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1 month ago

Kay Ivey lauds Shaw Industries $250 million upgrade at Andalusia ceremony

ANDALUSIA — For the last few decades, manufacturing has been on the decline in Alabama. This trend is especially true when it comes to textiles in the southern portion of the state.

Dalton, Ga.-based Shaw Industries officially bucked that trend with a formal announcement on Wednesday that the company was putting $250 million into its Andalusia carpet manufacturing facility. That investment includes technology upgrades with an anticipated completion date of 2020.

On hand for the announcement was Gov. Kay Ivey, local Covington County and City of Andalusia leaders, along with executives from Shaw Industries.

Ivey, who has mastered the art of economic development ribbon-cutting ceremonies since becoming Alabama’s governor in 2017, touted the elements that have made announcements as such as the Shaw Industries possible.

“When we talk about building on success and momentum, this is how it is done,” she said. “We share with our companies an unparalleled workforce, a favorable business climate, and we work with those companies that choose to be Made in Alabama, We show them if they choose to be Made in Alabama, they can expect excellence.”

“Today, we’re not only celebrating a major investment of some $250 million here in the state of Alabama — we’re celebrating a facility that has grown, been successful and will find even more success in the future. This $250 million investment on this facility took teamwork. In fact, everything the Ivey administration does is a team effort. I’m proud of that.”

Among those Ivey recognized were Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson, Covington County Commission president Greg White and the two members representing Andalusia in the state legislature, State. Sen. Jimmy Holley (R-Elba) and State Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia).

“To our friends at Shaw, we thank you for continuing to do business in the great state of Alabama,” Ivey added. “Thank you for investing in the development of our workforce. And thank you for participating in Made in Alabama. You’re a great team and do great work. And I am confident that I’ll be back here pretty soon, not too long — and we’ll have another celebration for another expansion.”

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson called it a “red-letter day,” and noted the local utilities that helped make Shaw’s expansion feasible.

“This is a red-letter day for Andalusia and Covington County, and by red-letter, I mean a good day,” Johnson said. “It has truly been a team effort that has gone over the course of a year. [Plant Manager Ron Fantroy] asked me if I could come out and speak with him one afternoon about a year ago. He said, ‘Mayor, we’re thinking about expanding, the leaders of our company, investing $250 million in our plant here. And I just wanted to know, would you be willing to help us with that.’ And I said, ‘Is that a trick question?'”

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson speaks at Shaw Industries announcement, 12/5/2018 (Jeff Poor/YHN)

Johnson also credited PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, Southeast Gas and the Covington County Economic Development Commission for help in pushing the investment “across the finish line.”

Covington County Commission president Greg White noted that the size of the investment signaled the company intends on having a presence in Andalusia for the long-term.

“I can’t overstate how proud we are to have smart, sustainable, surging, advanced manufacturing operations in our county like those that Shaw offers and is now committing to for the long term,” White said. “When you make a quarter-of-a-million dollar investment in the community, you’re here to stay, and we’re thrilled about that.”

In comments to the media following the announcement ceremony, Ivey emphasized the importance of the economic initiatives for the rural parts of the state.

“Rural Alabama is very special to me for a lot of natural reasons, but it’s most important because we get more of our people employed and they can better care for themselves and their families. So yes, industries like this and towns like Andalusia are very important.”

Shaw Industries Executive Vice President David Morgan explained to Yellowhammer News why Andalusia was chosen as the site of his company’s expansion and credited the people of the area for Shaw’s ultimate decision.

“The technology is changing in this part of our business in the production of fibers and the type fibers that our customers want in the carpets that we produce,” Morgan said. “We look at several sites, and we’ve been working with the technology for about five years, and we looked at this site as one of the potentials to put it. What drew us here was certainly the community, working with the state and the local agencies, the utility cooperation, and primarily the people.”

“The people of Andalusia and this facility — it is an excellent team,” he continued. “It is very capable of integrating this technology, and we came here to reset this facility rather than move it somewhere else. The people really drew us here. The technology drove us to make the change because our customers were wanting different products.”

Long-time plant manager Ron Fantroy said the investment was necessary given the continuous changes in the industry.

“The plant was started in 1982,” Fantroy said. “I actually started in 1983 — nine months after the initial start of the facility. Over that period of time, we have seen a lot of change — technology improvements, technology advancements, technology progression and what’s happening here is a continuation of that process. From that experience from being here for the past 35-plus years, I have seen where we have undergone major transitions every four-to-five, six years on average.”

Fantroy also touted strides the community had made in keeping its workforce on pace with changes in technology.

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

2 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

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“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

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

3 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

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Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

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

4 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

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This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

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

5 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

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“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

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

5 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

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The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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