Deborah Edwards Barnhart is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center may teach visitors about space vehicles that defy gravity, but for its CEO and Executive Director Deborah Edwards Barnhart, the center itself has proved gravitational – pulling her into its orbit several times throughout her four-decade career.

Barnhart, who will this month be honored as a Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, began working in public affairs and marketing at the Space and Rocket Center in the early 1970s when she was in her final year at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, according to a 2012 U.S. army article detailing her background.

After some time away, she returned to manage publicity when the center added the space shuttle.

“That’s when I became interested in satellites,” Barnhart told Army.mil reporter Kari Hawkins. “At that time, the Navy was in charge of all satellite programs. My father had been a Navy Seabee in World War II and my brother attended the Naval Academy. So, at the age of 27, I joined the Navy to work on satellites.”

Barnhart would serve 26 years in the military — achieving the rank of Navy captain and becoming one of the first 10 women certified to serve aboard Navy ships — before returning to the Space and Rocket Center in 1986 to serve as the director of Space Camp and Space Academy.

She went on to hold leadership roles in three major aerospace and defense companies including Honeywell International, United Technologies Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas. She also raised two children and earned graduate degrees from the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in strategy and supervision from Vanderbilt University.

Barnhart had retired from Honeywell and moved to Florida, where she did consulting and owned and managed two thoroughbred training centers, when she was recruited to take her fourth role at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center – this time as its CEO.

Since taking the position in 2010, Barnhart is credited with restoring the center’s financial health after it struggled for years with a staggering amount of debt racked up in the late 1990s.

Last year, the center saw an 11 percent increase in revenue and an 18 percent increase in camp revenue, as well as all-time record attendance, helping it maintain its spot as Alabama’s top attraction, according to a 2017 annual report.

“The Center is financially sound, engaged with our community, and focused on our mission of lighting the fires of imagination,” Barnhart wrote in the report.

Nearly 16 million people have toured the center since it opened in 1970. It is the largest spaceflight museum in the world.

Barnhart received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, its highest non-government recognition, and last October she was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor, along with Gov. Kay Ivey and two other women (the first time a class of inductees has all been female).

Barnhart will again be honored with Gov. Ivey in an awards event March 29 in Birmingham. The Yellowhammer Women of Impact event will honor 20 women making an impact in Alabama and will benefit Big Oak Ranch. Details and registration may be found here.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

4 hours ago

Alabama softball preseason No. 1 in USA Softball Top 25, ranked No. 2 on NFCA and Softball America lists; Auburn rated No. 23 by NFCA, Softball America

As the 2020 season approaches, Alabama softball was highlighted in three separate preseason ranking polls as either number one or number two on the lists, while Auburn also made its way in the top 25 on two of the lists.

Alabama softball is the preseason No. 1 in USA Softball’s rankings and No. 2 in the NFCA and Softball America top 25 lists.

A press release from the Alabama Athletics Communications noted:

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The Crimson Tide earned 12 first-place votes in the USA Softball poll and 11 in the NFCA poll, the most of any team. The preseason rankings are Alabama’s highest in those two polls since the 2013 season. The Tide finished last year ranked No. 4 in all three rankings. Last week, the Tide claimed the top spot in D1Softball’s preseason poll, the inaugural set of rankings for the site.

Defending SEC champion Alabama will receive a total of 13 players from last year’s team that won 60 games, claimed the program’s fifth SEC regular-season title and advanced to the final day of bracket play at the 2019 Women’s College World Series.

The Crimson Tide softball team will open its 2020 season, head coach Patrick Murphy’s 22nd season at the school, at the Joanne Graf Classic in Tallahassee, Florida, on February 7 and 8. They are slated to play two games each against North Carolina and host Florida State.

Auburn’s softball team was rated No. 23 by both NFCA and Softball America, but was left out of USA Softball’s top 25 list.

The Tigers open the season with Baylor in Clearwater, Florida, in the NFCA Leadoff Classic on February 7.

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

6 hours ago

‘Scary’: Jeff Sessions fears Trump in danger of physical harm from Deep State

In a radio interview on Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed his worry for President Donald J. Trump’s physical safety.

Featuring on “Alabama’s Morning News with JT” on 105.5 WERC, Sessions with just over two minutes left in the interview was prompted to talk about the subject after the host said he hoped that members of Trump’s Secret Service detail were not a part of the “Deep State” and “The Swamp.”

“[I]f he wins this election again, there’s no telling what people will do to get him out of that office. And I’m talking about physical harm,” Birmingham radio host JT Nysewander said to Sessions. “Do you fear that?”

“Absolutely, it’s a scary thing,” Sessions responded. “There’s so much hostility out there. It is scary, number one.”

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He then referred to his ongoing Republican bid to return to the U.S. Senate in 2020.

“And number two, this is what I believe right now, one reason I feel like that I can contribute in this race if I’m elected to the Senate,” Sessions continued. “They fear Donald Trump. The Republicans, not just what he says and does in the short run, but he has brought together a coalition of over 50% of the American population that if he can solidify that — and the Republicans will get on board, which they haven’t sufficiently, in my opinion, enthusiastically understood the historic importance of the Trump coalition  — that should be the ‘Republican Workers Party.’ People who go to work every day. They need to be brought into this party. … and move this country against the ‘Socialist Left’ that’s radical, that’s for open borders, for [more] government, taxes, regulations of all kinds and try to run the whole world with military power and trade that doesn’t protect our interests. So those things, I think, the American people are behind [Trump]. The president historically is leading it. And I want to push the Republicans to get on board more enthusiastically with it.”

“I was there first, and I’m still there,” Sessions concluded.

Sessions’ campaign on Monday released internal polling showing him with a sizable lead in Alabama’s March 3 GOP Senate primary. The ultimate Republican nominee will face Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

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

6 hours ago

Poll: Doug Jones reelection chances take hit if he votes to remove Trump

According to polling data provided to Yellowhammer News, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) could be in a weaker position for reelection should he vote to convict and remove President Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial currently underway.

The survey, conducted by WPA Intelligence on behalf of Club for Growth PAC of 500 likely voters, found that nearly two-in-five Alabama voters say they would be less likely to reelect Doug Jones if he votes to remove President Trump.

That is compared to just 14% who say they would be more likely to reelect Jones if he votes to remove.

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(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

Overall, the survey showed a lack of support for impeachment among Alabama voters. One-third of Alabama voters support the Senate removing President Trump from office compared to an overwhelming two-thirds who say they oppose his removal.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

The poll also found an overwhelming number of Alabama voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, by a margin of 61% to 37%, approve versus disapprove.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

As one might expect, in hypothetical general election match-ups against two of the Democratic presidential front-runners, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Trump dominates by a 20-point-plus margin.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

@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.

7 hours ago

Alexander Shunnarah wins national Golden Gavel Award

Birmingham-based Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. in recent days won a coveted Golden Gavel Award at the 2020 National Trial Lawyers Summit.

The summit was held last week in Miami, FL.

Alexander Shunnarah was the only law firm from Alabama selected in any of the Golden Gavel Awards categories and represented the state at the prestigious national ceremony. The awards celebrate the top legal advertisements of the year and Alexander Shunnarah, arguably the most recognized personal injury law firm in the state, competed in categories covering both traditional and digital media.

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The firm came away as the winner of the best public relations campaign Golden Gavel Award. Alexander Shunnarah was also a finalist in five of the other 11 award categories.

In a recent statement celebrating being named a finalist in the six total categories, Shunnarah himself said, “I am extremely proud to be recognized as a finalist in half of the categories for the National Trial Lawyers’ Golden Gavel awards.”

“This honor is a testament to our diverse and creative portfolio of marketing, advertising and public relations efforts. We work diligently every day on our brand and this national recognition further solidifies our place as a legal marketing force,” he concluded.

The National Trial Lawyers is headquartered in Dothan.

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

7 hours ago

Doug Jones: Abuse of power ‘should be’ impeachable

In his latest thoughts about President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) spoke about arguments made by Trump legal team members.

Appearing in a video released Tuesday afternoon that lasted just over six minutes, Jones spoke about some of the core points made by Alan Dershowitz and Pam Bondi Monday afternoon and evening.

One of the most striking remarks in the video came towards the end, when Jones declared, “I am not persuaded at all that the abuse of power is an unimpeachable offense. I think it can be, I think it should be [impeachable].”

Trump is charged by the U.S. House of Representatives with abuse of power on the first impeachment article against him, as well as a second charge of obstruction of justice.

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Jones started off the latest video by criticizing Ken Starr, who is best known as the independent counsel that investigated then-President Bill Clinton. Starr spoke out in the Senate against impeaching Trump on Monday.

Alabama’s junior senator subsequently chastised Trump’s legal team for accusing House impeachment managers of utilizing “distractions.”

“[Trump’s legal team] continue to push distractions,” Jones asserted.

“[T]hey talk about, of course, Hunter Biden — the biggest distraction of all,” he added.

The senator, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, lamented that Republicans did not start scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings until his father’s current campaign kicked off.

“We spent most of yesterday talking about distractions,” Jones further said.

He also reiterated that he has “some concerns” about the obstruction of justice impeachment charge against the president.

“I do think that there were serious issues raised yesterday that we’re trying to work through,” Jones advised. “I’m anxious to hear how House managers are going to respond to some of the issues that were raised by the president’s lawyers when it comes to article two, obstruction of justice.”

Watch: 

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