5 days ago

Ivey, Pate encourage support of ‘Made in Alabama’ products

MONTGOMERY — Enjoying a picturesque day on the State Capitol lawn, Governor Kay Ivey and Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate joined the Alabama Grocers Association (AGA) in highlighting the “Buy Alabama’s Best” campaign.

The campaign, which was formed in a partnership between the AGA and the Department of Agriculture and Industries in 2006, showcases food and beverage products from companies that produce, manufacture and/or make their products or are headquartered in the Yellowhammer State. Buy Alabama’s Best has grown to include 50 such companies.

Before introducing Ivey, AGA President Ellie Smotherman Taylor advised those in attendance that the state’s food retail industry supports more than 70,000 jobs, with state grocers paying over $2.2 billion in annual wages and $1.2 billion in annual taxes. The total economic impact of the industry in Alabama is over $12 billion.

Additionally, between them, the food service and production industries support one-in-four jobs in the state.

“Alabama is experiencing tremendous growth, and it’s largely in part of the leadership of Governor Kay Ivey,” Taylor said. “Since day one, Governor Ivey has made it her mission to create opportunities for all Alabamians. That means putting a greater emphasis on improving our state’s education system, fostering economic development and providing more jobs for the men and women of Alabama.”

She continued, “The governor, since taking office, has proudly supported the efforts of the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association and the Alabama Grocers Association and their Buy Alabama’s Best campaign, and for that, we are so incredibly thankful.”

Ivey, fresh off what she called a “historic day” in signing the Rebuild Alabama Act into law Tuesday afternoon, first thanked Taylor for her leadership in such an important industry for the state.

The governor then said, “Folks, we all know that the best products are those that carry the ‘Made in Alabama’ brand. We are proud of that.”

She listed some of her favorite Buy Alabama’s Best companies, including Milo’s Tea, R.L. Zeigler meats, “those tiny but sweet” Bud’s Best Cookies and “certainly” Conecuh Sausage.

“As Alabamians, we not only need to remember to ourselves buy Made in Alabama products, but also to share these products with people from all over the world,” Ivey emphasized. “And when you buy Made in Alabama products, we’re really supporting the economy, we’re supporting Alabama jobs.”

Up next to speak was Pate, who reinforced Ivey’s call for people to buy and promote Made in Alabama products.

“This is what I feel like I’m about,” he outlined. “I traveled this state [during the 2018 campaign cycle] and heard it over and over again from Alabamians. I want to know where my food is from, and I want it as local as I can.”

“I just ask all Alabamians to make a little extra effort – I tell you, it’s really a win-win-win when you’re eating fresher food yourself, you’re helping somebody locally and it’s helping our local community,” Pate added.

Not only does the Buy Alabama’s Best campaign boost Yellowhammer State job creators, but a portion of product sale proceeds also directly supports Children’s of Alabama.

“We hope that people will look for the Buy Alabama’s Best logo when they are shopping at their local grocery store,” Taylor explained. “Purchasing Alabama-made products supports both our local economy and Children’s of Alabama.”

To date, the campaign has raised $777,672 to fight pediatric cancer.

“Children’s of Alabama is thankful for the community partners and the difference made through the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign,” Emily Hornak, Children’s of Alabama community development and cause marketing manager, said in a statement. “By supporting the local economy and purchasing products made in our state, Alabamians can feel good about supporting both local businesses and helping families with children facing cancer.”

Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), even with the legislature out until Tuesday, also spoke briefly, thanking Taylor, the AGA and industry members for what they do for the state. He highlighted the passage of the Rebuild Alabama Act and how it will help the food industry and others in the state ship their products easier – and more cost effectively – by both freight and the Port of Mobile.

“Thank you for taking care of the people of Alabama,” McCutcheon added. “We’re partners, we’re partners moving forward. Never forget that.”

Secretary of State John Merrill and State Auditor Jim Zeigler were in attendance as well, greeting members of the public and sampling some of the “Alabama’s Best” products.

The event concluded with a special announcement.

Wright’s Market in Opelika, an AGA member, is piloting the “Wright2U Freshmobile” delivery van thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs’ (ADECA) Healthy Food Financing program.

The van is a possible breakthrough in AGA’s “outside the box” efforts to better reach with fresh, healthy food options the 1.8 million Alabamians, including over 500,000 children, who live in underserved parts of the state.

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

4 mins ago

Groups across US take in dogs, cats after Alabama tornado

People across the nation are helping to find homes for animals evacuated from shelters in an Alabama community that was devastated by a tornado.

The twister left 23 dead and dozens of people injured as it roared across the community of Beauregard on March 3.

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The Humane Society of the United States contacted several humane societies across the nation to ask for help, Al.com reported.

The Oregon Humane Society says it was asked by the national organization if it could take any of the 150 pets that were being evacuated from Lee County shelters.

In Tennessee, the Nashville Humane Association says it received 21 cats and dogs affected by the tornado. It said those animals will be up for adoption soon.

“They have been through a lot,” said Laura Charvarria , executive director of the Nashville Humane Association.

“One of the shelters, Southern Souls, the tornado touched down actually in their backyard, so they experienced that, on top of, they just went through a 6-hour drive from Alabama to Tennessee, so that is extremely stressful on the animals,” Charvarria said.

Many of the animals from Alabama were flown on a jet to Oregon about a week after the tornado.

Staffers from animal shelters in that region met the dogs and cats when they touched down.

“There was a great camaraderie among the group 7/8— a wonderful testament to the collective compassion in the Northwest.

As the plane touched down the group erupted in applause,” the Oregon Humane Society said in a news release.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

Failed state House candidate wants to challenge gas tax in court

Former candidate for state House and Republican Executive Committee anti-tax resolution sponsor, Tom Fredricks, is preparing a legal challenge on the Rebuild Alabama Act based on the perceived unconstitutional nature of the Port of Mobile dredging.

When the Rebuild Alabama gas tax increase was being debated, for all of five days, opponents were throwing everything they could at the gas tax.

All of this was for naught as the bill passed both chambers of the legislature and was signed by the governor. Your gas tax will go up over the next three years.

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The state Republican Party Executive Committee went as far as opposing the gas tax with a resolution at their winter meeting. The committee rightly argued very few politicians ran on raising taxes. In fact, many opposed tax increases or ran on keeping taxes low.

Foes of the tax, yours truly included, felt the use of the special session was a nefarious work-around the legislative process.

Lastly, a small group of insurgents pushed the ingenious argument that the portion of the law spending millions of dollars every year on dredging for the Port of Mobile was unconstitutional.

And now, the opponents of this gas tax are moving on to the next level of the battle: the courts

Fredricks appeared Monday on “The Dale Jackson Show” on WVNN in Huntsville to lay out his legal strategy.

“It appears that it’s in direct violation of Amendment 354 … the constitution says that that money shall be used on the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges,” he outlined.

Fredricks has even launched a GoFundMe page to fund this endeavor after one lawyer told him he would need $25,000 to pursue this challenge.

But, former Senator Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville), an anti-tax advocate, believes this is a non-starter after initially thinking there would be an issue in battling the tax increase.

Sanford posted his findings on Facebook.

Fredricks himself believes this is a long-shot, but stated that he believes the people of this state need to continue having a voice on this issue.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

Byrne: Supporting state and local government

Last week, I was honored to host some of our local mayors, city council members and city officials from Southwest Alabama in Washington to hear about what they do every day for our communities.

I am a firm believer that the best people to run our towns and our communities are not the bureaucrats in Washington or the federal government. The best people to do that are the people who live, work, and play in the same place as the neighbors they represent. That is why I come home to Southwest Alabama every weekend, to be in touch with the people I serve in Washington.

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Everyone wants a great quality of life. Part of that comes down to having good roads and bridges, having high-quality schools, knowing that the fire department, police, EMS and other first responders will be there when we call, and countless other things that happen on a local level.

The federal government is not the best place to regulate those things. Heavy-handed government mandates and rules that impose “we know best” policies on our local communities don’t work. What works in Robertsdale, Brewton or Chatom might not work in Nashville, Boston or Anchorage.

One of the things that has always worked best is to have a strong partnership between our local, state and federal officials. My mission has always been to assist our local leaders on projects when they need our help, but it is not my place to tell our local mayors how to do their job or what will be best for their community. I want to be a part of their team.

This teamwork approach has worked incredibly well when it comes to bringing new jobs to our area. When a prospective business is looking at locating in a new place, they want to know that officials at every level of government are willing to work with them to support their business and their employees.

A good example of this is saving our rural hospitals. In most places, these hospitals are the bedrock of a community. No major business will locate in a town that doesn’t have a hospital. So, that’s why I have been working with our local and state officials to do everything in my power to save our rural hospitals from closing. But, this requires a total team approach from all levels of government.

Another prime example of giving more power back to the local level is Alabama’s Red Snapper recreational fishing season.

In years past, the federal government has put stringent regulations on Gulf Coast fishing that has ended up hurting local fishermen. Those of us in Alabama best understand Alabama issues, and after years of continuous advocating, this year we received great news that the 2019 Red Snapper season for recreational fishermen will take place on three-day weekends (Friday-Sunday) from June 1st through July 28th, including July 4th.

As I have said repeatedly, this issue is about more than just fishing. A full Red Snapper season helps boost our coastal economies due to everything from fuel sales to hotel and condo rentals. We must continue pushing for greater state control over our fisheries.

Fixing our Red Snapper season wasn’t done by just one person. From the city councils to the state Department of Conservation to the halls of Congress, it took a total team effort to make a positive impact for our residents.

As long as I have the honor of representing Alabama, I promise to always be a part of the team to make life better for people in our communities. I am dedicated to doing what is best for Alabama through policies that give back to, not take from, our communities.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

Leaders deliver results for a stronger Alabama

Thank you to the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate for your bi-partisan support of the Rebuild Alabama Plan. Because of your leadership, this historical effort will result in safer roads, thousands of new jobs, and a stronger Alabama.  Finally, it’s time to #RebuildAL.

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7 hours ago

Shelby County seeking more workers

The county with Alabama’s lowest unemployment rate is in need of more workers.

WBRC-TV reports that employers in Shelby County just south of Birmingham are having trouble filling some jobs.

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The county of more than 210,000 people has the lowest jobless rate in the state at 3.2 percent, and “help wanted” signs are a frequent site outside some businesses.

The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce says employers are constantly looking for qualified welders, forklift operators and information technology assistants.

The head of the chamber, Kirk Mancer, says the organization is working with schools and training partners on specific programs to help develop future workers.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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