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.

13 hours ago

Bradley Byrne campaign announces launch of ‘Farmers for Bradley’ coalition

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

Bradley Byrne’s campaign for United States Senate announced Friday that key leaders from Alabama’s agriculture community have launched a “Farmers for Bradley” coalition to support Byrne.

Agriculture remains the top industry in Alabama, and we need a Senator who will not only vote right, but who will actually fight tooth and nail to support our farmers, landowners, and agribusinesses,” Byrne said in a statement. “To have such a strong group of agriculture leaders backing our campaign is a real honor and a testament to the hard work we have done over the years to support our Alabama farmers.”

Both State Senator Andrew Jones (R-Centre) and Mark Kaiser from Baldwin County, who lead the coalition, believe Byrne will fight for farmers in the Senate.

173

“When I first met Bradley, it was clear he is a fighter,” Jones said. “Agriculture is a very difficult industry with a wide range of challenges, so it is so important we have a U.S. Senator who will work with our farmers and leaders at the state level to make life a little easier.”

Kaiser echoed Jones’ comments and said, “Bradley just gets it when it comes to agriculture. He has taken the time to learn about the various issues impacting Alabama’s agriculture community, and he has used that knowledge to fight for us in Washington. Bradley doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.”

“Bradley has an impressive record as a champion for Alabama’s farmers,” a press release stated. “From supporting the Farm Bill to cutting bureaucratic red tape, Bradley has always fought to ensure the farm economy remains stable and fair. Bradley plans to continue the fight for farmers by seeking a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.”

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

15 hours ago

OIG report: ‘Serious issues,’ possible misuse of taxpayer dollars at Alabama Women’s Business Center locations

(PIxabay, YHN)

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a report identifying “serious” material deficiencies with Women’s Business Center, Inc., an Alabama-based recipient of the SBA’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) grant program.

Women’s Business Center, Inc. is responsible for operating two WBCs, located in Mobile and Brewton.

In the course of the OIG’s audit of SBA’s oversight of the nationwide WBC program, Women’s Business Center, Inc. denied OIG auditors access to both coastal Alabama center’s offices and records.

After issuing an administrative subpoena, the SBA OIG uncovered that both WBCs had actually been permanently closed since the fall of 2018 yet were still collecting federal government funds.

292

Further violations uncovered by the OIG included inadequately staffing centers, late and unpaid payroll, a major potential conflict of interest and failure to maintain an adequate financial management system and audited financial statements.

The OIG’s report concluded:

We determined that the Recipient has materially violated federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements. Its lack of required financial systems, records, and policies, and inability to pay its obligations, maintain open and available facilities and service hours, and staff its WBCs with full-time program directors indicates serious issues in the Recipient’s ability to operate and fulfill the WBC program requirements. We have deemed the documentation the Recipient has provided to us to be insufficient and incomplete. The Recipient denied access to OIG, an independent, authorized oversight entity, and disregarded governing federal regulations and terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements.

These findings impel SBA to take prompt corrective action to protect taxpayers’ dollars and help to ensure the integrity of the WBC program. SBA should pursue actions including, but not limited to, suspension, termination, and nonrenewal of the Recipient’s cooperative agreements, as well as suspension and debarment of the Recipient and its personnel.

In a statement reacting to the OIG report, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said, “The gross lack of oversight uncovered in the SBA OIG’s most recent management advisory is incredibly troubling.”

“SBA must take action to remedy the numerous deficiencies identified and enact the Office of Inspector General’s recommendations immediately,” he added. “I appreciate the Office of the Inspector General’s diligence in this matter and look forward to its swift resolution.”

Read the OIG report here.

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

16 hours ago

Ivey back in Montgomery after outpatient procedure ‘went well and as planned’

(YHN, Gov. Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Governor Kay Ivey on Friday underwent an initial outpatient procedure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for early-stage lung cancer.

This followed her Thursday announcement that disclosed the next day’s procedure and radiation treatments to follow.

In a statement, Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, said, “The governor’s outpatient procedure today at UAB went well and as planned.”

“She is back in Montgomery and looks forward to returning to her regular schedule next week,” Maiola concluded.

33
17 hours ago

Court: First Amendment protects ‘hate group’ label

(U.S. Courts/YouTube)

A federal judge says a liberal advocacy group has a First Amendment right to call a Christian ministry a hate group for its opposition to homosexuality.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson threw out a lawsuit filed by the Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media Inc. against the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Alabama.

99

The ministry sued the law center, Amazon and others in 2017 because it wasn’t included in a program that lets Amazon customers donate to nonprofit groups.

The suit says the refusal was because the law center had labeled the ministry a hate group for its stance against homosexual behavior.

The judge ruled Thursday that the liberal watchdog group has a free-speech right to make the claim.

His ruling didn’t address whether the ministry is a hate organization.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2019)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

17 hours ago

‘Breaking record after record’: Alabama shattering employment milestones monthly

(Gov. Ivey/Flickr)

Alabama continues to set new jobs-related records and now boasts the largest over-the-year unemployment rate drop in the United States.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that the Yellowhammer State has yet again set a new record low unemployment rate, along with four additional milestones.

The state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate was 3.1%, down from July’s then-historic rate of 3.3%, and well below August 2018’s rate of 3.9%.

584

August’s rate represented 2,184,511 employed persons, also a new record high, measuring 68,033 more than last year’s count and 12,757 more than last month’s count.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “Not only can we be proud of the fact that Alabama is breaking record after record; but we can also be proud that more of our good men and women are gaining employment.”

The Yellowhammer State has now matched or surpassed the national annual job growth rate for the past seven months.

“Alabama has made significant progress regarding our economy,” Ivey added. “Not only are we putting people to work, but their earnings are increasing, and our industries are growing. Even with all this headway, we realize we must continue exhausting our efforts to make sure that all Alabamians who want a job have a job, and we won’t stop until we achieve that goal.”

August’s historic numbers came after Alabama broke four records the month previous and five in June.

“Along with this brand-new record low unemployment rate, Alabama continues to break other records as well,” said Washington.

“More people are working in Alabama than ever before, a record we’ve broken every single month this year,” he continued. “More than 68,000 Alabamians are working today that weren’t last year, and that’s great news. Fewer people are unemployed in Alabama than ever before, and our workforce is larger than it’s ever been, with consecutive growth for the past eight months.”

August’s unemployment rate represents 70,652 unemployed persons, a new record low, down from 75,101 in July and down from 86,212 in 2018.

The civilian labor force increased in August to a record high 2,255,163, up 8,308 from July’s count and up 52,473 from August 2018.

“Additionally, our jobs count reached a record high for the fourth time this year, gaining more than 37,000 jobs over the year, representing a job growth percentage of 1.8%, which, yet again, surpassed the nation’s job growth – all while Alabamians are also seeing growth in their earnings,” concluded Washington.

Year over year, wage and salary employment grew by 37,300, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+9,900); the leisure and hospitality sector (+6,600); and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+5,200), among others.

Wage and salary employment grew in August by 5,900. Monthly gains were seen in the government sector (+5,300); the professional and business services sector (+3,000); and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+1,900), among others.

Average weekly earnings increased $27.05 since August 2018 and $8.97 since July.

The rising tide is lifting boats across Alabama, too.

All 67 counties saw their unemployment rates decrease over the year, and 66 of 67 counties saw their rates decrease or remain the same over the month.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in August were Shelby County at 2.1%; Marshall and Madison Counties at 2.3%; and Morgan, Limestone and Elmore Counties at 2.4%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were Wilcox County at 6.9%, Clarke County at 5.9% and Greene County at 5.8%.

While still the highest, Wilcox County’s unemployment rate is down 3.1% over-the-year.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were Vestavia Hills at 1.8%; Northport and Homewood at 1.9%; and Alabaster and Hoover at 2.0%.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were Selma at 6.5%, Prichard at 5.5% and Anniston at 4.1%.

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

20 hours ago

Jones: Claim I called for Kavanaugh impeachment ‘a complete mischaracterization’ — ‘We need to just move on’

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Senator Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) says it is time to move on from any discussions regarding the impeachment of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh that stem from allegations in a New York Times report, which has since been revised by editors given the incomplete information in the initial report.

On Sunday, Jones had said during an MSNBC appearance if Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings, impeachment could be a consideration. However, in a later appearance also on MSNBC, he later ruled out impeachment after The New York Times issued a clarification about the piece.

During his TV media call on Thursday, Jones called the premise of ever being a supporter of Kavanaugh’s impeachment a “complete mischaracterization.”

290

“That’s a complete mischaracterization of what I said when those allegations came out in The New York Times,” Jones explained. “I said perjury is a serious allegation, and judges have been removed for perjury. But I didn’t say — I didn’t call for impeachment inquiry at that time. Since that Sunday, when I was asked about it, The New York Times retracted that. I think I’ve made it pretty clear since then that I don’t think an impeachment inquiry would be appropriate.”

Jones went on to express his concerns about the confirmation process but insisted that it was time to move on from the discussion of an impeachment inquiry.

“What did concern me about this — and I’ve said this consistently is that I thought the process that we went through with the Kavanaugh nomination was a flawed process,” Jones added. “It was not a process that was full, fair and complete. And I think that is a mistake. It is a mistake that the Judiciary Committee made and it sets a bad precedent. We just saw as part of this that a U.S. Senator’s letter concerning a potential witness was apparently ignored. That’s not a good thing.”

“So, I have criticized the process,” he continued. “I don’t think it was good. I think it was flawed. But at the same time, I don’t think what I’ve seen now would rise to anything involving an impeachment inquiry. We need to just move on. We’ve got a lot to do in the Senate and the House these days — Iran, gun violence, you name it. We just need to move on.”

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

24 hours ago

Shelby warns military priorities ‘could be undermined’ by Senate Democrats

(Sen. Richard Shelby)

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the powerful chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, on Thursday warned that vital military and national security priorities “could be undermined” after Senate Democrats blocked consideration of the Fiscal Year 2020 defense appropriations bill the day prior.

Shelby’s remarks came during the committee’s markup of the FY 2020 bills for the appropriations subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD); Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; and Financial Services and General Government.

All three bills were subsequently reported favorably out of the committee via unanimous votes, with Shelby declaring that “these bills prioritize the needs of the people of Alabama and the nation.”

However, that came after Shelby used his lofty perch to stand up for American military interests, including the brave men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Shelby is also the chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee.

116

“Yesterday on the floor, we tried to bring up the first package of appropriations bills sent over by the House,” he explained, per prepared remarks. “Unfortunately, our Democratic colleagues would not allow us to do so.”

“Because we were not allowed to proceed, our military’s efforts to plan deliberately in countering Russian and Chinese influence could be undermined,” Shelby warned. “Because we were not allowed to proceed, our plans to provide soldiers with the largest pay increase in a decade will be delayed.”

He emphasized, “Funding our military in a timely manner should not just be a Republican priority; it should be an American priority.”

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

1 day ago

More milestones for Alabama-managed SLS — ‘Backbone for deep space transportation’

(NASA/Steven Seipel)

The Space Launch System (SLS), set to be the world’s most powerful rocket ever, has achieved more major assembly milestones in recent days.

On Thursday, NASA engineers at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, along with Boeing technicians, connected the last of the five sections of the SLS rocket core stage. This marked the finalization of assembling and joining the rocket’s main structural components.

On SLS’s first flight, the core stage will produce 2 million pounds of thrust to send Artemis I and NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon.

The historically powerful SLS is managed at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

579

In a statement, NASA SLS stages manager Julie Bassler said, “NASA has achieved a historic first milestone by completing the final join of the core stage structure for NASA’s Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful rocket.”

“Now, to complete the stage, NASA will add the four RS-25 engines and complete the final integrated avionics and propulsion functional tests. This is an exciting time as we finish the first-time production of the complex core stage that will provide the power to send the Artemis I mission to the Moon,” she advised.

Artemis will take man back to the Moon and the first woman to the surface of the Moon. The program is currently on schedule for a 2024 lunar mission and hopes to set the stage for future human travel to Mars.

SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.

This fall, NASA will work with core stage lead contractor, Boeing, and the RS-25 engine lead contractor, Aerojet Rocketdyne, to attach the four RS-25 engines and connect them to the main propulsion systems inside the engine section, which was the last section of the core stage to be attached.

“Boeing expects to complete final assembly of the Artemis I core stage in December,” explained Jennifer Boland-Masterson, Boeing operations direct at Michoud.

The SLS team also achieved another recent milestone by completing structural testing for the stage’s liquid hydrogen tank. The testing confirmed that the structural design for the tank on the rocket’s initial configuration, called Block 1, can withstand extreme conditions during launch and flight.

Teams at Marshall Space Flight Center put a test version of the tank through the paces during 37 separate test cases that exceeded what engineers expect the SLS rocket to experience. The final test used 80,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen to simulate the cryogenic conditions, or extreme cold, that the liquid hydrogen tank will experience in flight, according to NASA.

Testing will continue later this year to show the tank’s structural design is adequate for future designs of the vehicle as it evolves to a Block IB configuration and missions with even greater forces.

In addition to providing propellant and power to get the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft to space, the core stage houses the flight computers and avionics components that control the first 8 minutes of flight.

The avionics system, including the flight computers, completed integrated system level qualification testing showing the components all work together to control the rocket in the Software Integration and Test Facility (SITF) at Marshall. The next step is to test the flight software with all the ground system software, Orion and launch control in the Systems Integration Laboratory at Marshall.

“NASA and our contractor teams are making tremendous progress on every aspect of manufacturing, assembling and testing the complex systems needed to land American astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024,” Bassler concluded. “I am confident this hard work will result in a rocket that can provide the backbone for deep space transportation to the Moon and ultimately to Mars.”

Read more here.

North Alabama also will play a leading role in other components of Artemis, including with the lunar Gateway and the new Human Landing System. Historic contributions to America’s space prowess are being made by several private sector partners in the Yellowhammer State, such as United Launch Alliance (ULA), Boeing and Dynetics.

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

2 days ago

Ride to honor fallen Tuscaloosa PD’s Dornell Cousette scheduled for Sunday

(City of Tuscaloosa, Punishers LEMC T-Town Chapter Alabama/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

The Tuscaloosa chapter of the Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club plans to sponsor a motorcycle ride to honor Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette, who lost his life in the line of duty Monday night.

The ride, which will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, will begin at Veterans Park in University Mall, include a pass by the Tuscaloosa Police Department and conclude back at Veterans Park.

Registration for the event will be held from noon until 1:00 pm, followed by a safety briefing before the ride begins.

102

Donations can be made on that day by those who decide to ride and even those who are not taking part in the ride. All donations made will go to Cousette’s family.

Donations can be made to the Cousette family through PayPal at @paypal.me/ttownpunishers.

According to a press release, the Punishers Motorcycle Club is “a brotherhood of law enforcement officers, court officers, correctional officers, and other justice system professionals; EMS, Firefighters, Military and like-minded individuals.”

On Wednesday night, to honor Cousette, the University of Alabama lit Bryant-Denny Stadium in blue.

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

2 days ago

Support pours in after Ivey announces cancer diagnosis — ‘No step too high for a high-stepper’

(Gov. Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Reaction poured in from around Alabama on Thursday afternoon after Governor Kay Ivey announced that she will undergo an outpatient procedure on Friday, soon to be followed by radiation treatments, after the early discovery of lung cancer.

Elected officials and politicians from across the Yellowhammer State — and the nation — offered heartfelt words of support and prayer for Ivey.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) tweeted, “Throughout her career, Kay Ivey has proven herself to be a strong and determined woman who will confront any obstacle placed in her path. The courage and tenacity she has shown in the past will serve her well in the challenge that lies ahead.”

“Throughout her treatment, Gov. Ivey will carry with her the prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes of millions of Alabamians, and those of my family and I will certainly be among them,” he concluded.

759

Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R-AL) stated, “My family and I are praying for Governor Ivey to beat this cancer. She is a strong, resilient leader who I know will take that same approach to her recovery.”

Secretary of State John Merrill (R-AL) said in a tweet, “Cindy and I would like to express our concern and offer our thoughts and prayers to Gov. Ivey as she prepares to battle cancer! She is a true leader and a proven winner who has been successful in many fights before! I’m confident that she will prevail in this one as well!”

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) tweeted, “Please join me in praying for [Governor Ivey]’s speedy recovery. Her leadership is unparalleled and I look forward to continuing to work with her for the people of Alabama.”

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) tweeted to Ivey, “Riley, Margaret, George, & I will be praying for you during this time. I’m thankful to call you a friend & grateful for your leadership.”

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R-AL) stated, “As a cancer survivor myself from 2001, I know that early detection, treatment, and prayer can work. I am confident Gov. Ivey will have the best treatment available, and we have wonderful cancer programs in Alabama. Kay Ivey is one tough lady, and I am confident that the cancer will be the loser in this fight.”

Thursday’s news certainly transcended politics.

“Sending well wishes to [Governor Ivey] for a speedy and full recovery!” U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) tweeted.

State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) even invoked a classic Ivey line to express his support for the governor and optimism for her full recovery.

Former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also extended to Ivey, “Prayers for strength and healing.”

In a statement, Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said, “Governor Ivey’s announcement that she will be undergoing outpatient radiation for a malignant spot on her lung is met with great concern, but we are confident that the Steel Magnolia of Alabama will recuperate quickly.”

“We hope it is a great comfort to her that millions of Alabamians will lift her name up to the Lord’s ear during this time. We also should take this opportunity to be reminded of so many who have walked this challenging path. We believe Governor Ivey will tackle this moment with the tenacity, faith and grace she does with everything,” she concluded.

State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) tweeted, “My whole family and I are going to add her to our prayers immediately, but Governor Ivey is made of equal parts grit and grace. This small malignancy her doctor found will be no match for her.”

Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) tweeted, “Deborah and I offer our prayers of support for [Governor Ivey]. Kay is a dear friend and one of the finest leaders in America. Her strength and faith will bring her through this challenge. Godspeed Kay.”

Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said in a tweet, “When it comes to fighting for what matters, Governor Ivey has proven time and time again that she is a tenacious warrior, and that same steely will and determination will be in full evidence as she begins her radiation treatments.”

“I know that all of the members of the Alabama House join me in asking for God’s healing hands to embrace our governor throughout her treatment and recovery,” he added.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) said in a statement, “Louise and I want to join all Alabamians in offering our prayers and support for Governor Ivey and her loved ones during this difficult time. We know she is in good hands with the world-class physicians at UAB.”

This article may be updated as more reaction comes in.

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

2 days ago

Wildfire burns about 500 acres in parched Alabama

(Pixabay, YHN)

A wildfire has burned about 500 acres of land in rural eastern Alabama, and there’s a statewide threat of additional blazes.

The Alabama Forestry Commission has spent two days fighting a large wildfire around Alpine in Talladega County.

101

The fire has already consumed about 500 acres, but the agency says no people or homes are in immediate danger.

About 120 fires have burned more than 1,000 acres of land in the state in the last week.

The state has issued a fire danger advisory for all 67 counties because of dry weather conditions.

Nearly half the state is currently abnormally dry, with severe droughts in Shelby County near Birmingham and Dale and Henry counties in southeastern Alabama.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2019)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

2 days ago

Ivey to undergo outpatient procedure with ‘very high rate of success’ after cancer discovered early

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced that she will undergo an outpatient procedure at UAB on Friday after a recent routine exam revealed she had a spot on her lung.

After more testing, “a tiny, isolated malignancy” was confirmed, meaning the spot was indicative of cancer.

The procedure and subsequent radiation treatments are not expected to interfere with her duties as governor, Ivey said in a statement.

Ivey said “this was discovered early, and it is very treatable.”

406

She added that the procedure “has a very high rate of success” and expressed great confidence in Alabama being “home to some of the world’s leading physicians.”

The governor welcomes prayers and support from around the state.

Ivey’s full statement as follows: 

Throughout my life, I am constantly reminded that I have so much for which to be thankful; God has been incredibly gracious to me.

One of the highest honors you have given me is serving as your governor.

Because I always shoot straight with you, I want to share a recent challenge that has been placed in front of me.

Within the past few weeks, during a routine exam, my longtime family physician discovered a spot on my lung that was unusual. Additional tests confirmed that this was, indeed, a tiny, isolated malignancy.

The good news is I am one of the fortunate ones where this was discovered early, and it is very treatable.

The better news is Alabama is home to some of the world’s leading physicians. My team of doctors have assured me this treatment has a very high rate of success and will have a minimal impact on my schedule.

Tomorrow morning, I will travel to UAB for an outpatient procedure, which will allow me to soon begin a series of specialized radiation treatments. None of this will prevent me from continuing to serve as your governor and doing the work you elected me to do.

Naturally, I welcome your prayers and your support. Just as so many others who have been affected by cancer, I am confident of God’s plan and purpose for my life and feel extremely fortunate this was caught so early.

May God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama.

Update 2:30 p.m.:

The governor also released a video message to the public.

Update 2:58 p.m.:

Dr. William P. Saliski, Jr. D.O. with the Montgomery Pulmonary Consultants provided Yellowhammer News with the following statement regarding Ivey:

“Governor Kay Ivey was referred to me to review an abnormal spot on her lung. A biopsy was performed and pathology results revealed a small, isolated malignancy. Upon consultation with our cancer team and reviewing all options available, Governor Ivey determined that these minimal radiation treatments are her preference. Governor Ivey has opted for the least invasive treatment which has an excellent cure rate. I expect her to make a full recovery.”

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

2 days ago

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama legislature ratified the 19th Amendment

(Encyclopedia of Alabama/Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Sept. 19, 1953

The fight for the right for women to vote officially ended in 1920 when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In Alabama, there was an active suffragist movement, led by the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, but opposition by some Alabama groups resulted in the legislature not taking up the amendment, and after Tennessee signed on the issue was moot. Thirty-three years later, the legislature decided to “record its approval of extending the right of suffrage to women” and officially ratified the 19th Amendment. Although the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association dissolved in 1920, many of its leaders and members joined the newly founded League of Women Voters, which remains active today in Alabama elections.

14
2 days ago

Canfield elected chair of Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Waggoner vice-chair

(Alabama Department of Commerce, J. Waggoner/Facebook, YHN)

The Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Associated Technologies recently held its inaugural meeting, at which commission members elected Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield as chairman and State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) as vice-chairman.

The commission plans to schedule additional meetings over the next seven months, with all meetings being open to the public.

The members will deliver a report in May to Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, recommending strategies and policies on how AI and other emerging technologies will be of benefit to the Yellowhammer State’s economy.

In a statement on Thursday, Canfield explained the importance of the commission’s work.

717

“Artificial intelligence is a powerful, disruptive technology that has the potential to forever change the way we live our lives and how businesses across Alabama operate,” he emphasized.

“It’s critical that we understand how AI will bring about these sweeping changes, and this Commission will help us develop insights into what the future has in store for Alabama’s citizens and businesses,” Canfield concluded.

Waggoner spearheaded the legislative resolution that formed the commission. His leadership has been, and continues to be instrumental, in this process. The powerful chair of the Senate Rules Committee identified the goal of Alabama being on the cutting edge of AI research and job creation in the technology sector.

“We want Alabama to be a leader in AI research, innovation, technology start-ups, and technology jobs,” Waggoner stated. We believe that we are competitive with other states.”

He continued, “The Commission will look at how Alabama is positioned and ready for the opportunities of tomorrow. Those are some of the issues and questions this Commission is going to answer. We will meet with key business groups and different industry sectors to understand the impact of AI and automation on their industries.”

According to Waggoner, the commission will also examine how schools and universities can develop AI-educational programs, and investigate what privacy safeguards might be needed to protect consumers.

“We want Alabama’s education system in a place where we can equip students with AI-relevant skills through engineering and technology classes and apprenticeship programs,” he added. “As we promote innovation and educational readiness, we must also protect the privacy rights of citizens, and examine whether existing state laws are effective in regulating these emerging technologies. There’s a lot of work ahead.”

The commission will be divided up into five sub-committees, focused on the following:

  • state regulations, government oversight, and potential legislative action;
  • education and workforce development;
  • healthcare and medical services;
  • future and evolving industries, economic development, and research;
  • ethics, privacy and security.

The subcommittees will begin their work in mid-October.

State Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) was appointed to the commission by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Roberts came away from the body’s initial meeting impressed at the experience and expertise of its membership.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning are very complex subjects. Thankfully, I think we have some of the finest minds in our state working on this project. The sub committees that have been established will allow every person on the commission to hone in on their particular areas of expertise,” Roberts outlined.

The 25 members of the commission are as follows:

Greg Canfield – Secretary of Commerce (chairman)

Marty Redden – Acting secretary of the Alabama Office of Information Technology

Ivey’s appointees:

1. Dr. Hari Narayanan— Auburn

2. Dr. Gerry Dozier— Auburn

3. Dr. Jeff Carver – UA (Tuscaloosa)

4. Dr. Curt Carver – UAB

5. Dr. Alec Yasinac – USA

6. Dr. John Beck – UAH

7. Dr. James Cimino – UAB

8. Melvin Evans – Hand Arendall

9. Jim McLane – NaphCare

10. Jacob Kosoff – Regions Bank

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s appointees:

Joshua Jones – StrategyWise

Dr. Vicki Karolewics – Wallace State Community College

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon’s appointees:

Rep. Kirk Hatcher

Rep. Craig Lipscomb

Marsh’ appointees:

Sen. Jabo Waggoner (Vice-chair)

Sen. Dan Roberts

Non-Voting members appointed by the governor:

J. Michael Hardin – Provost & vice president at Samford University

John Brandt – Southern Company

Leonard Tillman – Balch & Bingham

Mike Rowell – Senior VP & CIO at ALFA Insurance

James Mizell – Senior account executive at Microsoft

Jason Asbury – NXTsoft

Dr. Syed Raza – Jefferson State Community College

An Alabama CEO, also a commission member, said artificial intelligence is on the cusp of transforming every industry.

“Artificial intelligence is rapidly changing every industry, and it is incredibly important for us as a state to think strategically about what that means to our economy,” advised Joshua Jones, CEO of Birmingham-based StrategyWise, an AI and data science consulting firm.

He concluded, “I applaud Senator Waggoner and Secretary Canfield for leading Alabama to be one of the first states to really address these opportunities and changing dynamics systematically. It sends a message to the rest of the U.S. that Alabama is serious about investing in our future, and we’re growing our tech-based ecosystem. For companies that want to leverage all that AI has to offer, we’re going to be prepared with a trained workforce, accommodating public policy, and a strong tech infrastructure.”

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

2 days ago

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling open to Tennessee River toll bridge — If that moves freight, freight companies, truckers ‘would just be thrilled to do it’

(ALDOT, Jeff Poor/YHN)

For decades, traffic headed west from Huntsville and other points toward the Shoals has relied upon the Captain William J. Hudson “Steamboat Bill” Memorial Bridges to cross the Tennessee River into Decatur. Once traffic crosses that bridge, it either heads south on U.S. Highway 31 toward Hartselle and Cullman, or it makes a hard-right 90-degree turn on to U.S. Highway Alternate 72 and heads toward Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia and Sheffield.

As the manufacturing base in northern Alabama expands, freight traffic is expected to increase at that intersection and make the turn west even more precarious for commuters and commercial traffic.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling discussed that spot and possible solutions for the future, which could include a tolling component.

512

“If you were to go now and sit in the Doubletree Hotel, which is where you’re talking about there where you make that turn to go to the Shoals, and just look at the amount of freight that comes in out of Memphis — Memphis is the distribution hub for America,” Bowling said on Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show.” “And that freight that comes out of Memphis, straight down [U.S. Highway Alternate] 72, and then it makes its way across our bridge and goes various routes from there — into Huntsville, Madison, Athens, gets on [Interstate] 65, has different directions it can go from there. But whenever we start producing a thousand cars a day, we have 4,000 employees plus the tiered suppliers who will be there. The amount of freight that will come in to take care of that I believe is going to double.”

Bowling noted the situation at the Hyundai facility near Montgomery as a sign of what is to come and commended Gov. Kay Ivey for the commitment to widen the existing Interstate 565 that connects Decatur and Huntsville.

“We visited the Hyundai facility manufacturing a thousand cars a day just south of Montgomery — just-in-time deliveries: batteries, tires, things of that nature — they receive a truck a minute,” he continued. “You think widening [Interstate] 565 is important? Heck yeah, it’s important. We’re thankful Gov. Ivey is going to get that done for us in the Spring of 2020.”

The Decatur mayor said the completion of a nearby overpass for Alabama Highway 20 remains his current top priority.  Once that is completed, Bowling said exploring the possibility of an alternate route over the Tennessee River would be appropriate.

“We’re working on an overpass on [Alabama] Highway 20 where Apple Lane Farms is,” he said. “That’s Decatur, and that’s a build grant that we received for $14 million from the Federal Highway Department. We’re very thankful for that. A lot of people made that happen. Once that project gets going, then we’ll start working on the other. But we want to be sure we do everything to make sure that project gets going first.”

As for the possibility of using tolls to finance a new bridge, Bowling said he expected that those moving freight would be “thrilled” if it expedited transit and that if it would improve commuter traffic on existing structures, it could be a possibility.

“If that moves freight, I would believe that the freight companies, the truckers would just be thrilled to do it,” Bowling explained. “If we were to take the trucks off of the [U.S.] Highway 31 bridges, I believe that our commuter traffic — it would be a lot easier to make that commute. And so, we’ll see what we can do. We’ll come up with a traffic plan. We’ll do traffic counts. Things to prove it out.”

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

2 days ago

Byrne applauds Trump administration for rescinding WOTUS rule; Says Mobile Baykeeper ‘absolutely wrong’ about environmental threat

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Last week, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, which broadened the scope of “waters” protected by the Clean Water Act.

The rule faced numerous legal challenges and was decried by farmers as an overreach.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2020, applauded the Trump administration’s decision.

267

“There was a power grab by the Obama administration,” Byrne said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They wanted to take the traditional understanding about what is the water under the Clean Water Act that the EPA can regulate it and expand it to the point where if a farmer has two or three inches of standing water in their fields, all of a sudden the EPA tells them they can or can’t plant. That’s nonsense.”

“We actually had some legislation previously on it, but the Trump administration has just rescinded that rule,” he continued. “So we have gone back to a more common-sense understanding. I mean, a small pond in your yard is not something that should be regulated by the EPA. Some standing water in a big field is not something that should be regulated by the EPA.”

Byrne cited an AL(dot)com story quoting Mobile Baykeeper’s Casi Callaway decrying the move by the Trump administration and warning the impact that revoking the rule could have on the environment.

“Casi is a friend, but she is absolutely wrong about that,” Byrne remarked. “This is just a common-sense change going back to the way it has been for decades. It has worked fine for decades. I really appreciate the Trump administration making this change. And I understand why farmers and other people in other rural parts of Alabama felt so strongly about it.”

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

2 days ago

State Rep. Steve Clouse: Prison reform, CHIP top issues for general fund; ‘Not this year’ on Medicaid expansion

Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark)

The next general session of the Alabama legislature will not convene in Montgomery for another four and a half months. However, very significant challenges lie ahead for the members when they meet in 2020.

House General Fund budget committee chairman Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) discussed those challenges Tuesday during an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN.

Clouse said prisons would likely top the list for the legislature. However, determining what that will be is on hold he said until Gov. Kay Ivey’s administration offers a plan.

536

“The prison situation will be front and center here,” Clouse said on “The Jeff Poor Show” during an on-location broadcast from Dothan. “We’re still basically waiting on the governor’s office, the administration to present a plan. They have got a couple of companies that are working on different alternatives for us – a lease-build type situation, and possibly going in and passing a bond issue ourselves that would have to come through the legislature.”

“I don’t know exactly where that’s going to go right now,” he added. “We’ll just have to look at the numbers when they come out.”

Clouse also cited the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which will soon require state governments picking up more and more of the cost, which will be upwards of an additional $70 million price tag in the coming year.

“One of the issues that we had last year was getting members in the legislature aware of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the demands are going to be placed more and more on the states,” he said. “That is the last 20 years since the program has been in existence, basically the federal government has been picking up the whole tab on that. Over the last four or five years, it has been under a one-year authorization, and you know, not knowing if it was going to be reauthorized or not — and even if it was, not knowing how much the feds were going to pick up. At the last minute, they’ve always picked it up, you know.”

“Of course, it is what led to last year – January of last year, when the federal government shut down the first time for four or five days – that was the impetus that brought everybody together to get the government back going again past continuing resolution in Washington to make sure CHIP got reauthorized,” Clouse continued. “Of course, they picked up the full tab last year and are doing it this year right now. But, starting October 1 with the new budget, we’ll have to pick up about $35 million of that cost, which we’re going to be able to do. And then next year, the full amount is going to be kicking in on us. That’s going to be about an additional $70 million.”

As for the possibility of Medicaid expansion, a policy favored by many of the state’s elected Democrats, Clouse said he did not think it would come this year and said a determination on that would happen when what direction national health care policy was going to take after the 2020 elections.

“I don’t think so right now – not this year,” Clouse said. “I think it’s going to be an issue, another national issue in the presidential race. It will probably come up a lot in our U.S. Senate race, and our congressional races about the national health care situation and whether or not we’re going to continue Obamacare. And if we do, what’s going to be the guidelines going forward.”

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

2 days ago

History made at Montgomery Zoo after pygmy hippo gives birth to twins

(Montgomery Zoo/Contributed)

The Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum on Wednesday announced the extremely rare birth of twin pygmy hippopotamus calves on August 4.

Both female, the calves were born to first-time parents Asali and Mikey.

The calves were the third and fourth birth of pygmy hippos in the last four years at the zoo in Alabama’s capital city.

385

Sadly, one of the newborn calves only lived for two days due to a condition called brachygnathism, which made it impossible for the calf to nurse.

However, the survival of one of the twin calves is a historic milestone to celebrate, as the birth of twins is a major anomaly for the species.

According to a release from the Montgomery Zoo, there were only 11 confirmed cases of twin hippo births from 1903-2015 throughout the world. Of those 11 births, there were only four cases in which one of the calves survived and only one case in which both calves lived.

In fact, with the high infant mortality rate of pygmy hippos, until about one month after birth, having a set of twins where one survived is significant to research and conservation of the species.

Description of the species via the Montgomery Zoo:

The pygmy hippopotamus is a large mammal native to the forests and swamps of western Africa. A cousin of the much larger common hippopotamus, the pygmy hippo is semi-aquatic and relies on proximity to water to maintain moisturized skin and a cool body temperature. Reclusive and nocturnal, it is a difficult animal to study in the wild. However, pygmy hippos have a history of breeding well in captivity. The World Conservation Union estimates that less than 3,000 pygmy hippos remain in the wild.

Though pygmy hippos share the same general form as the hippopotamus, they grow to approximately half the height and one quarter of the weight of their larger cousins. Full grown, the pygmy hippo typically reaches 30-32 inches in height, 59-70 inches in length, and 400-600 lbs. in weight. It is estimated that pygmy hippos can grow to ten times their birth weight by the age of five months.

The other calves born at the zoo in recent years (Monty in 2016 and Levi in 2018) are now continuing to mature and thrive at the Greater Richmond Zoo in Virginia.

The public is invited to join the Montgomery Zoo on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to celebrate the surviving newborn calf’s introduction to the public.

Mom (Asali) and baby will be housed in a temporary habitat located in the South America realm of the zoo, near the flamingos, until the calf is approximately a year old.

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

2 days ago

Workforce development, infrastructure priorities for Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba

(Facebook)

Although it is sometimes overlooked by its counterparts around the state of Alabama, the city of Dothan remains a hub for commerce for not only the Wiregrass but southwestern Georgia and parts of the Florida Panhandle, as well.

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba discussed his city’s relationship with the rest of the state.

“Sometimes we think we are the neglected city down here in the southeast corner, but we feel like we’re ideally located to a lot of lakes and, of course, the beach,” Saliba said on Tuesday’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” broadcasting from Troy University’s Dothan campus. “We’re about an hour and 45 minutes away. We think we’re a great family spot and we always have a lot of things going on.”

584

“[W]ithin about 50 miles, we are the largest city,” he added. “So we are kind of the hub for retail and medical. And we have a lot of folks that come into our city. We are around 68,000-70,000 people. But we balloon to 120,000-125,000 during the day — mostly working, shopping and, of course, seeking medical help as well. So, we have a lot going on. The economy has been good. It has been across the state over the last few years. So we’re enjoying the benefits of that.”

Saliba noted one obstacle for Dothan was not being connected to the Interstate system, even though Interstate 10 is roughly 35 miles to the south on U.S. Highway 231. Saliba says he hopes the state of Florida will continue to make progress in four-laning additional routes from I-10 to the Alabama state line, including Florida Highways 77 and 79, and U.S. Highway 331.

The Dothan mayor touted the city’s successes but said improving workforce skills remains a priority.

“I think the state of Alabama and the city of Dothan have done very well with economic development over the several years,” he said. “I do think workforce development is the issue. We have a lot of companies here. We’ve got now to provide a quality workforce. And you know now the unemployment rates in Dothan are at all-time lows. People are working that want to work. I think that is important. But we’ve got to work on skills — soft skills as well as the hard skills.”

Saliba pledged to continue to contribute to Alabama’s efforts to improve the economy. He also noted his recent participation in a meeting of the “Big 5 plus 5” mayors of Alabama, which included the mayors of the state’s 10 biggest cities, as a part of that effort.

“We have a lot of good people down here,” he said. “We’re a very entrepreneurial spirit I think because of where we are. We’re a little bit away from everyone. We pull from Georgia. We pull from Florida. And from Alabama. And so, we think we have a lot we think we can do to contribute to the state of Alabama, and how things are run. We want to participate and we a part of that. I’m very appreciative to the Big 5 and to be able to go to the last meeting and looking forward to having conversations about where our state is headed and talking about the issues that we all kind of share.”

Although Dothan has yet to have one of the big auto manufacturers locate nearby, as has been the case for Huntsville, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Saliba is hopeful and pointed to a mega-site effort the city has in cooperation with Florida.

“I would think every mayor dreams at night of having an automotive plant at least get somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 or 30 miles — get these Tier 1, Tier 2 opportunities,” he said. “We worked on a mega-site. We share one with Florida on the Alabama-Florida line. We have tried attracting that as well and will continue to do so. I don’t know if we’ll ever have one real close but if we get one as close as the Florida line, I think that we would be very happy with that.”

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

2 days ago

Nick Saban named to Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2020 induction class

(Univ. of Alabama Football/Twitter)

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next year.

The announcement was made in a release this week.

Saban is being inducted as the former head football coach at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he won 75% of his games and the 2003 national championship in five seasons with the Tigers.

355

The class of 2020 will be enshrined June 27 in Natchitoches, LA.

A 35-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the inductees. The panel considered a record 150 nominees from 31 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot, explained Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.

Here is what the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame wrote about Saban:

Saban went 48-16 from 2000-04 at LSU before jumping to the NFL for two seasons as head coach in Miami, then returning to college football at Alabama, where he has captured five more national championships since 2009. His Tigers won Southeastern Conference championships in 2001 and 2003, reigning as SEC West Division champs from 2001-03, and he won his first national and SEC coach of the year awards while guiding LSU to the 2003 BCS national crown. He is the first sitting college coach elected to the Hall since Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (1985).

Saban carved his prominent place in state sports history with the 2003 BCS national title win by his LSU squad over Oklahoma in the Superdome. His Tigers compiled a 48-16 (28-12 SEC) record in Baton Rouge, part of his 232-63-1 mark as a college head coach entering 2019.

Saban is the first coach to win a national title with two different FBS schools since the inception of the Associated Press rankings in 1936. Saban and Bear Bryant are the only coaches to win SEC crowns at different schools. His collection of national championships equals the record set by Bryant.

Among Saban’s coaching tree, former LSU assistants Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are current SEC head coaches and Derek Dooley was coach at Tennessee. He is a 2013 inductee in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Saban’s Crimson Tide have beaten LSU eight consecutive times, with the Tigers last winning on November 5, 2011.

UA’s football program celebrated Saban’s coming induction in a tweet on Wednesday.

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

2 days ago

‘Clean Home Alabama’ initiative launched to help maintain ‘Alabama the Beautiful’

Governor Kay Ivey signs Clean Home Alabama proclamation. (Alabama Community College System/Contributed)

By signing an official proclamation this week, Governor Kay Ivey launched the Alabama Community College System’s (ACCS) “Clean Home Alabama” initiative.

Alabama’s community colleges will partner with residents and community organizations in every county of the Yellowhammer State for this college-led effort to help beautify the state’s natural landscapes, growing infrastructure and expanding communities.

Clean Home Alabama will take place November 1-11 this year.

The initiative was established by ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker, with the mission of continuing to serve communities both inside and outside of campus walls.

184

“Community is so much a part of what our colleges do each day that it’s even in our name,” Baker said in a statement.

“Alabama’s community colleges are located within every region of the state, which means we are perfectly positioned to organize and execute an effort of this magnitude to help maintain ‘Alabama the Beautiful’ during our state’s bicentennial year,” he added.

Community college students, faculty and staff will serve alongside residents and members of several community organizations on Clean Home Alabama days for a number of beautification and litter pickup projects. Several community organizations have already committed to projects.

One partner, Alabama People Against a Littered State (ALPALS), donated 150 trash bags to each community college and is assisting colleges and groups with the process for obtaining official road markers in their honor for the ALPALS Adopt-A-Mile, Adopt-An-Area and Adopt-A-Stream programs.

Projects for Clean Home Alabama can range from picking up litter along a roadway or helping to beautify entrances and exits into local parks, cities or facilities.

Learn more here.

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

2 days ago

Gone but not forgotten: Bryant-Denny Stadium goes blue for slain Tuscaloosa PD officer

(Kent Gidley/Univ. of Alabama)

Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette was remembered in a special way on Wednesday night, when the University of Alabama used Bryant-Denny Stadium to honor the fallen hero‘s life and show that they back the blue.

UA lit the iconic stadium blue from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Former TPD Lt. Andy Norris shared stunning pictures of the scene on his Facebook page.

214

Video taken inside the blue stadium showed a surreal scene.

On social media, UA Athletics said, “Tonight we honored the memory of Tuscaloosa Police Investigator, Dornell Cousette. Officer Cousette was a true hero. Thank you for your selflessness to serve our community. We will always remember you.”

You can view numerous high-quality photos of the night honoring Cousette courtesy of UA Athletics here.

(Jeff Hanson/Univ. of Alabama)

Additionally, Cousette’s police car will be parked outside the stadium at the Walk of Champions until approximately noon on Friday. This is intended to be a way for the community and public to come show their support for the officer, along with his family and fellow law enforcement officers.

(Ashley Gooden/Twitter)

Read about more ways to honor Cousette, including visitation and funeral services, here.

RELATED: ‘Will never be forgotten’: Ivey ordering flags to half-staff for Tuscaloosa PD’s Dornell Cousette

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

3 days ago

‘A stark reminder’: Lee County resident arrested on federal terrorism charges, supports ISIS

(FBI/Facebook)

The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that Nayef Qashou is being held in a detention facility in Montgomery after being arrested in regards to a substantial terrorism probe.

During this multi-year probe, the FBI said Qashou told agents he would execute an American soldier if ordered to do so by the Islamic State (ISIS). The Lee County resident was taken into custody on Monday. He is reportedly charged with lying to the FBI and destroying records.

In a newly unsealed affidavit, the FBI explained that Qashou arrived in the country in 2015 with plans to study nursing at Southern Union State Community College’s Opelika campus. He is a dual Jordanian and American citizen who grew up in Saudi Arabia, authorities noted.

397

The FBI has interviewed him over 12 times since then. Agents also searched his home in Auburn, telling a judge they were looking for computer equipment and computer storage devices.

Per The Associated Press, the FBI advised that Qashou used encrypted phone apps to communicate with suspected terrorists who told him he should carry out an attack in the United States.

The encrypted communications included the discussion of attacks against U.S. forces, among other things, according to the affidavit.

“Qashou would not tell interviewers exactly how he responded to the suggestion to conduct a U.S. attack,” FBI Special Agent Scott Sullivan wrote in the affidavit. “He stated he essentially responded by saying the only way he could justify an attack is for it to be against U.S. Armed Forces personnel on U.S. soil.”

Qashou also claimed to FBI agents that he does not believe in violence.

However, he also said he would help ISIS and “drive fuel trucks, feed troops, and use a gun to defend against U.S.-led attacks against ISIS,” the affidavit outlined.

The man consented to numerous interviews at the FBI’s Auburn field office, where he allegedly voluntarily shared some eyebrow raising information, including his desire to join fighters in Syria.

The affidavit additionally stated that Qashou tried to minimize his support of “radical Islamic ideology.”

“Qashou stated he believed ISIS is fighting a humanitarian war that will benefit all Muslims in the Middle East,” the document explained.

He reportedly ended one of the interviews by saying he felt “it was his duty as a Muslim to inform the interviewing agents that he thinks the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is innocent and the FBI should reopen the case to examine all the evidence.”

This comes the week after the 18th anniversary of 9/11. Last week, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03), who represents Lee County, spoke about the serious dangers of domestic terrorism. Rogers is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

He reacted to the news of Qashou’s arrest on Wednesday in a statement.

“Today’s arrest is a stark reminder that terrorism remains a threat in our own backyard,” Roger said.

“According to the FBI, Qashou used encrypted phone apps to discuss attacks on U.S. forces on American soil. I applaud the diligent work of law enforcement for their continued vigilance and preventing any potential violence before it could occur,” he concluded.

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

On this day in Alabama history: NASA unveiled space shuttle Enterprise

(Wikicommons)

Sept. 17, 1976

It was named after the Starship Enterprise, from the famed TV show “Star Trek.” Indeed, much of the cast of the show and its creator, Gene Rodenberry, attended the unveiling on this day in 1976. It represented a completely new concept for the nation’s space program: a reusable space orbiter. But Enterprise would never make it to space. Rather, it was the “test shuttle,” built for atmospheric tests only after being launched from a modified Boeing 747 jet. Enterprise had no engines and no functional heat shield, making it incapable of spaceflight. And design changes after Enterprise’s unveiling made it impractical to retrofit for space travel. Constructed primarily in California, Enterprise also spent time at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, where it underwent rigorous ground-vibration testing. It was in Huntsville that, for the first time, all the space shuttle’s key components – the orbiter, external tank and two solid-rocket boosters – were tied together.

13