director of the ALBBAA. “During this time of year, and especially with the impact of COVID-19, we couldn’t think of a better way to encourage sportsmen and women to utilize this free program to support the areas in which they go afield.”

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Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship chairs the ACNR Foundation and noted the importance of the HHH program.

“This established program has been a staple for wildlife managers over the past 20 years and helps fill a critical need in communities across the state as well as allows for quality deer management,” he said in a statement. “We are proud to offer this program and are grateful to the participating processors. This is a fantastic way for hunters to take advantage of our abundant deer population, months-long season and liberal bag limits to provide meat for the freezer for their own families as well as those in need.”

There is no charge to the hunter for processing the deer. Currently, there are seven processors participating in the HHH program within the Black Belt along with 15 food banks participating within the region. The participating processors are Buckster’s Deer Processing in Montgomery County, M & S Wildlife Services in Choctaw County, Nichols Deer Processing in Dallas County, Richey’s Deer Processing in Hale County, Johns Deer Processing in Lee County, Milliron’s Deer Processing in Russell County, and Venison LLC in Wilcox County. For a full list of participating processors and food banks, click here.

Those who donate a deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program during the designated food drive and tag Alabama Black Belt Adventures on Facebook or Instagram will be entered into a random drawing for a donated antler mount from Foster’s Taxidermy Supply in Montgomery.

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

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

2 days ago

Auburn begins new semester as move to oppose in-person classes sputters out

(Auburn University/YouTube)

Auburn University’s decision to continue in-person learning for the spring semester received affirmation on Tuesday when the school’s faculty failed to take action on a no-confidence vote on Provost Bill Hardgrave.

Faculty member Michael Stern, a professor of economics, had moved for the vote to express his own displeasure at the university’s decision to return to in-person classes.

As provost, Hardgrave serves as the chief academic officer for the institution.

Auburn’s return-to-school plan had been praised by medical professionals, including by White House health official Dr. Deborah Birx during her September visit to the campus.

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Understanding the importance of on-campus learning, Auburn University President Jay Gogue stated during a December interview with the Opelika-Auburn News that his administration will continue consulting with the medical community as part of its academic process.

“Going into the spring term, I think the hope would be that we could do more face-to-face and in-person than we did in the fall,” he explained. “I have said throughout that totally depends on the virus, totally depends on where we are. We are not going to put people in harm’s way to do that. I think Bill [Hardgrave] felt an obligation to get it back to as normal as possible as students and families thought about the spring term.”

Earlier this week, 40 university professors signed onto a statement denouncing the vote. They stated their belief that “a no-confidence vote is inappropriate and will be damaging to our students, our faculty, and our university.”

As many as 1,300 people took part in the virtual meeting, according to participants.

Rules of order took precedent, and the issue died when more than 67% of the participants objected to consideration of Stern’s motion.

Classes for Auburn students began on Monday.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 days ago

Bradley Byrne rejoins law firm following departure from Congress

(Wikicommons, YHN)

Adams and Reese LLP on Wednesday announced that former Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) has rejoined the firm’s Mobile office as special counsel.

According to a release, Byrne is a member of the firm’s Intersection of Business and Government Practice Group, where he focuses on representing a wide range of clients in government relations and economic development matters. He served in Congress from January 8, 2014 to January 3, 2021.

“I am excited about returning to private practice with the top-notch team at Adams and Reese, which feels to me like returning home,” Byrne said in a statement.

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“As a former leader within the firm’s Mobile office, I have seen how over the past several years, Adams and Reese’s Government Relations practice has grown and become a hallmark practice for the firm,” he continued. “Adams and Reese has historically welcomed several former elected officials to its ranks, which speaks to the firm’s status as a leader in government relations. I look forward to collaborating with a team of accomplished professionals to advocate for clients’ interests throughout the Southeast and in Washington, D.C.”

Byrne brings more than 30 years of experience in private practice and more than a decade of public service to the firm, where he will provide government relations services at the state and federal levels, corporate advice and counsel, economic development services, and labor relations counsel for a mix of private businesses, public entities, as well as both state and federal associations. Throughout his legal career, he has litigated hundreds of civil cases across the Southeast.

His time representing Coastal Alabama in the U.S. House of Representatives included service as a member of the Committee on Armed Services. Byrne was an outspoken supporter of a strong national defense and worked to support Alabama’s significant defense footprint. He also served on the House Committee on Education and Labor, which compliments his former roles as a member of the Alabama State Board of Education and chancellor of the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education.

“Bradley’s track record serving as a passionate advocate for Alabama businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations makes him a great fit with our team at Adams and Reese,” stated Britton Bonner, a partner in Adams and Reese’s Mobile office who represents numerous Alabama entities in government relations and economic development matters at the state and federal levels. “Bradley is driven and committed to making a difference for his clients, ensuring their voices are heard in the Alabama legislature and in Washington. His in-depth knowledge of the workings of government will be an incredible asset to our clients and team alike.”

A 1980 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and a 1977 graduate of Duke University, Byrne has received notable honors for excellence in service and his commitment to business and industry. Some recent and notable awards he has received include the U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Award (2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award (2015–2019), International Franchise Association Legislator of the Year (2017), Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association Legislator of the Year (2020), Business Council of Alabama Bubba Lee Political Courage Award (2016), Healthcare Leadership Council Champion of Healthcare Innovation (2016), National Association of Manufacturers Champion of Manufacturing (2016), and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award (2019).

An avid sportsman and small forest owner, Byrne is also an advocate for the agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting industries, and received the Alabama Wildlife Federation Legislative Conservationist of the Year in 2005, 2014 and 2015.

Adams and Reese’s footprint of offices across the Southeast and in D.C. includes locations in Mobile, Birmingham and Montgomery.

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

2 days ago

Alabama House members vote on party lines on 25th Amendment resolution

(White House/Flickr)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night passed a resolution in a strictly party-line vote that calls on Vice President Mike Pence to convene the cabinet and invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald J. Trump from power in light of last week’s events at the U.S. Capitol.

Pence earlier in the day wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying he will not invoke the 25th Amendment, making the resolution even more of a symbolic gesture.

Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), a Democrat, was the only member of Alabama’s House delegation to support the measure; the six Republicans voted against the resolution.

Pelosi will now proceed to holding an impeachment vote on Wednesday. Sewell is a cosponsor of the article of impeachment that charges Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

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Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Sewell tweeted, “If Pence and the Cabinet do not act, I will vote to impeach President Trump. There can be no unity without accountability.”

In contrast, Rep. Jerry Carl (AL-01) released a statement explaining why he voted against the resolution.

“Today I voted against House Resolution 21 which urges the Vice President to invoke the 25th Amendment, thereby removing President Trump from office. After careful consideration, it is my belief that the resolution’s claims do not meet the necessary requirements to invoke the 25th Amendment. The purpose of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution is to address an instance when a President is incapacitated. It was not, however, designed to carry out Nancy Pelosi’s political agenda,” Carl said.

Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06) last week said that he holds Trump to be partially responsible for the rioting and violence that occurred at the Capitol. On Tuesday, Palmer explained why he would oppose the Democrats’ censure resolution and subsequent impeachment push.

“It is the Vice President, not Congress, upon whom the Constitution bestows the powers of the 25th Amendment,” the Central Alabama congressman stated. “Congress cannot usurp powers granted the executive branch with a House resolution. The Constitution states that, for a President to be removed by mobilization of the 25th Amendment, ‘the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ must ‘transmit their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’ To date, Vice President Pence and the necessary executive officials have provided no such written declaration, and there are no other governing bodies to whom the law currently gives authority to declare a President unfit. Therefore, H.Res. 21 does not have a legal path forward.”

“A vote on this resolution, and the planned subsequent vote on an article of impeachment against the President, serve no purpose but to further incense and divide Americans against each other at an already heated moment,” Palmer continued. “Frustration and anger are running high, and these votes simply exacerbate this emotionally tense time. We can move forward as a country only if we lay aside partisanship and seek healing together, which these votes will not accomplish.”

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