7 months ago

Judy Ryals is a Yellowhammer News 2019 Woman of Impact

Judy Ryals is paving the way for a brighter future in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Huntsville/Madison area has experienced tremendous growth and success, particularly in the travel and hospitality industry over the past few years. Serving as the president/CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Judy Ryals is one of the most influential leaders impacting the growth.

Ryals joined the Bureau in 1978 and is the longest serving director of a tourism bureau in the State of Alabama. But her impact in the industry goes well beyond the Huntsville region. Over the course of her career, there is little in Alabama’s tourism sector she has not touched.

Ryals has been appointed by six governors to serve on the Advisory Board of the Alabama Tourism Department due to her success in promoting the Huntsville/Madison areas. She currently serves as the chairman and was one of the first females to serve as a board member of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, which is now Destination Marketing Association International.

Ryals has served on a number of statewide boards, including the Alabama Council of Association Executives, Alabama Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus and Alabama Travel Council. She received the state’s top award and was inducted into the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame, the first CVB representative to receive this award.

The Huntsville/Madison County CVB was chosen as the organization of the year by the Alabama tourism industry, as well as by Alabama Mountain Lakes Association, the north Alabama regional tourism marketing organization.

She is a graduate of the University of Alabama where she received a degree in public relations in 1976. Mrs. Ryals, an Alabama native, is married to Davis Ryals, Jr. and they have two sons.

She finds it especially satisfying to make a difference and improve the quality of life for the community in which she lives, works and plays. In a recent article, she points specifically to “the expansion at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the growth of Huntsville Museum of Art and the emergence of the old textile factory at Lowe Mill into a nationally recognized arts and entertainment area,” as improvements she sees paying dividends.

Regarding the growth and success of Huntsville/Madison, Ryals states, “Looking back, it becomes evident that much of our success as a city is due to our ability to rise to the challenge of change, to recognize the need for growth and to embrace it”.

When asked about Mrs. Ryals, the leaders in the Huntsville/Madison area praise her leadership and service.

Mayor Tommy Battle said, “Judy Ryals has been one of the City’s most active and dedicated leaders.  Through her role championing Huntsville as a prime tourist destination, Judy has elevated our brand throughout the Southeast and the world.”

Similarly, Chairman of the Madison County Commission Dale Strong states, “For more than 40 years, Judy Ryals has been a leader in executing a distinct vision to not only grow tourism in our region but to also position Huntsville and Madison County as the premier tourist destination in the State of Alabama.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Mrs. Judy Ryals a 2019 Woman of Impact.

The 2nd Annual Women of Impact Awards will celebrate the honorees on April 29, 2019, in Birmingham. Event details can be found here.

2 mins ago

Jalen Hurts reacts to Tua’s devastating injury: ‘It hurts me to hear it’

After leading the University of Oklahoma in an impressive comeback victory to defeat Baylor, Jalen Hurts expressed deep sympathy and concern for former teammate and friend Tua Tagovailoa after learning of the seriousness of his injuries.


“It hurt me to hear it. He’s a great friend of mine.” Hurts said during a press conference after the Baylor win.  “I’m praying for him and his family. I hope nothing but the best. I hope everything works out for him and his family.”

Tagovailoa sustained a right hip dislocation and posterior wall fracture during the first half of Saturday’s game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.

After the news of his prognosis went public, Tua did not hesitate to express gratitude for the outpouring of support and, once again, acknowledged the role his faith plays in his life.

Team orthopedic surgeon Lyle Cain released a statement regarding the injury: “Tua Tagovailoa sustained a right hip dislocation that was immediately reduced at the stadium. He is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment. He is expected to make a full recovery but will miss the remainder of the season.”

45 mins ago

Flight Works Alabama partners with University of South Alabama students as Airbus assembly tour guides

Nine University of South Alabama students got on-the-ground training for a career in hospitality and tourism management by acting as tour guides for Flight Works Alabama during a recent visit from participants at the Titanium International Conference held in Mobile.

More than 1,000 business people, including corporate owners and vendors, attended the conference where one of the highlights was a tour of the facility where Airbus builds the A320 family of aircraft.


“Our students just knocked it out of the park,” said Dr. Evelyn Green, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management, which prepares students for careers in a variety of businesses, including the hotel industry as well as nonprofits and government agencies that promote tourism and travel.

“Flight Works Alabama had asked for our tourism and hospitality students to show their visitors real Southern hospitality by acting as their tour guides. We had only one day to train these students how to be tour guides and to learn everything there is to learn about the basic assembling of an aircraft. That was a tall order we put on them, but they handled it extremely well,” Green added.

Green, director for USA’s Hospitality and Tourism Workforce Innovation Alliance, designed the customized training, and Robin Fenton, consultant for Flight Works Alabama, wrote scripts for the students. With the help of Barry Bukstein, a volunteer and seasoned tour guide, the Alliance trained the students for their assignments in one day.

Flight Works Alabama is an innovative facility under construction at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. When it opens in June 2020, it will be a gateway for public tours of the Airbus Final Assembly Line as well as offering educational opportunities for the public. Flight Works Alabama has partnered with nine universities, but USA is the only one that will offer hospitality training.

“Each student learned different aspects of the presentation, ranging from the history of Brookley Field, the history of Airbus coming to Mobile and then moving into how Airbus’ A320 planes come together on the assembly line,” Green said. “Each presentation lasted about four minutes, which means each student had to tell their portion of the story in four minutes. We put attendees in groups of 10 to 15 with three to four groups touring at the same time. A tour took about 40 minutes to complete.”

Fenton described the students as “amazing and exceeding all our expectations.”

“They did an excellent job of sharing the Airbus story. They took their scripts and put them into their own words. I received only positive comments from the conference attendees. Dr. Green’s team will continue working with us, and we hope to hire some of these students when Flight Works Alabama opens,” Fenton said.

Dr. Robert Thompson, chair of hospitality and tourism management, said “the students were taken a little out of their comfort zones initially, but it didn’t take long for those essential skills in hospitality to kick in, and they showed these visitors warm and welcoming Southern hospitality.”

Carson Riley Bentley, a junior from Muscle Shoals, came to South because of the reputation of its hospitality and tourism department.

“At first, I was really nervous, but after the first group went through, I realized I had been overthinking it,” Bentley said.

He began his presentation by welcoming the visitors to Airbus, introduced himself, then launched into how there are only four facilities like Airbus Mobile in the world, and the one they were visiting is the only one in the United States.

“Every 28 days, Airbus gets enough new parts to build four new airplanes, and I told them where some of the parts came from because this was an international group,” Bentley added. “It was definitely a learning experience, and I won’t forget it because I have more confidence now because of it.”

(Courtesy of the University of South Alabama)

Celebrate the Seventh Amendment tomorrow in Mobile and Houston Counties

The Alabama Association of Justice and its members invite all courthouse employees and judicial staff to celebrate 230 years of the Seventh Amendment guaranteeing the right to a civil jury trial.  Join us for fun and refreshments in Mobile County on Monday, November 18, 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., 205 Government Street, Mobile, AL.

The tour will continue to Houston County on Tuesday, November 19, 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. 114 N. Oates Street, Room 318, Dothan, AL.


This is the 10th of multiple stops on the Courthouse Appreciation Tour and the focus will be Alabama’s Appellate Courts.  Check out highlights from the tour’s first stop in Jefferson County.

For more information contact jsmith@alabamajustice.org.

3 hours ago

UAB doctor advises how to keep flu germs from spreading at home

Flu season can take its toll on your health, but one way to fight the virus is to stop the spread of germs at home. University of Alabama at Birmingham Assistant Professor Neena Xavier, M.D., shares these tips to help you and your family strengthen your defenses this flu season.

What are some of the best ways to germ-proof your home?


You cannot really germ-proof your home, but you can clean and disinfect things to improve your chances of preventing the flu.

First, cleaning surfaces using soap and water and disinfectant sprays can decrease the number of germs and lower the chances of spreading them around.

Second, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces can kill germs and help lower the chances of getting sick. Avoid touching used tissues or other waste when emptying your trash, and wash your hands afterward to avoid getting those germs.

What are the biggest germ culprits in your home, and how should you disinfect them? 

Commonly touched surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, toys, phones and faucet handles are major culprits for carrying germs. Make sure the product you are using is EPA-registered to both clean (remove germs) and disinfect (kill germs). Read the directions on the product on how to use it because different chemicals have different procedures on how many wipes are needed or how long to keep the surface wet – usually three to five minutes.

How can a humidifier or air filter help keep your home flu-free? 

Dry air can cause scratchy throats, congestion and nosebleeds. While there are no scientific guidelines about the use of humidifiers to prevent flu, the germs may be able to survive in the drier air conditions. So the thought is that if you keep the humidity level up in a room, the virus is less likely to survive. Just be careful of warm mist humidifiers because, if not cleaned properly, they can grow bacteria and mold, which can cause serious illness.

How often should you wash sheets and towels during flu season? 

Most studies have shown that the flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. However, it is not necessary to wash surfaces every day. Using harsh chemicals to wipe every surface often can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin and aggravate asthma if you suffer from it, so you may cause more harm than good. In general, the important thing is to make sure you wash regularly and do not share towels or sheets with those who are sick without washing them first.

Remember, the virus is killed by hot temperatures, so if you do clean your sheets and towels, use the hot temperature setting instead of warm.

What are the best tips to protect yourself if someone in your house already has the flu?

If it is possible, choose a bathroom for the sick person to use and their own bedroom to sleep in. Plan to clean these rooms daily. Have some disposable face masks at the house for other members, especially those who have other medical conditions that make them more likely to get sick.

Xavier is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences and faculty member with the Physician Assistant Studies program in the UAB School of Health Professions.

For more information on prevention, symptoms and vaccines, visit uab.edu/flu.
(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)



4 hours ago

University of Alabama student veterans march to bring awareness to veteran suicides

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — While many University of Alabama students will drive or fly to their destinations for the Thanksgiving break, one group of student veterans will be marching to theirs — all the way from Tuscaloosa to Auburn.

Almost 80 students and support personnel from UA’s Campus Veterans Association and Auburn’s Student Veterans Association will take part in Operation Iron Ruck, Nov. 27 – Nov. 30.

A ruck march is a military term for a hike with a heavy backpack, explained Slade Salmon, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, who is a junior operations management major from Atlanta and president of UA’s Campus Veterans Association.

“Operation Iron Ruck is a 151-mile ruck march from Bryant-Denny Stadium to Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn,” Salmon said. “It’s going to take about three days. Last year, it took us 73 hours.”

“It was one of the most miserable three days of my life, and I couldn’t wait for it to come around again.”


The student veterans are marching to bring awareness to veteran suicides and to support Mission 22, a national veteran suicide campaign.

“For people who don’t know, 22 veterans commit suicide every day,” Salmon said. “We’re trying to raise public awareness for that and get the message out that this is happening.”

“I feel like all veterans need to ban together. One veteran that commits suicide is too many. We all spent however long it was, or however short it was, in the military. We became brothers and sisters in arms, and we need to check on each other and make sure everybody is ok.”

In addition to supporting Mission 22, each student veteran will carry 22 pounds of donations in their rucksacks for the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City and Three Hots and a Cot, an organization that assists homeless veterans. The donations include socks, gloves and other winter clothing, toiletries and canned goods. Monetary donations will also support Mission 22.

During the three-day trip, each student veteran will hike approximately 50 miles. They walk for 2 ½ hours before climbing into a support vehicle for about five hours of rest before their next hike.

On Thanksgiving Day, the students will take an extended break at a church that is about halfway between the two stadiums and enjoy a meal prepared by a few of their families.

Operation Iron Ruck will end Saturday morning outside Jordan-Hare Stadium in time for the student veterans to see Alabama and Auburn face off in the annual Iron Bowl.

To make a donation or to learn more about the UA Campus Veterans Association, contact Salmon at UACVA1@gmail.com or 205-348-0983.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.

(Courtesy of the University of Alabama)