The Wire

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

3 days ago

Auburn University making Alabama ‘go-to place’ for additive technologies

(Auburn University)

Additive technologies commonly referred to as 3-D printing are revolutionizing the manufacturing industry, giving engineers and designers new methods to create custom parts in aerospace and other industries.

Auburn University is moving toward its goal of being a leader in this game-changing technology. It’s making strategic investments to broaden its capabilities in additive manufacturing and building partnerships with organizations such as NASA and companies including GE Aviation.


 Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Auburn’s concentration on additive manufacturing is positioning the university’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering as a national leader in this field.

“Additive manufacturing represents a significant breakthrough that will reshape how manufacturers produce all kinds of products, and it’s critical that Alabama’s workforce is prepared for this technology,” Secretary Canfield said.

“Auburn University is laying the foundation to ensure that we’re fully ready for future advances.”

That includes supporting the Alabama delegation at the Farnborough International Airshow near London next week.

Larry Fillmer, executive director of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation, or ARTF, and Cary Chandler, director of business development for ARTF, will be available to meet with aerospace companies to discuss potential opportunities for collaboration with Auburn on projects to advance applied research in additive manufacturing and workforce development.

The overall objective is long-term economic growth for Alabama.


Auburn has hired additional faculty with expertise in additive manufacturing and now has more than 20 faculty members involved in the field. In addition, the university has spent over $8 million on teaching and research equipment, including 3-D printers and instrumentation such as a world-class fatigue testing laboratory and an X-ray computed tomography non-destructive testing center.

The moves have paid off.

Auburn has been involved in sponsored additive manufacturing research programs from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, and private industry, among others.

An important step for Auburn was the 2016 creation of the Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing, with a $1.5 million NIST grant to help small manufacturers use additive manufacturing for reliable production of metal parts.

For Tony Overfelt, professor of materials engineering, who was the inaugural leader in the additive manufacturing focus at Auburn, the center representedan opportunity to propel Alabama to a leadership role in additive manufacturing and spur workforce development by immersing students in the new technology.

“As we launched our efforts in 2016, one of our long-term goals was to make the state of Alabama the go-to place for additive manufacturing,” he said.

And Auburn intends to lead the way.

“The creation of the Auburn University Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing helped position Auburn at the forefront of this growing field of research,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

“This reaffirms our college’s commitment to advancing research in manufacturing, which is vital to the state of Alabama and the nation.”


Meanwhile, Auburn’s additive manufacturing link to NASA has grown particularly strong.

The university and the space agency signed a cooperative agreement focusing on additive manufacturing in late 2017 and together they formed the National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, or NCAME.

In January 2018, Auburn President Steven Leath visited Huntsville to see first-hand Auburn’s extensive involvement with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

While there, Auburn-trained engineers working in NASA’s additive manufacturing center showed Leath where they are constructing flight hardware for the Space Launch System, or SLS, using innovative 3-D printing technologies. The SLS is NASA’s Mars rocket, now under development.

“The rapidly expanding field of advanced manufacturing requires new skill sets, or, in other words, a new workforce of highly trained specialists,” Leath said. “Auburn is educating and training a growing number of engineers to meet that need—working hand-in-hand with our industry and government partners to ensure they have what they need to bring these technologies out of the lab and into the workforce.”

“Joining forces with NASA and creating NCAME elevates Auburn’s additive manufacturing program even higher. We believe that our joint efforts in AM research and workforce development will help take the U.S. back to the moon and ultimately to Mars,” said Nima Shamsaei, associate professor in mechanical engineering and director of NCAME.

In March 2018, ASTM International, a global standards organization, selected the Auburn-NASA partnership, along with EWI and the U.K.-based Manufacturing Technology Centre, or MTC, as the winners in a global competition for its first Center of Excellence focusing on additive manufacturing. EWI is a leading engineering and technology organization, and MTC develops innovative manufacturing processes and technologies.

The goal for these organizations and their partners is to create a global innovation hub that advances technical standards, related research and development, education, training and more.

“It’s clear that this new center has the potential to shape the future of industries like aerospace, auto, medical and more,” said Katherine Morgan, president of ASTM International.

Shamsaei, who is Auburn’s lead in the Center of Excellence, says, “As a primary mechanism for standards-related research, the ASTM Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence seeks to close knowledge gaps and encourage innovation.”

The ASTM Center of Excellence will be housed in the Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory, a $22 million project being completed on campus this summer with 60,000 square feet of labs and office space for work on additive manufacturing of metals, as well as advanced polymers and composites.


The university has also built a strong partnership with GE Aviation, a leader in additive manufacturing that operates a manufacturing plant in Auburn where jet engine fuel nozzles are produced using additive manufacturing techniques.

Last year, GE selected Auburn as one of just eight universities in the world to participate in their groundbreaking academic program focusing on 3-D printing research and education initiatives.

In addition, students in Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering have worked with the company’s engineers on a number of real-world design and testing problems.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

3 days ago

Alabama first responders go through ‘crucial’ active shooter training

Thursday, over 60 officers from Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Anniston Police Department and Oxford Police Department endured inter-agency training at the Xtreme Concepts Inc. (XCI) Training Facility in Anniston, AL., to combat an active shooter situation.

Per a news release, the group went through three “challenging” scenarios dealing with an active shooter at XCI’s facility, formerly known as Fort McClellan, to “simulate a diverse field of situations.”

“I wanted to put something in there that they don’t see,” Anniston police Sgt. Donny Smith said, regarding a female shooter in an office romance gone bad scenario. “I want to get inside their heads.”


Experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted in the Thursday training session designed to improve collaboration between various departments to combat potential active shooter situations.

Xtreme Concepts Inc.
Xtreme Concepts Inc.
Xtreme Concepts Inc.
Xtreme Concepts Inc.

A portion of the news release as follows:

The Xtreme Concepts explosives experts were able to create situations where improvised explosives are placed inside an active shooter situation. These improvised explosive devices have been found at places in out state such as Magnolia Elementary School in Trussville in 2016 or the most recent event at Santa Fe High School in Texas this year where similar explosive incendiary devices were found at the school.

“It is always a pleasure to host these first responders who put their lives on the line for our communities every day. Anything that we can do at our facility to make Alabama a safer place is a priority for us,” Landon Ash, CEO of Xtreme Concepts, said.

3 days ago

Back Forty Beer Company-Birmingham pouring it on with beer and food

(M. Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

The first satellite brewery of Alabama’s largest beer maker is now open in Sloss Docks next door to Birmingham’s historic Sloss Furnaces.

Back Forty Beer Company-Birmingham shares a name and elements with the mother brewery in Gadsden but it also has its own unique elements.

“We’re going to be focused on bringing core beers from Gadsden that people love but also complementing it with craft beer that you can get nowhere else other than this location and distributed locally in the Birmingham market,” said Doug Brown, owner and CEO of Back Forty-Birmingham. “These satellite breweries were developed on a concept of satisfying the consumer’s demand for unique craft beer that can be found nowhere else.”


The 6,200-square-foot operation has indoor seating for 170 and outdoor porches, decks and a beer garden that encourages visitors to relax on swings or rocking chairs or get a bit more active with a pingpong table, cornhole and is even considering adding fly-fishing lessons.

In addition to a full brewery operation, Back Forty-Birmingham has a kitchen where executive chef Russ Bodner is elevating bar food.

The Back40 Poutine comes with gravy made from Back Forty’s award-winning Truck Stop Honey brown ale. The Naked Pig Boiled Peanuts come with garlic, arbol chili and thyme. There is also Confit Chicken Wings with a rotating hot sauce, grilled okra with harissa and pickled raisins, and Grilled “Street Corn” with chili aioli, toasted coconut, lime and cilantro.

Bodner puts his twist on pizzas, too, and then shows even more creativity with large plates (Steak-Frites with Naked Pig “beernaise” sauce, anyone?), sandwiches (Lamb Burger for something different) and house-made sausages.

Bodner has developed his own style after working at an award-winning Greek restaurant in New York, working with Lake Martin culinary royalty Rob McDaniel at Spring House and then serving as an executive chef at Lake Martin’s Kowaliga Restaurant before going to St. Louis for a few years.

When Back Forty-Birmingham came calling, Bodner was ready to come back to Alabama and join the exploding culinary scene in Birmingham.

“I thought this was a great opportunity to bring something Birmingham doesn’t have – a brewery with a restaurant in it,” Bodner said.

Doing his own pickling and making sausages are a few of the elements that Bonder hopes will make Back Forty-Birmingham stand out. He believes the food pairs well with beers but also stands up well on its own.

“I want to have fun and I want all of the staff to have fun and learn with what we’re doing,” he said.

The full menu will not be available until after a July 21 grand opening with a ribbon-cutting at 4:30 p.m. That event will feature live music from WildEyes and Truett.

For this weekend’s Sloss Music and Arts Festival, Back Forty-Birmingham will be open and offering a limited menu.

Hours: Monday and Wednesday 3-10 p.m., (closed Tuesday), Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight and Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 days ago

Deep Roots is an Alabama Maker unlocking the medicinal power of herbs

(M. Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

Deep Roots (Montevallo and Birmingham)

The Maker: Cameron Strouss

Cameron Strouss just wanted to feel healthy again.

Surgery and post-operative treatment to her ankles when she was a teenager left her in pain and with more physical problems than she had before. Undiagnosed food allergies caused more problems and Strouss struggled to find answers through the typical doctor-prescription-treatment route.


Arthritis, pain, fatigue and anxiety were the norm, but Strouss couldn’t help but think there was a better way.

“Finally, one day I saw a plant and I thought, ‘Why don’t I know how to use this? Why wasn’t this passed down to me?’,” Strouss said.

Strouss started using herbs much like she would pharmaceuticals – taking a specific herb to treat a specific problem or symptom.

“I was not getting the results I wanted to with my own health and I realized that it’s more about the whole body so I started just learning more and doing more diet and supplementation with herbs, looking at nutrient issues and more well-rounded dietary supplementation and then also using herbs,” Strouss said.

Strouss earned a degree in biology at the University of Montevallo. She then went to work at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to brush up on native plant knowledge.

An internship with Herb Pharm in Oregon, training with clinical herbalist Thomas Easley, and work with All is Well Health and Inspiration in Andalusia put her on the path to become a registered herbalist (RH) through the American Herbalist Guild and a functional herbalist (FH) through the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine.

After completing her herb training five years ago, Strouss decided to put her knowledge to work.

“It was time for Deep Roots to become a thing and for me to start helping other people with their health,” she said.

Deep Roots offers clinical consultations that include chronic and acute care herbalism. The company also presents educational programs on herbal and botanical medicines.

Strouss mixes her own medicines and sells them through the Deep Roots store in Montevallo, online and at events, such as the Market at Pepper Place.

Strouss also operates the Embody Practice Center in Birmingham.

While more people are discovering herbal medicine, Strouss reminds them that what she is doing isn’t new.

“I’m not fringe or cusp or a pioneer,” she said. “This has been a road that’s been forged long before me but I’m glad to be holding the torch and passing now on to other people through our educational programs.”

Deep Roots Apotheke & Clinic

The product: Herbal medicines, extracts, salves, teas and blends.

Take home: A bottle of Alabama Heat ($20).

Embody Practice Center, 3918 Montclair Road, Suite 100, Birmingham, Alabama 35213

Deep Roots storefront, 620 Main St., Montevallo, Alabama 35115

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 days ago

Alabama apps: Wyndy helps pair parents with babysitters


Alabama NewsCenter is highlighting apps developed in the state. This is the first story in a series.

Tommy and Ginger Mayfield needed a babysitter, but the Birmingham couple’s schedule was irregular and hectic with 3- and 1-year-old daughters.

“Life was crazy those years. When we looked through babysitters, we were using the same technology parents had been using for the last 10 to 15 years, which was basically no technology,” Mayfield said. “The hurdles of texting each potential sitter, stopping by the ATM – I just thought, “‘Why isn’t there an app to make this process easier?’”


A native of Mountain Brook, Mayfield was working unpredictable hours at a law firm and his wife was taking night classes for a master’s degree, making the need for a trusted babysitter dire, and their time for searching short.

In his pursuit of solving their babysitting problem, however, came the genesis for Wyndy.

How great would it be, Mayfield thought, to have an app for parents in need of a babysitter and for babysitters in need of work? The idea came in May 2016, and by spring 2017, his idea manifested on the app store and Wyndy launched with no charge. The name derives from the character Wendy in Peter Pan.

“It’s hard for people to believe Jones Valley can produce the same technology as Silicon Valley, but I think we’re increasingly seeing that happen,” Mayfield said.

Wyndy works by allowing parents to post jobs on the app, and babysitters can then pick postings fitting their schedule.

The babysitters are all full-time college students. Anyone wishing to be a babysitter for the app must pass a background check and go through an application process, according to the company.

An in-app timer tracks how long the babysitter works and the parents then pay through the app. In addition to Wyndy connecting parents with background-checked college babysitters, the app also helps parents save time.

“It used to be if I wanted to take my wife out, we had to start thinking about a babysitter days in advance, but now I can come home Friday afternoon and get a babysitter instantly,” Mayfield said.

According to the company, it takes an average of two minutes for a parent to find a babysitter. The process can be quicker with parents having the option to save babysitters from previous jobs, curating a list of favorite Wyndy babysitters.

While many people might think of steel or automotive manufacturing driving Alabama’s economy, the city of Birmingham and other parts of the state have become a hotbed for startups and app developers.

According to an April 2018 “State of the App Economy” study by the App Association, 39,000 Alabamians currently work in computing jobs. Those jobs come with an average salary of $85,466.

The future of the industry looks bright too – with a projected job growth of 12.5 percent in Alabama by 2024.

Nationwide, the “app economy” contributes $950.6 billion to the U.S. economy and employs 4.7 million people.

You can follow Wyndy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 days ago

Gov. Ivey to lead Alabama team at Farnborough International Airshow

(Made in Alabama)

Governor Kay Ivey is leading a team of Alabama economic development specialists to the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow for meetings aimed at accelerating growth in the state’s aerospace and aviation industry.

Governor Ivey will join a small working team from the Alabama Department of Commerce in scheduled appointments with high-ranking executives and key decision-makers from major aerospace companies.

The Farnborough Airshow, beginning Monday, July 16, is the global aerospace industry’s premier trade event in 2018.

“In the past year, we’ve seen many exciting aerospace projects come to Alabama, and our goal is to make sure we land more of them. At the Farnborough Airshow, I will work with my team at the Alabama Department of Commerce, led by Secretary Greg Canfield, to position the state for additional growth and job creation in the aerospace industry,” Governor Ivey said.


“Alabama is a leader in aerospace, and we’re aiming to elevate the state’s profile in this important industry through even more growth.”

Governor Ivey and Secretary Canfield will join economic development professionals, elected officials and university representatives from around Alabama at the event near London.

Organizers say Farnborough will host more than 1,500 exhibitors and up to 100,000 visitors during the event’s trade show portion, which is dedicated to industry representatives and other professionals. More than 20 U.S. states are typically represented at the international event.


“At Farnborough, we can showcase Alabama’s many advantages and capabilities in the aerospace sector.”

The air show mission comes at a time of robust growth for Alabama’s aerospace industry.

In 2017, aerospace companies finalized plans for nearly $700 million in new capital investment in Alabama, which will create 1,750 jobs, according to projections by the Alabama Department of Commerce. Investment in the sector totals around $2.4 billion since 2011, resulting in 8,300 new jobs.

Hiring trends within the sector remain strong, with companies including Boeing, Airbus, GE Aviation, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Blue Origin expanding their workforces in the state.

Secretary Canfield said the Farnborough Airshow represents a unique opportunity for his team to engage in a series of scheduled appointments with key industry figures over three days.

“At Farnborough, we can showcase Alabama’s many advantages and capabilities in the aerospace sector while positioning the state for additional investment and job creation,” he said. “Our team can connect with companies from around the world at one location, without having to travel all over the globe.”


Alabama officials have attended the Farnborough International Airshow and its sibling, the Paris Air Show, for a number of years because having a presence at the industry’s most important annual events is seen as critical to efforts to land new aerospace jobs and investment.

At the Paris Air Show in 2017, Governor Ivey and Secretary Canfield attended 22 appointments with industry executives. The discussions touched on five ongoing projects and uncovered four potential new projects for Alabama. Altogether, these projects involved between 1,600 and 1,900 possible new jobs.

“Alabama’s aerospace industry is thriving and gaining momentum for even more future growth,” Governor Ivey said. “I want to see this industry continue to expand across Alabama, bringing good jobs, additional investment and new capabilities.”

Governor Ivey has a deep interest in aerospace. She is the former chair of the Aerospace States Association, a nationwide group representing states’ interests in federal aerospace and aviation policy development. She is a member of the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

4 days ago

Shipt expansion, Birmingham initiative propel Magic City’s tech sector

(Alabama NewsCenter)

Birmingham is abuzz from two major economic development announcements Thursday that will shape the city’s tech economy for generations to come.

Shipt’s decision to expand its Birmingham headquarters by investing $10 million and adding 881 jobs was certainly the big news of the day.

Those jobs will pay $48,300 on average and create a payroll of $1.1 billion over the next 20 years.


“We’re really excited about the over 800 new jobs that are going to be coming to Birmingham,” Shipt CEO Bill Smith said. “These are going to be highly skilled, high-paying jobs in parts of our company such as software engineering, data science, operations, our experience team, our partner success team, marketing and other parts of the business. These are fantastic jobs. I’m really excited to see those come here.”

The Shipt expansion also led to the creation of a new economic development incentive program for Birmingham. The Putting People First Fund will be used to train, recruit and develop tech talent in the Magic City.

“The whole idea of the fund is very simple, it’s very direct. It is to invest in Shipt’s greatest asset but it is also to invest in our city’s greatest asset and that is our people,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “We believe that when incentives are steered towards cultivating human potential, Birmingham, our city, can grow. But that also means that companies can thrive and our people can prosper.”

The fund consists of a Talent Investment Program, Talent Acceleration Program and Talent Optimization Program.

By tailoring a human-capital-focused economic development strategy to Shipt, it gives Birmingham a tool that will be attractive to other tech companies, said Josh Carpenter, director of Innovation and Economic Opportunity for the city.

“It’s a comprehensive strategy to grow with and alongside a company and let them know that we have an innovative tool to invest here so they can grow,” he said.

Carpenter said a tech company’s major investment is most often its people and economic development incentives are needed to address that need.

“If we can offset some of that cost and co-invest in that talent with the company, that enables them to spread their dollars elsewhere and potentially grow their workforce, hire more workers or turn part-time jobs into full-time jobs,” Carpenter said.

Having such an incentive is bound to catch the eyes of entrepreneurs and other tech companies, Blair King, Economic Development project manager with Alabama Power, said.

“It’s an exciting time to develop those different tools, shift our existing tools that can help apply to this tech ecosystem as we continue to grow new startups and as they continue to grow in Birmingham,” King said.

Smith said Shipt wanted to maintain its headquarters in Birmingham after Target purchased the company for $550 million in December. He said the incentives allow Shipt to do that.

“We’re also excited about developing new talent in Birmingham and the surrounding areas and also about attracting new talent to Birmingham and our state,” he said. “When you have a company like Shipt, it can be a great magnet to bring new talent to the area and we hope to do that.”

Smith hopes that Shipt can be the seismic shift for the tech industry that Mercedes-Benz has been for the automotive industry in Alabama.

“I really think of this as being bigger than just Shipt,” he said. “You know, companies create an ecosystem and there already is a great technology ecosystem here in Birmingham and here in our state, and I connect this as a catalytic event that has the potential to have an impact on our state similar to the impact that the recruitment of Mercedes has done for the state’s automotive industry.”

The state’s new incentives that are tied to job creation also make it more attractive for industries beyond the traditional manufacturing operations.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the state should tout the success of homegrown startups like Shipt.

“This expansion will not only raise the standard of economic development in Alabama, but it will open the door to the world of the rapid changes in technology going forward,” she said.

Woodfin said Birmingham plans to promote the Putting People First Fund to other companies to grow the tech sector in the city.

“This is a model for us to expand and be the hub for the entire tech space in the Southeast,” he said.

The program will work in conjunction with other initiatives to build on education and worker training.

“We have to develop a more educated workforce that will make Birmingham a more desirable location for future tech companies looking to grow and/or looking to expand,” Woodfin said. “It represents another milestone in moving towards our vision of making Birmingham a destination.”

Shipt officials said they now have about 300 employees on three floors at the John Hand Building in downtown Birmingham. The addition of 881 new jobs will likely create a need for more office space and the intent is to remain downtown, though no specific location has been announced.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 days ago

Birmingham’s McWane Science Center celebrates its 20th birthday


McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham plans a two-day birthday bash this weekend, July 14-15, to celebrate its 20th birthday.

McWane opened its doors to the public on July 11, 1998, and more than 10,000 people showed up to the grand opening. The center had been years in the planning.

In 1985, Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington and the City of Birmingham began working with Red Mountain Museum and Discovery Place on a dream to build a science center. Six years later, Red Mountain Museum and the Discovery Place merged and became the Birmingham Science Museum. That same year, the city leased the former Loveman’s building to the science museum.


In 1992, the Science Center became Discovery 200 Inc., and five years later was renamed McWane Center to honor the support from Birmingham’s McWane family.

In the 20 years since the center opened, it has expanded, added exhibits and classrooms and opened the Itty Bitty Magic City Birmingham Children’s Museum for kindergartners and younger, and welcomed millions of visitors.

Schedule for this weekend:



20 years of Science Trivia — 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. (Rushton Theater)
Science of Magic — 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (Demonstration Station)
LED Birthday Cards — 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Classroom 301)
Art & Science — 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Classroom 302)
Introducing LEGO Robotics 2.0 — Noon and 4 p.m. (Classroom 303)
Ozobot McWane Scavenger Hunt — 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. (Workshop)
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream — 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.(Workshop)
Building the Next 20 Years — 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (IBMC)
Huff and Puff Little Lab — 10:30 a.m. (IBMC)
Boat Design Challenge — Noon and 2 p.m. (IBMC)

Activities (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.):

Face Painting — (Explore Lab, Level 2)
Music — Plaza
Tattoos — Plaza
Inflatables — Plaza
Birthday Cake — (Events Center, Level 3)
Rock Wall — Plaza
Exploding Birthday Balloons — 3 p.m. (Plaza)


Programs (Times are the same as Saturday’s):
20 Years of Science Trivia — (Rushton Theater)
Science of Magic — (Demonstration Station)
LED Birthday Cards — (Classroom 301)
Art & Science — (Classroom 302)
Introducing LEGO Robotics 2.0 — (Classroom 303)
Ozobot McWane Scavenger Hunt — (Workshop)
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream — (Workshop)
Ancient Alabama — (NatureScope)
Building the Next 20 Years — (IBMC)
Huff and Puff Little Lab — (IBMC)
Boat Design Challenge — (IBMC)


Activities: Noon to 4 p.m.
Face Painting — (Explore Lab, Level 2)
Music — Plaza
Tattoos — Plaza
Inflatables — Plaza
Birthday Cake — (Events Center, Level 3)
Rock Wall — Plaza
Exploding Birthday Balloons — 1:30 p.m. (Plaza)

Community Partner Programming and Activities:

Mountain High Outfitters Rock Wall on The Plaza.
–Character visits from Vulcan Park and Museum, Babe Ruff from Birmingham Barons, and McWane and PNC’s Vocabby.
–The Three Musketeers performed by Red Mountain Theatre Company.

Imagination Playground Build-a-Thon in Itty Bitty Magic City.
UAB – The University of Alabama at Birmingham Neuroscience Department Dissection.
–Virtual Reality and Kinetic stations from GameStop.
–Balloon Explosion presented by H2 Real Estate.

Standard general admission is $13 for adults and $9 for children (2-12). For more information about McWane Science Center, visit Also, check out McWane’s “20 Years of Science” timeline at

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 days ago

Mike Pence endorses Martha Roby in AL-2 congressional GOP runoff

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence formally endorsed Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) in her runoff contest against former Rep. Bobby Bright for the Republican Party’s nomination.

“President Trump and I support Martha Roby – a strong supporter of tax cuts & President Trump’s pro-growth, America First agenda! Get out Tuesday and support Team Roby,” Pence wrote in a tweet.


Roby expressed her gratitude for the endorsement from Pence, who she also served in Congress with before Pence became Indiana’s governor.

“I am very grateful to Vice President Pence for his support in my campaign for reelection in Alabama’s Second District,” Roby said in a statement. “I was fortunate to serve with the Vice President in the House, and I am proud to call him a friend. I deeply appreciate his endorsement, and I am eager to continue working with the Administration in the fight for our shared conservative priorities.”

Last month, President Donald Trump formally endorsed the incumbent congresswoman on the heels of being the leading vote-getter in the Republican primary.

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

5 days ago

Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale set for August


The federal government’s Aug. 15 oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico will offer slightly more acreage than officials originally announced.

A news release Thursday said the government’s final notice of sale is offering 78 million acres (31.6 million hectares).


That’s about 700,000 acres (280,000 hectares) more than described in March.

This is the third sale offering all unleased acreage in the Gulf. The first two brought leases on six-tenths of a percent and one percent of the available acreage.

The unleased tracts are in water 3 to 231 miles (5 to 370 kilometers) offshore, and in water from 9 feet to more than 2 miles (3 to 3,400 meters) deep.

The sale will be livestreamed.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

5 days ago

Rep. Gary Palmer showed FBI agent Peter Strzok some tough love in fiery hearing

(Congressman Palmer)

Members of the House Judicial and Oversight Committee spent over nine hours on Thursday questioning FBI agent Peter Strzok about his role in the high-profile investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails and President Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russian government.

The committee grilled Strzok with questions about his political biases, referring to a number of anti-Trump text messages that Strzok sent to ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he had an affair.

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), who questioned Strzok near the hearing’s end, took a less combative tone with Strzok than his GOP colleagues, but didn’t hold much back.


“I’m not going to be necessarily in attack mode because I want to get some answers,” Palmer began.

“I appreciate the fact that you sought forgiveness from your family,” Palmer said. “I appreciate the fact that you realize that you have severely damaged the reputation of the FBI … I literally sat here, and I mean this sincerely, and prayed for you and your family because I can’t imagine what your family’s feeling going through this, but I will say this to you, and I hope it’s constructive. I hope you take it as constructive. As I’ve watched your body language, as I’ve watched your facial expressions it’s almost as if you’ve enjoyed this. This is a competition for you.”

Strzok told Palmer that he had not enjoyed the hearing, but Palmer insisted.

“I’m not going to say your problem is a lack of integrity,” he said. “I think it’s a problem of hubris, and I think you need to take that into account.”

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, did not question Strzok yesterday but was unequivocal in a statement to Yellowhammer News about her belief that Strzok’s bias has been clearly demonstrated.

“While many questions still remain, there is one thing that I know to be certain: it is unacceptable for political bias to exist in the DOJ and FBI,” Roby’s statement said, in part. “These hearings and the committees’ use of subpoena power is critical to our role of congressional oversight, and I appreciate Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Gowdy giving the American people the opportunity to learn more about this critical topic.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

5 days ago

SWAC football, basketball championship games to be played in Birmingham

(City of Birmingham)

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has decided both upcoming football and basketball championship games will be held in Birmingham.

The league announced Thursday the football championship will return to Legion Field on Dec. 1.


The men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be held at Bill Harris Arena next March.

Both are one-year deals with the city of Birmingham.

The SWAC had announced last year that it would end the championship game for football after the 2017 game.

The conference decided to keep playing the game because of renewed support from member schools.

The football championship was held at Legion Field from 1999- 2012 before moving to NRG Stadium in Houston.

The basketball tournaments were previously held in Birmingham before moving to Houston.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

5 days ago

Roy Moore says he was duped by Sacha Baron Cohen, threatens legal action


Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore claims he has been duped by comedic actor Sacha Baron Cohen for Cohen’s upcoming Showtime series, “Who Is America?”, and is threatening legal action.

Moore released a statement Thursday detailing his encounter with Cohen, who is best known for his role in “Borat”. Moore blasted the actor, saying he will go to court if Showtime airs a “defamatory attack” on his character.

Statement from Roy Moore as follows:


In February 2018, I was invited to Washington D. C. to receive an award for my strong support of Israel in commemoration of her 70th anniversary as a nation. Because Alabama has always been at the forefront of support of Israel and because I share a strong belief in God as the Creator and Sustainer of all life, as does Israel, I eventually accepted the invitation. Expenses were paid, and I received no private remuneration for my time or participation. I did not know Sacha Cohen or that a Showtime TV series was being planned to embarrass, humiliate, and mock not only Israel, but also religious conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh, and Dick Cheney.

I do not apologize for my belief in God or the common religious and cultural heritage that Israel shares with America.

As an Alabamian, I believe in truth and honesty, which the shadowy media groups behind this illicit scheme do not. Obviously, people like Cohen who mock not only Israel but those who support Israel and the principles upon which America is based, do not share my beliefs.

I don’t need Sacha Cohen to tell me who America is, but I can tell him that America is a proud Nation which sprang from humble beginnings and a strong belief in God, virtue, and morality.

As an American, I would never hide my identity and deceive others only to mock and ridicule them as this Showtime Series is designed to do. America is not only about being proud but about being brave and standing for what we believe.

I am involved in several court cases presently to defend my honor and character against vicious false political attacks by liberals like Cohen. If Showtime airs a defamatory attack on my character, I may very well be involved in another. As for Mr. Cohen, whose art is trickery, deception, and dishonesty, Alabama does not respect cowards who exhibit such traits! It’s been a long time since I fought for my country in Vietnam. I’m ready to defend her again!”

The “Who Is America” series is set to premiere Sunday, July 15, at 9 p.m. central.

5 days ago

A 2017 book prompts renewed probe into 1955 Deep South slaying

(CBS News/YouTube)

A 2017 book that revealed lies by a key figure in the Emmett Till case has prompted the U.S government to renew its investigation into the brutal 1955 slaying, a federal official said Thursday.

The reopening of the case had stayed quiet until the contents of a federal report came to light earlier in the day.


Till relatives and social justice activists welcomed a fresh look at the killing that shocked the country and stoked the civil rights movement, but acknowledged that the passage of time could hamper justice.

Hours after news broke about the renewed investigation, a federal official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that information in the 2017 book was what led federal investigators to re-examine the case.

The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The book “The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B. Tyson quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as saying during a 2008 interview that she wasn’t truthful when she testified that the black teen grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a Mississippi store six decades ago.

Tyson told reporters Thursday that he was contacted by the FBI weeks after his book was published in January 2017, and he furnished them interview recordings and other research materials.

He doesn’t think his research alone would support new charges but said investigators may be able to link it to other material in their possession.

“It’s possible that the investigation will turn up something. But there’s nothing that I know of, and nothing in my research, that is actionable, I don’t think,” he said. “But I’m not an attorney or a detective.”

The reopening of the Till case was disclosed in a federal report sent to lawmakers in March that said the Justice Department had received unspecified “new information.”

The report’s contents weren’t widely known until Thursday.

A potential witness with the 14-year-old Till in the store that day, cousin Wheeler Parker, said Thursday that he has talked with law enforcement about the case in recent months.

The prosecutor with jurisdiction over the Mississippi community where Till was abducted, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson, declined to comment on whether federal authorities had given him new information since they reopened the investigation.

The Justice Department also declined to comment.

It’s unclear what new charges could result from a renewed investigation, said Tucker Carrington, a professor at the University of Mississippi law school.

Conspiracy or murder charges could be filed if anyone still alive is shown to have been involved, he said, but too much time likely has passed to prosecute anyone for other crimes, such as lying to investigators or in court.

The case was closed in 2007 with authorities saying the suspects were dead.

Two white men — Donham’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother, J.W. Milam — were charged with murder but acquitted in the slaying of Chicago teen Till, who had been staying with relatives in northern Mississippi at the time.

The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but weren’t retried. Both are now dead.

Donham, who turns 84 this month, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

A man who came to the door at her residence declined to comment about the FBI reopening the investigation.

The government has investigated 115 cases involving 128 victims under the “cold case” law named for Till, the March federal report said.

Only one resulted in in a federal conviction since the act became law.

Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said it’s “wonderful” her cousin’s killing is getting another look but she didn’t want to discuss details.

“None of us wants to do anything that jeopardizes any investigation or impedes, but we are also very interested in justice being done,” she said.

Abducted from the home where he was staying, Till was beaten and shot, and his body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in a river. His mother, Mamie Till Mobley, had his casket left open.

Images of his mutilated body gave witness to the depth of racial hatred in the Deep South and inspired civil rights campaigns.

Donham, then 21 and known as Carolyn Bryant, testified in 1955 as a prospective defense witness in the trial of Bryant and Milam.

With jurors out of the courtroom, she said a “nigger man” she didn’t know took her by the arm in the store.

“He said, ‘How about a date, baby?'” she testified, according to a trial transcript released by the FBI a decade ago.

Bryant said she pulled away, and moments later the young man “caught me at the cash register,” grasping her around the waist with both hands and pulling her toward him.

A judge ruled the testimony inadmissible.

An all-white jury freed her husband and the other man even without it.

In the book, author Tyson wrote that Donham told him her testimony about Till accosting her wasn’t true.

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” the book quotes her as saying.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

5 days ago

Alabama student awarded Peyton Manning scholarship to UT Knoxville

(University of Tennessee Knoxville)

The University of Tennessee has four new Peyton Manning Scholars.

Manning and interim UT Knoxville Chancellor Wayne Davis welcomed the new members on Tuesday.


They are Ford Brewer of Nashville, Kyler Groner of Morristown, Deanna Riley of Spring Hill and Keri Burge of Madison, Alabama.

Burge was unable to attend the ceremony.

The Manning Scholarship has been awarded to 37 UT Knoxville students since the endowment was created in 1998.

The university said the scholarship covers nearly the full cost of tuition while the students are at Tennessee. About 450 people applied for the scholarship this year.

The scholarships are given out each year based on leadership, academic achievement and community service.

Manning is a former quarterback at Tennessee and in the NFL, where he was MVP five times.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

5 days ago

Trump endorses Florida Panhandle Congressman Gaetz

(WH, MSNBC/YouTube)

President Donald Trump is tweeting his endorsement of a Florida congressman during his trip to Europe, writing that Rep. Matt Gaetz “is one of the finest and most talented people in Congress.”

Trump is backing the Republican lawmaker on Twitter at the start of his second day in Britain.


The president is pointing to Gaetz’s strength on “Crime, the Border, Illegal Immigration, the 2nd Amendment” and his work on the military, veterans’ issues and the tax overhaul.

Gaetz has been a vocal supporter of Trump in Congress and called for Robert Mueller to resign from his special counsel role in the Russia investigation.

The congressman faces a contested Republican primary on August 28. His Republican-leaning district includes parts of the Florida Panhandle.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

6 days ago

Yellowhammer News editors, Pepper and Rachel Bryars, bid readers a fond farewell

Nearly a year ago, the owners of Yellowhammer News asked my wife, Rachel Blackmon Bryars, and me if we’d like to edit the website in the wake of the departure of its founding editor and his replacement.

I left my weekly column at, Rachel put her communication training business on hold, and we both set about the exciting challenge of taking Yellowhammer News to the next level.

We brought with us a traditionally conservative perspective on politics, culture and faith, a new and experienced team of writers, an innovative new website design, and readership eventually grew to more than half a million page views each week.

So now that we’ve successfully reached that “next level,” Rachel and I have chosen to pass along the editing reins and focus entirely on our true passion – writing.


Before getting up from the editor’s chair, however, we would like to thank our readers. Without you, our best words are but whispers on the wind. Your attention and feedback were valued more than you know.

We also sincerely appreciate Allison Ross, the website’s owner and publisher, for the remarkable opportunity she gave us, and for the trust and faith she placed in our abilities.

And we owe a debt of gratitude to our incredible team of contributing writers and support staff. We believe their talent and dedication will continue to serve Alabama well into the future.

Rachel and I will be publishing our work in the coming months across Alabama, so be on the lookout for it here and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter at @jpepperbryars or contact us at and

Stay informed. Stay curious. Stay conservative.


J. Pepper Bryars

6 days ago

Alabama judge throws out Troy King’s lawsuit against Attorney General Steve Marshall

(CBS 42/Youtube)

Troy King’s attempts to keep opponent Attorney General Steve Marshall from spending money that he got from a federal political action committee ran aground on Thursday when Montgomery Circuit Court Judge James Anderson denied King’s request for a temporary restraining order.

King argued that contributions given to Marshall by the Republican Attorneys General Association violate Alabama’s ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers.

Judge Anderson dismissed the lawsuit altogether, saying the case was outside of his jurisdiction because it involved a federal PAC, according to the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman.


King regretted the decision in a press conference following the hearing.

“It is complete,” King said. “The work that the Alabama legislature did as the first order of business when they took over the legislature after 136 years of Democrat rule to ban the laundering of campaign contributions and the buying and selling of politicians in secret has been undone today.

“I was under the misapprehension that the courts of Alabama would read and apply the law as the legislature of Alabama wrote it,” King continued. “That’s clearly not the case.”

“We will continue this battle on the ballot on Tuesday, and I’m confident that the people of Alabama are not going to stand for what has just happened in this courtroom,” King said.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall’s campaign celebrated Judge Anderson’s decision.

“Troy King has abused the judicial and ethics process this week to stage a political stunt,” the statement said. “He did so routinely as AG and Republicans fired him in 2010 because of it. We are glad the court has confirmed this and look forward to getting back to the issues Alabama voters actually care about in the final days of this campaign.”

The primary runoff is next Tuesday, July 17.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

6 days ago

Alabama ranks 24th among the best states to retire in


A recent study conducted by concluded that the Yellowhammer State is the 24th best state for retirees.

The study looked at categories of cost of living, taxes, healthcare quality, weather, crime, cultural vitality, and well-being, and weighted their value based upon a survey Bankrate conducted last year.

Alabama scored 6th and 7th in the cost of living and weather categories respectively, but ranked 44th, 47th, and 38th in the categories of crime, culture, and well-being.


South Dakota and Utah were ranked the best states to retire in and New Mexico and New York were ranked the worst.

Read more here.


6 days ago

Marshall campaign to seek ‘sanctions’ against King campaign for ‘ridiculous’ and ‘frivolous’ lawsuit

(Steve Marshall, Troy King for Attorney General / Facebook)

Attorney General Steve Marshall’s campaign will “seek expenses and attorneys’ fees for any and all efforts necessary to have the matter dismissed” unless Troy King’s legal team dismisses a lawsuit it filed against Marshall by a 2:00 pm hearing scheduled for today.

That’s according to a letter obtained by Yellowhammer News in which Marshall’s attorney, Ted Hosp, demands that King voluntarily dismiss a request for a temporary restraining order against Marshall’s use of campaign contributions which King claims are illegal.


The letter, addressed to King’s attorney Al Agricola, argues that the suit filed against Marshall lacks merit on the basis of an incorrect reading of Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, and suggests that it be dismissed under the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act.

King’s campaign could not be reached for comment about the letter.

“This action is ridiculous,” Marshall’s campaign said of King’s lawsuit in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

“Attorney General Steve Marshall’s campaign is preparing to seek sanctions against Troy King for frivolous litigation. Troy King was fired from the job of AG in 2010 by Alabama Republicans for legal incompetency like this.”

Read the full letter:

King v Marshall ALAA Letter to Agricola by Yellowhammer News on Scribd

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

6 days ago

Latino voters seek to challenge Alabama Census lawsuit


Latino voters and civil-rights groups have asked to join a lawsuit to defend the practice of including people in the country illegally in U.S. Census counts.

The counts are used to configure congressional seats.


Alabama sued the Census Bureau in May, arguing the predicted 2020 Census numbers will cause the state to lose a congressional seat and an electoral vote to a state with a “larger illegal alien population.”

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a motion on Thursday on behalf of six voters and the group Chicanos Por La Causa, which are seeking to join the case as defendants.

They say they live in states that could lose congressional seats and federal funding if the count doesn’t include all residents.

Those states include California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

6 days ago

More unmarked cars for park rangers along historic route through AL, MS, and TN


More National Park Service rangers will range on the Natchez Trace Parkway in unmarked vehicles.

The Park Service says it’s buying more unmarked vehicles for traffic enforcement on the scenic and historic route through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.


Chief Ranger Sarah Davis says the Park Service is ordering a variety of vehicles — including full-size SUVs and pickup trucks — in multiple colors.

Davis says the move is meant to crack down on speeding and drivers distracted by cell phones.

It follows a six-month pilot program showing a sharp increase in the number of traffic stops.

Although the vehicles may look normal, District Ranger John Hearne says the number of red and blue lights activated once an officer wants to make a stop will “look like a police Christmas tree.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

6 days ago

Alabama man admits trying to have sex with underage girls in Atlanta


An Alabama man has pleaded guilty to trying to meet underage girls for sex.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta said in a news release Wednesday that 40-year-old Christopher Bradley Braden of Jasper pleaded guilty to one count of enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, which carries mandatory 10 year sentence.


Prosecutors say Braden arranged through an app called Meet24 to connect with a 13-year-old girl in December 2016 and a 14-year-old girl in May 2017, both in Georgia.

In both cases, he was actually communicating with undercover officers, and police arrested him when he arrived.

Prior to the scheduled meetings, prosecutors say Braden asked about the teens’ bodies and sexual experience and sent them videos and photos of his genitals.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 11.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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

6 days ago

Montgomery man apprehended by police dog died from ruptured artery

(MPD, Pixabay)

Authorities say preliminary autopsy results show that a burglary suspect died from a ruptured femoral artery after being apprehended by a police dog in Montgomery, Alabama.

Capt. Joe Herman of the State Bureau of Investigation announced the preliminary finding Wednesday.


The incident remains under review.

Police say a canine unit responded to a report of a burglary in progress early Sunday, and the animal apprehended a man inside the home.

The man, identified as Joseph Pettaway, died later at a hospital.

The dog is under quarantine at a city kennel, and its handler has been placed on administrative leave during a review.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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