The Wire

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

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

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

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

  • Mike Rogers on Kavanaugh: ‘It is Doug Jones’ job to represent the majority will in Alabama when he casts his vote in Washington’

    Friday during an appearance on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Aunie Show,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) weighed in on the current controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and how his colleagues in the U.S. Senate are handling the confirmation process to date.

    During the segment, Rogers responded to a question about his House colleague Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) calling on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation if Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford did not step forward and announce her intentions to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    The Calhoun County Republican agreed with Byrne and suggested Jones “represent the majority will” of Alabamians.

  • Ivey, Byrne showcase ‘old-fashioned’ courthouse rally as GOP poised to take Monroe County

    Excerpt:

    MONROEVILLE – During Alabama’s transition from Democrat to Republican that began in the 1990s and was capped off in 2010 with the GOP finally gaining control of all the branches of government in Montgomery, the local government in Monroe County was one place that was able to resist that trend.

    However, the politics of the state could finally be catching up with one of Alabama’s most historic counties.

    In a setting that had the feeling of being a throwback to the heyday of political rallies staged by the likes former Gov. “Big” Jim Folsom and former Congressman Frank Boykin, the Monroe County Republican Party hosted a rally featuring Gov. Kay Ivey and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on the lawn of the old Monroe County Courthouse that is thought to be the inspiration for the courthouse in fictitious Maycomb, Alabama, the scene of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

    The goal of the event was to energize GOP voters headed into the midterm elections and flip major local offices in Monroe County, including district judge, sheriff and probate judge, currently held by Democrats to Republican.

1 hour ago

Krispy Kreme offering coffee-glazed doughnuts this week only: Here’s where you can get them in Alabama

(Krispy Kreme/YouTube)

Krispy Kreme will offer their new “Coffee Glazed” doughnut and “Original Glazed” flavored coffee starting Monday, and 13 Alabama locations will participate.

While the new coffee will become a permanent fixture on the menu, the coffee-glazed doughnuts will only be available through Sunday.

In addition to enjoying both new products throughout the week, Alabamians can grab a free Krispy Kreme coffee, of any size, on National Coffee Day – Saturday, September 29 – at participating locations, with no purchase necessary. Krispy Kreme Rewards members receive the extra perk of a free doughnut with their coffee on that day.

Here are the participating locations:

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  • Auburn
  • Birmingham
  • Decatur
  • Dothan
  • Florence
  • Foley
  • Gadsden
  • Hoover – New Patton Chapel Road
  • Hoover – Highway 280
  • Huntsville
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery
  • Tuscaloosa

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

4 hours ago

AL House Speaker Mac McCutcheon ‘can say for sure that you’ll see a lottery bill’ in 2019

(Mark Ou/Flickr)

With Mississippi recently adding sports betting to its legal gambling options, the pressure is on for Alabama to not only follow that lead, but to institute a state lottery as well.

While one prominent Republican state lawmaker already has predicted a sports gaming bill will be considered by the Alabama Legislature in 2019 yet be a long-shot to pass, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told WHNT that a lottery bill will definitely be on their agenda. However, its fate will be determined by the specifics of that now-hypothetical bill.

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“I can say for sure that you’ll see a lottery bill in the first session coming up,” McCutcheon said. “Now, I can’t determine what the vote’s going to be because I’ve got to see the bill.”

A sizable part of the debate will revolve around where the lottery proceeds would go: to education, the general fund or a combination of the two.

“Could be both, it’s hard to say at this point,” McCutcheon advised.

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), who chairs the important senate appropriations committee entitled Finance and Taxation Education, echoed that specifics will shape a lottery’s case, adding that education should be a part of the equation.

“I do think if you’re going to have a lottery, earmarking money for educational purposes tends to generate a more successful lottery than monies just going to the government,” Orr explained.

While McCutcheon knows a lot of the details are yet to be determined on a proposed lottery, he outlined what could sink the bill-to-be.

“If we have a lottery bill out there, it must be clearly defined so that the people of Alabama have no doubt what the lottery issue is going to be,” McCutcheon emphasized. “We don’t want to confuse that bill with other gambling interests. If it’s going to be a lottery, let’s make it a statewide lottery, so the people can look at it, and then let’s make a determination on how we’re going to vote on it.”

The lottery would go to a referendum of the people as a constitutional amendment if it was passed by the state legislature. The governor has no power to sign or veto a lottery bill.

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

8 hours ago

Rep. Gary Palmer warns Brett Kavanaugh brouhaha threatens America’s ‘experiment in self-government’ — ‘I think this is going to have consequences for the Democrats’

(Screenshot/YouTube)

On Friday’s broadcast of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) expressed his skepticism over the sincerity of Senate Democrats regarding the sexual misconduct allegations aimed at U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Palmer warned that weaponizing a “scandal” in these situations may impact the country’s ability to self-govern.

“It looks to me like since the Democrats had this information as early as July, or maybe earlier than that, and they didn’t bring it forward — this was intended to derail the confirmation, not to do justice for an individual who claims to have been harmed,” he said. “And the thing that really concerns me about all of this, regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, is how this impacts our ability to continue this experiment in self-government because when you weaponize scandal as a political weapon  — it’s very destructive to the process, not just the individuals involved, but the entire process.”

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He added that ultimately, this could backfire on Democrats.

“I think this is going to have consequences for the Democrats,” Palmer added. “At some point, you can cry wolf too many times. And again, I think this is dangerous for people that have been harmed. It will get to the point where it’s just another claim. And at the same time, you’ve got Keith Ellison, who I serve with in the House, who has a claim against him by a woman who is being totally dismissed by the left, even though there’s more evidence there. There’s text messages, documentation from her doctor — you see where this is heading? I’m very concerned for our country and what we’re doing to ourselves. I think it has dire consequences down the road.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

12 hours ago

Alabama SoS John Merrill: ACLU of Alabama lawsuit for Twitter blocking ‘a publicity stunt’

(Screenshot/YouTube(

In an interview that aired on Friday’s episode of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill elaborated on his response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of blocked Twitter users by ACLU of Alabama, which he initially called a “political hack job.”

Merrill told “Capitol Journal” host Don Dailey given that the suit has not been delivered to him or his office, it was a “publicity stunt.”

“Frankly, I still haven’t seen the lawsuit, which tells me that this is a publicity stunt,” he said. “There’s no lawsuit that’s been delivered to the office of the Secretary of State, and that’s been presented to me personally. I first learned of this from the media.”

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Merrill explained the distinction between his personal Twitter account and the one that was established by his office.

“I use my Twitter account because it’s my personal account,” he added. “Now we have an office account ‘@alasecofstate’ … no one has ever been blocked from that. People can follow that at will if they choose to. My personal account, ‘@JohnHMerrill’ not only covers the things I do as your secretary of state but also all the personal things that I do.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 day ago

University of South Alabama announces new name for hospital

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

The University of South Alabama unveiled a new name for the region’s only hospital offering Level I trauma care, as the USA Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the name of the USA Medical Center to University Hospital.  The transformation more accurately reflects the hospital’s teaching and research mission.

University Hospital, as a component of USA Health, will continue to serve the Mobile region as it has for generations, providing nationally ranked services that include the trauma center and the Arnold Luterman Regional Burn Center.

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“The University Hospital name expresses our unique mission to provide medical education, innovative care and cutting-edge treatments stemming from academic research, and it brings all of our components together under the USA Health umbrella,” said Dr. John Marymont, USA’s vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine. “We are the only area hospital offering the highest level of stroke care, as well as evidence-based approaches to caring for cancer, diabetes and complex treatments and diagnosis of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy.”

The USA Health name will serve as the umbrella brand for the University of South Alabama’s health system, including USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital, USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute and USA Health Physicians Group.

The University Hospital name was selected based on research that explored the Mobile community’s understanding of the breadth and depth of services offered at University Hospital and the quality of care that patients experience throughout USA Health.

The research showed that those who engaged with the health system thought very highly of the quality of care they received, but they had limited understanding of the overall impact and high level of care delivered throughout the USA Health system.

“The University Hospital name clarifies our mission and purpose by bringing to the forefront the University of South Alabama’s mission as a leader in health care practice, research and teaching,” said Sam Dean, University Hospital administrator and assistant vice president for Medical Affairs. “The hospital is not only part of an academic medical system, but it is also a pioneer in treating complex conditions, conducting innovative research and educating the next generation of health care professionals.”

The University Hospital name change follows the recent announcement of a $5 million gift from Herbert Meisler that will double the size of the hospital’s trauma center, the Fanny Meisler Trauma Center, as well as the recent inaugural of USA SouthFlight, a helicopter emergency service partnership between USA Health and Air Methods.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

Alabama vintage airplane restorer enjoys taking it to new heights

(Bernard Troncale/Shorelines)

Like many children growing up, Conrad Reed liked to tinker with model cars and airplanes.

But while most have given up the childhood hobby, at age 68, Reed has yet to quit. He just works on the real things now.

“I don’t fish, and I don’t play golf,” says Reed, a senior real estate specialist for Alabama Power Company at Weiss Lake in northeast Alabama. “This is my hobby.”

“This,” right now, means a red 2000 Corvette and a 1975 Gentleman Jack GMC pickup. But those are just the vehicles with four wheels. The real centerpieces in Reed’s backyard hangars are three airplanes, just the latest in a line of planes that Reed has bought, refurbished and flown.

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It all started in earnest a little more than 40 years ago, when a 26-year-old Reed was working for a crop-dusting business at the Centre Municipal Airport.

“I didn’t fly at that time,” Reed says. “I was taking in the jobs, mixing the chemicals and stuff like that. But when I was working with the flying service, one of the gentlemen had a Cessna 150, which is a pretty good trainer, and he knew how bad I wanted to fly. He told me if I would buy the gas, I could fly his airplane. I did that, and I got my license.”

In 1978, Reed bought his first airplane, a 1946 Cessna 140, a single engine two-seater.

What followed was several decades of a high-flying hobby. While owning an auto parts store, retiring and then starting a second career with Alabama Power, Reed was buying and restoring vintage planes, often flying them at “fly-ins” – gatherings for airplane aficionados – in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

All told, there have been eight of them, including several models used in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

A Stearman biplane, which Reed bought in 1983, was his first military airplane. It was used to train pilots in World War II.

“This was a PT-17, meaning primary trainer,” he says. “This was the first plane these guys got to fly. After World War II, crop-dusters started putting big engines on these biplanes. This one had the 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney engine on it, which was more than twice the horsepower these airplanes originally came with.”

Reed bought the plane from an insurance company after a Mississippi pilot wrecked it on the runway. “It took me nine years to restore this plane,” he says. “It didn’t take that long to do the work; it just took me that long to do it without borrowing money to work on it. When I got it done, it was paid for.”

Early on, Reed bought a Cessna L-19 Birddog, a Korean War-era plane (Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was shuttled from site to site in one).

“It was a wreck when I got it,” Reed says. “It had wing damage, tail-surface damage and the fuselage had nearly been cut in two in an accident. I bought it as a project and worked on it for about a year to get it going.”

He kept the Stearman, though, and its power caught the eye of another Stearman owner at one of the fly-ins.

“With the big engine it was really impressive, and I showed out a little at the air show,” Reed recalls. That caught the attention of a man who also had a Stearman, but with the original engine and not the souped-up Pratt & Whitney.

“The Pratt & Whitney was burning about 25 gallons of fuel per hour, so it was really getting in my pocketbook pretty good,” Reed says. “His plane had the original stock engine on it, and it burned about 12-13 gallons an hour. It was the same plane, just a different engine, and he didn’t know how bad I wanted his. I really wanted that airplane, because it was such an original plane and a great one to maintain and keep. The guy I bought it from, all he saw was that big engine, and I came out real well. This was a 100 percent original.”

Reed kept that second Stearman until about a year ago, when he sold it and bought another Cessna L-19, which had been used as a forward air command plane in Korea and Vietnam. “I restored the original Air Force colors and markings,” he says.

So now, Reed has the second L-19, a Citabria he bought in 2011 and another project, a four-passenger Cessna 172. They are housed (along with the Corvette, a 1969 GTO and the 1975 GMC Gentleman Jim) in two hangars in his backyard, where he keeps a roomful of airplane and car parts, fabric and paint. It’s all next to the small landing strip Reed uses when he flies.

He and his wife, Ruth, have lived on 60 acres of land in Centre since 1989. They have three grown sons who didn’t totally inherit their dad’s love of airplanes but did help him with his restorations through the years.

“I’m very proud of him for what he does,” Ruth Reed says of her husband. “I used to fly with him a good bit, but I kind of lost interest. He just does his thing now.”

The landing strip is just outside the house, so when Reed flies, his wife knows. She says the Stearman with the big engine used to rattle the dishes in their cabinets.

“I sure can’t sneak off,” he says with a laugh.

How often does he fly?

“Not near enough,” Reed says. “Maybe two or three times a month. I mow my runway more than I fly.”

When he does fly, they’re short flights, usually around nearby Weiss Lake or over the state line to visit fellow enthusiasts in Georgia. He’ll give rides to people from time to time, but insurance is too expensive to do that with any frequency.

Reed is a careful flier, so he hasn’t had any close calls while in the cockpit.

“I watch the weather closely, and I can see a thunderstorm and be back home before it ever catches me,” he says. “I don’t travel that far, so I don’t have problems.”

Reed uses just the basic instruments when he pilots a plane. “I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants-type flier than an electronics flier,” he says. “Some of these planes, you can get up and press a button and take a nap. I’m not one of those pilots. I like to see where I’m going. If my engine quits, which it won’t, I like to know where I can land nearby.”

Reed continues to go to car shows, air shows and fly-ins and enjoys the pilots he’s met, some through his membership in the Experimental Aircraft Association. “It’s a great community,” he says. “I’ll fly into their airstrips, and they’ll come visit me, too.”

The plan now is to sell his Citabria and Cessna 172, keeping the L-19 to continue flying.

The pilot is quick to say he hasn’t gotten rich off his airplanes – parts are expensive, and it can take years to restore one.

“I don’t do it for the money,” Reed says. “When you spend that much time on something, you don’t make any money if you value your time at all.”

This story originally appeared in Shorelines magazine.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 day ago

U.S. Attorney General visits Auburn University to examine opioid crisis and public safety threats

(Auburn University)

The nation’s top law enforcement official, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, visited Auburn University on Friday to examine two Auburn initiatives designed to protect the public—one focused on the national opioid crisis and the other involving the world’s most advanced detector dogs.

Sessions was briefed on Auburn’s approach to effective opioid response and treatment at the Harrison School of Pharmacy.  Harrison School of Pharmacy is working to combat the national opioid epidemic through innovative and collaborative research, teaching and outreach programs spanning detection, prevention, treatment and emergency response.

“We’ve got to confront the opioid crisis,” Sessions said while at Auburn. “It’s the number one surge in deaths in America. Opioids alone are responsible for the declining life expectancy of Americans. The deaths we’re seeing – it’s that large. So, we need lifespans going up, not down. And you’re right here on the cutting edge of many of the key things that can help us reduce that threat to America.”

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Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy has a one-of-a-kind forensic chemistry program with a history of working with the Department of Justice to ensure law enforcement can anticipate and detect new drugs that are being abused.  Among other solutions, the school also has developed a Naloxone rapid response program, and its collaborative education of healthcare providers, state law enforcement and emergency response serves as a model for the nation.  Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is an opioid overdose reversal medication.

Also on Friday, Sessions visited Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine for a look at its Canine Performance Sciences program, which is internationally known as the preeminent provider of canine detection technology.

“It’s classic of Auburn’s practical contribution to making this a better world,” Sessions said after examining the canine program. “We need to protect this country from terrorist attacks.  How do you do it? One of the best systems whatsoever is these fabulous dogs. They’re training them. They’re raising them. They’re breeding them. They are the best dogs in the world.”

The Auburn-led program is widely recognized by government and industry and supports a national initiative to advance canine sensor capabilities for the interdiction of chemical, biological and explosive threats to public safety and national security.  Auburn is using its wealth of research talent and capability across campus to provide a blueprint to breed and train the best detector dogs in the world.  One example of a recent university-wide collaboration is the use of MRI scanning to study dogs’ brain activity to possibly pinpoint—prior to expensive training—whether dogs can become top detectors.

In 2015, Auburn was granted a patent for its Vapor Wake® technology that applies the physics of fluid dynamics in which people in motion leave an aerodynamic plume in their wake. Vapor Wake® dogs can detect hand-carried and body-worn explosives in persons and follow the plume of vapor and chemical particulates entrained in the person’s wake until the target is identified. The dogs are trained for 15-18 months, compared to only two to four months for standard explosive detection dogs.

Auburn University President Steven Leath thanked Sessions for his visit and said he looked forward to continued collaboration on such areas of vital national importance.

“We’re pleased to show the Attorney General how Auburn is leading the way on key initiatives that protect the public,” Leath said. “Teaming with government leaders, we are advancing research toward life-saving solutions that include a focus on the national opioid epidemic and making our public spaces safer with the world’s most advanced canine mobile detection system.”

(courtesy of Auburn University)

1 day ago

Mike Rogers on Kavanaugh: ‘It is Doug Jones’ job to represent the majority will in Alabama when he casts his vote in Washington’

(M. Rogers/Facebook)

Friday during an appearance on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Aunie Show,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) weighed in on the current controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and how his colleagues in the U.S. Senate are handling the confirmation process to date.

During the segment, Rogers responded to a question about his House colleague Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) calling on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation if Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford did not step forward and announce her intentions to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Calhoun County Republican agreed with Byrne and suggested Jones “represent the majority will” of Alabamians.

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“We are representatives,” he said. “Our job is to represent our district and our state in that body in Washington, D.C. It is Doug Jones’ job to represent the majority will in Alabama when he casts his vote in Washington. If this lady does not testify and convince the Senate — the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate of the validity of her charge, I don’t see how you can look at anybody in Alabama and say he is doing his job by voting against her.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

UAB football jerseys to honor Alabama children

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

Mary Laslie Pike doesn’t play football, but the 10-year-old from Homewood is among 100 youngsters whose names will be on the backs of UAB football players’ jerseys as they host the second installment of their Children’s Harbor Game.

The contest, which highlights children served by Children’s Harbor, will be the Blazers’ Oct. 20 game against North Texas at Legion Field. This year’s game coincides with homecoming on the Southside campus.

“I’ll be really excited and happy,” the Edgewood Elementary student said about the prospect of having her name on a player’s back. “I’ll be really excited.”

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Coach Bill Clark said his team benefited from the 2017 game honoring patients at Children’s Harbor. The nonprofit organization serves seriously ill children and their families through unique, no-cost services at the Family Center in the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham and at the Lake Martin retreat near Alexander City.

“This has really ended up better for our players and our coaches, maybe, than for you guys,” Clark said during his Monday news conference. “We talk a lot about playing for not the name on the back but the name on the front, which is UAB. It came to us that this would be a chance to play for the name on the back.”

The 2017 Harbor game was on homecoming, when UAB knocked off Louisiana Tech. In that game, nearly every player wore the name of a child. Quarterback A.J. Erdely was the exception; he wore the word Children.

That changes this year as he’ll wear Jack-Jack, the nickname of former patient Jackson Thomas. The gesture is in memoriam to the 5-year-old who died in 2013 from rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata, a form of dwarfism.

His mother, Tracey Thomas, said hearing Jack-Jack’s name and seeing it on Erdely’s jersey are gifts beyond measure.

“He was so limited in his physical abilities,” she said. “He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He sure couldn’t run down the football field. But these young men on the football team have eyes and they have hearts that they recognize these kids for the warriors that they are and the battles that they’re fighting, that they’re willing to take our kids’ names on the field with them.”

Learden Pike said her daughter Mary Laslie is approaching her second “diaversary,” their term for the anniversary of the fifth-grader’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes.

“I feel very humble being here,” the mother said. “But I also see it as an opportunity to educate others about Type 1 diabetes and show how life can be for you and it’s not over when you get a disease like this.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 days ago

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

(Brittany Decker/Twitter)

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

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

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

Watch:

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

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

2 days ago

Make-A-Wish surprises Pell City teen battling Leukemia

(Mileena "Strong" Painter's Journey/Facebook)

Magic was in the air as Mileena Painter attended her school’s football game Tuesday night in Pell City.

Per a report by WBRC, Mileena, who has been fighting Leukemia since August 2017, was left in awe after a balloon release revealed Make-A-Wish had granted her wish of a trip to Disney World and Universal Studios.

Overwhelmed with emotion as the announcement echoed throughout the stadium, Mileena burst into tears alongside many of her teammates.

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“Thank you so much,” Mileena Painter said, via WBRC. “I know I’m gonna survive but this has given me so much hope.”

Mileena will be making the special trip with her family and many of her best friends.

Rachel, Mileena’s mother, shared her excitement after her daughter had found out about the trip.

“I’m just thankful we were able to do it here. where all of her friends are, with her squad mates and the other cheerleaders, who she loves and in front of all of her friends and family,” Rachel told WBRC. “This is … this is family.”

Mileena is scheduled to complete her treatments next December.

Watch WBRC’s report here.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

2 days ago

College football week 4: A look at the state’s matchups and national lines

With fall officially underway and college football through three weeks of action, Alabama’s favorite teams face some must-see tests in week four.

UAB is off this week, but all of the Yellowhammer State’s other teams play on Saturday. Alabama has an interesting matchup against Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M, while Auburn looks to bounce back against Arkansas.

You can find all of the state’s Saturday game times and how to watch below, as well as the lines for the nation’s top matchups (now that Mississippi has legal sports betting).

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All games below are on Saturday, September 22:

UWA at Limestone (Gaffney, SC) 12:00 p.m. CST
Watch online here.

Alabama vs. Texas A&M (Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL), 2:30 p.m. CST
TV: CBS or watch online here.

Alabama A&M at Southern University (Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL), 4:00 p.m. CST

Troy at University of Lousiana at Monroe (Monroe, LA), 6:00 p.m. CST
Watch online here.

JSU vs. Tennessee Tech (Burgess-Snow Field, Jacksonville, AL), 6:00 p.m. CST
Watch online here.

Samford at Chattanooga (Chattanooga, TN), 6:00 p.m. CST
Watch online here.

ASU at Grambling State (Grambling, LA), 6:00 p.m. CST
Listen online here.

UNA vs. AZUSA Pacific (Braly Stadium, Florence, AL), 6:00 p.m. CST
Watch online here.

Auburn vs. Arkansas (Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL), 6:30 p.m. CST
TV: SEC Network or watch online here.

South Alabama at Memphis (Memphis, TN), 7:00 p.m. CST
Watch online here.


Graphic by Alabama’s Paul Shashy; lines by Oddshark

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

2 days ago

Rep. Aderholt announces $1.1 million funding set to combat opioid crisis

(Headshot / Aderholt.house.gov)

On Friday, Congressman Robert Aderholt announced that more than $1.1 million would be given to community health centers in Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District in order to combat the deadly opioid crisis.

“The United States is currently addressing a crisis which shows no discrimination. People of all races, ethnicities, geographic regions and socio-economic classes are impacted by this national crisis and, unfortunately, Alabama has not been spared,” said Congressman Aderholt.

He added, “Congress and federal agencies must work with state and local governments, as well as community organizations to support individuals and communities that have felt left behind. These HHS grants will empower community health centers and rural organizations to expand both opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs.”

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Cities that will benefit from the large sum of money are Gadsden, Parrish, Scottsboro and Tuscaloosa.

Four community health centers will receive a total of $975,250 through the Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services awards:

  • Quality of Life Services, Inc. Gadsden- $293,000
  • Capstone Rural Health Center, Parrish- $287,250
  • Northeast Alabama Health Services, Inc., Scottsboro- $110,000
  • Whatley Health Services, Inc., Tuscaloosa- $285,000

One community health center will receive an additional award through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Planning program:

  • Capstone Rural Health Center, Parrish- $200,000

A total of $1,175,250 will be awarded to community health centers in Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.

“In July, I stood with my colleagues in Congress to pass a bipartisan bill, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, which improves and expands access to treatment and recovery services, improves data to identify and help at-risk patients and families, and cracks down on foreign shipments of illicit drugs.  A final version of this legislation is being negotiated with the Senate and I am hopeful that we can get it signed into law by the President before the end of this year.  I stand ready to further work in Congress providing relief to all of our friends and families affected,” Congressman Aderholt stated.

Thursday, Sen. Richard Shelby announced $4 million in critical opioid treatment funds for 15 Alabama community health centers.
@RealKyleMorris
 is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

2 days ago

Peabody Energy to purchase Shoal Creek coal mine in Alabama

(Pixabay)

The St. Louis-based coal company Peabody Energy has agreed to purchase Shoal Creek metallurgical coal mine from Drummond Co. Inc. for $400 million.

Peabody said Friday that the transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

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The Shoal Creek mine is on the Black Warrior River in central Alabama and serves Asian and European steel mills.

Peabody President and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kellow says the purchase is part of Peabody’s plan to upgrade its metallurgical coal platform.

The company says the mine adds about 2 million tons per year of high-quality hard coking coal sales.

The Shoal Creek mine was developed in 1994 and employs about 400 people.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Jeff Sessions to speak in Birmingham

(DOJ/YouTube)

As U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions faces mounting criticism from the man who appointed him, he is planning to speak in his home state next week.

The Justice Department says Sessions and other Justice Department officials will speak Monday in Birmingham at the department’s National Public Safety Partnership Symposium.

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Sessions has received frequent criticism from President Donald Trump for recusing himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump told Hill.TV in an interview released this week that, “I don’t have an attorney general” and that he is “not happy” with Sessions over numerous issues.

This is the former Alabama senator’s second official visit to his home state in recent weeks.

Sessions attended the dedication of a new federal courthouse in Mobile earlier this month.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Alabama Hospital Association begins campaign for Medicaid expansion

(W.Miller/YHN)

With one in every 10 patients walking into state hospitals without insurance, the Alabama Hospital Association on Thursday launched a campaign to push for expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.

Politicians in the Deep South have often opposed expansion, but the Alabama Hospital Association is urging citizens and policy makers to think of expansion as they would any other economic development investment, arguing it would benefit communities and the entire state health care system in addition to the estimated 300,000 people who would gain health care coverage.

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“Health care is part of the state’s infrastructure,” Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Alabama Hospital Association, said.

Twelve Alabama hospitals have closed since 2011 and Howard said 75 percent of Alabama’s hospitals are operating in the red.

She said expanding Medicaid would be a “significant investment in the state’s fragile health care infrastructure and would help maintain access to care for everyone.”

“One in every 10 people who walk into a hospital doesn’t have insurance. At some point those providers, those hospitals, are not going to be able to maintain operation. They are not going to be there, either closing their doors or cutting back services. At that point, it really doesn’t matter what insurance card you have in your pocket. If the provider is not there, the care is not there,” Howard said.

Alabama is one of 14 states that have taken no action toward expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have approved raising income limits for Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act and another three will vote this fall in ballot measures.

The Urban Institute estimated that Medicaid expansion would add 314,000 people to Alabama’s Medicaid rolls.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states would put up 10 percent of the cost of covering the additional Medicaid patients and the federal government would pick up the rest.

Estimates on what it would cost the state have varied.

Gov. Robert Bentley in 2015 estimated that expansion would cost the state $710 million dollars over six years. Other estimates have pegged the cost higher.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said last week that she is not opposed to Medicaid expansion, but questioned how the state would pay for it.

“Medicaid expansion is desirable perhaps, but how are you going to pay for it? That’s not an issue we can tackle at this point,” the Republican told reporters.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox has proposed striking a gambling compact with the Poarch Creek Indians and using the state’s share of revenue to pay for the state’s cost of Medicaid expansion.

At Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma, 10-12 percent of patients are uninsured, and 40 percent of patients are on Medicaid, said CEO David McCormack.

Looming over hospitals are possible cuts to the federal Disproportionate Share Hospital program for treating a disproportionate share of the indigent.

Scheduled reductions were delayed several times, but McCormack said they will have a devastating impact if they go through in 2020 as planned.

McCormack said expanding Medicaid would help keep hospitals open and providing services.

“I don’t want to give you a dollar, if you give me ten dollars?” McCormack said questioning the argument that the state can’t afford expansion.

“First of all, why would we not want billions of dollars coming into the state?”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Ivey’s policies recognized as Alabama jumps to #3 in ranking of ‘Top States for Business’

(Pixabay/YHN)

Area Development, a national publication, ranked Alabama third in its 2018 “Top States for Business” survey and recognized the state as America’s most improved economic development policies under Governor Kay Ivey’s administration.

The state’s overall ranking improved three spots from 2017 and 2016. “As competitive as the environment is, with ever-shifting policies and programs, it’s clear that some states have really figured out how to hit the sweet spot,” Area Development noted in a story posted online Thursday.

Area Development’s survey identifies 11 separate components that each play an integral role in how attractive a state is for doing business. These components include factors ranging from economic development programs and tax policies to regulatory matters and workforce training.

In the 2018 ranking, Alabama scored in the top ten in nine different individual categories. They are:

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  • Most improved economic development policies: No. 1
  • Favorable general regulatory environment: No. 1 (tied with Georgia)
  • Favorable utility rates: No. 1
  • Business incentive programs: No. 2 (tied with Georgia)
  • Leading workforce development programs: No. 2
  • Overall cost of doing business: No. 3 (tied with Georgia)
  • Shovel-ready sites program: No. 3
  • Cooperative and responsive state government: No. 4
  • Competitive labor environment: No. 6 (tied with Indiana)

“In Alabama, we have been working to implement the most effective economic development policies and improve our robust job-training programs in order to drive growth across the state,” Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said in a release.

He continued, “These high rankings confirm that we are on the right course as we position Alabama for new jobs and investment.”

The Department of Commerce has been heavily engaged in efforts to increase the state’s economic competitiveness, including the adoption of the Alabama Jobs Act, which created a new business incentives platform, and a major restructuring of the state’s workforce development programs with assistance from AIDT.

The Yellowhammer State “has continued to pursue legislation aimed at boosting business-friendliness and encouraging regional cooperation for the benefit of all,” Area Development writes.

Between 2011 and 2017, economic development activity brought $33 billion in new capital investment to the state, along with 125,000 new and future jobs, according to Department of Commerce data. Last year alone, new capital investment in Alabama totaled $4.4 billion, with nearly 15,500 anticipated jobs.

The publication also cited Alabama’s AdvantageSite program, which advances shovel-ready locations for projects, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s hassle-free interactions with businesses. It also noted that the Alabama Power Company, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative and other utilities in the state offer the most favorable utility rates in the nation.

Alabama trailed only Georgia and Texas in Area Development’s latest rankings.

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

2 days ago

Alabama jobless rate unchanged in August at 4.1 percent

(YHN/Pixabay)

Alabama’s unemployment rate is holding steady at 4.1 percent.

Figures released by the state on Friday show Alabama’s jobless rate for August is unchanged from the July rate.

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That is slightly worse than the rate from a year ago, and it is also higher than the U.S. rate of 3.9 percent.

State Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington says 32,000 more people are working than in August 2017, and total employment remains at a record 2.1 million people.

But the jobless rate is unchanged because of the expanding labor pool.

Shelby County in metro Birmingham has the state’s lowest unemployment at 3.1 percent, followed by Cullman County at 3.4 percent and Marshall County at 3.5 percent.

Wilcox County in rural, western Alabama has the highest jobless rate at 10 percent.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 days ago

Out-of-state ‘Center for Biological Diversity’ ramps up legal efforts against Alabama Toyota-Mazda plant expected to create 10,000 jobs

(Outdoor Alabama, Made in Alabama)

The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group based in Arizona, continues to escalate its legal efforts concerning Toyota-Mazda’s Alabama manufacturing plant, this time requesting several different types of records regarding its construction.

The out-of-state activists already have pending legal challenges against the plant and on Thursday said, “[W]e’re now forced to file this formal environmental records request.” Their opposition centers on the “spring pygmy sunfish and other imperiled species” located at the Beaverdam Spring and Creek near the construction site in Huntsville.

The group is also complaining that the construction approval process has been “rammed through.”

While a spokesman for the City of Huntsville could not comment directly on ongoing legal matters, the city did explain that the environmentalists’ uproar was unfounded.

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“The spring pygmy sunfish environment is better today than when the city of Huntsville purchased the property and better than it has been in the last 50 years when it was a farming operation,” Huntsville’s communications director Kelly Schrimsher said, per AL.com.

“The aquifer is protected. We remain confident the design and plan to protect the environment are sound,” Schrimsher added.

The Center for Biological Diversity, writing from Tucson, complained about what they view as a rushed process.

“Huntsville officials have rammed through approvals to industrialize this environmentally fragile site with virtually no public disclosure,” Elise Bennett, a staff attorney for the group, said in a release. “The city’s secrecy is a serious concern because the factory will be next to the Beaverdam Spring and Creek, an exceptional freshwater network that’s home to the critically endangered spring pygmy sunfish and other imperiled species.”

“This project should have gone through a public process with full disclosure of potential damage to the precious Beaverdam spring and stream system,” she added.

The City of Huntsville pushed back on these accusations.

“These measures have been reviewed and approved by technical professionals as well as state and federal agencies, and we are committed to ensuring these safeguards and best practices remain in place to preserve this environment,” Schrimsher explained.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed Toyota-Mazda is not violating any federal laws related to the sunfish in its construction of the plant, and the companies have also said they are working with the environmental group to preserve the habitat.

The plant-to-be is a $1.6 billion project that is projected to bring about 4,000 direct jobs and 10,000 total jobs to the Huntsville area.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s website homepage boasts, “We’ve sued Trump 87 times – and we’re just getting started.”

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

2 days ago

Doug Jones: Push Kavanaugh confirmation past the first week of October

(D. Jones/Facebook)

Senator Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) on Thursday doubled down on his support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s decision not to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this coming Monday, with Alabama’s junior senator in a tweet saying that he wants the process to at least go past “the first week of October.”

Ford, who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh, nominee to the United States Supreme Court, of sexual assaulting her at a high school house party around 35 years ago, initially promised through her attorney to testify but now is demanding that an FBI investigation must be conducted before she will agree to appear.

In new developments Thursday afternoon, Ford’s attorney indicated that Ford could possibly testify another day next week, however that possibility came along with a list of more demands, some of which are non-starters in conducting a fair hearing – Ford reportedly wants Kavanaugh to testify before her, will not be in the same room with him and refuses to submit to questioning by nonpartisan lawyers, instead only wanting to speak with the senators.

“Monday is an artificial timeline. There is nothing magical about the first week of October,” Jones asserted.

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However, October 1 marks the beginning of the new term for the United States Supreme Court. Once oral arguments begin on key cases during the term, a subsequently confirmed Kavanaugh would very likely, based on precedent, not be able to vote on them – which is why the Senate set that date as the benchmark for getting Kavanaugh confirmed.

“[The first week of October] came and went in 2016. Republicans set the clock — and they can change it,” Jones added.

To be clear, the Republican-led Senate in 2016 also set the clock that year, and they were open about the reasoning behind it – voters were about to go to the polls and vote for president, an effective referendum on the type of justice the American people wanted nominated. Now, voters have spoken and President Trump has nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. This year, obviously there is no presidential election on the ballot. Midterms are, however, around the corner, and Jones’ timeline puts the national spectacle of a Ford/Kavanaugh public hearing in that partisan context.

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

2 days ago

Alabama woman reportedly lured to India by ‘predator,’ sex trafficking suspected

(NBC 15/YouTube)

An Alabama family is fighting to save their daughter from what they have said is a possible international sex trafficking ring, per NBC 15.

Whitney Harris, a 21-year-old from Mobile, was allegedly brainwashed by a man she met on social media and exchanged messages with for two years. Then, on Monday, Harris left the family home late in the night on a one-way flight to India.

Harris’ family filed a missing persons report for the young woman, who reportedly has a form of autism. They have been in touch with the FBI, the office of Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) and human trafficking agencies to try to get her back. On Friday, they will venture to India themselves in hopes of saving her.

Watch:

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The latest update has Harris safe and in the care of a pastor in India. However, she still remains in contact with the “predator” she went there to meet, so her parents fear Harris could yet become a victim. They are asking for prayers now and in the coming days.

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

2 days ago

Alabama state rep’s bill poised to ‘shine the light’ on government waste

(C. Pringle, J. Zeigler/Facebook)

After state Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) led the charge on passing HB131 this spring, he believes the public will finally get to see how money is wasted in state government.

As NBC 15 reported, Alabama’s Examiners of Public Accounts is in charge of auditing government finances across agencies, departments, offices, counties, towns, boards, commissions and the like. Up until HB131, the examiners’ office did not really have the power to do anything about wasteful spending.

“That’s going to change,” Pringle said.

He explained that, in years past, many audits were simply rubber-stamped – they were compliance based, not performance audits that would expose government entities wasting tax dollars by doing things like buying too many cars or renting too much office space.

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“We’re going to shine the light on some expenditures. It’s not going to be pretty. But we’re going to put it all on the table and let the taxpayers see how their money is being spent,” Pringle said.

While Pringle’s years of hard work on this issue paid off with HB131’s passage, some are now turning their attention to the state auditor’s office, which is able to publish taxpayer-funded property that goes missing but cannot do anything beyond that under the law.

“We need to fix that so the auditor can enforce their own audits,” State Auditor Jim Zeigler told NBC 15.

Zeigler will reportedly be going to lawmakers this upcoming state legislative session asking that the auditor’s office be given more power to hold state employees accountable.

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

2 days ago

‘Bama’s biggest little fan’: Watch viral ‘sports analyst’ break down Texas A&M matchup

(WHNT/Facebook)

Per a report by WHNT, ten-year-old viral “sports analyst” and “Alabama’s biggest little fan” Jackson Way is ready to slide back into his role, with the child already happy with what he has seen from the team’s first three games.

“Our offense is very strong,” Jackson advised. “It’s one of the best offenses we’ve had in a long time. The best in the Saban era.”

Way became an online sensation after his analysis of the Tide’s national championship duel against Georgia and now thinks Bama’s biggest threat of this season is upon them Saturday – Texas A&M.

Watch:

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When it comes to Alabama’s biggest controversy so far this season, Way, to emphasize his support of alternating Alabama’s most talked about players, donned both of their jerseys while walking around during the interview.

“Tua’s a great quarterback but I still think that Jalen is very important as well. If you put them together with their traits, they’d be the perfect quarterback,” he said.

You can watch Way as he joins Britton Lynn live in Tuscaloosa for WHNT’s special pregame coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday ahead of Alabama’s 2:30 p.m. kickoff time.

Don’t remember how he went viral? Watch his break-out moment from the 2018 title game:

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

2 days ago

Ivey, Byrne showcase ‘old-fashioned’ courthouse rally as GOP poised to take Monroe County

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

MONROEVILLE – During Alabama’s transition from Democrat to Republican that began in the 1990s and was capped off in 2010 with the GOP finally gaining control of all the branches of government in Montgomery, the local government in Monroe County was one place that was able to resist that trend.

However, the politics of the state could finally be catching up with one of Alabama’s most historic counties.

In a setting that had the feeling of being a throwback to the heyday of political rallies staged by the likes former Gov. “Big” Jim Folsom and former Congressman Frank Boykin, the Monroe County Republican Party hosted a rally featuring Gov. Kay Ivey and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on the lawn of the old Monroe County Courthouse that is thought to be the inspiration for the courthouse in fictitious Maycomb, Alabama, the scene of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

The goal of the event was to energize GOP voters headed into the midterm elections and flip major local offices in Monroe County, including district judge, sheriff and probate judge, currently held by Democrats to Republican.

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A decades-long downturn in the local Monroe County economy, particularly with the incremental departure of Vanity Fair over the past few decades, have led to demographic changes that have made it possible for Democrats to maintain control locally.

Trends, however, are starting to show movement to the Republican Party. In 2016, Monroe County went for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 56-42 margin. In the 2017 special election that resulted in the unlikely election of Democratic candidate Doug Jones, Republican Roy Moore narrowly won Monroe County by a 49.9-49.5 margin.

That hasn’t gone unnoticed by Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan, who was in attendance Thursday night and noted the trend in the historical setting.

“What’s happened is the trajectory of this county, the voters have gone blue to red across the state, so we love that, and we always want to be going up, up, up in our numbers,” Lathan told Yellowhammer News. “Here tonight at the Monroe County Courthouse is so historical. I think it is historical as well in the political world because they have a full slate of candidates for the first time in a very long time.”

“It’s a huge crowd here and what I’m loving about this is this is Alabama,” she added. “This is the type of old-fashioned rally that people flock to and they love being a part of this, and it’s a very strong showing of people in Monroe County who are conservative folks and want to keep making America great again, and keep making Alabama great again.”

Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan addresses rallygoers in Monroeville (Jeff Poor/YHN)

Organizers estimate 250-300 people attended the Monroeville event, which is considerable given the population of the county is just over 20,000. According to Lathan, that’s a “message.”

“All these people being here is not an accident,” she added. “I mean, they’ve got in their cars,” she continued. “They’ve come from work. They got families here. They got little children here as well, and they’re coming to be a part of this process. It’s very healthy. This is the sign of a very healthy conservative county. I think that President Trump’s agenda, the Republican platform and conservative values that we are implementing, not only across the nation but in the state of Alabama – that is what we’re seeing here. This is not an accident. This is a message.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who represents Monroe County as part of Alabama’s first congressional district in Washington, D.C. and was also in attendance in Thursday, summed it up as “red wave.”

“I’ve been hearing in Washington about the ‘blue wave,’” Byrne said to Yellowhammer News. “What I’m seeing here in Monroe County right now is a red wave, which is a really good sight.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne speaks at Monroe County GOP event (Jeff Poor/YHN)

“This has been a Democrat county,” he added. “This county could turn red this time. We’ve got really good candidates for probate judge, district judge and sheriff. I’ve been here for Republican functions before. I don’t believe I’ve seen this many people or close to this many people for a Republican event in Monroe County. This is a great sign for us.”

Headlining Thursday’s event was Gov. Kay Ivey, who is facing Democratic challenger Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in November’s election.

Ivey, a native of nearby Camden in adjacent Wilcox County, has expanded the map and has been targeting rural counties in the state with appearances. Last week, the incumbent governor was in Choctaw County’s Butler and is slated to appear in northwestern Alabama’s Marion County for Winfield’s Mule Day festivities on Saturday.

“Were out on the campaign trail – that’s for sure,” Ivey explained to Yellowhammer News. “We’re out in Monroe County tonight, and we were in Choctaw County recently as well. We’re out and about among the people learning and proud to be out among the people relating to our message, and we’re very supportive.”

Kay Ivey hands out stickers in front of the old Monroe County Courthouse (Jeff Poor/YHN)

Ivey’s focus on these places beyond the population centers of Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Huntsville is a departure from traditional statewide political campaigns.

“Everybody in Alabama that is a citizen and able to vote is worthy,” she added. “And I just like to go where people are, and if they’re interested, I’m proud to talk to them and engage. So, I’m proud to be here.”

David Steele, Jr., a local attorney and the chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party, explained why this could be a turning point for his county and said the event was an effort to show the entrenched local Democratic Party power structure the GOP is a serious threat to the status quo.

“Monroe County is poised to make history and elect the first Republicans they’ve elected since Reconstruction,” Steele told Yellowhammer News.

Steele said there were 30-40 volunteers involved in putting the courthouse lawn rally event together and noted that it took help from others to bring in high-profile figures like Ivey and Byrne to participate in the event.

“It wasn’t just having a lot of volunteers involved,” he said. “It was having the right volunteers – business owners, the past president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Phil Hardee, the Nettles, a close friend of the governors and we always have a close connection with Congressman Byrne. I hope the Democrats understand we’re going to throw everything at them in Monroe County this year. We’re going to empty the bank account. We’re going to replenish it, and we’re going to keep coming. That is the goal.”

Rallygoers at Monroe County GOP event (Jeff Poor/YHN)

On the local level, Steele said he believed Democratic policies were holding Monroe County back economically. As Alabama thrives in the age of Trump, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Monroe County is at 6.7 percent, while the statewide average for the same criteria is much lower at 4.2 percent.

Steele contrasted Monroe County’s neighbors, heavily Republican Baldwin County to the south and its low 3.7 percent unemployment rate, and heavily Democratic Wilcox County to the north and its 10.1 percent unemployment rate, currently the highest in Alabama.

“To our south, we share a border with Baldwin County, one of the most conservative places in Alabama,” Steele said. “To our north, we share a border with Wilcox County, which is consistently one of the poorest counties in America, and one of the bluest, most Democratic counties in America. We’re right there. We’re sandwiched between the two of them and our county has to decide if we want to be prosperous and led by good policies and good government, or if we want to shift further toward Wilcox County and some of those Democratic policies and obviously, poverty and hopelessness.”

Steele offered Yellowhammer News an example of how in his view the Democrat-controlled Monroe County Commission has failed its citizens with tax policy and neglect of the county’s infrastructure.

“The current county government that’s led by Democrats – our current county government has been at war with our number industry, forestry,” Steele explained, “with people that produce jobs. Almost everyone that works in Monroe County is connected in some way with the forestry industry. Our county commission has gone to war with Georgia-Pacific over the taxes they pay. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you and the best employer in the county. We’ve put in programs that don’t reflect our values. We’ve spent money on worthless projects. And the roads and infrastructure that we rely on to get our crops and our timber – our farm-to-market roads – are deteriorating while we waste money on frivolous stuff doesn’t matter and we just pour it down a drain.”

“It’s time for us to turn that around, get a bunch of conservative people in the courthouse and have a value system in place that reflects what the people in our county really think,” he added.

Among the Republicans candidates up for election on the Monroe County ballot in November and all in attendance on Thursday night were District Judge hopeful Emily Steele, incumbent Republican Monroe County District 2 Commissioner Joe McKissick, Monroe County Sheriff hopeful Alfred Carter and Monroe County Probate Judge candidate Melvin Foukal.

Monroe County Republican candidates left to right: Incumbent Republican Monroe County District 2 Commissioner Joe McKissick, Monroe County Probate Judge candidate Melvin Foukal, Monroe County Sheriff hopeful Alfred Carter, and District Judge hopeful Emily Steele (Jeff Poor/YHN)

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.