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and 6 days ago

Meet ‘Mama B,’ one of Alabama’s biggest hearts

Joann Bashinsky has had one of the biggest hearts in Alabama, but most just know her as “Mama B.”

Her long history of being one of the state’s most generous philanthropists has been documented by Yellowhammer News before, and now she and the folks with the Auxiliary of Big Oak Ranch are at it again.

On September 25, they unveiled a brand new boutique store made to look like a castle, which Bashinsky calls the “granddaddy of them all.”

Big Oak Ranch is an Alabama-based “Christian home for children needing a chance,” founded 44 years ago by John Croyle. Over 2,000 children have called Big Oak home, and the organization takes no state or federal money. Therefore, it relies solely upon the generosity of individuals like Bashinsky.

In 2006, she began personally planning and designing a boutique for the girls at the home, so that they could shop for clothing, make-up and accessories just like any other young child. In a short matter of time, the old Big Oak warehouse was revamped and converted into a shop.

“There’s not a place in Birmingham that you can find anything like it. It has everything: clothes, makeup, shoes, records, you name it,” she said.

The original store even includes a section for even younger girls, known as “Boutique Too.”

But there is a catch – the girls do not just get to go into the store just because they are a Big Oak resident. Bashinsky instituted a points system, wherein the children had to acquire points from good grades, good deeds and memorizing Bible verses to make their purchases with.

After the opening of the girls boutique, the boys immediately wanted one for themselves, so Bashinsky got right back to work. The boys got their own shop, which is called “Outfitters” and designed in the style of a Bass Pro Shop. There, the kids can use their points to buy toys, games and even outdoor items like Kayak boats.

Now, the new boutique is ready to shine.

Watch:

“This is the third boutique, and this is the grandaddy of them all, because I don’t think I’ll be here to build any more,” Bashinsky said.

She added, with a laugh, “I don’t mean I’ll be dead, I just won’t be building.”

Once a month Mama B and the Auxiliary open the boutique so the girls can come and spend their points on everything from shoes and clothes to toys and everything in between — really anything girls could want, the new store has it.

Brodie Croyle, the founder’s son and now Big Oak’s executive director himself, told Yellowhammer News that he is “very excited” about the new boutique and “pumped up” for the girls that will get to enjoy it.

“How it works is our girls earn points by getting good grades, doing chores, helping Mama with stuff that maybe she didn’t ask them to do, come in here learning bible verses, or doing the different things they have to do to earn these points,” Croyle said. “There is never money that swaps hands in here.”

This system teaches the girls that you only buy what you can afford, that you must earn the privilege of having it, and how to budget and save money.

Croyle praised the beloved Bashinsky for her longtime, genuine love of the kids at Big Oak.

“She’s been around so long, and she’s been a part of our family – and I don’t say that lightly – for such a long time,” he emphasized. “This is her heart, this is what she loves and she loves our kids just like she loves her own.”

Many people have supported Big Oak Ranch in various ways since it was founded in 1974, yet Mama B has reached a legendary stratosphere. In August 2006, Bashinsky and Phyllis DePiano felt God was calling them to organize a support mechanism for the home. After much planning, the Auxiliary of Big Oak Ranch was formed and became a public 501(c)(3) non-profit. This means that the Auxiliary functions as a fundraising and volunteer service group for Big Oak, promoting and furthering its mission of helping children needing a chance.

At the end of the day, Big Oak exists to meet the needs of abused, neglected and abandoned children by giving them a solid, Christian home and a chance to realize and fulfill God’s plan for their lives. Their motto: “Our children are not bad kids, they just come from bad circumstances.”

Their cornerstone has remained fundamentally rooted in Isaiah 61:3 –

“And they shall be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified.”

Bashinsky pointed to the importance of the religious pillar of the organization as crucial to its success and the wellbeing of the kids.

“One thing that I’m proud of is Big Oak Ranch takes no federal or state money and operates debt free. So they can’t tell us what we can and can’t do,” Bashinsky added.

Big Oak currently serves 140 children. For more information about Big Oak Ranch Auxiliary, click here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn.
This report was compiled with the help of Yellowhammer Radio’s Ford Brown, who also produced the video content.
Listen to the Ford Faction on Yellowhammer Radio every day from noon to 3:00 p.m. on WYDE 101.1 FM.

Byrne: Water infrastructure vital to Alabama’s economy

There are very few places in the United States that can boast the sort of diverse infrastructure we have here in Alabama. There are 11 interstates, over 3,000 miles of freight rail, 5 commercial airports, and more than 132,000 miles of rivers and stream channels in our state.

One of our state’s most important pieces of infrastructure is the Port of Mobile, the 10th largest port and fastest growing container terminal in the United States. With 41 berths, 5 million square feet of warehouses and yards, and covering 4,000 total acres, it has an economic impact of around 135,000 jobs in Southwest Alabama and generates more than $22 billion per year in economic value.

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Recent expansions and developments at the Port will only further grow the economic impact of the Port on not only Southwest Alabama but our entire state. For example, the recent announcement about a new roll-on/roll-off vehicle processing facility at the Port will help our state’s automotive manufacturing industry continue to grow.

Even with these impressive facts, it has been clear that our infrastructure throughout the country is in need of updates, repairs, and overhauls to ensure that we are at the cutting edge of transportation and innovation in order to compete economically on the world stage.

Last week, in a major bipartisan effort, Congress sent a piece of legislation to President Trump’s desk that will help to unlock the full economic potential of our region and state.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 passed the Senate last week, after passing out of the House a few weeks back. This bill authorizes funding for waterway projects, port improvement projects, and other important water infrastructure projects in all 50 states. Not only will this allow for much-needed infrastructure improvements, but the bill reinstates a “Buy America” provision for federally funded projects, meaning a boost for American steel producers.

Commonsense legislation like this will create jobs, incentivize the use of American-made products, and build our nation’s capabilities to produce, package, and transport goods all around the globe. It will also make our drinking water safer, improve our wastewater systems, combat algae blooms, and restore our nation’s beaches through grant programs.

The Army Corps of Engineers can move forward on improving our dams, locks, reservoirs, and shipping channels. We have a major Army Corps project that needs attention right here in Southwest Alabama. The project to deepen and widen the Mobile Bay Ship Channel has the ability to fundamentally alter the economic potential of the Port and create more jobs in our state. Senator Richard Shelby has long been a champion for this project, and I am committed to working with him to make it a reality.

Our shipyards, airports, and rail yards will all see an impact from waterway projects like this, and I am thankful to the members of the Senate and my colleagues in the House for passing this water infrastructure legislation to help propel Alabama even further into the 21st Century.

The future of Alabama rests upon our ability to look beyond the short term and into what will set us up for success for years to come. Focusing locally on important infrastructure projects will spur economic growth through business investment and job creation, and it will open up opportunities we don’t even know exist yet.

Investing in our infrastructure today will lead to a stronger tomorrow. I applaud the work of my colleagues in both the House and the Senate in making a better economic future possible through this vital water infrastructure legislation.

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

7 hours ago

Shelter dogs fly from Alabama to New Jersey after Hurricane Michael leaves pets stranded

Shelter dogs from Birmingham are getting a new start after they boarded a plane and were flown to New Jersey.

A partnership between the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Greater Good, and Wings Of Rescue made the safe transportation of 50 dogs possible.

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“It gives these animals an immediate chance at getting in a home. Animals get stressed in a shelter. And with all the storms, and all this travel, it almost makes you want to cry being out here and seeing this,” said GBHS CEO Allison Black Cornelius.

With the transportation of the dogs to New Jersey, more animals can now be taken into the Birmingham shelter from Florida and surrounding areas.

“The average length of stay for a pet transported from Wings of Rescue is about two and a half days, three and a half days,” said President of Wings Of Rescue Ric Browde.

“So, these pets have a little bit of celebrity to them, so they’re probably going to be moving out faster. They’re just going to go very quickly. ”

Donations to Hurricane Michael animal transports can be made here.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

8 hours ago

Jones accuses ALGOP of putting ‘party over’ state, country on Kavanaugh; ALGOP responds: ‘A grave error as it highlights his arrogance’

In an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” that aired on Friday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) defended his vote opposing the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jones, who had pledged to keep an open mind throughout the process, voted along party lines against President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the retired associate justice, Anthony Kennedy. In the end, Jones’ vote was not consequential, as Kavanaugh was confirmed by a 50-48 margin.

The junior Alabama Democratic U.S. Senator was criticized for voting against Kavanaugh by the Alabama Republican Party, which accused him of putting the party over the state and the country.

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“You know, I do what I think is right,” Jones said when asked by host Don Dailey about the backlash. “This is the same Republican Party who voted for a guy last year – who continued to support someone who ran against me who there were very, very serious and credible allegations. This is a Republican Party that puts party over state, party over country. So, I’m not surprised they put this in political tones. The very thing that I avoided from the beginning, from my standpoint and my standpoint was what mattered to me and my staff – we were not looking at this in political terms. We were looking at it to determine his record, what he’s said, what he’s done, what we believe he could do, look at his qualifications, as well as his temperament and other issues to determine whether or not this man should be on the United States Supreme Court. It was a completely non-partisan issue the way we looked at it. And we knew the way other people would make it partisan. But that’s fine with me. I can justify my vote to anyone.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan fired back and said Jones’ “no” vote” highlighted his “arrogance.”

“Looking at this from ‘his’ standpoint and his ‘staff’ standpoint and not the will of the majority of Alabamians is a grave error as it highlights his arrogance,” Lathan said. “It clearly shows us it’s about him and his liberal views, not what most of our people think. Doug Jones said the majority of Alabamians wishes were not the ‘be all to end all’ on this vote. That ‘I know better than you all’ point of view will be revisited by voters in 2020. We will remind them what he thinks of the majority.”

Later in his “Capitol Journal” appearance, Jones indicated he had no regrets regarding that vote despite what the polling in Alabama showed regarding Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“You can’t worry,” he replied. “When you’re in a position like I am, you can’t worry about that. You know Don, if I tried to make every decision based on polling or what my political opponents say is the will of the people, then I wouldn’t be a very effective U.S. Senator. That’s not leadership. Leadership is studying the issues. And I had a heck of a lot more information than all of these politicians who came out of the chute wanting me to vote for or against. I had just as many people wanting me to vote against him as for him that had not done the research. We did our homework, and I’m comfortable where I am, and that’s the way we continue to operate in my office.”

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

8 hours ago

Are Alabama Republicans softening on Medicaid expansion?

The race for Governor in Alabama has been boiled down to three issues:

  1. Governor Kay Ivey’s claim she steadied the ship of state
  2. Democrat challenger Walt Maddox whining about not being able to secure a debate
  3. Maddox wanting to expand Medicaid without a serious plan for doing so

Republicans in Alabama have been steadfastly against the Medicaid expansion proposal because it will require an additional outlay of up to $200 million dollars. The infusion of federal dollars that would come after an expansion has been sighted numerous times, by numerous Democrats running for statewide office. The flawed argument is that the program will pay for itself.

It won’t.

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The facts are simple, the Alabama legislature, which will probably retain their super-majority status, will have to budget for any expansion. This is a wildly unpopular idea amongst Republican legislators, but now lame-duck State Senator Gerald Dial is stepping out and advocating for it.

He writes:

For years, we have used state dollars to recruit industries to locate in Alabama, and we have been very successful. We now have an opportunity to support existing health care jobs and make sure every Alabamian has access to care when they need it, and where they need it. Investing in Medicaid expansion will keep our rural hospitals open, save hundreds of local jobs, and provide basic insurance coverage to almost 300,000 Alabamians. These are our friends and neighbors, hardworking Alabamians who don’t earn enough to afford health insurance. They work in our local restaurants, in our local retail shops and build our houses. Medicaid expansion would enable them to continue working while keeping their family healthy.

Now there is nothing earth-shattering about this suggestion or the argument being made here. The expansion would bring in buckets of federal tax dollars, and that money would be spent in the state of Alabama. It will also boost the bottom lines of hospitals and provide money that will matriculate its way around the Alabama economy.

The argument could easily be made that the fight against ObamaCare is lost politically. “Pre-existing conditions coverage” has led to higher costs, but that aspect remains popular. Republicans failed to repeal and replace it in 2017, and they don’t seem to keen on revisiting that fight right now.

Even with those battles fought and lost, Republican voters still dislike ObamaCare.

But lawmakers’ desire to acquire new spending in Alabama may be leading us toward a push to expand Medicaid after this round of elections.

There is a history for taking on politically unpopular issues in Alabama shortly after elections take place. In 2007, legislators gave themselves a pay raise. In 2015, Governor Robert Bentley (and the real Governor Rebekah Caldwell Mason) found himself advocating for additional revenue after running a campaign saying that very thing would not be necessary.

Senator Dial seems to be on an island by himself on this issue right now, and he may be a lone voice in the Alabama Republican Party making this call.

But don’t be surprised if this changes after November 5th.

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

9 hours ago

Watch: Dog goes crazy after Alabama owner returns from deployment overseas

Seeing military service members reunited with loved ones after lengthy periods of time overseas is always emotional, but this time it is man’s best friend stealing the show.

Alabama’s Captain Josh Williams just returned from a ten-month deployment on the Korea peninsula with his brigade, which is part of the 3rd Infantry Division. In a video recorded by his wife Anna, Williams is greeted by one very happy canine companion.

Watch:

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The dog’s name is Milo, and, as you can tell, he is excited to have Captain Williams back home.

Williams is a Cavalry Troop Commander and earned his commission as an Army Officer through Auburn University’s ROTC program. He is a fourth-generation Army officer, and his grandfather did a tour in Korea 55 years ago this year. When Williams first arrived on the Korean peninsula in January of this year the tensions were at their highest level since his grandfather was there, but diplomatic tensions have eased to the calmest levels in recent years during his deployment.

“Praise God,” Williams’ father, state Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City), told Yellowhammer News, referencing the deescalation of tensions with North Korea and his son’s safe return.

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