The Wire

  • Trump orders establishment of ‘space force’ as 6th branch of military

    Excerpt from Fox News:

    President Trump vowed on Monday to make space great again.

    Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council, Trump ordered the Pentagon to immediately establish a national “space force” that would become the sixth branch of the armed forces.

    “We are going to have a space force,” Trump said in Washington D.C. “An Air Force and a Space Force. Separate, but equal.”

    This is not the first time that Trump has floated the idea of establishing a “space force.” The president mentioned the idea in May during a ceremony at the White House honoring the Army Black Knights college football team.

    Trump did not go into details about what military role the so-called “space force” would carry out or who would command it, but he framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want “China and Russia and other countries leading us.”

  • Ivey says import tariffs could hurt Alabama industry

    Excerpt from AP:

    Alabama’s Republican governor is separating herself from President Donald Trump on the issue of trade, saying import tariffs like those supported by the administration would hurt the state.

    Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement Monday saying import tariffs could cause retaliatory tariffs that would drive up the cost of items made in Alabama and sold abroad.

    The administration already has imposed duties on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, plus steel and aluminum from China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

    Ivey says growth in Alabama’s auto industry could be harmed if tariffs are imposed on U.S. goods around the world. Almost 60,000 people work in automotive-related jobs in the state.

  • Police ID suspect in shooting of State Senator’s son

    Excerpt from WKRG:

    “Foley Police Department has identified 29 year old Orneal McCaskey aka “OJ” as the suspect in the shooting of Akil Michael Figures this morning at 635 East Azalea Ave in Foley. The investigation revealed that McCaskey drove to the residence to confront Figures over a female. An argument ensued at the doorway and McCaskey pulled out a handgun and shot Figures at least twice in the lower hip area. After a brief struggle in the house, McCaskey fled the area in a gold or tan colored vehicle. Figures was taken to South Baldwin by private vehicle and later flown to Sacred Heart and has since been released. Orneal McCaskey is wanted for questioning in this case. The public is asked to call Foley Police Department at 251-943-4431 if you know where McCaskey is. He is considered armed and dangerous.”

3 days ago

Facebook to build data center in Huntsville

(Facebook)

Facebook announced Thursday that it is investing $750 million to build a new data center in Huntsville.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced the project during a news conference in Huntsville.

Ivey’s office said the $750 million center will employ 100 people with an average annual salary of nearly $80,000. Ivey said she was pleased that a “forward-thinking, major company like Facebook” was putting down roots in the state.

185

“Every day millions of people go on Facebook to connect with family and friends and I sure am glad that when Facebook was looking to grow its data connections they sent a friend request to Alabama,” Ivey said. “Thank you for picking Alabama.”

Facebook created a page about the project. The social media giant said the 970,000-square-foot (90,000-square-meter) data center will begin operations in 2020.

Matt VanderZanden, director of site selection at Facebook, said during the news conference that the Huntsville site was attractive because of a strong talent pool and availability of clean and renewable energy.

“We are so happy to be joining the Huntsville community. As one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the country, we knew it would be a great location for our newest data center,” VanderZanden said.

The project under development for the last year was originally called by the codename “Starbelt.” The Huntsville City Council last month unanimous approval for Starbelt to purchase 340 acres (138 hectares) at the city’s industrial park for $8.5 million.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

6 days ago

Director of Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama retiring

(NASA)

The director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is retiring.

Marshall officials say Todd May announced his retirement to employees at the Huntsville facility on Monday. It takes effect July 27.

111

A statement from Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville says May is being replaced on an acting basis by Marshall’s deputy director, Joan A. “Jody” Singer.

May was first named acting director of Marshall in 2015 and then took over the position on a permanent basis. Before that, the Fairhope native managed the Space Launch System, NASA’s heavy-lift rocket that’s still in development.

Marshall is NASA’s chief center for rocket propulsion.

It has more than 6,000 government and contractor workers in north Alabama and at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

1 week ago

Alabama wins Silver Shovel Award for economic development

(Hal Yeager/Governor's Office)

Area Development, a national publication, has selected Alabama for its Silver Shovel Award, a top honor recognizing the state’s economic development successes in 2017.

In announcing the award, Area Development singled out several large-scale projects, including Mercedes-Benz’s plans to build a Global Logistics Center in Bibb County and Blue Origin’s project to assemble rocket engines at a new facility in Huntsville.

“It was a good year for manufacturing in Silver Shovel recipient Alabama, with major investments in a diverse collection of projects, most of them brand-new. Additional jobs are driving in by way of logistics and distribution,” the publication says.

370

Area Development’s Gold and Silver Shovel Awards recognize the overall economic development effectiveness of state economic development efforts.

Alabama has won one of the awards each year since 2006, when it won a Gold Shovel. It won another Gold in 2012 and Silver awards in other years, including one for 2016.

“The business world has discovered that Alabama is one of the most attractive locations in the U.S. to make new investments, and this Silver Shovel award confirms that,” Governor Kay Ivey said.

“I will continue to work to position Alabama for economic growth that creates jobs and opportunities for our hard-working citizens.”

Area Development noted that Alabama landed a raft of major projects in 2017:

International Paper is investing $552.7 million at its Selma facility
Aerojet Rocketdyne is bringing 800 jobs and a new manufacturing facility to Huntsville
James Hardie Building Products is opening a $220 million production center in Prattville with 205 jobs
Autocar is investing $120 million in a new heavy truck assembly facility in Jefferson County with more than 700 jobs

“More manufacturing projects reflect growth in the food and poultry, aluminum, paper, and fiber cement industries, and Walmart has promised delivery of 550 distribution jobs” in Mobile County, Area development writes.

EXECUTING STATEGY

The state’s 2017 economic development results are outlined in the Alabama Department of Commerce’s “New & Expanding Industry Report,” released earlier this year. The report provides a detailed look at nearly 400 projects recorded in the state during another solid year of business recruitment and support.

“The mission of Alabama’s economic development team is to facilitate the creation of high-caliber jobs in strategic industry sectors that will flourish in the future,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Winning a Silver Shovel Award for the fifth consecutive year is another affirmation that our team is consistently executing our strategy and achieving positive results.”

Since 2012, economic development activity in Alabama has attracted nearly $29 billion in investment and more than 105,000 jobs, according to Commerce figures. Exact totals for 2017 were $4.4 billion in new capital investment and 15,465 anticipated jobs.

Alabama joined Utah and Louisiana in claiming a Silver Shovel award given to states with populations between 3 million and 5 million residents.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

1 week ago

Can’t miss events in Alabama this weekend

(Alabama NewsCenter/Vimeo)

Woodlawn Street Market

The Woodlawn Street Market is back. Support more than 80 local vendors in the heart of historic Woodlawn. Marketgoers will find art, jewelry, clothing, produce, children’s books and toys. Live entertainment and dancers are included.

The Woodlawn Street Market is Saturday, June 9, on the block of 55th Place South from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more details, email bgunn@revbirmingham.org or visit www.revbirmingham.org.

689

Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Broadway musical “Beauty and the Beast” is June 8 to July 1 at the Dorothy Jemison Day Theater. In this classic story, learn how a village girl helps a cold-hearted beast under a spell get out of isolation. ASL Interpreters are available Saturday, June 16, at 7:30 p.m. The Autism Society of Alabama will offer a sensory-friendly performance Tuesday, June 12, at 2 p.m.

Follow this link for ticket information.

For more information, call 205-324-2424. The Dorothy Jemison Day Theater is at 800 19th St. North.

Magic City Caribbean Food and Music Festival

year’s Magic City Caribbean Food and Music Festival will be a blast with music, food, dancing and children’s activities. A Caribbean parade begins at noon. Click here for the complete list of activities.  Learn more about Caribbean heritage and other cultural activities on Saturday, June 9, at 11 a.m. Call 205-383-1726 or email cacaoonline@gmail.com for more information.

Birmingham Heart Walk 5K/1-mile walkers

Walk! Grab your gym shoes and hit the pavement Saturday, June 9, at Railroad Park in Birmingham to support the lifesaving work of the American Heart Association. The event begins with heart-healthy educational activities, a warmup at 7 a.m. and the walk/run begins promptly at 7:30 a.m. To sign up to walk with our team, go to 2018 Birmingham Heart Walk and click “Join this Team.”

For more information, contact Nicole Hedrick at 205-226-1181 or nhedrick@southernco.com.

Family Fun Festival & Expo

Family Fun Festival and Expo is Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Von Braun Center. The event includes a sports arena, dancing and a variety of children’s activities. The proceeds from this event goes to the Free2Teach educational program, which provides free resources to three public school systems in Madison County. Admission requires a donation or school supplies. Parking is $10. Pets are not allowed with the exception of service dogs. Coolers and recording devices are prohibited.

Stay current through social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For more information, email lhardesty@vonbrauncenter.com.

Jazz in the Park

will feature C. LaFaye and Jonathan Fritzén in its concert series Sunday, June 10, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens. It was in 2008 that Billboard chart-topping keyboardist Jonathan Fritzén burst onto the scene with his debut recording ‘Love Birds’. He is now able to boast five Billboard Top 5 singles and three No. 1 albums on the Smoothjazz.com charts. Known for his high-octane live performances, Fritzén has appeared at major festivals around the world. LaFaye has always loved music, but never knew she possessed a gift of singing until she joined a community choir when she was attending high school. After becoming a member of this choir, she took on the role as lead singer and realized she was a natural talent. The series is traveling across the state featuring a variety of concerts.

Admission is free. Click here for the complete schedule.

Call 205-616-1735 or visit magiccitysmoothjazz.com/.

Follow Jazz in the Park on Facebook for inclement weather and other notifications. Dates are subject to change.

Alabama Symphony Orchestra

three summer Alabama Symphony Orchestra concerts at Railroad Park: On Friday, June 8, at 8 p.m., join the ASO and Carlos Izcaray for an evening of Beethoven Under the Stars. The evening begins with a trio of delightful overtures from Rossini, Beethoven and Humperdink and concludes with Beethoven’s First Symphony. On Saturday, June 9, at 8 p.m., hear the ASO and maestro Chris Confessore perform a pair of dynamic overtures: Rossini’s William Tell and Tchaikovsky’s 1812. The evening also includes Strauss’ romantic and triumphant Emperor Waltz. On Sunday, June 10, at 6 p.m, enjoy the ASO’s family friendly night with everything from “Jurassic Park” to “Super Mario Bros.” to “West Side Story.”

The evening is full of energetic music and has something for everyone.

Visit https://alabamasymphony.org/events for tickets or call 205-975-2787.

Crawfish Cook-off

Gather your family and friends and head toward the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce in Bay Minette for its Crawfish Cook-off. Entertainment includes live music featuring Ryan Balthrop, cook-off competitions with awards and children’s activities. The gates open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 8. Visit thewebsite for ticket information.

Follow Facebook for updates.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 weeks ago

Australian manufacturer EOS selects Alabama for flagship U.S. facility

(Made in Alabama)

Electro Optic Systems (EOS), a Australian defense contractor specializing in remotely controlled weapon systems, announced plans Wednesday to locate its flagship U.S. manufacturing facility in technology-focused Huntsville, creating as many as 100 jobs in the first year.

EOS executives joined Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield and local leaders for the announcement this morning at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.

“EOS is very happy to have the opportunity to formally join the Huntsville community,” said Phil Coker, the company’s U.S. president. “Northern Alabama is an area of incredible people, outstanding institutions and immense potential and we are thrilled to have the chance to establish a business in this area.”

413

EOS Defence System’s primary products are a family of Remote Weapon Stations, or RWS. In response to growing demand for these systems, the Hume, Australia-based company decided to expand RWS production to the United States.It is now outfitting a state-of-the-art production facility on Wall Triana Highway in Huntsville. The initial investment in the project is $2.5 million, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“EOS’ decision to locate its new manufacturing center in Alabama is a reflection of the state’s attractive business climate and its skilled workers, who prove their capabilities each and every day,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement.

“Huntsville will make a great home for the company because Alabama’s ‘Rocket City’ offers every advantage a business needs to succeed.”

GROWTH PLANS

While the company plans to hire up to 100 full-time workers in the first year, it said it plans to expand the Alabama facility’s workforce to more than 200 employees with additional contracts.

Bob Greene, a group co-CEO and a founder of the EOS, said at the event today that the Huntsville facility will supply global customers and the U.S. military with the systems manufactured in Alabama.

Grant Sanderson, CEO of EOS’ Defence Systems Group, said Huntsville was selected over cities in Tucson and the Dallas Fort Worth area for the facility.

“This is the right city for us, it’s the right place, it’s the right time,” he said at the announcement.

EOS has produced weapon system technology for more than 25 years. Its products incorporate advanced electro-optic applications based on EOS core technologies in software, lasers, electronics, gimbals, precision mechanisms and more. The company is a leader in the development and production of robotic or remotely controlled weapons systems.

“Huntsville serves as a critical hub for high-tech defense work, and that makes the city a smart choice for EOS as it develops a flagship U.S. manufacturing facility,” said Canfield, who has headed the Alabama Department of Commerce since 2011.

“We look forward to building a strong partnership with the company and seeing it grow both its business and its workforce in coming years.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said EOS, whose facility will have an annual payroll of $5.7 million once its workforce numbers 100, is a great addition to the city’s roster of high-tech and defense companies.

“The important thing to this community is that they are bringing in technology that is a springboard to our future,” he said.

With EOS joining shipbuilder Austal in Mobile, Alabama is now home to Australia’s two largest defense contractors.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 weeks ago

What is ‘Fake News’? J. Pepper Bryars to discuss in Huntsville panel Wednesday night

(Pixabay/YHN)

What is fake news and how do you spot it? Yellowhammer News Editor J. Pepper Bryars will join other community leaders in a panel discussion and town hall event Wednesday, June 6, from 6-8 p.m. at the Huntsville Public Library. Join us!

1
4 weeks ago

Alabama city again refuses to release body camera recordings

(Huntsville Police/Facebook)

Officials in one of Alabama’s largest cities stand by their refusals to release recordings from police body cameras.

WHNT-TV reports the city has once again refused a request to release a recording.

The latest request came after a bystander’s video appeared to show a Huntsville police officer punching a suspect while trying to make an arrest. The department cleared the officer Monday, saying the video was part of a longer struggle.

Huntsville City Attorney Trey Riley says recordings are a “public record to a certain extent” but that doesn’t mean they’re “automatically available.”

50

Riley says Huntsville will generally withhold recordings while a criminal case is ongoing.

The lawyer says the public can see videos if a case goes to trial, but acknowledges most cases don’t go to trial.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Sign-up now for our daily newsletter and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.

1 month ago

Company delays planned Huntsville-to-Orlando flights

(Wikicommons)

A small airline is delaying plans for daily flights between Huntsville, Alabama, and Orlando, Florida.

Silver Airways tells al.com that flights on the route are being pushed back because of factors outside its control.

The Florida-based company announced plans in February for daily, nonstop flights between Huntsville and Orlando beginning May 23. It offered introductory rates of $99 through Dec. 19.

61

Silver Airways’ website now advertises flights beginning Sept. 13. Prices start at $99.99 one way and vary by the day of travel.

The company plans to use European ATR-600 turboprop aircraft, which haven’t been used for commercial flights in the United States previously. Spokeswoman Misty Stoller says it’s taking longer than expected to get federal approval for the airplanes.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

1 month ago

Huntsville police officers cleared in fatal shooting of suicidal man

(Huntsville Police/Facebook)

Three police officers in Alabama have been cleared in the fatal shooting of a man who said he was suicidal.

News outlets report a Huntsville police incident review board announced Tuesday that the Huntsville officers followed proper procedures in the April 3 encounter.

Police spokesman Lt. Michael Johnson says 49-year-old Jeffery Louis Parker reported he was suicidal and told dispatchers he had a gun. Responding officers commanded Parker to drop the weapon several times, after a verbal exchange. One officer then fired a shot at Parker, who later died as a result of the gunshot wound.

35

Johnson says the officers’ body cameras captured the incident.

The board’s members included representatives from the Madison County district attorney’s office, Huntsville’s legal department, police training staff and the Huntsville Citizen Advisory Council.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 months ago

Life sentence for man in 2015 Alabama shooting death

(Madison County Jail)

An Alabama man has been sentenced to life in prison for a 2015 killing.

Jeremy Cattage of Huntsville was found guilty Friday of capital murder.

83

The Huntsville Times reports that Madison County Circuit Judge Ruth Ann Hall handed down the sentence of life without parole after a weeklong trial.

Eighteen-year-old Cornelius Morris was fatally shot early on July 26, 2015, as he rode in a car. Another passenger, 20-year-old Alexis Crawford, was injured in the shooting.

The victims had just left a Huntsville strip club with four other people. Prosecutors alleged Cattage fired the shots because of an ongoing dispute with two other people in the car.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

3 months ago

Kay Ivey outraises opponents in gubernatorial race

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey appears to be benefiting from the power of incumbency in fundraising in her quest to win election to the governor’s office for the first time.

Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show that Ivey has raised nearly $3.2 million. That’s over $1 million more than any other candidate in the June Republican primary.

74

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle raised a total of $1.8 million. He is followed by state Sen. Bill Hightower with $860,847 and preacher Scott Dawson has raised $731,782.

Ivey became governor last year after Gov. Robert Bentley resigned. She faces a number of challengers.

On the Democratic side, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has a slight fundraising edge over former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.

Maddox has raised a total of $554,857. Cobb has raised $517,380.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

 

3 months ago

Purveyor Huntsville provides great food and more

(Susan Swagler/Alabama NewsCenter)

Stephanie Kennedy-Mell and Matt Mell want to be your purveyors of fine foods and great experiences. So they created a place where this can happen.

The husband-and-wife team own Purveyor Huntsville on the street level of The Avenue, a new, $36.4 million, mixed-use development downtown. “Let us be your purveyor” is the motto of their space with its wine, bourbon, beer and kitchen.

“Purveyor is an old word,” Stephanie says. “Essentially, it means someone who provides you with all things of high quality, with fine goods. That’s where we got ‘let us be your purveyor.’ Let us be your high-quality, fine-goods distributor of food, of service, of wine, of spirits, of catering – whatever it may be.”

1485

The restaurant, which seats 75 inside and 50 outside, has been open since Nov. 1. It’s a lively, comfortable space with a classic metal- and wood-driven industrial design that feels warm and welcoming. The metal – mostly brass and copper – glints softly from the fixtures. A beautiful, long wooden bar, made from a single, enormous oak tree, deserves attention. Each of the tables, fashioned from that same tree, bears a small brand of the restaurant’s name. “Purveyor” also is subtly etched into the crystal wineglasses that sparkle atop these tables.

High-backed banquettes, covered in rich burgundy velvet, offer cozy seats in the busy main dining room. Tables everywhere are spaced to make conversation personal. A 100-year-old stained glass door from a church in north Alabama provides a spot of glowing color and separates the dining room from a private tasting (and dining) room in the back.

“We wanted it to be a warm, cozy atmosphere … for a fine-dining experience,” Stephanie says. “Fine dining in a more casual, easygoing atmosphere. Anybody is welcome, and any attire is welcome.”

The menu is adaptable, too. “We do have ‘shareables’ (small plates) as well as full-service menu entrees,” she says. “You can come here and just have tapas and a glass of wine or bourbon, but if you want a full-service dinner, that’s available, too.”

Everything made from scratch

Purveyor’s menu is very much wine- and spirit-inspired, and that makes a lot of sense. The Mells, not exactly new to the Huntsville business community, have owned the nearby Church Street Wine Shoppe since 2014. They made a name for themselves – and built a 500-member wine club – by bringing new wines to Alabama and offering expert advice about how to drink them.

Purveyor, though, was a different, larger kind of undertaking, so they teamed up with chef Rene Boyzo, who formerly worked at Gorham’s Bluff. These days, the executive chef creates dishes for the restaurant as well as for the wine shop, which, in addition to some 50 wines by the glass, offers tapas, flatbreads, salads and paninis each day and multicourse, wine-paired dinners for wine club members once a month. Boyzo is from Mexico and was influenced early on by his grandmother, spending lots of time in her kitchen where everything was made from scratch and grinding corn and making tortillas could be a five- or six-hour process.

The menu right now at Purveyor is an exciting fusion of Asian and Latin American flavors, but that will change. “We haven’t defined our cuisine,” Boyzo says, “not because we don’t know where we’re going, but because there’s so much that we can do.”

That’s also why diners won’t find a menu online. It changes so frequently, Stephanie says, that she doesn’t want to disappoint anyone who might come in wanting a specific dish only to find it’s no longer on the menu.

However, some things are constant when it comes to the food.

“We cook everything from scratch just like my grandmother did,” Boyzo says. “Some of the recipes take a couple days to make.”

The Guajillo chili Hudson Valley duck meatballs take about 48 hours from whole duck to plate. Tamarind, pineapple, yellow curry, black truffle pate shavings and Asiago puree finish the dish.

“You take a bite, and it’s a fusion of flavors,” Boyzo says. “That’s what takes our food to the next level. We are considerate of what the ingredients are. We make the best out of those ingredients. We have respect for those ingredients. And we have fun.”

Inventive twists on traditional dishes will always be a hallmark of this restaurant, Matt says. But sometimes guests bring their own ideas to the table. He mentions a man who, upon finishing his roasted marrow bones (served with Asiago toast, tomatoes, roasted garlic and smoked salt), poured a slug of bourbon into the empty channel of the bone and then drank it down.

“It’s just a sip and you’re getting all those oils and it just changes the bourbon,” Matt says. “It makes it velvety. Somebody did it for the first time last week. I was so excited to see him do it.”

Boyzo says another reason for the twists on traditional dishes (like adding creamy goat cheese and a little bit of bourbon to the guacamole) is out of respect for the original dish. Plus, it just makes things exciting.

“We take something that’s traditional (like Brussels sprouts), and we put our twist on it (candied bacon). It’s something that you’re familiar with that you’re not afraid to try. That’s the key – engaging with the customer the first time they look at the menu. When they leave they say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that something that seems so simple tastes that good.’”

A story with every drink

Attention to detail is everywhere at Purveyor.

The serving staff’s plaid and denim uniform signals to guests that jeans are just fine. Those servers know exactly how to describe every dish and every drink because they’ve tasted them all. There are dozens of wines by the glass and more than 50 bourbons (some available nowhere else in Alabama). Purveyor specializes in local and regional spirits like Redmont vodka and gin and John Emerald whiskey. Huntsville’s Straight to Ale made a beer just for them: the Church Street Tripel. Even the cocktail menu, fashioned by a mixologist who happens to be a history major, is special: The pages are tucked inside lovely old books, and the specialty cocktails are named after famous people, events and ideas. Consider the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton” with bourbon, sugar, walnut bitters and orange or “The Embargo Act of 1807” with gin, rosemary, pear, St-Germain and lime.

“There’s a story with every drink,” Stephanie says. But these also will change regularly because lots of the ingredients are locally grown and sourced and seasonal.

Right now, mixologist Justin Ennis is working on a summer-ready drink of muddled blackberries, fresh mint and rum topped with more fresh, juicy blackberries. He’s planning to debut another cocktail of juiced red bell pepper, fresh mint, lime juice and vodka that tastes like a very light Bloody Mary. And like any great bartender, Ennis appreciates the art of great conversation, too.

“I love classic martinis,” he says. “That’s my favorite thing to make. I love the flair of the vermouth in the glass. I love the conversation while you shake it. It’s just such an interactive cocktail. Everyone has a way they want their martini. I say, ‘Give me two seconds. There are 15 ways to make it. Tell me how you want yours, I’ll make it right in front of you, and we’ll chat and you’ll love it.’”

That attitude is important because no matter what fancy thing you’re selling, being a purveyor, in the end, is about ordinary, everyday transactions.

The Mells are taking that literally. They are stocking a small store in the front of the restaurant, the Sonoma Shoppe, where guests can buy wine, cheese, olives, olive oils (they will have tastings) as well as fresh fruits, local vegetables and artisan breads. It should appeal to the people in the 197 apartments above them as well as their dinner guests. “If you come in and have a glass of wine with dinner and fall in love with it, you can buy a bottle on your way out,” Stephanie says. “You can have your server put it on your tab.”

They and Boyzo also understand the personal side of being a trusted purveyor.

“If someone comes here … to dine with us, we take that very seriously,” Boyzo says. “We’re excited to be in Huntsville. And for us to make up for what Huntsville has given us, we have to do the best we can when we come to work.”

Matt says, “Our mission statement for both (Church Street and Purveyor) is you’re coming into our house; you’re coming into our living room, and we want to treat you like family. We want to give you an experience that is not just unique to Huntsville or unique to Alabama but unique to anywhere in the country.”


Purveyor Huntsville

201 Jefferson St. in downtown Huntsville

256-419-2555

4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, with the shareables menu available after 10 p.m.

Sunday brunch begins April 1 with service from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

www.purveyor.churchstreetwineshoppe.com

reservations@purveyorhuntsville.com

Susan Swagler has written about food and restaurants for more than three decades. She shares food, books, travel and more atwww.savor.blog. Swagler is a founding member of the Birmingham chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a philanthropic organization of women leaders in food, wine and hospitality.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 months ago

Industry growth spurt drives opportunities for Alabama auto workers

(Made in Alabama)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Alabama’s robust auto industry has transformed the state economy over the past two decades, as well as communities scattered from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast.

But perhaps nowhere has the industry’s prosperity been more acutely felt than in the lives of the companies’ employees who each year build about 1 million cars, nearly twice as many engines and countless parts for customers that span the globe.

As Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA embarks on plans for its new, $1.6 billion joint-venture manufacturing plant in Huntsville, people eyeing one of the 4,000 jobs there can expect a similar path of growth and opportunity as the Alabama auto workers who have made the sector what it is today.

628

For Tanina Cordule of Huntsville, a career with Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama has allowed her to provide a better quality of life for her family.

Now employed in human resources as a team member relations specialist, Cordule has worked her way through several jobs at the Huntsville engine plant, starting with assembling V-8 engines.
“Since my employment with Toyota, I have become more financially stable,” she said. “I’ve been afforded the opportunity to provide top-notch health care benefits for my family, and I’m looking forward to retiring from Toyota someday.”

At the same time, Cordule said, her career has challenged her on many levels.

“I have truly grown as an individual. I’ve also acquired a great deal of knowledge about engines. I can talk engines with my husband!”

As for her future career plans, Cordule says she wants to continue growing and advancing in the area of human resources.

“I am excited to see where this journey will take me,” she said.

PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES

There are similar stories at the state’s other major automotive plants operated by Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai, which continue to add new jobs, investments and innovations that broaden opportunities for their workforces.

For instance, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama has significantly increased its team of engineering professionals since starting up operations in Talladega County in 2001.

As the technology of Alabama-made Hondas has advanced, so too has the sophisticated skill sets of the automaker’s local workers.

At Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Tuscaloosa County, plans are under way to launch electric vehicle production, a $1 billion project that is expected to create 600 jobs at a battery plant and a nearby global logistics center.

The state’s auto workers also get additional training and gain new skills when the plants take on new products, as was the case when Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama brought back the Santa Fe SUV to its Montgomery assembly lines two years ago.

SWELLING WORKFORCE

“Alabama’s automakers have provided enormous opportunities for residents all over the state.”
Alabama’s auto industry employment exceeds 40,000 jobs, a total that has increased 150 percent since 2000. That includes 13,300 positions at the automakers and 27,300 at suppliers, according to data from St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.
And the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the average weekly wage for motor vehicle manufacturing in Alabama is $1,288, while the average weekly wage for motor vehicle parts manufacturing in the state is $895.

“Alabama’s automakers have provided enormous opportunities for residents all over the state to receive advanced training and contribute to the latest innovations in a fast-paced global industry,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“And these employees, in turn, have made those investments well worth it. They continually surpass expectations with products that achieve the highest levels in design, quality and performance, which is why you see so many automotive companies locating and expanding here in Alabama.”

‘THIS GREAT TEAM’

Cordule, who previously worked for another manufacturer in Huntsville, said she wanted to join the Toyota workforce because of the company’s stability and the quality of its products.

Last year alone, the Toyota plant turned out nearly 700,000 engines, which powered one-third of the Toyota vehicles built in the U.S. The plant also reached a key milestone – production of its 5 millionth engine – and announced a $106 million investment to install a new 4-cylinder production line for advanced engines. The project will create 50 jobs.

“What impresses me the most about our manufacturing facility is the cleanliness and how everything has its own unique place and purpose,” Cordule said. “I’ve worked in other manufacturing plants in the past and none of them compares to Toyota. The focus on these areas helps ensure the highest quality and safety, which are equally impressive.”

“I feel proud to be a part of this great team.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

3 months ago

Getting to know Tommy Battle — GOP gubernatorial hopeful talks education, ethics, infrastructure, economic development

(Battle Campaign)

HUNTSVILLE — For the last several decades, Alabama’s northernmost major city has been one of the state’s crown jewels for economic development. From rockets in the 1950s to landing a Toyota-Mazda joint venture manufacturing facility earlier this year, little stays the same in Madison County.

For the last 10 years, a number of Huntsville’s achievements have come under the leadership of Mayor Tommy Battle. The Huntsville Republican thinks he can take his recipe for the Rocket City’s success and apply it statewide as governor.

From his campaign headquarters on the fifth floor of the historic Times Building in downtown Huntsville, Battle explained to Yellowhammer News in a one-on-one interview why he should be elected governor and some of what he would do to improve the lives of Alabamians.

YHN: Why are you running for governor?

BATTLE: I guess the whole reason that you run for public office is to make your community a better place – make your state a better place. That’s your basic bottom line. That’s where you start from, and you build from there.

3273

Over the last 10 years, we have had a great success in the Huntsville community. We’ve been able to add 24,000 jobs, $3 billion worth of investment. And the question is can you take that same success – the strategy and plan that got us to the place that got us 24,000 jobs and $3 billion worth of investment. Can we take that same strategy and plan and can we do it on a bigger scale in Montgomery and provide jobs and provide an economy for the whole state, not just one section of the state, and provide for people who maybe you already have a job, maybe can get a better job.

That’s the key. To do that, a) You have to education, b) You have to have infrastructure and c) You’ve got to have quality of life, and that quality of life has to be something that makes people want to be part of your community. So we started 10 years ago – we started with a plan and a strategy for the city of Huntsville. That plan and that strategy has proven, has worked very well here. It is a proven plan and strategy. That’s why we got into the governor’s race. We thought we could do something a little bit better than what was being done.

The second thing I think that people are looking for – this is coming from going to all 67 counties and across the state – is they’re looking for good, ethical, honest government. Ethics are very big in this campaign. If you look at our past history, ethics needs to be very big. Honesty is something that has to come to government. And what it basically means is you have got to get government back to where people trust it. And if we don’t have the people’s trust, we can’t make any achievements that we need to make.

Right now, most of the people look at Montgomery as a place where not necessarily good government happens, but government happens. We’ve got to get it to the stage where people believe Montgomery is working for Alabama and the future of this state.

YHN: One of the problems candidates have from this part of the state is that it is hard for someone from Huntsville or Mobile to win statewide. And you talk about going to all 67 counties. What else are you doing to overcome that geographic obstacle?

BATTLE: The interesting thing is we got county organizations throughout the state. Those county organizations are what you call grassroots. You have got to have grassroots to be able to talk to people. With social media nowadays, you can talk to people in any county and talk to them on a regular basis – let them know your plans, your dreams, your visions – what your vision is for the state, and I think that is important.

If you look at where the numbers are – if you remember the old numbers used to be flip-flopped in the old history books. But the numbers are really advantageous for anybody that can capture Shelby County-north.

And capturing that does not mean that you give up on the other portions. But if you get Shelby County-north, you get Mobile, Baldwin Counties, you get the Wiregrass area, Lee County, and Tuscaloosa County areas and you’ve covered the whole state. Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore is a good area. We’ve got grassroots organizations in every one of those areas.

YHN: On Kay Ivey – what is she doing wrong that would suggest, “I need to be in office to steer the ship of state in the right direction”?

BATTLE: I think you got to look at where the emphasis is. We tell everybody we have a track record. Our track record is the last 10 years. Look at the last 10 years. I’ll compare it to Kay Ivey, to Scott Dawson, to Bill Hightower – to every one of them. You look at the last 10 years. What have we accomplished?

We have accomplished jobs. We’ve grown the economy. We’ve added to the job base. In the last 10 years, those 24,000 jobs equal 62 percent of the growth of the whole state of Alabama. That means we have grown more than any place in the state of Alabama. And that’s not to be bragging about it. But it is to say that’s my track record.

For the last eight years, Kay Ivey has been lieutenant governor. And as lieutenant governor, what’s her track record to make the state better? Bill Hightower has been a state senator. What has he done to make the state better? Scott Dawson has been an evangelist. All those people need to have the same questions asked of them. What have you done over the last 10 years to make this state a better place?

What structurally can we look at that makes us understand that that’s a reality that you can do it as governor?

YHN: You mentioned education, infrastructure, and quality of life. Do you have some specific examples?

BATTLE: Education – we built $250 million worth of schools. We added digital education. Every child, every student in our school third grade and up had a laptop that was digitally connected to the teacher, and the teacher could see where the students were going forward and where they needed help.

People say, “What’s so important about digital education?” If you’re working at Walmart today, you’re going to be working on a computer. If you’re working at Jack’s or McDonald’s, you’re working off of a computer system that tells you what the order was and how quick you got it out.

Digital education is the key to the future. Advanced manufacturing requires a digital education. The third thing we did was we put in an accountability system where we tested the first of the year, the end of the year, peer reviews, student reviews with teachers and made sure we had a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education.

Accountability pays more into school than anything else you can do because you’ve got to make sure your teachers can provide the instruction that you have a year’s worth of advancement from a year’s worth of education. If they don’t, then we need to remediate. We need to team-teach with those teachers. We need to help them to ensure we’re getting a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education.

That is the three pillars of what you got to do in education. And we’ve done it. We’ve done it here and we’ve put together an education system that is the kind that when you want to attract companies like Polaris or Blue Origin or GE Aviation or Remington or even Toyota-Mazda or Aerojet Rocketdyne – all of those tie back to your economic development and the idea that you can develop or add jobs to your community.

YHN: Say you’re elected governor, would you just implement all of these things into the state?

BATTLE: I think your key, or your cache of keys, is you’ve got to have an accountability system in our education system. You’ve got to make sure you have a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education. That is key to every system. That means testing at the front, testing at the end – just seeing the advancement of the student from where they started to where they’ve ended up. I think that’s the fairest thing to do for the teacher.

Second, I think you’ve got to start entering some of the essentials of the digital education. That has got to be in place. And third, you’ve got to make sure your school system has an accountable discipline process so that you can have discipline in the schools.

YHN: What are some infrastructure goals?

BATTLE: What we did here – infrastructure is a lot more than just gas, water and sewer. Roads is the main thing. We’ve ended up building $450 million worth of roads in our own area. And $450 million worth of roads means our quality of life is the same today after we’ve grown as it was before. We have an average 18-minute commute to work, an 18-minute commute coming home.

With that average commute, that’s part of your quality of life. Instead of being stuck in traffic, you’re able to get home. Many people we compete against have an hour commute to and an hour commute back home. You’re always asking, “What can you do with an extra hour and 24 minutes of your life? What makes your life better?”

Another part of infrastructure is fiber to the home – either that or working within the system to provide connectivity. That provides for a whole shadow economy. It provides for an economy where parents can work to be home taking care of kids. Also, you can work long distance. We had a young lady here that worked for Disney World in Orlando. She does her CAD drawings. And she gets on her fiber Internet, ships it down to them. They mark it up, ship it back to her. She’ll work on it some more. And at the end of the month, she gets a check from Disney World in Orlando, and it comes back into the Huntsville economy. It is spent in the Huntsville economy.

It is a whole shadow economy that comes out like that. And that’s one of the keys that you’ve got to have the vision for, to be able to look at and to be able to have the vision to be able to move forward with.

YHN: What is your opinion on city-run utilities, like Internet?

BATTLE: You need to be careful. You need to do it in such a way that you protect the taxpayers. That’s what we did. Our utility system put in the fiber and putting in fiber is no more than hanging wire. It is the same thing utilities do on a day-to-day basis. So, we put in fiber to the home for every home in the city of Huntsville – a $60 million cost. Google Fiber came in and leased out some of the dark fiber and is using it to light it up and use it for their connectivity.

There’s still more dark fiber in the system that can be leased out from others, so you have that competition edge in there. But Google Fiber is basically their payment for leasing out that section pays for putting in the fiber in the community.

That’s one of the great things we’re able to get through partnership with business. We’re able to get business to provide that part of the infrastructure to us.

YHN: Social issues tend to be a driving force in Alabama politics. Are you just the typical Republican on social issues – abortion, same-sex marriage, those sort of issues?

BATTLE: I believe in sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage.

I’m a Republican. I’ve been a Republican – gosh, since I started the College Republicans, or initiated a chapter of the College Republicans back in 1976. I was College Republican chairman in 1976.

When we came in, there were the social issues out there, but there was also the fiscal issues – the fiscal issues of balancing budgets and trying to get us back to the stage we spent what we brought in.

I remember back in those days we lamented we spent $200 million more than we brought. And today, we wish we could go back to that with trillion-dollar deficits. We were budget hawks, and we believed fervently that you needed balanced budgets to be able to continue to provide the kind of government we’ve always been able to provide.

That’s I think the key to the Republican Party today – that we have got to provide a government that has sustainability for years and years and years to come. That’s one of the most important things we can provide to people. We can provide defense. We can provide government that will be here for years and years because we’ve all seen what happens to other governments when they’ve spent beyond their means, and they’ve put austerity measures and everything else. They go away from the world scene, and they become countries that aren’t necessarily prosperous moving forward the way we have always seen America move forward.

YHN: When you go to a lot of these small towns in Alabama, and you talk to the locals, they always talk about how Huntsville gets an unfair share of the economic development. What do you say to people around the state that think you ought to grow the smaller towns and put more of a focus on those?

BATTLE: That’s why I’m running for governor. As governor, I can give you the same opportunity as we’ve been able to in Huntsville.

For the past 10 years, we’ve added jobs. We’ve added industry. We added companies to our area. And I want to offer the same thing to the entire state of Alabama. By doing the same practice, the same plan, the same strategy that we’ve been doing, we can do the same thing for the whole state of Alabama.

Is it easy? No, it’s always a hard push to make it happen. But, if we take the proven method and apply it, we can change the state of Alabama.

YHN: A lot of these local county and municipal governments don’t have the luxury that Huntsville has with the tax base and the ability to offer those economic incentives. How do you get that plan in motion in a place like Wilcox County or other places in the Black Belt?

BATTLE: I got a call from one of the county commissioners in Clay County yesterday, and we were talking about how to bring up an area. You’ve got to work off of the strengths in that area. You’ve got to work off whatever is there, and you’ve got to work off the strengths.

One of the things we’ve got to recognize is Boston Consulting Group just put out a study talking about how manufacturing was going to come back to America. And I think there’s some open places that we can go back to and look at the manufacturing we used to do in places – some of the mill manufacturing, some of the textile manufacturing – things that we used to do old days here.

I think we have an opportunity to bring that back. To bring that back it’s going to take work. It’s going to take shoe leather. It’s going to take visiting a lot of executives in a lot of different places. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. If we continue to do it, I think we can see a growth pattern for the whole state.

You will grow from your strengths. The areas that are growing will be part of your strengths, and they will grow. But as they grow, there will be future growths.

Take the Toyota plant that came in – we’re going to have spinoffs from that that go all the way to the Gulf. We bring in containerized parts. We use transportation companies that take those parts from Mobile all the way up to Huntsville.

The second thing that spins off – there are going to be second- and third-tier automotives that are going to be coming in and looking to provide for the plants that are here in Alabama. They’ll provide for Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes, Toyota, Mazda. They will be providing for everybody, and they will locate throughout the state. They want to be 50 miles from a manufacturer.

So they will find places throughout this state – whether it is Jasper, whether it is Hamilton, whether it is the Quad Cities, maybe Russellville or Sand Mountain, or maybe Birmingham. They’ll want to be part of the success we’ve had. There are spinoffs all throughout the state.

There’s multiplier effects for what we do, and if we can bring industry here, there will be multiplier effects that make the whole state – as we call “state of the ship” float. A rising tide floats all ships, and that is surely the case.

YHN: Back to infrastructure – are there any highway projects we as a state need to be focused on?

BATTLE: You know, we’ve got an interstate system that is crumbling right now – I-65, I-10, I-565, I-85 going to Auburn. Each one of those are systems we need to look at and look at seriously. You compare the differences of I-75 in Georgia to I-65. I-75 is six, eight, ten lanes all the way up and down. Every intersection, there’s probably a billion dollar’s worth of business there because they have distribution centers. They have strip centers. They have hotels, motels and restaurants all located there.

Our interchanges may have gas stations, hotel, motel and restaurants. But they don’t have everything else because we don’t have the capacity to make our systems grow. That’s going to be something that we’re going to have to start working on from day one.

And the thing that people need to realize is that when you start working on roads, it’s not a quick two-year fix. If you start working on a road today, it takes 10 years to build a road and to ride on the results of that road. So, if we started today in 2018 to expand I-65 to get rid of the slowdown in Calera, we’re talking about 2028 that we’ll actually be riding on that road.

If we want to work on I-10 and fix I-10 where you can get traffic from east to west, and get workforce into Baldwin County – if we start today, it’s probably a 13-year fix. So we’re looking at 2031 before we’re actually riding on that road.

Everybody has got to realize we’ve got to have some vision in this. We’ve got to understand the timeframe in this. The best time to be building these roads is 10 years ago.

YHN: We’ll wrap it up on this – for those people in the other parts of the state, give a closing sales pitch.

BATTLE: I think what people are looking for, and this is just from talking to people throughout the state, they’re looking for honest government that they can believe in. That’s something that we have provided here for 10 years in the city of Huntsville. They’re looking for a government telling them here’s a plan, here’s a strategy and here’s where we’re going to end up.

We’ve been doing that for 10 years because of that. We have trust in our government. People trust us to do things that are necessary to make sure our community is a prosperous community and one that will continue.

We’re offering to do the same thing for the state of Alabama. Come to Montgomery, come to Capitol Hill, work with people throughout this state. Make sure that this whole state is a prosperous state, make sure that this state is going to believe in government again and believe that we’re going to do the right things, honest things that are necessary to be done in government.

And that is one of your first missions when you get down there. You’ve got to re-instill trust, and re-instilling trust is not easy. We have got take it step by step and show people that I’ll work harder than anybody else. Show the people that we have a plan and a strategy and that strategy works. We’re going to have to show people that we have an end-game and that result is we have a better Alabama at the end of this than what we started with.

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

(Image: Tommy Battle for Governor)

3 months ago

Alabama governor: Significant damage in areas

(Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

The governor of Alabama says there has been significant damage in parts of Alabama.

Gov. Kay Ivey said state resources were being sent to the affected areas, especially Jacksonville and Calhoun County, in her statement Monday night.

She added, “Our first priority is ensuring our people are safe. Please stay out of affected areas and let first responders do their job.”

282

Alabama Power Co. is reporting about 15,000 homes and businesses without electricity in areas including Calhoun and Etowah counties.

Significant damage has been reported at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.

Athletic director Greg Seitz said in a tweet Monday evening, “I can confirm we have major roof damage at Pete Mathews Coliseum, but The Pete is not completely destroyed.” He said there was extensive damage in Jacksonville.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted earlier that there was possibly a large tornado near Jacksonville and Calhoun County that was moving east into northern Cleburne County.

Severe storms have damaged buildings and downed trees in a northern Alabama county.

The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office posted photos on Twitter of houses without roofs and destroyed garages in Ardmore, Alabama, on Monday evening. But it had no reports of injuries from the storms.

The office also tweeted that downed trees and power lines were blocking roads in the county along the Tennessee border.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville, Alabama, issued a severe weather statement at 6:41 p.m. that a confirmed tornado was over Ardmore and moving east.

The University of Alabama planned to suspend normal operations Monday evening because of a severe weather threat.

The school said in a news release that operations would be suspended from 6:30 p.m. until midnight. That means classes and campus activities scheduled during that window are canceled.

University libraries were set to close at 6:30 p.m. and some dining halls were set to close early.

Campus shelters were open to students, faculty and staff at North Campus Storm Shelter, East Campus Storm Shelter and the Magnolia Parking Deck. The Magnolia Parking Deck accepts pets accompanied by their owners.

The university plans to provide updates on Twitter at @UA_Safety.

(Image: Governor Kay Ivey/Flickr)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

3 months ago

Severe storms spawn tornadoes, damage homes in Southeast US

Severe storms that spawned tornadoes damaged homes and downed trees as they moved across the Southeast on Monday night.

Forecasters warned that the storms could threaten more than 29 million people, raising the risk of powerful tornadoes, damaging winds and hail the size of tennis balls.

Cities in northern Alabama reported power outages, and the National Weather Service in Huntsville reported at least three confirmed tornadoes in the area.

458

In Limestone County, an Alabama county on the Tennessee border, the sheriff’s office posted photos online of houses with roofs ripped off and outbuildings torn from their foundations. Several roads were closed because of power lines or trees, the office tweeted. But it had no reports of injuries from the storms.

The athletic director at Jacksonville State University said late Monday there was significant damage to the campus.

“I can confirm we have major roof damage at Pete Mathews Coliseum, but The Pete is not completely destroyed,” Greg Seitz said in a tweet.

Seitz later tweeted that they were still surveying the campus but that there was major roof damage to two halls, adding that his was thankful that JSU was on spring break this week and that most students are out of town.

Portions of northern Alabama and southern Tennessee were still under tornado warnings Monday night, and the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for much of northern Georgia as the line moved eastward.

Forecasters said the storm threat is unusually dangerous because of the possibility of several tornadoes, some of which could be intense. The weather service says hail as large as 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter could fall, and there’s a possibility of wind gusts to 70 mph (115 kph).

“The potential for strong to violent, long-track tornadoes is a real possibility,” Alabama state meteorologist Jim Stefkovic said at a news conference.

Alabama Emergency Management Executive Operations Officer Jeff Smitherman raised the threat level and increased staffing at Alabama’s emergency management agency. The storms are the first severe weather to threaten the state this year.

School systems from central Tennessee as far south as Birmingham, Alabama, let out early, hoping students and staff would have time to get home before the storms moved through.

The threatened storms come one day before the official start of spring, and are “by far the most impressive setup we’ve seen so far this year,” said Kurt Weber, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Huntsville, Alabama.

“We can’t rule out a strong tornado east of Interstate 65 at this point with all the ingredients coming together,” Weber added. “Hopefully not, but definitely a possibility.”

He said golf ball to tennis ball-sized hail, which can do serious damage to buildings and cars, was possible.

“This is one of those days you want to put the car in the garage if you can,” Weber said.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey urged Alabamians to implement safety plans and get in a safe location.

“We are not taking the situation lightly,” Ivey said. “Severe weather is unpredictable and that is why it is paramount we prepare ahead of time.”

The University of Alabama suspended operations Monday from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, meaning classes and campus activities were cancelled, libraries closed and shelters were opened on campus.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

6 months ago

WATCH: Huntsville voters share strong feelings about election and Roy Moore

Voters speak with Yellowhammer News outside a polling precinct in Madison, Alabama (Yellowhammer)

 

It was a cold, blustery day in northern Alabama, but that didn’t stop voters from pouring into polling precincts to vote in Tuesday’s special election.

Voters in the Huntsville-area spoke with Yellowhammer News about how they voted, how they feel about the election and what they think about Roy Moore. 

WATCH:

 

 

Video Credit: Jacob Woods

1
6 months ago

Guest Opinion: Alabama internet connectivity not as bad as Huntsville mayor says

(W.Miller/YHN)

 

As he gears up for his gubernatorial run, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is pushing a more connected “Cyber Alabama”, noting that the state ranks 40th in the nation for internet connectivity.

But the number of state residents he cites lacking what Battle deems adequate internet speeds – 883,000 – is tied to the Federal Communications Commission’s new broadband standard of 25 megabits per second, a 250 percent boost from the previous standard, that was approved under former Democratic chairman Tom Wheeler in 2015.

That paradigm shift suddenly made adequate internet speeds inadequate in the eyes of many bureaucrats, leading to a push for more local governments to step in with taxpayer-funded services, although residents can still stream video on multiple devices with speeds well below 25 mbps.  

In Battle’s own backyard of Madison County, residents enjoy a variety of choices – although leaders like the Huntsville mayor want to tout new entrant Google Fiber as a savior for the city. Google Fiber is leasing dark fiber from Huntsville Utilities, which is in the midst of building a gigabit-capable broadband network and power grid upgrade using $57 million in ratepayer dollars. The utility hopes to recover most of those costs with leases to providers like Google Fiber, although it hasn’t yet announced any other leasees or been forthcoming with financial details on the Google Fiber deal.

Battle’s quest may be a solution in search of a problem considering the introduction of fast speeds by private providers. For example,  AT&T is expanding its Internet 1000 gigabit service to Huntsville and other north Alabama cities, while WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone began providing gig speeds in Huntsville last fall. Comcast will offer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second to Huntsville residents this year. Mediacom is undergoing a major expansion to provide gig speeds in 18 communities in north Alabama and south Tennessee, criticizing the subsidies and cherry-picking ability enjoyed by providers such as Google Fiber.

In his recent blog post, culled from his address to the annual conference of Government Managed Information Systems, Battle gives the introduction of Google Fiber to the Huntsville market the credit for the local internet revolution, but the reality is that legacy providers like AT&T and Comcast have been systemically implementing gig internet across the U.S. for years.

Battle said that 1.1 million people in Alabama have access to only one wired provider, leaving them no options to switch. It’s an argument that’s been at the heart of many government broadband projects, as bureaucrats vote to use taxpayer funds to give residents more internet options.

Putting aside the notion it’s not government’s place to supplement the private market on internet, which has much more expertise in the practice, the money being thrown at publicly owned internet projects would be better suited as subsidies for a free market searching for solutions to solve that rural broadband gap.

For example, Connect America funding is helping fuel the growth of fixed wireless, which allows providers to beam internet signals from cell towers to antennas installed on nearby homes. There are more than 1,400 such providers in the country, covering most of the population.

Better lawmaking would also help. Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) has twice introduced legislation that would provide an income tax credit equal to 10 percent of the investment in qualified broadband telecom network facilities and a 10-year property tax exemption on those facilities in rural areas. His amendment to the Alabama Renewal Act would also exempt sales and use tax for equipment and materials used to operate those facilities.

Perhaps the third time will be the charm in 2018 for Scofield and his smart broadband bills seeking to incentivize private providers to expand to areas where they otherwise struggle to turn a profit.

Alabama needs to be better prepared for a future that will require more high-speed internet, but let’s make sure it’s done the smart way – with less taxpayer money and more reliance on the private sector.

Johnny Kampis, a resident of Cullman, is investigative reporter for the Washington, D.C.-based Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

1
7 months ago

Guest Opinion: Why the Toyota/Mazda plant belongs in Alabama not North Carolina

I recently read an article in the Triangle Business Journal about why North Carolina might have the upper hand on Alabama when it comes to the Toyota and Mazda joint plant Economic Development competition. While they certainly make some well-thought-out points, I figured I would respond to this article with why I think the business case for Alabama is a stronger one.

Logistics and Transportation Costs

While I’m basing my argument on the Baldwin Mega site in Bay Minette Alabama, most of these arguments also apply to Alabama’s other Mega site in the Huntsville area.

Transportation costs for parts from their suppliers, as well as raw materials, and the logistical Network already in place favors Alabama. First of all, the main supplier of steel and stainless steel bought the old Thyssen Krupp steel plant in North Mobile County. Also, the network of railroad tracks that come directly into Mobile and the fact that the Baldwin Mega site is directly connected to the Port of Mobile, their steel supplier and engine plant by rail would allow for huge savings in transportation costs for not only Toyota, but also their parts suppliers.

Job Skills Training

Alabama has literally, not figuratively, written the book on job skills training when it comes to automotive manufacturing skills.  We’ve done it for Mercedes Benz, Honda, Hyundai and the Toyota engine plant in Huntsville. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just have to reproduce it.  Top that off with the fact that the main campus of the Alabama Coastal Community College is less than ten miles from the Baldwin Megasite, and that is a formidable combination.

Shovel Ready

Both Megasites in Alabama are shovel ready, certified and have the site prep work already done.  The Megasite in North Carolina that everyone keeps talking about, the Greensboro site, is still trying to zone all of its site as industrial use. This means that this site is not shovel-ready, the site prep work has not already been done and may have to go through the certification process again. Not being shovel-ready is the reason given why the Memphis Megasite was eliminated from the competition.

Labor

According to the Triangle Business Journal article, one of the advantages North Carolina supposedly has over Alabama is the fact that 10 percent of the labor force in Alabama is unionized, versus 3 percent of North Carolina. While this may technically be accurate, this does not take into account the many and most recent high-profile rejections of unionization amongst auto manufacturing employees at plants at Mercedes and Hyundai and Honda. While Alabama may have more union members by percentage than North Carolina, that has not translated into the auto manufacturing industry.

Also, the Triangle Business Journal article mentions many of the high-profile successes and economic development that Alabama has experienced over the years including Airbus, Boeing, Mercedes-Benz and the other auto manufacturing plants in Alabama. They use this as another reason why North Carolina might have an advantage over Alabama in this competition. They claim that the fierce competition for labor with similar skill sets increases wages for employees with those skill sets.

While this is certainly true, I also make the argument that if the Baldwin Mega site is the site that Alabama submitted for this competition, three or four major employers (Airbus, C-Series, Austal and potentially Toyota/Mazda) in a metro area all looking for people with similar skill sets not only increases the wages for people with those skill sets, but also attracts people with them from other areas of the state and other areas of the country, because they know they have a higher likelihood of getting employed if there are multiple employers in an area looking for their skills.

Political Clout

The Triangle Business Journal also argues that because Toyota does not have a presence in North Carolina, that gives them an advantage over Alabama because Toyota usually looks to expand in areas they are not already in to expand their political clout and political representation in Washington.

I respectfully and firmly disagree with the argument that the Business Journal is making here. If the Baldwin Mega site is the location Alabama submitted for this competition, I think political clout works very strongly in favor of Alabama in this competition. Not only does Alabama’s Congressional delegation at both the House and Senate levels work well together in representing the interest of our state and the interest of our major employers, Alabama House District 1 Representative Bradley Byrne has an extremely strong reputation for fighting for the interest of the major employers in his district. Every budget year Representative Byrne has to work within the budget process to defend the interest of Austal shipbuilding and the LCS program. To do this he has had to build a strong bond with the house delegation from Wisconsin, the other state that builds LCS ships for the Navy, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. That strong working relationship with House Leadership is certainly a factor in favor of Alabama’s bid for the Toyota Mazda manufacturing facility.

Incentives

When Alabama has a fair shot at the competition (giving you the death stare Boeing), and we really want the project, more times than not we get it. It doesn’t matter who our governor is, Bob Riley, Robert Bentley, and now Governor Kay Ivey each have long successful track records at winning economic development projects.

The economic development team that the state of Alabama has assembled, along with local economic development teams all throughout the state of Alabama, work well together hand-in-hand to put incentive packages together that are very attractive and very competitive. The fact that Alabama is one of two states left standing in this competition tells me that Alabama has put a very strong proposal together. Just like in football, when it comes to economic development, Alabama wins way more than they lose, and we have the championship trophies to prove it.

While I have no inside information as to which site Alabama submitted for competition, or what criteria the firm that is heading up the site selection process for Toyota and Mazda is looking for, or what is a priority for Toyota and Mazda, these are all factors that if I were a businessman looking to open this type of project that I would be looking for. Not to mention the fact that the cost of living in the state of Alabama is lower than it is in North Carolina, which means that Toyota and their employees’ spending power is better.

I have followed this competition closely since it was first announced earlier this year. I certainly wish everybody that is still in this competition well; however, if the executives at Toyota and Mazda and their site selection firm want to come down and take a look at the Baldwin Mega site, let me know I’ll be more than happy to treat them to an oyster dinner at The Original Oyster House and show them Mobile Southern Hospitality at it’s best.

David Preston is the owner of a transportation logistics company in Mobile, Alabama. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

1
7 months ago

German auto supplier to invest $115 million in Alabama plant, create 300-plus jobs

(Made In Alabama)
(Made In Alabama)

 

 Bocar, a Tier 1 automotive supplier, announced plans Thursday to invest $115 million in a new plant in Alabama, creating more than 300 jobs in a project that adds to the state’s booming automotive manufacturing sector.

Bocar company leaders made the announcement at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, along with representatives of the City of Huntsville and Limestone County.

“We are glad to invest in Huntsville, Alabama, where good infrastructure, talented people and a host of excellent universities will develop our business while contributing positively to the social and economic development of this community,” said Gerd Dressler, the chief financial officer of Bocar Group.

The plant will be built on a site strategically located on the northern side of Bibb Garrett Road, adjacent to Interstate 65, in the Huntsville portion of Limestone County. This will allow the company quick access to be able to ship parts to automotive companies in the region.Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2018 and production should begin two years later.“Alabama is a premier destination for the automotive and automotive supplier industries, and we are proud to welcome Bocar to our state,” Governor Kay Ivey said.“Bocar choosing Alabama is another sign our state is moving in the right direction and doing all we can to attract good-paying jobs for all Alabamians.”

Bocar is a German company with a presence in the United States, Germany, Mexico and Japan. It is a high-end technology and quality-driven automotive company with extensive experience producing high-pressure aluminum die casting, plastics and machining.

“Bocar is one of the most highly regarded of the Tier 1 automotive suppliers to leading companies like Toyota, Ford, GM and many others,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

“The company’s decision to locate this major facility in Huntsville is yet another building block in the foundation of our advanced manufacturing automotive sector.”

Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough said Bocar’s decision reflects the company’s confidences in the area’s workforce.

“We know that they will be a successful part of our future moving forward,” he said.

(By Jerry Underwood, courtesy of Made in Alabama)

1
7 months ago

As North Korea tensions rise, Huntsville’s Boeing crucial in meeting amped up goals

(Missile Defense Agency)
(Missile Defense Agency)

 

In the wake of increased aggression from North Korea and the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the hostile regime, the Missile Defense Agency installed the last of 44 interceptors for a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system ahead of schedule at Alaska’s Fort Greeley this month.

A Boeing facility in Huntsville has taken a leading role in providing the technological advances necessary to bolster defenses as tensions– and budgets– rise.

Earlier this year, a test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system successfully intercepted a mock long-range rocket traveling at speeds comparable to an ICBM. The MDA said the Boeing-managed test was an “incredible accomplishment,” with experts comparing the precision to one bullet hitting another bullet from an enormous distance, according to Reuters.

Improving the U.S. missile defense system has become a top priority for Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces.

In an August letter to President Trump, Rogers requested that President Trump approve additional funding as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA 18).

President Trump has asked for an additional $4.4 billion above his initial request for missile defense systems. More investments could be in the works, with the Pentagon and MDA aiming to increase from 44 interceptors to a proposed 64, according to Defense News.

“I want to commend President Trump for agreeing with us that our nation needs additional missile defense resources in light of the evolving North Korean ballistic missile threats,” Rogers said. “The request from the Office of Management and Budget this week on behalf of President Trump will aid our push for increased discrimination capabilities and the addition of a new field at Fort Greely will help build our capacity.”

When asked about the additional funding and the significant improvements to the missile defense system being developed at the Boeing facility in his district, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) expressed his pride and enthusiasm for the new plan.

“These key investments will ensure we remain far ahead of any threat,” Brooks said, “I am proud of the numerous national security efforts developed by the missile defense community right here in the Tennessee Valley.”

The increase in defense spending is a boon to the Alabama economy. Boeing employs 2,700 employees and has plans to add 400 more by 2020. The aerospace manufacturer’s main Alabama operations are at two facilities in Huntsville, located in the Jetplex Industrial Park and at Redstone Gateway.

1
7 months ago

Huntsville writer joins Yellowhammer News

 

Huntsville-native Jeremy Beaman, who has been published in the Washington Examiner and other national conservative-leaning sites, has joined the growing staff of Yellowhammer News as a contributing writer.

“Jeremy has a sharp mind and a refreshing perspective on our culture,” said J. Pepper Bryars, editor of Yellowhammer News. “Our readers will enjoy his take on our politics, our culture and our faith in the coming months.”

Beaman has served as a communication assistant and researcher for the Downtown Mobile Alliance, an intern at WKRG News 5, and has also been published on AL.com, Lagniappe Mobile, the Alabama Baptist, the College Conservative and the College Fix.

He has written on matters as diverse as Alabama bourbon, charter schools and Mobile’s refugee resettlement program.

Beaman’s senior thesis at the University of Mobile explores the failures of language within the public square, particularly within journalism and politics.

1
8 months ago

Alabama Mayor Asks His Community To Rally Around Veterans

Photo: Tommy Battle Facebook
Photo: Tommy Battle Facebook

As reported by WHNT News, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle announced a new citywide initiative called the Show Your #RedWhiteBlueHsv. In a Twitter post on Money, Mayor Battle asked that residents honor current and former military members by wearing red, white, and blue, or by flying the American flag from November 2nd-12th.

“They bring a discipline, they bring a workforce, they bring to us a group who gives back day after day after day,” said Mayor Battle. “Our veteran community is always out there doing something better for our community, ultimately they make our community a better place.”

The patriotic push is part of Veterans Day, which is just around the corner. The city asks that you share your photos on social media by using the hashtag #RedWhiteBlueHsv.

1
8 months ago

Alabama Mayor Honored By National Space Club

Photo courtesy of HuntsvilleNewsWire.com
Photo courtesy of HuntsvilleNewsWire.com

For his role helping to support science and technology in his community, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle has been awarded the Community Service award by the National Space Club.

The award was handed out at the 26th annual Dr. Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Davidson Center in Huntsville. “It was very easy to choose Mayor Battle,” said CEO of LSING Alicia Ryan. “for one he’s amazing leader. He has this ability to think about education, economic development and the community at large. And some of the things he’s done lately have been very significant.”

One of the most notable achievements to land Battle the award was his contribution to Huntsville’s Cyber Camp. By partnering with the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Cyber Camp helps introduce students to basic cyber skills and encourage them to enter the field as adults.

Touching on the importance of education, Mayor battle said,“We all know how important the space industry has been to Huntsville, and all the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields are wrapped up in that. We know need to support them at the grassroots level, in educating our students and the future scientists and engineers of the future, as well as our existing corporate citizens here.”

1