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2 years ago

New Miss Alabama Works to Combat Hunger

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Across the state and nation, Miss Alabama and Miss America are incredibly influential role models. For many young girls, they strive to achieve the level of scholarship, beauty, and grace that the women competing at the top-level of the pageant world exhibit so well. Last week, Jessica Procter of Tuscaloosa was the latest young woman to be crowned Miss Alabama. Although she worked very hard to get to this point, the real work of being a role model to thousands of young girls is just beginning.

A relative newcomer to pageant life, Procter said winning Miss Alabama was a dream come true. “Honestly, it was like living in an alternate universe,” Procter told Yellowhammer. “You picture that moment and you work for that moment, but when it finally happens, it feels unreal.”

Four years ago, Procter began participating in pageants during her junior year of high school. She wanted to boost her resume for college scholarship committees and figured performing well in pageants would look impressive.

She first saw a post about Miss Tuscaloosa Outstanding Teen on Facebook and wanted to give it a try. While she had no previous experience, she had an extensive background as a musical performer who sang with her family from a young age.

“I watched Miss America more than a few times as a kid,” she said, “but it was never something where I really knew how it worked.”

After placing third in her first-ever pageant, Procter caught pageant fever and she continued to perform well in state-level competitions. She has served as Miss West Central Outstanding Teen, Miss Alabama Outstanding Teen, Miss Center Point, Miss Tuscaloosa, and Miss Leeds Area. Overall, Procter has earned more than $42,000 in scholarship money that will ensure a debt-free graduation from The University of Alabama.

Procter emphasized the importance of scholarship and giving back in both the Miss Alabama and Miss America organizations. Founded in 1921, the Miss America Organization is still the nation’s largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women, as Procter is a paramount example.

“My most important role is to show the world what the Miss Alabama Organization is about,” she said. “It’s not about me, it’s about the organization and the good that it does. I’m just its voice this year.”

Procter’s platform focuses on the pressing issue of food insecurity, which is formally defined as the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. She first saw the tragedy of hunger on a mission trip with her family overseas. Her experience changed her and forced her into action. “I couldn’t sit there when people in our world are struggling to meet basic necessities that I take for granted every single day,” she said.

At first, she wanted to start a program to help impoverished people overseas. But she soon found out that the problem plagues one in five Americans, and her focus soon shifted. She watched a 20/20 documentary in a freshman-year psychology class about hungry children in Camden, New Jersey, and one story from the video hit her especially hard.

“There was a boy named Isaac…who had never heard the words breakfast, lunch, and dinner before. He had never had three set meals a day. If he did, there was no need to name them because it wouldn’t be something he would get the next day. Three set meals a day was just an unattainable luxury in his life.”

She sat there in the 150-person class weeping. “This boy only lives 14 hours away from me, and here I am about to go eat at the dining hall and I’m worried about sending money overseas,” she said. “I need to do something about this in America.”

She contacted the West Alabama Food Bank about local hunger in her area. After some discussion, she formed Step Up to the Plate, a partnership with the West Alabama Food Bank, that works to find ways to address food insecurity in the state.

Step Up To The Plate fights hunger by conducting canned food drives, speaking to local community groups and schools, raising money, participating in and encouraging volunteerism at local soup bowls and food banks, and establishing food recovery programs at local businesses. “You’ve got to make other people as passionate as you are because you can’t do it alone,” she said.

Procter will take her cause and talents to the Miss America stage as one of the 52 final contestants. The ninety-seventh Miss America pageant will be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sunday, September 10, 2017.

12 hours ago

Gordon mayor convicted of voter fraud, removed from office

The mayor of Gordon, Alabama, has been convicted of voter fraud and removed from office.

News outlets report Elbert Melton was convicted Wednesday of unlawfully falsifying ballots when he was elected in 2016.

He defeated challenger Priscilla Wilson by a 16-vote margin.

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This conviction strips him of his office. The Gordon Town Council will appoint an interim mayor to serve until an election is held.

Melton was charged in September with absentee ballot fraud and second-degree theft of property.

Arrest warrants say he knowingly obtained or exerted unauthorized control over $1,700 that belonged to the town.

Prosecutor Mark Johnson says the judge has released Melton on bond. Melton is set to be sentenced next month on the fraud charge.

He still is facing the theft charge.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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12 hours ago

Newly installed Alabama chief justice names a director of courts

Alabama’s chief justice on Wednesday announced that Rich Hobson will serve as his administrative director of courts, a position he held twice under former Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Hobson last year unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Martha Roby in the Republican congressional primary.

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He also managed Moore’s unsuccessful 2017 campaign for U.S. Senate, a race Moore lost after being accused of sexual misconduct — allegations he denied.

Chief Justice Tom Parker also worked for Moore before being elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2004 as an associate justice.

The director assists the chief justice, who oversees the state court system.

Parker was sworn in last week as the state’s new chief justice after winning the November election.

In a statement announcing the appointment, Parker praised Hobson both as an innovator and someone who will help keep “leftist influences” out of the state court system.

“There is no one in Alabama who knows and understands the court system better than Rich Hobson. He is an effective, efficient, and competent administrator who has hit the ground running,” Parker said.

“Like me, Rich is a strong constitutional conservative who shares my philosophy and will help me keep leftist influences out of our court system,” Parker said.

Hobson has three decades of experience in the court system.

He held a variety of jobs before becoming the director of the court system, including court referral officer and managing the judicial volunteer program and the family preservation court improvement project.

Moore twice named Hobson as his administrative director of courts.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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12 hours ago

State Sen. Shay Shelnutt: ‘Maxine Waters needs to leave Alabama banks alone’

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have taken over the House Financial Services Committee, and one Alabama state senator is already pushing back on their agenda.

Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) is the incoming chairman of the Alabama Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee, and he told Yellowhammer News that he fears the approach Waters and Ocasio-Cortez take could end up harming the Alabama banking community and the consumers who depend on it.

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“Maxine Waters and Ocasio-Cortez have no idea what it takes to build a business and take care of customers day in and day out,” said Shelnutt. “They are going to try to take sound bites that sound good to their liberal base and turn that into policy. The only thing that will end up doing is hurting our hometown banks and the families and small businesses that depend on them.”

Shelnutt sees the measures taken by President Donald Trump to loosen burdensome regulations as a good thing for Alabama’s economy.

“Our banks and small businesses finally got some relief from Trump when he got in there and cut a lot of the red tape Obama left behind,” he continued. “Now the Democrats in Congress are taking over, and they want to put the Obama restrictions back in place and maybe even worse.”

As a first-year chairman of his chamber’s banking committee, Shelnutt thinks his committee can play an important role in maintaining a sound environment for Alabama businesses.

“We have an outstanding group of senators on Banking and Insurance,” noted Shelnutt. “I feel confident we can do some things, from a policy-making standpoint, that will really help our state. We’re committed to helping consumers and small businesses, and we can do that by making sure we have healthy financial institutions.”

Shelnutt thinks there is a lot at stake and said he will continue to closely monitor what happens in Washington.

“There are banks in small communities all across Alabama that are depending on us,” he added. “I hope this is nothing more than posturing by Washington politicians. Bottom line: Maxine Waters needs to leave Alabama banks alone.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

13 hours ago

Brooks is right — Trump could do the State of the Union in the Senate chamber, but there’s a better location

Shutdown politics are far uglier than normal Washington politics. We have seen veterans locked out of memorials by President Barack Obama, we have seen workers miss paychecks and now we have Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi revoking the president of the United States’ invitation to give his State of the Union address in the House chamber.

None of these were necessary, but President Donald Trump has options to circumvent her ploy to embarrass him. He can’t let her do that.

Her goal is obvious: keep the American people from hearing him speak, remove his ability to take his message directly to the people without her allies in the media filtering it. He has to give a speech.

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Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has suggested the president deliver the address on the floor of the United States Senate. This is all well and good as it would send the appropriate message and would show the president will not be cowed by San Francisco’s congresswoman, but it doesn’t go far enough.

If Trump wants to push back against this “hyper-partisan and shameless” move, as Brooks called it, he should deliver this speech from the United States border.

He should not be in an arena with cheering and chanting fans, he should not be wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and he should not be playing to a raucous crowd with insults and barbs. He should stand at a podium at the Texas desert border wall, with an audience of families who lost loves ones to illegal immigration, border patrol agents and federal employees.

Trump should make a speech laying out the dangers of illegal immigration and explain how Democrats will not negotiate to reopen the border.

He should give a speech that the fact-checkers cannot debunk and the tone-police cannot destroy.

Polling indicates that Americans mostly blame President Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, and after all of the media’s coverage of the shutdown, no one is surprised by this.

More worrisome to the president — a recent poll indicates that only 30 percent of respondents would “definitely” vote for him while 57 percent “definitely would not” vote for him.

Granted it is early 2019, but this has to turn around for him to be re-elected. A “presidential” presidential address during a crisis could start that turn.

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

13 hours ago

Rogers: Missile Defense Review ‘vital’ to national defense

After President Donald Trump announced the release of the Missile Defense Review (MDR) from the Pentagon Thursday, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-3) released a statement saying the MDR “lays out smart and strategic policies” vital to national defense.

“Missile defense is vital to securing our homeland, our forces abroad and our allies, and will continue to be for the for seeable future,” Rogers said. “This Missile Defense Review lays out smart and strategic policies that will guide our missile defenses and posture to counter our adversaries through an increased focus on advanced technology.”

“I am also pleased to see it builds on many of the policies we have supported in the Strategic Forces Subcommittee for the last several years and look forward to continue working with President Trump to implement these policies,” he concluded.

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Rogers served as chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee the past two Congresses. Now, in the 116th Congress, he serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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