5 months ago

McCutcheon, Swaid express their love for Alabama at Yellowhammer’s Power of Service reception

HOOVER – Yellowhammer’s 2018 Power of Service honorees have been described in glowing terms by their peers and observers alike. However, it was the praise of the award winners, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon and Dr. Swaid Swaid, for their state that left the crowd in awe on Thursday evening at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa.

The theme of the annual Power of Service event was perhaps best summarized by Yellowhammer Multimedia’s co-owner Allison Ross, who told the Power and Influence 50 members, the two special honorees and the crowd of dedicated civic leaders, “Thank you for believing in Alabama.”

After stirring remarks from Yellowhammer co-owner Tim Howe, who is also the editor-in-chief of Yellowhammer News, Auburn University’s executive director of governmental affairs, C.J. Hincy, took the stage to introduce McCutcheon.

“Mac McCutcheon – he’s a treasure for Alabama,” Hincy said to begin the substantive part of his introduction.

Hincy described McCutcheon’s exemplary record as a career law enforcement professional in north Alabama before delivering one of the lines of the night.

“Mac’s a veteran, he’s a farmer and he’s a pastor. So that means he can shoot, he can grow and he can preach. That’s about as Alabama as it gets,” Hincy joked.

Hincy described the speaker’s well-respected leadership, including his “even-handed approach” and “workhorse nature,” before adding that McCutcheon’s best qualities are as a family-man and friend and calling him to the stage.

“We should have servant hearts”

To a booming round of applause, McCutcheon took to the microphone, immediately reinforcing his family-first mantra by telling the funny story of how his wife was the “Speaker of the Speaker’s House” and recognizing his wife and daughter, who were in attendance, for their support of his public service.

Speaking to the many elected officials in the large crowd, McCutcheon emphasized, “We should be thankful for our family members and the sacrifices that they make for us – the times that we miss the dinners, ballgames, we miss those things that bring us closer together as families for the sake of serving the public.”

After some more well-deserved recognitions, McCutcheon got to the heart of the evening, which is especially powerful in the light of the recent attempted political bombings and the horrific shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“Tim, I think you’re 100 percent right about the power of service and the human aspect of what we do as public servants,” McCutcheon said, addressing Howe. “I tell the members of the House that foremost, we should have servant hearts and we should remember that we are all in this position to serve the people.”

He added, “For me to be in a position that I’m in as Speaker of the House, my job is to serve the people of Alabama, my job is to serve my colleagues in the legislative body and to support the executive branch. And never forget that I am here to serve people. Let us never get to a point as elected officials that we forget the human aspect of what we do and why we do it.”

“The skill in him comes from God above”

Next up, to introduce Swaid, was Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-6).

In a moving introduction of his longtime friend, Palmer described Swaid as a magnanimous man equally befitting his status as a world-class neurosurgeon.

“He is about the best there is,” Palmer explained. “There are people that come from all over the world to see Swaid.”

One of the most impressive things about Swaid, who practices in Birmingham, is the faith-based worldview that drives his personal and professional lives.

“Swaid is always quick to point out that the skill in him comes from God above, much like the scalpel in Dr. Swaid’s hands, which our great Creator use to make others whole,” Palmer remarked, before telling an emotional story about a young girl that Swaid had gone out of his way to help.

“There is a joy and a great deal of wealth – spiritual wealth – in being a servant”

After the introduction, Swaid, too, took the stage to a resounding ovation, as hundreds of attendees welcomed one of Alabama’s finest to the podium.

Swaid has an amazing story, one that truly embodies the “American Dream.”

As the Birmingham Medical News wrote in 2012, “Swaid is a native of Israel, and his distinctive name comes from a custom of Christian families in the Arab world to give a son their surname as a first name, symbolizing especially bright expectations for his future. And Swaid wasn’t the only high achiever in his family. One of his brothers is the only Christian member of Israel’s Knesset (parliament), and another is an acclaimed musician.”

As Swaid explained in his speech, his “American Dream” was made possible by, and realized in, Alabama.

“When I got off the airplane in New York in 1969… I got in a taxicab and I asked the man to take me to Searcy, Arkansas,” Swaid said, while laughing. “So that tells you how little I knew about where I was going.”

“But after four years of being at Harding University, I came to Alabama, and I have been here since 1973,” Swaid continued.

He then noted that the type of love for the state that he has, has been perfectly represented by Governor Kay Ivey, who was sitting front and center for Swaid’s speech.

“And let me just tell you, this is a great community and a great state. We travel, but after a few days, I am ready to come home – to Birmingham and to Alabama. Yellowhammer does reflect the tremendous spirit that exists in this state,” Swaid outlined.

“There is a joy and a great deal of wealth – spiritual wealth – in being a servant,” Swaid emphasized, speaking to the drive behind his medical genius.

He added, while stipulating that his service was in healthcare and not business or politics, “Politics is an honorable profession in my opinion when people have the spirit of service.”

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

22 mins ago

State Rep. Sorrell vows to cut government waste by seeking to remove requirement for legal notices to be published in newspapers

Earlier this week on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) explained his decision to vote against the Rebuild Alabama Act, which is legislation signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Kay Ivey that will ultimately raise gasoline taxes 10 cents by 2021.

In addition to polling that showed his constituents overwhelmingly against the measure to gas taxes, Sorrell justified his “no” vote by explaining that there were areas in state government with waste that could be eliminated to save taxpayers money that should have been considered before a tax increase.

One such area the Shoals Republican identified was a requirement that legal notices were to be published in newspapers.

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“You are never done looking for waste in state government,” Sorrell said. “Imagine if our state government only wasted 2 percent. It sounds like a very small number – hundreds of millions of dollars, right? There is still waste in state government. Actually, I have a bill to address that, and I’ve made that very same point. If we’re going to be talking about tax increases, we have to be talking about where we can save the taxpayers money.”

“Specifically, the bill I’m referencing is a bill that would remove the requirement for legal notices to be published in newspapers,” Sorrell added. “It’s a very expensive and time-consuming process  some of these legal notices are $1,000 — the publishing of the voter rolls every two years. The city of Huntsville spends $100,000 a year on required legal notices. That’s money they could be using to, you know, fix potholes or repave city streets.

Sorrell told APTV host Don Dailey he was still seeking a dollar figure on how much the state spends on legal notices.

“So, I don’t have a number. I’m looking for a number right now,” he added. “I have the legislative fiscal office trying to give me a number right now on how much the state of Alabama spends. This would also help municipalities and counties. But all that information, all those legal notices could be posted online almost for free. And we could be saving the state millions of dollars a year. So yeah, we’ve never done enough to cut waste in government. I’m going to continue looking for ways. I’ve only been down here a few weeks, and I believe I’ve already identified millions of dollars of waste.”

The Alabama Press Association, the trade association that represents the state’s newspapers, has long resisted any efforts to remove requirements to publish legal notices in newspapers over the years.

@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.

University of South Alabama researchers study progression of deadly lung syndrome

Researchers at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine have developed a pre-clinical model for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a progressive disease that occurs in critically ill patients. A team led by Dr. Diego F. Alvarez and Dr. Jonathon P. Audia published the results of this NIH/NHLBI-sponsored study in the March 11 online edition of Pulmonary Circulation.

ARDS has a mortality rate of 40 to 60 percent in patients who develop the disorder, which is characterized by worsening lung function. Typically ARDS develops as a result of community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia and patients are treated in an intensive-care setting.

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“Right now there are no therapies to treat these patients once ARDS develops other than supportive care,” said Audia, associate professor of microbiology and immunology. “Our goal is developing comprehensive models to understand the disease progression and how it resolves, and then ultimately being able to use this model to test new therapies.”

Audia and Alvarez, who is an associate professor of physiology and cell biology, have been researching the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common cause of hospital-acquired pneumonia, and its impact on lung biology and pathogenesis for the past nine years, publishing numerous scientific articles on the subject.

The current study was the first to take a comprehensive look at the progression of ARDS in animal models examining effects on the lung vasculature, building upon the team’s previous work in cell cultures, Audia said.

The researchers examined two groups of rats infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa – one group after 48 hours and the other after seven days. The first group of mice displayed the clinical hallmarks of ARDS, while the second group displayed lingering effects of infection, inflammation and fibrosis seen in patients who succumb to ARDS, but signs of lung repair also were observed.

The modeling sets the stage for future research. “We don’t know whether the host response is not strong enough to kill the bacteria or if there’s something defective with the repair pathway and the patients never fully recover,” Audia said. “It’s one of those things that’s a black box. Nobody knows which part goes awry.”

He said further research could help doctors predict how patients will fare in response to an initial pneumonia infection, and ultimately lead to the development of new interventions and therapies to combat pneumonia and ARDS.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Google brings Wi-Fi-equipped school buses to Alabama town

Google is not only building a $600 million data center in Alabama, but the internet giant is helping some school kids in a small Talladega County town get their homework done.

Google announced the launch of its Rolling Study Halls program in Munford, a community with around 1,200 residents. The initiative brings Wi-Fi to students with long commutes in 16 communities across the country.

Google provides each school district with Wi-Fi through fully functional school buses, computers and onboard educators for the buses. The company says the program helps students reclaim more than 1.5 million hours of learning time that would otherwise be lost during long bus commutes.

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“It’s important for students everywhere to have access to the tools they need to learn every day,” said Alex Sanchez, a spokesperson for Google.

In Munford, six buses will become Rolling Study Halls, allowing 240 students to access Wi-Fi on commutes between 45 minutes and one hour.

Equipping students

“Innovative programs like the Google Wi-Fi school buses are allowing us to provide our public school students with the 21st-century educations that they will need to compete in the global economy,” Ainsworth said.

“Google’s Rolling Study Halls is something we know will benefit the students of Munford, and help them create the next big thing right here in Alabama,” McClendon said.

Rolling Study Halls is part of Grow with Google, a new initiative to help create economic opportunities for Americans. The program aims to give people across the United States resources to grow their skills, careers and businesses by offering free tools, training and events.

In April 2018, Google began construction of its Alabama data center in the Jackson County community of Bridgeport, in the northeastern corner of the state. Google said the data center will be a hub for internet traffic, fitting into a network that keeps the company’s search engine and its other internet-based products functioning around the clock.

The center is expected to create between 75 and 100 jobs.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and state Sen. Jim McClendon joined Google officials to announce the program’s arrival at Munford Middle School alongside students and administrators who use the outfitted buses daily during the 2018–2019 school year.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

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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5 hours ago

Alabama Power, employees continue to support Lee County tornado relief

Alabama Power, the Alabama Power Foundation and the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO)remain committed to helping restore normalcy to Lee County and supporting the victims of the March 3 tornadoes. Company efforts began shortly after the storm hit, when crews throughout the state supported restoration efforts. Within 36 hours, all 26,000 customers affected by storms and who could take service had their power restored.

Once initial restoration and rescue work was completed, the Alabama Power Foundation and APSO volunteers joined other organizations and businesses to support community needs.

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“We have mobilized our resources – through both the Alabama Power Foundation and our employee-led volunteer organization APSO – to serve Lee County and the surrounding communities,” said Myla Calhoun, vice president of Alabama Power Charitable Giving and president of the Alabama Power Foundation. “These activities are core to our mission of supporting the communities we are honored to serve.”

The Alabama Power Foundation provided two $20,000 donations to disaster relief funds at the United Way of Lee County and the East Alabama Community Foundation. Funds will be used to support local recovery efforts.

Other volunteer efforts include:

  • APCO Employees Credit Union disaster relief account: The Alabama Power Employees Credit Union activated a disaster relief account to raise donations that ran through Friday, March 15. The credit union will work with the Red Cross to purchase needed supplies with donated funds.
  • Red Cross stations: APSO volunteers are coordinating with the Red Cross and Providence Baptist Church in Opelika to assist with sorting and preparing donations for distribution.
  • APSO Chapter donation bins: APSO Chapters across the state are accepting donations to support recovery.
  • Hygiene packs: APSO chapters are donating hygiene packs to victims.
  • Eufaula Humane Society donation: Local APSO Chapter donated $500 to the Eufaula Humane Society, which was devastated by the storms.
  • APSO volunteers at Red Cross telethon: APSO volunteers answered phones and took donations at the Red Cross’ telethon March 6.

To learn more about the charitable initiatives of the Alabama Power Foundation and how APSO members are helping build a better Alabama, visit https://powerofgood.com/.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)