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3 years ago

Roby: Republicans must commit to restoring military funding in new budget

WO1 Dan Kennedy, a flight student assigned to B Co. 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, waits for a thumbs up from his instructor pilot to approach the AH-64D Apache helicopter on which he will train May 22, 2013. Photo c/o Fort Rucker
WO1 Dan Kennedy, a flight student assigned to B Co. 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, waits for a thumbs up from his instructor pilot to approach the AH-64D Apache helicopter on which he will train May 22, 2013. Photo c/o Fort Rucker

WASHINGTON — Representative Martha Roby (R-AL2), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said Monday that any budget the House presents must meet the needs of the military.

“To earn my support, a budget plan must sufficiently address sequestration and restore critical funding for national defense,” Rep. Roby said in a release.

“One of the main reasons I voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011 was the way it drastically and disproportionately cut from military accounts. We’ve softened the blow in small ways since then, but the full, devastating effect of sequestration is staring us square in the face for Fiscal Year 2016.”

Rep. Roby said that allowing sequestration to continue would be irresponsible, and could impact military readiness.

“In the lead up to assuming this historic Congressional majority, Republicans talked about a return to responsible governing after years of crisis and gridlock,” said Rep. Roby. “During this budget process, conservatives must clearly demonstrate our commitment to national defense and support proper military spending levels.”

Last month, Congresswoman Roby warned her colleagues in the House that allowing the disparate cuts of sequestration to continue could not only reduce the Army to where it was before September 11th, 2011, it could cause bases in Alabama like Fort Rucker to close.

“Recently, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and I wrote a bi-partisan letter to every Representative and Senator about the dangers of continued military cuts,” Rep. Roby wrote in an op-ed published on Yellowhammer last month. “In it, we highlighted an important study by the U.S. Army demonstrating how sequestration would affect as many as 30 installations throughout the country, including Fort Rucker in Alabama.”

“No area of the federal budget is immune from ‘belt-tightening,’ and that certainly includes the military. However, any changes to our Armed Forces should reflect national priorities, not budgetary or political circumstances. The United States must first decide what is required to protect this country and its interests, and then budget accordingly.”

In February, a huge crowd attended a forum about Ft. Rucker held by the Department of Defense. Members of the military and community warned of a “economic tsunami” that would devastate the area. If sequestration cuts were to hit Ft. Rucker, estimates suggest it would impact 2,500 military jobs on the base and 15,000 support jobs in the surrounding area.

The House Budget Committee is expected to release a preliminary federal spending plan Tuesday morning.


52 mins ago

Rep. Robert Aderholt remembers Aretha Franklin, her time recording in Muscle Shoals

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) is paying tribute to Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” who died on Thursday.

Aderholt posted a video on his Facebook page documenting Franklin’s time recording at the renowned FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, along with these words:

“The music world has lost a legend in Aretha Franklin. While I was just a young child in Haleyville, I had no idea that just a few miles up the road in Muscle Shoals, she was recording some of the world’s most famous songs. She recorded RESPECT in Muscle Shoals on February 14, 1967. And what a Valentine gift it was. Her voice was one of the many that gave richly to the Muscle Shoals Music, and it will never go silent.”

“We consider it an honor that many of her songs were recorded in the 4th District and here in Alabama,” Aderholt’s office said in a statement obtained by Yellowhammer News. “Besides being an honor, it’s just plain cool.”

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2 hours ago

You’re not alone, Alabama: South Carolina also has a billion-dollar defunct nuclear site — but it’s worse

The Yellowhammer State and the Palmetto State share many things: heat, southern culture, a love for football.

A more unfortunate commonality between the two, and one receiving lots of attention in both states, is that each has an unfinished nuclear power plant just sitting there, continually making news but not power.

Alabama’s Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station, which has never generated a single watt of power, has become over the years a (literally) concrete representation of the federal government’s vast ambition coupled with its occasional  – or frequent, depending who you ask – inability to follow through.

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Recent developments indicate that the massive power plant could eventually be put to use, but that is still a long way off.

Still, Bellefonte is a case study of taxpayer investment in a dead-end project

In a way, though, Alabamians can be grateful that they themselves weren’t required to fund the dead-end project through increased monthly energy rates, as consumers in South Carolina were.

Back in March 2008, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) – the South Carolina equivalent of Alabama Power – began the process of applying for authorization to built two new nuclear reactors at its VC Summer site just north of Columbia. The company already operated one reactor at the site.

SCE&G was approved and established contracts for construction. The project was estimated to cost $9.8 billion.

To help with the project’s funding, SCE&G proposed a rate increase, got it approved by the Public Service Commission in May 2008, and construction began later that fall.

Over the years, there were numerous project delays and extra project costs which have, up to the current day, resulted in nine rate increases.

Last July, the project was abandoned after Westinghouse, the company building the reactors, filed for bankruptcy.

As the legislative session winded down this year, the legislature passed a temporary 15 percent rate cut for energy consumers who have paid an estimated $2 billion into the nuclear project fund.

A disaster of nuclear proportions, you could say.

The failure of both Bellefonte and the expansions at VC Summer are disconcerting generally, and downright infuriating for those who were forced to pay into them. Both projects have the potential to succeed, but that will require some kind of co-aligned effort between ambitious big business and government, both of which delivered the failed projects in the first place.

Read about developments on the Bellefonte front here.

Marion Mayor uses tools to prep residents for AlabamaWorks Success Plus Initiative

By: Dexter Hinton, Mayor of Marion, Alabama

When I was elected in late 2016 as Mayor of Marion, I knew there were certain areas in which our town needed to improve. One was education and work preparedness for those who did not want to attend a four-year college. We had gaps that needed to be filled.

As an Industrial Maintenance and Robotics Instructor at the Career Center in Greene County, I know what resources are available to assist those seeking a job or a skills education. When people come to the center, our team has a plethora of tests, assessments, job listings, resume-building sessions and other items at our disposal to help folks get the right position or training that matches their needs or abilities.

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As Mayor, I realized we needed to get educational tools to Marion residents, especially after Moller Tech announced that it would be locating in Bibb County, adjacent to Perry County, and bringing 222 jobs with it. But with a small town like Marion (population 3,432) not having a dedicated resource center, we didn’t quite know how to unite the two. Then one day, I attended a Central AlabamaWorks meeting and saw AIDT’s mobile unit, which is the Department of Commerce’s skills education center on wheels.

I spoke with Mikki Ruttan, director of Central AlabamaWorks, after the meeting and asked her about the possibility of getting the unit to our area. I learned it could be customized for the needs of its audience. After numerous discussions with other local leaders, we selected basic resume building and a Ready-to-Work course as the initial offerings. I knew the mobile unit would be key in obtaining career readiness for the citizens of Marion. I also felt that our citizens would welcome the chance to improve their skills and knowledge base.

After dozens of conversations, we got the mobile unit scheduled this past April. We posted and delivered flyers all over the city, announcing when and where the unit would be located, and we created a Facebook page. We had no idea what kind of response we would have for this type of educational opportunity. But, our citizens realized how such training could give them a leg up in the job market. As a result, they turned out in droves to learn more and better position themselves for entry into the job market, or to simply upgrade their skill set.

With Gov. Kay Ivey’s Success Plus initiative rollout a few months ago, I knew we had to get our citizens more training to help them, and our state, reach the goal of 500,000 people with post-high-school credentials by 2025. The mobile training unit seemed like the perfect way to deliver those opportunities to our residents.

After some discussion, we were able to get the unit at The Lincoln School. We focused the training on Ready-to-Work. The classes filled immediately, and a waiting list soon formed. Our people were eager to gain knowledge to improve their lives and that of their families. Once they completed the course, they received credentials as an Alabama Certified Worker; a Career Readiness certificate; a free three-credit-hour course at Wallace Community College Selma (if they had a high school diploma); three credits toward a high school diploma (if they didn’t have one); and a referral to the Selma Career Center for free certificates or degree information from WCC in welding, industrial maintenance, electrical technology or nursing.

The unit has been so popular with our citizens that two classrooms are now being refurbished at The Lincoln School specifically for AIDT courses. This means we will have a permanent place for our people to get not only Ready-to-Work training, but also training in other much-needed professions offered by Wallace, such as cosmetology, carpentry, welding, automotive technician and others.

The excitement continues to build for our city. In fact, AIDT has already completed one Ready-to-Work training with several graduates who have received employment.

With the extra effort by Central AlabamaWorks, AIDT, the Career Centers and the Alabama Community College System – combined with the excitement and work ethic of our citizens – I know Marionites can and will be a valued part of the Success Plus endeavor. I look forward to seeing what our citizens can achieve for themselves, their families and our community.

3 hours ago

Quick-thinking witnesses stop robbery of 74-year-old woman

Good Samaritans in Midfield, AL, came to the aid of a 74-year-old woman who was being beaten and robbed on Wednesday.

The victim was at her vehicle after running errands at a shopping center when a man approached her demanding money.

The elderly woman refused, and the man began to hit her. Moments later, a witness told AL.com, the assailant then jumped into her SUV.

That is when a group of Alabamians sprang into action.

One of the heroes, William Daniels, pulled the assailant out of the vehicle, fought with him and held him down until police arrived.

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“We had to do what we had to do,” Kimberly Whitehead, a witness, told AL.com.

Daniels said he didn’t have time to think or get emotional.

“Who would sit back and watch a criminal beat a lady like that?” he explained.

Law enforcement officers praised Daniels for his potentially life-saving bravery.

“He was a godsend,” Midfield police Sgt. Jesse Bell said. “We don’t know what he would have done had they not been there. We’re thankful he was there to stop it.

Bell concluded, “We need more community involvement like this.”

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

3 hours ago

ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan: ‘If Dr. Bentley truly cares for Alabama, as he says he does, he would consider letting us go’

With speculation swirling around former Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan hopes he decides against running for another public office.

Lathan told Yellowhammer News, “I hope that if Dr. Bentley truly cares for Alabama, as he says he does, he would consider letting us go.” However, Lathan could not rule his return out at this time.

Yellowhammer News published an exclusive interview last week with Bentley where he left the door open on returning to public office.

While several media outlets, including the Associated Press, have unquestioningly submitted that Bentley’s plea agreement bars him from running for public office, a former Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney advised Yellowhammer News that it appears the former governor is actually eligible to run again after serving out his sentence.

“Based strictly on the plea agreement, what I’ve read, he would be able to [run for public office again],” Richard White, the attorney, opined.

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The Alabama Republican Party would have a decision to make if Bentley decides to run for office again, but Lathan withheld comment on a hypothetical situation.

“Until qualifying opens for the 2020 election cycle, I cannot comment on a hypothetical situation,” Lathan stated.

This summer, Twitter and Facebook accounts representing the former Alabama governor were reactivated to coincide with the unveiling of Bentley for Alabama.

This new site, launched on Memorial Day, examines Bentley’s time serving as Alabama’s 53rd governor and provides contemporary updates on his life since leaving office.

In the original interview with Yellowhammer News, Bentley discussed his new project, his post-public life and specifically left the door open on a 2020 U.S. Senate run.

Wednesday, Bentley’s Twitter account hailed his status as a veteran and small-business owner, along with his work when governor to establish a program with the NFIB that benefits veterans.

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