3 months ago

Jeff Coleman: Broadband access more important now than ever before

In a world of viruses that can shut down global economies, shutter schoolhouse doors, and even physically keep us separated from one another, broadband access to our rural communities must rise to the forefront of our priorities. In the past two months, we have seen how difficult everyday education, communication, and commerce can be without the ability to utilize high-speed internet. Every day, though, there are communities in rural Alabama who live this even without stay-at-home orders.

Broadband access will be the key to the success of our next generation of students and businesses. Our state is poised to be a leader in rural broadband expansion thanks to leaders such as Senator Clay Scofield and former State House Member, now Senator, Donnie Chesteen and many others.

Children should not be forced to complete their homework in their parent’s car in a church parking lot due to connectivity issues or speed-related problems. Doctors should not be forced to ask sick patients to repeatedly come into clinics because they cannot monitor their health remotely. Farmers should not be forced to use outdated equipment because the newest and most efficient equipment is too technologically advanced for our outdated infrastructure.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every educator has been forced to evolve their way of teaching. Nearly everything our children are learning from their teachers is coming via the internet. However, in many rural areas of our state, parents and students are being forced to go to a local church, government building, or drive miles away from home to find an area with Wi-Fi connectivity — or even worse spend hundreds of dollars a month on hotspot devices, all so homework can be completed.

Now more than ever, physicians are relying on in-home medical capabilities. With our hospitals being rightfully focused on patients affected by the Coronavirus, many doctors are utilizing remote methods for care, except in rural communities either underserved or unserved with broadband. Patients in rural areas affected by a mild illness are not able to utilize telehealth options because the video connection is weak and communication is nearly impossible. This forces patients to make the difficult and sometimes dangerous trek to a metro area to receive care for a mild illness, while possibly being exposed to an even more dangerous virus.

Farmers cannot be forgotten in this discussion either. We rely on farmers to provide the food that feeds the world, and fiber that clothes the world. Now, they are relying on us to bring the tools needed to increase efficiency and ability on their farms. The use of precision agricultural equipment, customer communications, monitoring global commodity markets, and even reading up on the latest regulatory burdens from over-bearing bureaucrats are all modes that require high-quality broadband. We rely on our farmers, and now they need us.

Industry leaders are waiting for Alabama to become the manufacturing and innovation hub of the south, but the common topic of discussion is access to high-quality broadband. A priority of mine in Congress will be to work with internet service providers, cooperatives, public utilities, state and local leaders, infrastructure leaders, and other stakeholders to bring accessible, affordable, and quality broadband to every corner of our state. We must tackle this issue head on; otherwise, we will be left behind economically and educationally.

Our teachers and students need broadband. Our farmers need broadband. Our physicians and patients need broadband. It’s time for the state of Alabama to bring many voices together to solve this issue. As the Congressman from Alabama’s Second Congressional District, this will be one of my top priorities.

President Donald J. Trump emphasized the importance of rural broadband access in his 2020 State of the Union Address. President Trump said, “I am also committed to ensuring that every citizen can have access to high-speed internet, including — and especially in — rural America.” I look forward to being a champion, fierce fighter, and a strong advocate for rural broadband access alongside President Trump.

Jeff Coleman is the CEO of Coleman Worldwide Moving. He is currently a Republican candidate vying to represent Alabama’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives

9 hours ago

Alabama Power sends hundreds of linemen, support personnel to assist after Tropical Storm Isaias hammered East Coast

Tropical Storm Isaias hit the eastern coast of the United States hard this week, leaving millions of Americans without power while producing high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes.

In the wake of the storm’s wrath, Alabama Power Company on Wednesday morning sent 133 lineworkers and 94 support personnel to New Jersey to assist utility FirstEnergy in its storm response.

A release from the company outlined that Alabama Power upon arrival will support FirstEnergy subsidiary Jersey Central Power and Light, which serves 1.1 million customers in the central and northern parts of the Garden State.

In addition to directly supporting FirstEnergy, Alabama Power advised that it released more than 325 contract lineworkers to assist in storm restoration at various other utilities along the East Coast.

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“Our crews are prepped and ready to offer assistance in the restoration efforts following Tropical Storm Isaias,” stated Kristie Barton, Alabama Power Company’s power delivery services general manager.

“As soon as it is safe to do so, which includes observing all of our COVID-19 safe practices protocol, we’ll be working to restore power as quickly as possible,” she continued.

The company’s help was reportedly coordinated through the mutual assistance program of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a trade association comprised of several member utilities.

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

9 hours ago

Ivey named to leadership of National Governors Association

The National Governors Association (NGA) on Wednesday announced its new executive committee for 2020-2021, with Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) becoming chair of the association that represents the 55 leaders of all American states and territories.

Members of the executive committee were elected during the NGA summer meeting, which was held in a virtual format this year.

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) was one of the governors elected to the nine-member executive committee.

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“I’m honored to have been elected to serve on the [NGA] Executive Committee for 2020-21,” Ivey said in a Wednesday tweet. “I look forward to working with my fellow governors to develop initiatives & policies to support our country now & in the future.”

The NGA recently highlighted Alabama’s workforce development efforts under the Ivey administration as a model for other states to emulate.

Ivey assumed the governor’s office on April 10, 2017. In November 2018, she was elected to her first full term as Alabama’s chief executive. That term will expire in January 2023. Ivey could seek reelection in 2022.

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

11 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Democrats are banking on creating more moochers in 2020

The latest stimulus bill in Congress is tied up for many reasons, but a major sticking point appears to be the continuation of a $600 a week unemployment booster on top of what states already pay in benefits.

With the current impasse, there is currently no bonus to be given to those who are unemployed.

This is creating a battle between those who want to keep the bonus payment going for the foreseeable future and those who believe that the high payment is keeping people from vigorously re-entering the job market.

The stalemate in Washington, D.C. will eventually break. Some form of sweetener will be included, and the battle for stimulus will move on to the next bill.

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) views this battle as part of the larger ideological battle in the United States.

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Brooks appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Wednesday and referred to the Democratic Party as “the moocher party.” He said he believes this disconnect all started in the 1960s when Democrats embraced the idea of the “Great Society.”

Brooks opined, “Democrats have discovered that’s a huge voting block that they get in elections, so one way to win an election is to turn more independent, self-reliant voters into moochers.”

The congressman from Huntsville believes this is nothing new and noted how political it all is.

“Democrats perceive that that’s going to help them tremendously in the 2020 elections just a few months from now,” he advised.

My takeaway:

Brooks, of course, is right.

The argument from the media and their Democrats is always going to be some version of: “We want to give you [this] and they don’t because they want you to die.”

Free healthcare, free childcare, free college education, and it never stops.

Stopping any of this is the equivalent of kicking a baby in the face and taking its food.

Democrats have bought into this idea for years, and in the time of rampant unemployment and a pandemic, they will kick their grievance politics into full gear to gain new power.

The House, Senate and presidency are at risk this year. Republicans can give in and extend the $600 unemployment benefit (they will), and Democrats will just move to the next free item.

In 2020, this strategy might work.

Listen:

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

12 hours ago

Dollar General opens 450,000 square foot distribution center in Montgomery

Budget shopping chain Dollar General on Wednesday announced the opening of its large, new cold storage distribution center in Montgomery.

The 450,000 square foot facility is the product of a $26 million investment for the company and will support around 65 new jobs in the River Region.

The Montgomery facility is cold storage, meaning it is designed to store goods that must be kept chilled like milk and deli products.

“Welcome to Montgomery Dollar General, thank you for investing in our state and in our people,” said Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday during a digital event celebrating the facility being opened.

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“We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from both state and local officials who helped make this project happen,” remarked Rod West, Dollar General’s vice president of perishables growth and development.

The low-cost retailer opened its first store in Alabama in 1965 and now has around 800 retail locations in the Yellowhammer State.

“Dollar General is a trusted company with a long history in Alabama,” said Elton Dean, Montgomery County Commission chairman, in a statement on Monday.

“The River Region has a lot to offer, and we are thrilled that this esteemed organization, that does business across the country, recognizes that,” Dean added.

Dollar General also has a traditional distribution center in Bessemer and claims to employ approximately 8,100 Alabamians in total.

Montgomery’s new distribution center is located on Mobile Highway, around 15 minutes southwest of downtown.

“We welcome Dollar General and look forward to years of partnership and progress to come,” commented Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed on Wednesday,

The company says it will support around 1,500 stores in surrounding areas and help spur the “DG Fresh” initiative “which is a strategic multi-phased shift to self-distribution of frozen and refrigerated goods such as dairy, deli and frozen products” according to a release.

“We are confident that Dollar General recognized our strong workforce and business-friendly environment when choosing a location for this facility. We are excited to welcome Dollar General and countless companies to come, to grow in Montgomery,” concluded Arthur DuCote, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce chairman.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

13 hours ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville in the Yellowhammer State’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

Tuberville, after defeating former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in last month’s GOP primary runoff, is set to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November’s general election. The AFA had endorsed Sessions in the runoff contest.

In a statement, AFA executive vice president Chris Isaacson said, “We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race. He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator.”

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“Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama,” he concluded.

This comes as another major endorsement for Tuberville from the agribusiness community. The Alabama Farmers Federation endorsed the former Auburn University football coach last year and has been credited as being integral along his path to securing the Republican nomination.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association. The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success,” Tuberville stated.

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