The Wire

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

  • Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Season Closes July 22

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces the closure of Alabama state waters to the harvest of red snapper by private anglers and state-licensed commercial party boats at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 22, 2018. The quota of 984,291 pounds issued under NOAA Fisheries’ Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) is expected to be met by the closure date.

    “Alabama anglers fished extremely hard on the good weather days during the season,” said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. “That level of effort, coupled with larger average-sized fish harvested this year as compared to last year, resulted in a daily harvest rate two times higher than 2017, which prompted an earlier than anticipated closure.

    “The purpose of the EFP was to demonstrate Alabama’s ability to establish a season and monitor landings within a fixed quota and I think we have shown we can do that,” said Bannon.

    Anglers are reminded of the following:

    — Possession of red snapper in Alabama waters while state waters are closed is prohibited regardless of where the fish were harvested.
    — Alabama anglers may fish in federal waters off the coast of Alabama (outside of 9 nm) and land in a state that is open to the landing of red snapper, but they must adhere to the open state’s rules and not transit in Alabama state waters with red snapper on board.
    — The season for federally-permitted charter for-hire vessels will close at 12:01 a.m. July 22.

8 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, 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.

9 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.

9 months ago

Alabama Mayor Honored By National Space Club

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

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.”

9 months ago

New Advanced Rocket Manufacturing Facility In Huntsville Breaks Ground

Photo courtesy of Alabama News Center
Photo courtesy of Alabama News Center

As reported by Alabama News Center, Aerojet Rocketdyne has officially begun work on their new 136,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility.

The new facility, which will produce the AR1 rocket engine, composite cases for rocket motors, and 3-D printed rocket engine components, is expected to create 800 more jobs in the Rocket City. At the ceremony was Aerojet Rocketdyne President and CEO Eileen Drake. “Our major expansion in this region that started in 2016 underscores Aerojet Rocketdyne’s belief that Huntsville, which is known as ‘Rocket City’, will continue to grow as a key aerospace and defense hub for our nation for many decades to come, and Aerojet Rocketdyne plans to be a leader in that growth,” said Drake.

To support the new facility, the company has also leased substantial office space in Cummings Research Park. In addition to the 800 news jobs needed for the manufacturing facility, Aerojet Rocketdyne expects to hire 150 workers for their new office space.

In attendance for the ceremony, Gov. Ivey said, “This is not only an exciting day for Aerojet Rocketdyne and the city of Huntsville, it’s an exciting day for the entire state of Alabama.”

According to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce, aerospace companies announced $260 million worth of investments in 2016 alone. The new hires at the Huntsville facility are expected to offer an average annual salary of around $80,000.

9 months ago

Madison County Commissioner Passes Away

Photo courtesy of Gregory Miley Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Gregory Miley Facebook page

As reported by WHNT News, Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison, 74, has passed away.

Harrison served as commissioner since 2004. Those around him remember his passion for helping people, whether that be helping the homeless find shelter, or fighting for those without a voice.

After learning about the news, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle issued a statement which says, “We are saddened to hear about the loss of Bob Harrison, a longstanding advocate for his constituents and the underserved. Bob always brought new perspectives to the table, and his voice will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”

Harrison passed away in the hospital Tuesday night after a battle with cancer.

Announcements regarding funeral arrangements have yet to be released.

9 months ago

City of Decatur Looks To Capitalize On Proximity To NASA Facility

Not to be outdone by their Huntsville neighbors, the city of Decatur is making sure the heavy hitters of the aerospace industry know they are open for business as well. In an attempt to attract prime and subcontractors connected to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Decatur is hosting an event it hopes will lure outside businesses to the River City.

As reported by WHNT News, Decatur is located approximately 20 miles from MSFC. Given that close proximity, city leaders know it’s only a matter of time before Huntsville’s economic prosperity starts to spill into their backyard.

In an attempt to speed that process along, the city announced that they will host over 120 businesses connected to MSFC. According to officials, the event will serve two purposes; connecting small businesses to prime contractors and selling them on why they should invest in Decatur. “It’s an opportunity for contractors who are wanting to do business with Marshal-NASA to locate their business in Decatur and take advantage of our workforce,” said Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling.

Decatur is not the only ones who think attracting businesses is a good idea. Lead officials at NASA agree that the city will play an important role in the coming years. “With new industry coming to town, there’s always an opportunity for subcontractors to come in and support those companies, so it really has a multiplier effect,” said MSFC Small Business Specialist David Brock.

9 months ago

Universities In Alabama Help Prepare The Next Generation of Automotive Engineers

Photo courtesy of Alabama News Center
Photo courtesy of Alabama News Center

Everyone is aware of Alabama’s prominence on the gridiron, but few are aware of the strides Alabama universities are taking to ensure that students are prepared for automotive manufacturing in the 21 Century.

As reported by Alabama News Center, the University of Alabama is offering education and research opportunities that give automotive engineers the tools they need to continue to compete with an ever-evolving automotive market.

Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian is one of the leading engineering professors at Alabama, and he is helping drive the university’s state of the art program. A former vice president of group research and advanced engineering at Mercedes-Benz, Balasubramanian works in the Capstone’s Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies. He teaches students about electronics, energy storage and fuel cells, materials and manufacturing, and powertrains. “These are interesting research projects, and we have interaction between the industry and the professors here, who are also getting more insight into what really drives the automotive companies,” said Dr. Balasubramanian.

As the automotive industry increasingly develops electric motors, part of the university’s goal is to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge needed to fill the new market. “Since coming here, I’ve been preaching that we need more computer scientists and electrical engineers, as the industry is becoming more electrified,” said Dr. Balasubramanian.

Just last month, Mercedes announced their intent to invest $1 billion in electric vehicle production at their Tuscaloosa plant.

Other Alabama schools are also picking up on the new automotive trends. Auburn University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville are working together as part of the Southern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Center.

Reaching outside the state, Auburn and Huntsville are collaborating with Clemson University with the hopes of receiving an official designation as a National Science Foundation research center. If given the designation, companies will conduct research through member universities. Students will then be given the ability to work on real-world problems and increase their ability to find jobs once they leave.

Speaking to the relationship between auto manufacturers and universities, Auburn associate professor said, “There’s a need for industry to have a relationship for academic research, because they have limited resources to do their own. The industry doesn’t do that on its own anymore, to any great degree, so we are giving them access to what’s coming down the road and what they could be looking for in the future.”

9 months ago

Huntsville Set To Host Wounded Warriors Softball Tournament

Photo courtesy of Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team Facebook page

A traveling softball tournament that will make everyone in attendance want to stand up and cheer is returning to the Rocket City. The tournament, hosted by the Association of The United States Army is comprised of players who are all Wounded Warriors and combat amputees.

As reported by WHNT News, the inspirational tournament has visited the Yellowhammer state before. Retired United States Force Staff Sergeant Nick Bradley is a traveling member of the team. Touching on what it’s like to play in Huntsville he said, “You know it’s an unspoken bond really, and it’s amazing to get to come to a town that loves its military so much, that does have such a big military presence.”

While the conclusion of the game will be determined by the scoreboard, the real purpose of the tournament transcends balls and strikes. “While at the end of the game somebody will have more points than the other, everybody will win just because of the experience,” said Command Sergeant Major Billy Counts.

The tournament is set to place October 28th. The first game will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Metro Kiwanis Sports Complex. The public is invited to enjoy the day and admission is free.

9 months ago

Reynolds Announces Run for Alabama State House District 21

Former Huntsville Police Chief Rex Reynolds has declared his candidacy to fill the seat for Alabama House District 21 following the tragic loss of Representative Jim Patterson. Governor Ivey has set a Special Election for January 9, 2018, to fill this vacant House seat.

Reynolds retired from the City of Huntsville in 2013 following 34 years of public service. During his tenure at the city, in addition to serving as Police Chief, Reynolds also had stints as Public Safety Director and City Administrator. In 2015, he became the President of Sharp Communication, and he owns a cattle farm in Hazel Green, Alabama. Rex holds a Master’s Degree from AUM in Justice and Public Safety Administration and the 58-year old Huntsville native grew up in District 21. He’s lived in Northeast Huntsville, where the local baseball park is named after his Father, Royce Reynolds. Royce died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in 1980.  Rex is a member of Jackson Way Baptist Church, where the former “Ms. Helen” served the church daycare for over 20 years.

Rex is married to the former Mary Fennell and the couple has two sons, Matt and Brett.  Matt is married to the former Rachel Weaver, and they have two sons, Kipton and Kaden.  Rex enjoys being a grandfather, a farmer, and running a small business, but feels the need carry on Rep. Patterson’s legacy in the Alabama Legislature. On his decision to run, Reynolds said: 

 “Our District is unique, covering farms and neighborhoods to the north, though a thriving downtown district, and into Southeast Huntsville. I feel I have the unique skill set to serve all of District 21, given my childhood home place, my schools, my service to the city, running a small business, and farming.”

Rex also believes his years of community service have exposed him to many of the needs of the district. Since retirement, Rex has continued his role on the boards of Boys and Girls Club, Crime Stoppers, Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, and the Madison County Alternative Sentencing Board.  In 2014, he received the Legislative appointment to the Madison County Judicial Commission, and this year he was appointed as a representative to the Alabama Retired State Employees Association.

Rex looks forward to engaging in the conversation about how to best position our state for continued growth, recruiting jobs, and workforce development.  As his campaign’s press release noted, “With growth comes a continued focus on education, jobs, roads, and infrastructure, and social services to serve those most vulnerable in our communities.  Quality of life is also important to Rex; it starts with having a safe community, and creating a positive environment of work, live and play.”

9 months ago

Multi State Police Chase Ends In Huntsville

The sight no one wants to see: police lights in the rearview mirror.

As reported by WHNT News, a police chase that started in Tennessee ended in Huntsville last night.

According to officials, a vehicle carrying three occupants was hailed by police in Lincoln County, Tennessee. After refusing to pull over, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department chased the suspects into Alabama.

The fleeing SUV traveled down Highway 231/431, reaching speeds of 100 MPH. Once the suspects reached Huntsville, the SUV blew a tire, stopping on Chancellor Square.

The three suspects attempted to flee on foot, but they were quickly apprehended by police. It has been determined that the vehicle was stolen, and police found a firearm inside during the search.

As of now, the three suspects are being held in the Madison County Jail.

9 months ago

Huntsville Fire Department Fights More than Just Fires

A Huntsville fire department is fighting more than just fires these days after two firefighters were bitten by brown recluse spiders. According to ABC 33/40, Captain Frank Mackenzie of Huntsville Fire and Rescue told reporters that two firefighters working at Station 17 had been bitten by the spiders. The department has moved the crew to another station and sprayed Station 17 for pests.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, brown recluse spiders pack a deadly bite.  The spiders usually stay hidden under rocks or leaves. However, they are also common in attics, walls and are often found in dark areas like under folded clothing or even in shoes that haven’t been worn in a long time.

WebMD says,

Brown recluse spider bites often go unnoticed initially because they are usually painless bites. Occasionally, some minor burning that feels like a bee sting is noticed at the time of the bite. Symptoms usually develop 2-8 hours after a bite. Keep in mind that most bites cause little tissue destruction.

Initially the bite site is mildly red and upon close inspection may reveal fang marks. Within a few hours, the redness gives way to pallor with a red ring surrounding the area, or a “bull’s-eye” appearance. The lesion will often appear to flow downhill over the course of many hours. The center area will then often blister, which over 12-48 hours can sink, turning bluish then black as this area of tissue dies.

The brown recluse has a dark, violin-shaped patch just behind their heads. This mark can be difficult to see, so it’s easy to mistake them for other spiders.

Medical sites advise you to immediately call your doctor or go to the emergency room if you believe a brown recluse spider has bitten you. Prompt treatment is especially important for children or elderly people, as they have more severe symptoms than healthy adults.

10 months ago

700 New Jobs Coming To Huntsville

U.S Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL (Photo: Flikr user Bryce Edwards)
U.S Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL (Photo: Flikr user Bryce Edwards)

As reported by WHNT News, the Huntsville City Council has approved the Aerojet Rocketdyne expansion project.

Part of the project will involve the creation of an advanced manufacturing plant. Located in North Huntsville Industrial park, the plant will build propulsion engines for the SLS deep space rocket. Additionally, the new development will feature defense business headquarters and a rocket shop unit at Cummins Research Park.

The new project is worth an estimated $27 million and will employ over 700 people at a minimum salary of $80,000 per year.

Noting the obstacles that had to be overcome to land the deal, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said, “In the final stages, we competed with about five different states but early on it was about 12 different states across the Southeast.”

While the 700 new jobs are expected shortly, the project includes plans for expansion. That could attract over 1,200 new employees to the facility.

10 months ago

Huntsville Sports Scene: It’s More Than Rocket Science

It doesn’t launch people into space. It doesn’t involve serious problems and serious solutions.

But in the high-tech world of Huntsville, it turns out fun and games are also a major industry.

Sports tourism in the City of Huntsville is a $10 million annual industry, according to Ralph Stone, executive director of the Huntsville Sports Commission. That’s the economic impact of visitor spending for sports events. The National Association of Sports Commission estimates spending of $895 per athlete per event, so imagine the revenue generated from sales and lodging taxes for 50-60 events per year.

“Sports are a big business for us,” says Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “Plus, it’s just downright fun, whether it’s a 10K race or a state soccer tournament or kids playing baseball.”

Time magazine recently reported that the youth sports industry has become a $15.3 billion annual business. Huntsville has been active in that industry through three different entities: the Huntsville Sports Commission, a full-service entity that is funded by the City that attracts sporting events, often administers them and aids event organizers; the Huntsville-Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which works on a broader spectrum of tourism but devotes generous resources toward sports; and the Huntsville Parks & Recreation Department, which primarily serves as host and provider of facilities.

All can be summed up within the mission statement offered by Stone: “To identify, recruit and host sporting events for the purpose of economic impact to our community.”

The Sports Commission has hosted the Alabama High School Athletic Association state soccer championships since 2002 and the AHSAA state wrestling tournament since 2007. It will again welcome the University of Alabama for regular-season basketball game in December.

Facilities are important, and Huntsville is keeping pace – or leading the race. Says Stone, “In order to stay in the game, we have to match up.”

The newest facility is the $22.4 million Huntsville Aquatics Center. It recently held the Southeastern Long Course championships, which provided more than a $1 million boost to the economy, and those in the local swim community are optimistic that it will host national-level events in the future.

New venues are in the works, including 11 soccer/lacrosse fields and a multi-purpose athletic mecca for cyclists, runners and walkers, including competitive venues, on the site of a former municipal golf course.

It is essential to think beyond what those in the business call “the stick-and-ball sports.” Softball tournaments are well and good. But many times, non-traditional sports are looking for homes for their events, and they can have an equal economic impact.

Think Quidditch is just a fantasy sport from Harry Potter movies? It’s now a popular “real” game, and it holds regional (Tuscaloosa is hosting one in February) and national competitions. Huntsville has had great success hosting fishing tournaments and many outdoor-related events. Other competitions from Ultimate Frisbee to shuffleboard to juggling to archery have been on the radar.

Don Dukemineer of the Convention and Visitors Bureau is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Sports Commissions. He frequently travels to conventions and meetings, spreading the gospel of Huntsville. Now and again, he’ll find someone who hasn’t heard of Huntsville, “and I’ll say come check it out. Maybe do a tournament or an event. Once they come here and see all we have to offer, they’ll say, ‘When can I sign on the dotted line?’”

10 months ago

Huntsville Police Conclude Active Shooter Scare Was The Result of Prank Call

As reported by WHNT News, yesterday afternoon Huntsville police received a call indicating there was an active shooter emergency at the Williams School in Huntsville.

Police responded to the scene, cleared the building, but found no shooter. As to be expected, parents and loved ones gathered in fear that their children would be the victims of another school tragedy. Once the situation had stabilized, police began an investigation to determine who made the call.

Now law enforcement officials believe that the call likely came from a student at the school. Lt. Stacy Bates of the Huntsville Police Department said, “It came from a landline within the school. It was a juvenile voice we heard on the line, so we know it was a juvenile. . . We will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. We will use the cameras in the school system, use whatever means they have necessary to determine who did this.”

If it was a juvenile who made the call, then their names will not be released do to state law. However, Bates said they will charge the caller with all crimes possible. “At a minimum, you’ve got rendering a false alarm, depending on what it entails it can be a misdemeanor, it can be a felony. We’re going to go with the strictest charges we can find and as many as we can find in a situation like this,” said Bates.

Aside from criminal punishments, the age of the child also plays a large role in how the school system will proceed. If the child is in elementary school then they are likely to only receive a suspension, said Huntsville City School’s Spokesman Keith Ward. However, if they are in a higher grade, the punishment could involve expulsion.

10 months ago

Former State Senator Tom Butler Announces Campaign For His Previous Senate Seat

Yesterday, former state Senator, Tom Butler, made public his intent to reclaim the state Senate seat he held from 1994-2010. “Being a public servant is my calling. I am ready to go back to work for District 2,” said Butler.

Before his tenure as Senator, Butler served in the Alabama House for 12 years. Butler’s campaign announcement says he was “Recognized as one of Alabama’s outstanding legislators” and points to the fact that he helped recruit businesses like Navistar, Boeing, Menasha, Toyota, and Steelcase.

Butler is a registered pharmacist, with degrees from Auburn University and the University of Alabama.

As part of his campaign, Butler says his previous service in the Senate establishes his record, which includes working to ensure that schools are adequately funded, supporting legislation that improves infrastructure, and being an advocate for the National Space Sciences and Technology Center in Huntsville.

The Republican primary will take place June 2, 2018. Candidates in that race will be working to fill the seat currently held by Bill Holtzclaw, who is leaving to run for Congress.

10 months ago

Huntsville Veteran to Receive Medal of Honor

Photos courtesy Gary M. Rose
Photos courtesy Gary M. Rose

President Trump is set to award the Medal of Honor to a Huntsville-native Vietnam veteran next month. The White House announced on Wednesday that Captain Gary M. Rose will be awarded with the nation’s highest military honor for his “conspicuous gallantry during the Vietnam War.”

According to the White House press release, in September 1970, while his unit was engaged deep in enemy territory, Captain Rose repeatedly put his life on the line to protect his comrades. Then-Sergeant Rose continually ran through enemy fire in order to provide medical attention to some of his fallen unit. He even used his own body to shield one wounded American from harm.

Although suffering several wounds of his own, Captain Rose again voluntarily exposed himself to enemy fire in order to escort wounded personnel to the extraction point. He stood his ground by the helicopter, helping to repel the enemy assault on the American position. However, enemy fire overcame the helicopter just as it began to take off, causing it to crash. Despite just having got on board, Captain Rose immediately took to pulling his wounded comrades from the burning wreckage. He was able to provide defense and medical aid until the second helicopter arrived to bring Rose and his unit home.

Rose retired from the Army in 1987, and subsequently earned a master’s degree in communication from the University of Oklahoma. He later worked as a technical consultant in the defense and automobile industries. Today, Captain Rose lives in Huntsville with his wife Margaret. The two have one son, Michael, and two daughters, Sarah and Claire.

The ceremony will be held on October 23.

10 months ago

Commonsense Missile Defense

Photo: US Air Force

Photo: US Air Force
By Michael Shindler

The looming possibility of a nuclear conflict between the United States and North Korea is more than enough to remind Americans of the worth of an able and efficient defense. Most Americans don’t devote much time to considering the technical aspects of the U.S.’s missile defense strategy, but luckily, Senator Luther Strange has. Last week, Sen. Strange submitted legislation that, if enacted, would ensure that the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Program (GMD) could continue to effectively protect Americans were North Korea, or any other country, to attack us with nuclear missiles.

GMD, an unsung guardian of America’s welfare, is America’s most vital defense against the threat of incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying biological, nuclear, chemical, or conventional warheads. In the event of such a grim eventuality, as enemy missiles arc through space and begin their descent, a flock of Ground-based Interceptor missiles from Fort Greely, Alaska or Vandenberg Air Force Base, California would climb through the clouds and destroy them far above the earth, where any fallout or debris could do little harm to the innocents below. Sen. Strange’s proposed legislation would protect GMD from a ruinous policy conceived by the Obama administration: “disaggregation.”

Disaggregation entails the “in-sourcing” of missile defense development within the government. As of now, Boeing and Northrop Grumman as well as a variety of reliable smaller contractors constitute the GMD program. However, if the government were to proceed with disaggregation, instead of contracting firms to meet the goals of the program, the Air Force would purchase components from different firms and combine them into one hypothetically cohesive government-administered program.

Not only would this result in an inherently more bureaucratic system, it would mangle programs that are already remarkably efficient and streamlined. Worse yet, it would almost certainly result in the distribution of some work and contracts to firms without the extensive and impressive track records already had by GMD’s current contractors. Therefore, it’s crucial that Sen. Strange’s colleagues see the reason in his proposed legislation.

The United States can’t afford to let the misguided policy of disaggregation sow uncertainty and create national security risks by imposing so severe a change to the nature of the country’s only defense against nuclear weapons right as we find ourselves caught in the horror of a potential nuclear conflict with North Korea.

Additionally, proceeding with disaggregation would likely escalate the cost of the program by inflating the number of bureaucrats involved in the assembly of this proposed centralized approach to missile defense and—in the inescapable style of American bureaucracy—the government would create an ever-multiplying number of departments intended to supervise and guide these newly hired bureaucrats. Taxpayers should find this prospect petrifying, not only because it would cost them more, but because it would translate into less high-paying job opportunities.

Boeing’s headquarters for the GMD program is in Huntsville, Alabama and even though Boeing is tasked with providing a public service, they do it with all the energy and economic might that is inherent to a private firm shaped by market forces. Were disaggregation to ensue, not only would many Alabamans working at Boeing’s GMD headquarters find themselves jobless thanks to government meddling, but were they to get a similar job in the newer, more bureaucratic version of GMD—they would probably be paid much less. And it’s not only employees at titanic defense contractors like Boeing who would be affected, it would also be people working at smaller regional firms that support GMD, like Sexton Welding & Supply, Iroquoi Systems, Wildwood Electronics, and Apex Technology Design of Alabama.

Sen. Strange’s proposal is commonsense. The costs of embarking on the path of disaggregation are too high for America’s national security and the security of its taxpayers and labor force. The lure of centralization and distrust of market forces that were characteristic of Obama’s tenure in office should not be allowed to persist.

About the Author: Michael Shindler is a writer living in Washington, DC. His articles have appeared in outlets including Real Clear Defense, Washington Examiner, and The Hill, and his work on defense spending has been cited by the Congressional Research Service. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelShindler.

10 months ago

BREAKING: President Trump Coming To Alabama In Support of Luther Strange

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Donald J. Trump waves to a crowd of tens of thousands in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

Earlier today President Trump announced that he will be in Huntsville next Saturday in a show of support for Sen. Luther Strange’s Senatorial campaign.

Sen. Strange and Roy Moore are currently caught up in a highly contested election for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat. After President Trump was elected, he announced that Sessions would lead the Justice Department, leaving his Senate seat vacant. Shortly after, Strange was appointed to fill the seat until an election could be held.

During the primary election earlier this summer, President Trump publicly endorsed Strange. Now that Strange and Moore have entered the runoff, the President has made clear that he is wholeheartedly supporting “Big Luther.”

In his tweet from today, President Trump said, “I will be in Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday night to support Luther Strange for Senate. “Big Luther” is a great guy who gets things done!”

Speaking to his enthusiasm for President Trump’s unwavering support, Sen. Strange said,  “I am proud to have President Trump’s endorsement in this race and I am looking forward to his trip to Alabama. It is an honor to work hard beside him to deliver upon his promises to the American people, like achieving tax relief for hard working Americans and building the wall on our southern border.”

10 months ago

Petitioners Want To Change Name of Alabama High School Named In Honor of Civil War General

Photo: Huntsville City Schools Facebook
Photo: Huntsville City Schools Facebook

As reported by WHNT News, Lee High School in Huntsville is now the target of a group wishing to erase the memory of a war that took place over 150 years ago.

RELATED:  Charles Barkley Says Confederate Debate Is Waste of Time

The group behind the proposed name change has registered their petition with the website, They’re advising that the school, which is currently named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, change its name to Paulette R. Turner High School in memory of the first African American student to integrate there.

The school’s mascot, a general, is also under fire from the group. Along with name change, the petitioners also hope to see the official mascot changed to the Trailblazers, in honor of Paulette R. Tuner.

Currently, the petition has 1,277 supporters, out of a goal of 1,500. If the group  achieves their goal, they plan to present the petition the Huntsville City School Board and to the Huntsville Mayor, Tommy Battle.

10 months ago

No Vacancy: Alabama Hotels Going Fast In Wake of Mass Exodus from Florida


As reported by WHNT News, while the worst of Irma is expected to hit southern Florida, it might follow evacuees to already crowded Alabama hotels.

Currently, almost all South Alabama hotel rooms are full of evacuees from Texas, Florida, and Georgia. And now northern Alabama establishments are selling out at a dizzying rate.

The Homewood Suites in Huntsville reports that from the time Florida was placed under a State of Emergency, their phones have been ringing off the hook with people looking for shelter. “We’ve had several people wanting rooms with two beds, we’re already out of those,” said Vickie Thrower, General Manager at Huntsville’s Homewood Suites. “We’ve had several calls from people stuck in traffic, and anticipated getting here around 6 and 7 p.m.; now they’re not getting here until 10 and 11 p.m.”

To make matters worse, some weather experts have placed the northern portion of Alabama in the direct path of Hurricane Irma sometime Tuesday morning, according to some models. While the storm will have obviously lost strength at that point, it still has the potential to drop a considerable amount of rain that comes with high winds. That leaves a path of storm damage running from Miami to Huntsville.

Adjacent state evacuees and Alabama storm preparations could cause a myriad of problems for the Yellowhammer state. Most hotel rooms are sold out, flooding is a possibility, and gas supplies could become depleted.

We will know more as the weekend progresses, but folks should prepare for all possibilities.

To stay up-to-date on all Irma related issues, follow us on our Facebook page.

11 months ago

New Space Complex Coming to Decatur

Photo: Dynetics Facebook

As reported by WHNT News, yesterday marked the beginning of a new $21 million aerospace complex in Decatur.

The new complex will be composed of three buildings—each constructed with the capability to test the structural viability of large space structures. This includes NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) program and commercial clients.

Congressman Mo Brooks, who attended the event said, “I had been saddened by America’s loss of human space launch capability and NASA astronauts being reduced to having to thumb a ride with the Russians to get to the space station. But today, I am heartened to know the Tennessee Valley is once again playing a major role to launch American astronauts to space on American-made rockets.”

CEO of Dynetics, David King, has been a long time proponent of increased space technology across the Tennessee Valley. And he once worked at Marshall Space Flight Center. He added, “We’re very excited about this capability to build these large aerospace structures here in Decatur-Morgan County.”

Beyond the obvious economic impact of the project, it a major piece in Alabama’s ever growing space industry. From Huntsville to the new complex in Decatur, the Yellowhammer state is hurtling forward in the industry.

There are 25 immediate jobs, and when the complex opens in late 2018, residents of Decatur should expect to see a flurry of opportunities follow.

Touching on the impact he hopes the aerospace will have on the city, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said, “We have over 14,000 residents that travel daily east of here to go to work, it’s time we’re able to help those residents stay here in Decatur and work.”


11 months ago

Huntsville Takes Major Step To Be The Landing Ground For New Generation Spacecraft

Photo: Sierra Nevada Corporation Facebook
Photo: Sierra Nevada Corporation Facebook

The Huntsville International Airport recently applied for a FAA license to land Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Dream Chaser spacecraft.

Unlike NASA’s orbiter fleet that is now retired, Dream Chaser is based on a aerodynamic design that allows the entire aircraft to act as the wing. It has small winglets that allow it to have directional stability, but its major advantage is the higher lift-to-drag ratio. This gives it a variety of landing zones previously inaccessible to NASA’s old shuttle program.

As reported by WHNT News, this is the second phase in the quest to bring the spacecraft to Alabama. In the first phase, the runway and taxiway environments of Huntsville’s airport had to be tested against the capabilities of Dream Chaser.

Now that the city is moving into the second phase, Huntsville International Airport Executive Director Rick Tucker said,

“The preliminary study proved the feasibility of landing so now we are pleased to announce that we have initiated the permitting process with the FAA. This is much more than an economic development project that will bring additional business to the airport and the community. This represents a shared vision of Huntsville as a leader in the commercial space economy as the first community to make a commitment to this vehicle and its role in space commerce.”

The FAA permitting process is expected to take up to 24 months. However, Huntsville is the first international airport to take part in the process.

In a statement by SNC’s Vice President of Business Relations, John Roth said,

“We are very excited to be working with Huntsville as the first commercial airport that will apply for a FAA permit to land Dream Chaser after an orbital mission. We feel that the ability to land a space mission on a commercial runway anywhere in the world is a big advantage of our vehicle and will bring space up close and personal to thousands of people who can come out and see the landings.”

Departing from the way space exploration was conducted in the past, there is an increasing interest in the private sector. Companies like Space X are now developing technology that they hope will make space travel accessible to the general public in the coming years.

With Huntsville being an epicenter for space and rocket development, winning a contract with Dream Chaser would bring national attention to the state.

11 months ago

Huntsville Provides Free Internet To School Families

Photo: Huntsville City Schools Facebook
Photo: Huntsville City Schools Facebook

As reported by WHNT News, Huntsville was chosen to be the recipient of a 1.2 million dollar grant aimed at eliminating the technology gap facing our society. So now the school system is offering free T-Mobile hot spots to families with students in grades 3-12.

The project has been online for two weeks, and now half the hot spots are providing families with 24/7 Wifi.

According to a spokesperson from the city school system, Huntsville was able to purchase over 6,000 hot spots with the grant.

Keith Ward, with Huntsville City Schools, said,

“You can go to our home page, there’s a banner there that has the T-Mobile EmpowerEd on it. You can click on that and find out more about it; there’s actually a link to an application. . . We have laptops that are issued in grades 3-12 for students, and the resources are placed on there, but to be able to take full advantage and to get all of the things that you want to take advantage of, having the internet is key.”

According to Ward, if you can get free lunch then you’ll qualify for the program.

11 months ago

Huntsville Rocket Center Receives $10 Million Grant

Rocket Park in Huntsville (photo courtesy of the Marshall Space Flight Center)

In a recent visit from Gov. Kay Ivey, Huntsville received some welcome news. As reported by WHNT News, Gov. Ivey awarded a $10 million economic development grant aimed at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (USSRC).

Part of the grant will fund the construction of a cyber camp for Alabama students. A place where they can go to become inspired about the future of technology and exploration.

In a statement from the USSRC, they said, “U.S. Cyber Camp will target Alabama’s awareness of careers and degrees in cybersecurity, and as an extension of the Space Camp model, build leadership and team building skills, and increase students’ confidence and performance in math and science.”

While the final details of the building have not been worked out yet, it is clear that the new building will connect the museum and Davidson Center. And it might even be big enough to hold a Saturn V rocket.

In her remarks about the new grant, Gov. Ivey said,“Today is a great day for Huntsville, North Alabama, and indeed the great state of Alabama,” said Ivey. “In order to have a workforce that is prepared for the 21st century and can field jobs for the 21st century, we must train our students in technology.”

A curriculum is now being developed, with hopes that they can get the school underway as soon as possible.

CEA Deborah Barnhart emphasized the need for the Rocket Center. Not resting on our laurels, she insists we must continue to innovate. And in a statement to reporters, she said, “In order to meet the growing demand and expand our mission to inspire the next generation of explorers and leaders, the Rocket Center must grow,” She said“We need more classrooms, more simulation space, more space to showcase the life-changing progress of NASA, TVA, the Army, the MDA, the FBI, and all of our Team Redstone partners. And we need room for US Cyber Camp.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is extremely pleased with the progress being made in his city, noting that it will be known for “cyber.”

This is just one in a string of development programs going on throughout the state.