The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

6 years ago

Alabama leaders recall where they were on 9/11/2001

9.11 slider

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I was sitting in my high school U.S. government class when a school administrator burst through the classroom door, startling everyone and imploring the teacher to turn on the television immediately. “Everyone pay attention,” she said. “You’ll never forget this.”

She had no idea how right she’d be.

From Saddam’s ouster to the ongoing war in Afghanistan; from the Patriot Act to the NSA scandal; from “The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon” to “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda” — every significant crisis or achievement my generation has experienced has been viewed through the lens of 9/11.

We reached out to some of Alabama’s leaders to find out where they were when they heard the news. Do you remember where you were?

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

Sen. Richard Shelby:

Richard ShelbyI was walking into my office Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, when I learned that the first tower had been hit. Right away I remember thinking that it was no accident. A few minutes later, the second tower was hit. We had to evacuate the Senate office buildings immediately. They were concerned that the Capitol would be the next target. We learned after the second tower was attacked that they had also crashed into the Pentagon. Then I knew this was a serious, coordinated attack. At that time, I was Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, so I was getting all types of calls from various national security officials that morning.

It was a very sad, sobering day. I knew it was the beginning of a lot more to come. Twelve years later, we’ve come a long way in our fight against terrorism, but it isn’t over. I am always concerned about another attack. We must remain vigilant.

Sen. Jeff Sessions:

Jeff SessionsOn this anniversary we pause to honor the memory of the fallen and the sacrifices of the civilians, first responders and military personnel who gave their lives for their countrymen. Indeed, but for the heroes on Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, the Capitol may have been destroyed and hundreds of lives lost.

None of us will ever forget where we were on that day the world changed forever. I was at the Supreme Court when the Pentagon was hit. The Chief Justice received notes from staff and reluctantly, it appeared, adjourned the meeting. I walked back to my office with the Capitol building to my left. Aircraft were flying over the Capitol. Soon the Senate office buildings were evacuated.

It was one of America’s darkest hours. But in the depths of that darkness we witnessed the strength and resolve of a nation that refused to yield or bend in the face of terror.

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus:

Spencer Bachus Yellow Hammer PoliticsOn 9/11, I was in my congressional office preparing for the day’s session. At what now seems like the same moment, I saw the World Trade Center towers fall on the television while, from the windows of the Capitol, we could see smoke billowing from the Pentagon. What I also remember is the heroism of the passengers on Flight 93, which was taken down over Pennsylvania, because many believe that plane was headed for the Capitol at a time when Members and tourists were gathering in the House chambers for the beginning of the session. Twelve years later, the victims of 9/11 and their families remain in our thoughts and we owe gratitude to our troops for the sacrifices they have made in protecting our safety and freedom.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby:

YH Martha RobyI remember turning on the television and seeing the horror unfold. I went to college in New York (NYU), and what I saw on television was just too real. I had friends who still lived in the city who I immediately called to make sure they were safe.

But I also remember how the American people responded with unity and determination to defend this land, and defend one another. How we were truly one people rallying around each other and not letting our differences get in the way of what we had to do. Twelve years and two wars later, we are a weary, divided nation. But I hope one day soon we can get back to that uniquely American spirit of unity and togetherness that throughout history has helped make us the exceptional nation.

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard:

Speaker of Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard Yellow Hammer PoliticsI was in my office at the Auburn Network. One of my employees, Al Mason, popped his head in my office and told me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I asked if it was a small plane, an accident, or for any details, and he had none. Everyone in the building went to the main broadcast studio and watched on TV as the second plane hit. It was a sickening feeling and I remember the shock on everyone’s face. We were in a special legislative session that day that started at 1 p.m., so I drove to Montgomery listening all the way to the radio reports of what was going on. When I pulled up to the State House, it was eerie because of all of the security surrounding the complex. By the time I arrived, we knew that it was a terrorist attack and that the Pentagon had also been hit. I remember a sense of uneasiness because no one knew the extent of it all. At the beginning of the session, I had requested that my pastor and close friend, Dr. George Mathison from Auburn United Methodist Church, be allowed to deliver the opening prayer on September 11. It was a blessing to have someone so dear to my family and me delivering the prayer at such a frightening time for all Alabamians and Americans. I remember Dr. Mathison delivered a very serious, very solemn prayer as we started our work in the House. We went about our business that day, which was the right thing to do for the people of Alabama, but I’m pretty sure no Member could entirely focus on legislation that day.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange:

I will never forget the morning of September 11, 2001. I was in Washington in a meeting on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. The Pentagon had just been hit when I joined the evacuation of the city.

Alabama State Sen. Arthur Orr:

Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr Yellow Hammer PoliticsI remember well September 11, 2001. I had just taken a job in Decatur after returning from working for several years with Habitat for Humanity in Asia. My wife was expecting and due at anytime. It was a beautiful day in North Alabama when a co-worker told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. No one thought of terrorism while we huddled around the t.v. watching the smoking tower. But when the second plane hit and reports of other hi-jacked planes started coming in, terrorism became the obvious motive. My son was born the next day and I recall being in the delivery room with the television on as the rescue efforts began. We thought there would certainly be survivors in the mound of rubble. There weren’t any. Holding my new born son for the first time in the midst of so much loss and destruction being shown on television, I thought to myself, “‘What kind of world will he grow up in?”

Alabama State Sen. Clay Scofield,

YH Clay ScofieldI had just begun my junior year at Auburn University when 9/11 happened. I got in my truck after class and heard that a plane had hit one of the twin towers in New York. I rushed home and turned on the television just before the second plane hit. I couldn’t believe it.

What I remember most about that day was when the first tower collapsed and Dan Rather couldn’t say a word, he just sat in silence. I think that’s how every American felt at that exact moment — utterly speechless. I personally was in disbelief that this was happening. I still remember the instant deep sadness that I felt for the victims and their families and the intense anger that I felt toward whoever had carried out that horrendous act on my fellow Americans. Over the next few days I remember being very proud of the intense patriotism that my fellow students showed and the resolve that they had in their hearts for justice.

Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward:

Senator Cam WardI was flying on a US Air Flight into Washington DC during the entire attack. We were escorted by fighter jets to Parkersberg, WV. We landed and I could hear all of the cell phones in the overhead compartment start beeping with messages from our families back home. We had no idea what had happened until the captain came back in the cabin to tell us terrorists had attacked the US and we were grounded. I ended up finding one of two rental cars in the airport and driving back to Alabaster that night.

Alabama College GOP Chair Stephanie Petelos:

YH Stephanie PetelosI was in 5th grade and didn’t find out about what happened until after school. I remember the teachers acting odd. A lot of kids got checked out. My teacher had us all write “9-11-01” on a sheet of paper and told us we’d remember today forever. All the kids were really confused until we got home. My neighbor’s mom met us at the bus stop, which she never did. She had clearly been crying. She told us what happened, but we didn’t really understand. I don’t know when the weight of what actually happened hit me, I guess that night while watching the news and talking to my parents. I hope kids my age and younger who don’t have vivid memories or understanding of the 9/11 attacks can still remember this day and how much it changed our country and the world.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

6 years ago

Rachel Maddow misunderstands Alabama GOP amendment vote

On her Monday night MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow reacted to the weekend’s proceedings at the Alabama Republican Party summer meeting, primarily the party’s decision to not impose an edict banning steering committee members from publicly opposing any part of the party’s national platform.

An amendment to the party’s bylaws was originally conceived after Alabama College Republican chairwoman Stephanie Petelos reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act by voicing her support for gay marriage.

The ALGOP executive committee’s decision to reject that amendment was a move to prevent the party from stifling free speech and expression, but Maddow seemed to interpret the vote as somewhat of an endorsement of “marriage equality.”

After criticizing “deep blue Illinois” for pushing out a pro-gay marriage GOP chairman, Maddow suggested they take a cue from “crimson red Alabama.”

“Well, if you head a couple states south of Illinois, and a little to the right, you will find yourself in the great state of Alabama, which is not a blue state. It is not even close. Not even remotely purple, crimson tide and all that,” Maddow said. “Well, in Alabama on this issue, something weird has also just happened. After the pro-gay marriage ruling from the Supreme Court earlier this summer, the chair of the Alabama College Republicans came out in support of what the Supreme Court did. She came out in support of marriage equality in Alabama — in Alabama Republican politics.”

“She even went so far as to criticize the record of harsh anti-gay rhetoric from her fellow Republicans saying, quote, ‘We are governed by the Constitution and not the Bible,’” Maddow continued. “Alabama Republicans did not see that coming, right? Once that happened, though, what happened next was probably inevitable. The old muckety-muck in the state Republican Party decided this upstart president of the College Republicans needed to feel the wrath of a Republican Party purge. They decided they would set out new bylaws requiring that anybody in a job, like, say, being head of the college Republicans in the state, would have to agree with everything in the Republican Party’s national platform. No dissent allowed. If you did not agree with the national party’s anti-gay official platform, you could not be in a leadership role in the state.”

The dispute received national attention when the amendment sponsored by Don Wallace of Tuscaloosa and Bonnie Sachs of Double Springs was made public by Yellowhammer News and then picked up by national media outlets, including left-leaning websites like Talking Points Memo and BuzzFeed Politics, which put the issue on Maddow’s radar.

“So, College Republican president says something shockingly not anti- gay,” Maddow said. “Alabama party elders decide to change the rules of the party so to as allow themselves to kick her out of her job for not holding that anti-gay enough views. And this weekend, the party voted on this issue and decided that they would side with the president of the College Republicans. In Alabama — Alabama Republicans voted not to change their rules to allow themselves to fire her. So, she gets to keep her job. And that means if you are keeping score at home, Republicans in Alabama it turns out are less anti-gay than Republicans in Illinois. Go figure.”

Maddow continued on by saying that Republicans are the key to increasing the number of states with laws endorsing gay marriage.

“Republicans are the ones who are all over the map and changing fast, and changing in unpredictable ways and in unpredictable places,” she added. “And those internal Republican dynamics which we will be learning about and we will be surprised by one red state at a time all over the country, those are going to be the determining force for what happens in this major civil rights issue in our country right now, which is why it makes sense that when the ACLU decided to hire a new strategist to try to flip more states into being pro-marriage equality they did not hire a Democrat, they hired a Republican. They hired a major league hugely respected Republican heavyweight strategist [Steve Schmidt] to try to flip more states into supporting marriage equality.”

Maddow clearly doesn’t understand what happened in Alabama over the weekend, which I suppose is hardly a surprise.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorRachel Maddow

7 years ago

Bentley Chooses Unlikely Moment to Announce Re-Election Bid

Governor Robert Bentley was the keynote speaker Saturday at the annual Alabama College Republicans State Convention. UA’s student-run newspaper, The Crimson White, was the only media outlet in the room, but even they didn’t seem to catch what happened as Bentley spoke to the room full of college students.

The phrase “When I run for re-election in 2014…” set Bentley staffers in motion as they realized it was the first time the Governor had publicly acknowledged his intention to seek a second term. The announcement itself comes as no surprise, especially to staffers who were aware of his plans, but the timing and venue were a bit unexpected.

Yellowhammer was told that the Governor’s team immediately went to work preparing the paperwork that must be filed after his public announcement.

“The Governor was elected in 2010 with one of the youngest campaign staffs in recent memory,” a source close to the Governor told Yellowhammer Saturday afternoon. “He knows the young people in that room will be a huge part of his re-election effort. Making the announcement today shows how important their help is to him.”

The Obama economy has been especially tough on young people. Roughly half of college graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed or underemployed working in jobs that don’t utilize the skills or knowledge they learned in college. Governor Bentley has pledged to not take a salary until Alabama reaches full employment. That message clearly resonates with millennials who have felt abandoned by an increasingly out-of-touch political class, particularly at the Federal level. “We were excited to have the Governor as our keynote speaker, and thrilled he chose our event to announce his re-election,” newly elected Alabama CR Chairman Stephanie Petelos told Yellowhammer. “We’re excited to work closely with his campaign to ensure he’s elected to a second term.”

Bentley continues to enjoy sky-high job approval ratings and even the usual rumors of a primary challenge have been few and far between. The Bentley campaign will begin to take shape pretty soon ahead of the 2014 fundraising window opens June 1 — less than two months from now.