2 years ago

Could emerging Alabama bamboo industry eventually outperform pine?

A Southern Research technician splits a piece of bamboo as part of testing conducted for Resource Fiber, which wants to launch a bamboo industry in Alabama. (Courtesy of Southern Research)

 

Could Alabama become home to a major new industry centered on bamboo farming and product manufacturing?

Southern Research and its Prosperity Fund initiative are teaming up with Resource Fiber, a bamboo fiber products company, to help realize the commercial potential of bamboo in a state known for thick pine forests.

Marsha Folsom, Resource Fiber’s Chief Development Officer/Governmental Affairs/Economic Development, said The Prosperity Fund has connected the firm with Alabama businesses interested in exploring industrial applications of bamboo and university professors who want to do bamboo research.

Meanwhile, Southern Research’s testing facilities are evaluating company bamboo products to determine strength and other important characteristics to advance their product development efforts.

“We are very excited about the prospects for the future with Southern Research and its Prosperity Fund and what this collaboration will do for the expansion of economic development around the mass cultivation of bamboo and manufacturing of bamboo industrial products in Alabama, a first for the U.S.,” Folsom said.

Southern Research and its Prosperity Fund initiative are providing testing services to Resource Fiber, a firm that wants to launch mass cultivation of bamboo and manufacture bamboo industrial products in Alabama.

She added that one of Resource Fiber’s goals is to act as a magnet to attract other industries interested in utilizing bamboo fiber to Alabama and the region.

“Collaboration with Southern Research serves as a key component to making that happen,” Folsom said.

EXPANDING RELATIONSHIP

Steven Puckett, managing director of The Prosperity Fund, said the economics of bamboo are compelling. Bamboo grows rapidly, up to two feet per day, and it yields 20 times more fiber than trees, with no replanting necessary. Plus, it requires little water and no pesticides.

Estimates show that bamboo could yield considerably more revenue per acre annually than pine, Puckett said.

“Bamboo cultivation and product manufacturing could one day become a significant new industry in Alabama, and that’s why The Prosperity Fund is keenly interested in its future possibilities,” Puckett said. “We are committed to investigating innovative solutions that spark job creation and foster sustainable growth through a new brand of economic development.”

The testing of bamboo samples is now underway at Southern Research’s Birmingham engineering facilities, focusing on factors such as strength and flammability that are integral to product development.

“Southern Research is performing testing on the bamboo product as the company moves forward to achieve the certification needed for commercial use,” Puckett said. “Certification is an expensive process, and we are helping work out all the kinks as they prepare for the certification process.”

Southern Research and its Prosperity Fund initiative are providing testing services to Resource Fiber, a firm that wants to make bamboo industrial products in Alabama.

Folsom said the testing at Southern Research will provide Resource Fiber with performance information before it sends product samples to third-party laboratories for industry certification. Securing that certification is key to market acceptance for the company’s products, which include bamboo rail ties and bamboo nail laminated timbers for the construction industry.

She expects Resource Fiber to work with the Prosperity Fund to expand the testing to other products in the future.

“We see this collaboration continuing and hopefully expanding into the future. A myriad of products can be made from bamboo,” Folsom said. “Through collaboration and drawing on the respective expertise from both Resource Fiber and Southern Research, we can establish Alabama as the epicenter of bamboo research, bamboo farming at scale, and bamboo manufacturing expertise in the U.S.”

GROWTH POTENTIAL

While bamboo represents a $60 billion industry worldwide, there hasn’t been much of an attempt to capitalize on it in the United States, according to Resource Fiber, which calls itself the nation’s only vertically integrated bamboo fiber products company.

Resource Fiber now operates a 100-acre in-field bamboo nursery in Greene County, located in Alabama’s “Black Belt,” named for the rich, fertile soil that made it a key cotton-producing region. With the doubling of the size of its nursery, the company expects to provide enough plants to populate 100,000 to 150,000 acres of bamboo over the next decade.

A Southern Research technician splits a piece of bamboo as part of testing conducted for Resource Fiber, which wants to launch a bamboo industry in Alabama.

While much of Resource Fiber’s focus is on the Black Belt, its growth potential has implications for the Alabama coal counties targeted by The Prosperity Fund. The company intends to move its production facility to Tuscaloosa County, and Puckett has connected it to support businesses in Walker and Jefferson counties already.

“As the bamboo economy grows in Alabama, we fully expect many more counties other than those in the Black Belt to benefit through expanded manufacturing of bamboo products utilizing bamboo fiber grown in Alabama,” Folsom said.

With financial backing from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Southern Research formed The Prosperity Fund in 2017 to accelerate small business growth and job creation in four Alabama counties hurt by the coal industry’s downward spiral.

15 mins ago

Roby votes ‘no’ on impeaching Trump, says Democrats setting ‘dangerous precedent’

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) on Friday voted “no” on both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee.

Both articles were reported favorably from the committee, each on a party line vote of 23-17; all Democrats present voted to support impeachment, all Republicans voted against.

The two articles are expected to advance to the full House floor for a vote as one package. That vote is expected next week.

Before Friday’s vote, the Judiciary Committee held a markup on the articles the day before, and Roby made extensive comments about what she deems a “woefully incomplete” and “flawed” process conducted by House Democrats.

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“The articles of impeachment before us in this Committee do not meet the necessary requirements nor have they followed an exhaustive pursuit to even find all of the facts of the case. Therefore, the bar to impeach a sitting president of the United States has not been met,” said Roby, who is retiring from Congress after this term.

She outlined, “Whether you identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, whether you agree or disagree with a president’s policies, whether you like or even dislike a president, the American people should feel cheated by what has taken place here.”

“The American people deserve a process that puts politics aside. The American people deserve a process that is led by our promise to protect and defend the Constitution. The American people simply deserve better,” Roby emphasized.

The full text of Roby’s speech as follows:

I have made clear how woefully incomplete this process has been, how the Minority’s right to a hearing has been completely disregarded, how no fact witnesses were called before us, and how staff questioning staff to get the truth was bizarre.

No matter what any Member on this side says here tonight, the Majority will unanimously vote to send these articles of impeachment to the House Floor. However, I have a duty to continue to point out how flawed this process has been. All Members of Congress are required to take an oath of office at the beginning of every Congress. By taking this oath, we swear above all else, to defend the Constitution of the United States.

I have the distinct honor to represent the hardworking people of Southeast Alabama. They have placed their trust in me to represent their values and be their voice here in Congress. This revered and longstanding oath serves as a guiding principle for every decision I make as a Member of Congress.

For the record, let me be clear:

I believe in the rule of law.

I believe that no person is above the law.

I believe process is vital to this very institution.

I have stated time and time again before this Committee: process matters. Without abiding by a framework that adheres to our Constitution, we are charting a course that does not follow our country’s founding principles.

Whether you identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, whether you agree or disagree with a president’s policies, whether you like or even dislike a president, the American people should feel cheated by what has taken place here.

We sit here tonight without all the facts of the case because the Majority decided to conduct an incomplete and inadequate pursuit of the truth. Many questions remain.

With the consequential decision of impeaching a president, it is our right and duty to the citizens of this country to properly use the powers of congressional oversight, to adjudicate impasses through the courts, and arrive at actual undisputed facts of a case that all Americans, regardless of ideology, can agree are truthful and honest.

In the impeachment proceedings of President Nixon, the underlying facts of the case were undisputed. In the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton, the underlying facts of the case were undisputed. Here before us tonight, that is not the case.

The articles of impeachment before us in this Committee do not meet the necessary requirements nor have they followed an exhaustive pursuit to even find all of the facts of the case. Therefore, the bar to impeach a sitting president of the United States has not been met.

For the sake of our country and for the future trajectory of this body, I implore my colleagues to take a hard look at the course of this investigation. It has severely discounted the tenets of our democratic system.

Tomorrow, we write history: a history that cannot be undone. A dangerous precedent will be set for future Majorities of this body.

The American people deserve a process that puts politics aside. The American people deserve a process that is led by our promise to protect and defend the Constitution. The American people simply deserve better.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

52 mins ago

If character decides the Heisman Trophy, Jalen Hurts wins in a landslide

Nine yards.

That’s the amount of offense LSU quarterback Joe Burrow generated per game more than Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts this season.

That’s it.

Picking up a mere 27 extra feet each game, Burrow is now the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

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Both quarterbacks had great years. In fact, their seasons largely mirrored each other. Both experienced breakout campaigns after previously respectable — but not necessarily exceptional — seasons. Both accounted for 51 touchdowns in 2019. Hurts and Burrow have each carried their teams into the college football playoff where they face off on December 28.

Hurts leads the nation with 11.76 yards per pass attempt. He is second in the nation in passing efficiency, with a 201.5 rating. The quarterback who sits third in passing efficiency? Joe Burrow.

Hurts may very well lead the nation in another category. It is not as easy to measure as most other statistical categories in the game, but one which should put him over the top for college football’s most prestigious award.

That category is character.

And it matters for the award. The stated mission of the Heisman Trophy is to recognize “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

You may not be able to attach a number to Hurts’ character and integrity, but it has been on display at every point during his college football career.

Who better to testify to the type of person Hurts is than Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Saban believes no player in the country has exhibited the level of integrity Hurts has shown.

“There’s never been a guy that anywhere in college football that did things more correctly and set a better example as a leader than Jalen Hurts did while he was here by staying here after he was replaced as a starter,” Saban observed.

Rather than dwell on being replaced in the middle of a national championship game, Hurts grew from it.

“That day made me who I am,” he told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Hurts has led his new team with the same standard of excellence to which he held himself throughout his time in Tuscaloosa. The nation got a sneak peek at his legendary work ethic when he hit the weight room after a blowout win against Texas Tech in September. And he showed his uncommon focus when he slid into his own team’s Instagram account to comment “Rat Poison” on a post touting the Sooners’ impressive offensive stats.

Hurts befriended a young man who had been twice assaulted by bullies in videos that went viral across the country. In a typical show of humility, Hurts remarked that meeting the young man “was an inspiration to me.”

He added, “It meant the world to me honestly to meet him.”

None of this comes as a surprise to fans of the Crimson Tide.

In an era when players are more apt to begin working on their brand than working in their communities, Hurts shared his time with others. He had a special relationship with Alabama superfan Walt Gary. The two of them enjoyed snapping selfies together, with Hurts adopting a tradition of capturing Walt’s weekly game predictions on video.

These are a few of countless examples of the kind of character and integrity Hurts will carry with him to the Heisman ceremony in New York City on Saturday.

Hurts has nothing left to prove on the field. And his character has made him a winner off the field whether they call his name or not.

If character and integrity are the deciding factors for the award, expect Jalen Hurts to win in a landslide.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 hours ago

Zeigler’s army and the legislature to butt heads on ending an elected school board

There may be a new heavyweight battle on the horizon between some powerful groups in the state of Alabama on a generally insignificant issue.

Back in May, the State Senate unanimously passed SB397, which paved the way for a vote on the 2020 primary ballot to decide if the Alabama Constitution will be amended to allow for the governor to appoint the State Board of Education rather than electing members.

Little did the legislature know that come later in the summer, a group of citizens throughout the state, led by Jim Zeigler, would come together to defeat the governor and ALDOT’s proposal to levy a toll on the I-10 bridge in South Alabama.

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Zeigler now thinks this makes him a potential person of the year for Alabama, and he’s probably right.

Make no mistake, his leadership led to a group of citizens defeating the toll project, and now Zeigler has shifted his attention to a new fight: keeping the State Board of Education elected and keeping the decisions in the hand of the people.

This will ultimately pit Zeigler against a new foe: the Alabama legislature.

State Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) joined WVNN radio in Huntsville Thursday, and when asked if the legislature’s unanimous vote was an effort to advance the issue to the ballot to let the people decide, or if it was an endorsement of the idea, Givhan told host Will Hampson it was the latter.

“No, that’s an endorsement,” Givhan plainly laid out.

He continued, “[W]hen the legislature sends something to the people, I think generally it is something they want to happen. When they send it to the people it’s not like, well yeah, let’s float this out there and see what the people think.”

The argument from the legislature is clear: the system we have right now is not working.

Alabama is consistently ranked in the bottom of education nationally and has been ranked there for decades.

Other groups, such as the Alabama Policy Institute (API), have been very vocal in their support of an appointed school board. API’s Phil Williams was an outspoken supporter at ALGOP’s summer state executive committee meeting.

However, this emerging citizens group led by Zeigler has made it clear that giving the people accountability is the answer, and taking away their vote is not.

Jim Zeigler is joined on this issue by his wife Jackie, who is the SBOE District 1 representative.

Jackie Zeigler told Alabama Media Group, “As representative for State Board of Education District One, I am vehemently opposed to any attempt take away the voice of the people.”

This represents another episode in an ongoing saga that has pitted the people versus those elected to represent them.

The people of Alabama are probably not going to give up their right to vote on a position they don’t pay any attention to. Most people reading this don’t know who their Alabama Board of Education member is; this won’t change that.

I’m indifferent to the whole thing because the decisions by the state school board aren’t going to have a huge impact on my kid one way or the other. Local school boards have far more impact and few people care about that either.

If the election were today, I would vote to keep the board the way it is, but I’m open to changing my mind.

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

3 hours ago

Watch: Must-see video celebrating 200 years of Alabama’s contributions to entertainment

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Thursday released a video highlighting the amazing contributions Alabamians have made to American culture and entertainment.

The approximately 10-minute video features famous Alabama musicians, singers, actors, comedians and authors from throughout the ages — including many you might not have realized were born and/or raised in the Yellowhammer State.

This special tribute is one way Aderholt is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Alabama becoming a state, which is Saturday.

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In the video caption, Aderholt said, “Happy 200 Alabama! As we celebrate our great state on this milestone, I wanted to highlight how our state has also had a huge impact on entertainment and culture across America. Alabama singers, actors and authors have touched people across our country and around the world. This video is approximately 10 minutes and we could still have added more. But I invite you to take a few minutes, take a stroll down memory lane and enjoy Alabama at 200!”

Watch:

The ALABAMA 200 finale on Saturday will mark the historic anniversary in grand fashion in downtown Montgomery. Members of the public are invited to attend the events throughout the day, which are all free, including the bicentennial parade at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Aderholt commented, “As Alabama turns 200, we have a lot to celebrate. And I believe our state’s best days are still ahead of it, with new jobs and new opportunities coming every day.”

“When I’m in Washington, I enjoy telling the many people I meet about our state and its warm, loving people,” he continued. “It’s truly a special place, with unmatched beauty from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, to the foothills of the Appalachians. So, happy birthday Alabama! Here’s to 200 more years of Sweet Home Alabama.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Shelby, Jones formally honor Alabama’s 200th birthday

Ahead of Alabama becoming a state exactly 200 years ago on Saturday, U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Doug Jones (D-AL) on Thursday officially introduced a Senate resolution recognizing and celebrating the anniversary.

The resolution honors the bicentennial as well as the achievements of the Yellowhammer State throughout history.

In a statement, Shelby said, “Alabama has transformed over the last 200 years.”

“Our state went from existing as a territory of farmland to being a major player in national defense, space exploration, manufacturing, medical research, and so on,” he continued. “I am honored to introduce this resolution commemorating Alabama’s 200 years of statehood. What better time to remember our state’s history and celebrate how much we have accomplished over the last two centuries.”

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The resolution is expected to pass the Senate unanimously.

On Saturday, the state’s three-year ALABAMA 200 celebration will culminate with a finale for the state’s birthday.

The past three years have seen ALABAMA 200 honor the people, places and events that form the state’s vibrant history. Throughout this bicentennial countdown, the bicentennial commission has invested in schools and teachers, engaged in various communities and encouraged citizens and visitors alike to explore and learn more about the beautiful state.

“As we commemorate 200 years of Alabama history, we recognize that the history of our state is one of overcoming all odds in pursuit of the American dream,” Jones added. “We honor and remember all the men and women who helped get us to where we are now, and recommit ourselves to each do our part to continue to move Alabama forward.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn