3 months ago

State’s leaders positioning Alabama at forefront of national security space race

When Vice President Mike Pence gathered the National Space Council last month to announce the Trump administration’s goal of a lunar mission within five years, it was no coincidence the meeting took place in Alabama.

Home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal and countless manufacturers and suppliers to the aerospace industry, Alabama will serve a vital role as the nation sharpens its focus on space.

“Alabama has such a rich history in space and tremendous capabilities here,” Tory Bruno recently told Yellowhammer News. “There is a very good reason why the vice president chose to have the council meeting here and to talk so much about Marshall.”

As CEO of United Launch Alliance (ULA), Bruno leads a company which has made a large investment in Alabama and bolsters America’s national security space missions from its plant in Decatur.

Bruno and Governor Kay Ivey are both members of the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group (UAG), and both serve on the council’s Economic Development and Industrial Base Subcommittee.

“Decatur is the biggest rocket factory in the western hemisphere,” Bruno said of his company’s Alabama plant. “And new industry is coming here all the time. What Governor Ivey does for us in our subcommittee is she helps the team understand and connect those tremendous resources that Alabama brings to this problem. It is about her saying, ‘here is your path to success, this is what can be done and what can’t be done’ and that just naturally makes Alabama the center of that conversation.”

A large part of the conversation for the UAG involves national security space priorities. In fact, its charter specifically charges the group with providing advice and recommendations on that critical area of America’s space program.

Missions similar to last month’s launch of a high-priority national security satellite will see more emphasis. That particular mission — powered by a ULA rocket — enhanced the ability of U.S. forces to communicate anywhere in the world.

“The United States is uniquely dependent upon and advantaged by space for how we conduct war and how we keep the peace,” explained Bruno. “And so we are going to have to now contend with the fact that other nations have developed the capabilities to take that away from us – to either dazzle, disable or destroy our vital assets in orbit.”

For a nation asserting itself in space to protect its global interests, and a rocket builder looking to do its part, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has proven to be a tireless advocate, according to Bruno.

“Anyone who has the voice that Senator Shelby has is great to have in a place, where he really appreciates your team and what you do for the country,” he stated. “He has been to our factory many times; he understands what we do; he understands the reliability that we bring to the critical missions that we perform for the country.”

Congressman Mo Brooks’ (AL-5) reappointment to the influential Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over all NASA programs, has improved Alabama’s position even more.

Brooks is now the second most senior Republican on the committee.

Upon his reappointment to the committee earlier this year, Brooks highlighted the economic impact of the industry on the state.

“According to NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center is directly or indirectly responsible for more than 24,500 Tennessee Valley jobs that contribute roughly $82 million in state and local taxes.” Brooks said. “Some of the most committed engineers, scientists and technology professionals in the nation reside in the Tennessee Valley and play an essential role in the advancement of space exploration and discovery.”

And, as Bruno explained, the quality of jobs created by the aerospace industry has a multiplying effect across the region. He says industry estimates are that every aerospace job results in ten more jobs throughout the community.

Bruno’s company, ULA, has calculated its annual economic impact to the state at approximately $285 million.

He also sees ULA’s economic impact on the state increasing.

That’s because of the Air Force’s award to ULA to develop the cutting-edge Vulcan rocket needed for American national security space missions.

The award, under the Launch Services Agreement, elevates the importance of ULA’s Alabama operation even higher.

“It’s a big shot in the arm, an increase in our confidence to know that we’re developing the right rocket that the national security community and the Air Force want to carry out the mission,” said Bruno. “They tell us that unambiguously when they make the award to us. And so we have plowed ahead. We have invested heavily in the Decatur factory bringing it all up to state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques.”

The Vulcan rocket will afford Alabamians the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on America’s national security effort for years to come.

“Vulcan is really purpose built for that set of missions that are going to be needed for national security space in the future,” Bruno said.

He added that Vulcan represents a “giant leap up in performance.”

For rocket enthusiasts, Bruno offered some interesting insight.

As part of its strategy to lower risk and increase chances of success on its first flight, the company has already started bringing major parts of Vulcan into its Atlas program.

Vulcan’s payload faring, solid rocket boosters, avionics and computer systems will all fly on Atlas, first. Only the Blue Origin BE-4 engines will be new when Vulcan launches.

“When Vulcan flies for the first time, it’s not really flying for the first time,” he said.

And, yet, “Made in Alabama” can appropriately be affixed to Vulcan when it gets called into service.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

7 hours ago

University of North Alabama adopting new tuition plan

The University of North Alabama is switching to a tuition plan that officials say will result in increased costs for some students but not others.

Officials at the school in Florence say they are reducing the total number of student fees from seven to one, and fees will be included in the overall tuition cost.

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A statement says students taking 15 hours will see a maximum increase in expenses of 4.1%.

But some could pay less, and costs will not change for others.

School officials say a lag in state funding is a continuing problem.

North Alabama’s vice president for business, Evan Thornton, says the school has deferred maintenance and capital needs totaling more than $160 million.

The school has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,200 students.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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7 hours ago

Nathan Lindsay joining governor’s office from BCA

Another high profile staffer from the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is joining Governor Kay Ivey’s senior level team.

The governor on Monday announced that Nathan Lindsay will join her office as director of appointments effective July 1.

This position is charged with spearheading the meticulous work that goes into Ivey meeting her duty to appoint qualified, representative and appropriate people to positions on the state’s various boards and commissions.

A press release from the governor’s office outlined that Lindsay assumes the role with an extensive background in state government and the private sector, which uniquely qualifies him to advise the governor in this capacity.

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Most recently, through his work in political and governmental affairs at the BCA, Lindsay interacted with members of the business community throughout the Yellowhammer State, which significantly adds to his ability to identify and select candidates for various appointed posts.

Additionally, Lindsay’s early career included time in then-Governor Bob Riley’s office where he served as aide to the governor from 2006 to 2011. Lindsay also worked in the governor’s communications office as deputy press secretary and advised Riley on education policy.

“Nathan brings to our team a wealth of knowledge that I know will serve the state well,” Ivey said in a statement. “In addition to his expertise and insight, Nathan is a man of character. The men and women of my staff must have a strong work ethic, a depth of knowledge and a heart for public service. Nathan certainly embodies all of these characteristics.”

Lindsay earned his bachelor’s degree from Faulkner University. During his time at Faulkner, he served as SGA president and later, in 2018, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“As governor, I have the important responsibility of appointing qualified individuals to serve on the more than 450 boards and commissions in our state. These men and women must not only be highly-qualified, but they should also be a true reflection of our great state,” Ivey added. “I am confident we will continue to find the best people to serve our state, just as I am certain Nathan will serve my Administration exceptionally well in this position. His experience speaks for itself, and he shares my goal of moving Alabama into a better future.”

This comes weeks after Leah Garner departed BCA to become Ivey’s communications director.

Mark Colson also left BCA to become head of the Alabama Trucking Association recently.

Update 5:55 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt released a statement commending Ivey on the hire of Lindsay.

“Nathan’s background and expertise in political affairs combined with his political acumen uniquely qualify him to serve the governor and the state in this capacity,” Britt said. “I have no doubt Nathan will do an outstanding job, and I commend Governor Kay Ivey on this excellent addition to her staff.”

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

8 hours ago

Alabama listed as one of the top 20 most patriotic states in America

A WalletHub report released Monday revealed Alabama to be on of the top 20 most patriotic states in America.

Ranked 19 overall on the list, with a score of 47.43, Alabama ranked first for the “Civics Education Requirement.”

The report “compared the 50 states across 13 key indicators of patriotism” and “ranges from share of enlisted military population to share of adults who voted in the 2016 presidential election to AmeriCorps volunteers per capita.”

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With one as “Most Patriotic” and 25 as “Average,” Alabama received the following rankings:

  • 5th – Average Number of Military Enlistees per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 30th – Active-Duty Military Personnel per 100,000 Civilian Adults
  • 17th – Veterans per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 1st – Civics Education Requirement
  • 12th – Share of Civilian Adult Population in Military Reserves
  • 10th – Share of Adults Who Voted in 2016 Primary Elections

Alabama also ranked eight overall for ‘Military Engagement.’

The report, which compared red states to blue states in terms of patriotism, found that red states were more patriotic. Red states received an average rank of 23.67, while blue states received an average rank of 28.25.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

9 hours ago

Brooks: ‘Really dumb’ for Democrats to elect candidates mainly on ‘skin pigmentation or their chromosomes’

In an interview on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show”on Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) lamented that many Democrats have become more interested in racial and gender identity politics than the welfare of America.

Coming off of her much maligned comments comparing American immigration facilities to “concentration camps,” host Dale Jackson asked the north Alabama congressman if he believes that Democrats in Congress will allow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to continue to serve as their “de facto face and leader.”

“Yes,” Brooks answered succinctly, promoting a follow-up request for his reasoning.

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“Well, she is where she is,” Brooks explained. “She’s got a lot of political power. She’s got a lot of support — surprisingly.”

“There are large, large numbers of American citizens who have bit off on this socialist stuff, who have bit off on this victimization stuff, who have bit off on thinking that the most important criteria in determining whether to elect someone is their skin pigmentation or their chromosomes — which is really dumb, OK,” he continued. “We oughta be electing people based on their character and based on their public policy positions.”

“But, notwithstanding that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the face of the Democratic Party in many different respects, and she does have great influence as evidenced by the presidential candidates on the socialist Democrats’ side who are trying to cultivate her support,” Brooks added. “They want her endorsement.”

Listen, starting at the 8:25 mark:

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

9 hours ago

Democrats hope it’s 2017 all over again, Republicans just want the nightmare to end

In 2017, Roy Moore won a Republican primary run-off against an extremely flawed Luther Strange. Strange wasn’t just a regular candidate — he had the cloud of his appointment, and he was dogged by former Gov. Robert Bentley’s investigation, impeachment and resignation.

Alabama Republicans, outside of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), were reluctant to criticize Roy Moore because they knew doing so would hand the Senate seat to now-Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

But this is different.

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State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) told the Montgomery Advertiser that he blamed the GOP establishment in 2017, but still thinks Moore can’t win in 2020.

He stated, “I do not believe, with the numbers I look at, that Roy Moore at the end of the day can get the nomination.”

State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) dismissed Moore when asked about the candidates, saying, “If you look at the candidates, you got Roy Moore. I don’t think we need to say more there.”

Later, he all but endorsed U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) by saying Byrne “would do the best job.”

Secretary of State John Merrill, a potential future Moore opponent, believes Moore has an uphill battle against Jones.

“I think it would be extraordinarily difficult for Judge Moore to be successful in a general election campaign against Senator Jones,” Merrill outlined.

He added, “I also think it would be difficult for Judge Moore to secure the Republican nomination.”

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who endorsed Moore in 2017, has already endorsed State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and is on record saying former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions would be a favorite.

“I do believe that Jeff Sessions would clearly be number one in the poll rankings, based on his having been such a great senator on three principle issues: free enterprise versus socialism; deficit and debt; and border security,” he explained.

Say what you will, but you do not usually see these kinds of pronouncements from Republicans in the middle of a primary.

Democrats hope 2017 is going to be repeated in 2020, but there are many different factors that will matter.

Roy Moore is already fatally flawed as 300,000+ Republicans voters abandoned him in 2017 and stayed home. Many of those voters will vote in the primary in 2020, but will not vote for him.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) expressed a similar sentiment on CSPAN last week.

“I personally don’t think Roy Moore is going to be our nominee, but whoever our nominee is will prevail in November because you’ll have the full complement of Republican voters turning out turning out to vote,” he said.

This is not 2017.

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