10 months ago

The Yellowhammer 15 announced for 2019-2020

Yellowhammer Multimedia on Monday released the inaugural, 2019 class of the Yellowhammer 15.

The preeminent honor for those in the private sector that are moving Alabama forward to better days, the Yellowhammer 15 is a new annual list released by Yellowhammer.

Through job creation, economic impact, community involvement and philanthropic endeavors, these exemplary leaders in their professional fields make our great state a better place to live, work and raise a family:

Billy Ainsworth

The perfect exemplar of the Alabama Dream, Billy Ainsworth founded Steel Processing Services in 1983. A decade later, that company became Albertville-based Progress Rail Services and soon was the world’s largest builder of diesel-electric locomotives and one of the largest integrated and diversified suppliers of railroad and transit system products and services.

This all happened with Ainsworth at the helm, and his entrepreneurial and business acumen have only grown in repute following Caterpillar Inc.’s purchase of Progress Rail in 2006 for more than one billion dollars.

In fact, Caterpillar asked him to continue as Progress Rail’s CEO after the acquisition – which he did while serving in additional roles for Caterpillar such as senior vice president and strategic advisor until this March when the Alabamian reached another incredible milestone.

Ainsworth’s 25+ years at the helm of Progress Rail ended when he received this recent promotion to become just one of eight officers of Caterpillar.

He is now a group president of Caterpillar, having the responsibility for the company’s important Energy & Transportation segment, and this 1978 graduate of Auburn University is helping lead international operations for a Fortune 100 company that posted revenue of over $54 billion last year.

However, the climb to the top is not Ainsworth’s biggest story. Along the journey, he has remained committed to his community in Marshall County and the state of Alabama.

In a recent interview, Ainsworth identified his company’s values – which he has lived out over the course of his career and life: “integrity, excellence, teamwork, commitment and sustainability.”

There is perhaps no greater example of this than a story Yellowhammer News helped tell in 2016. Ainsworth was integral in the founding of both Project Literacy and Project Graduation, along with Progress Rail initiatives such as Christmas for Kids and major donations to Big Oak Ranch.

As Attorney General Steve Marshall once said, Ainsworth and Progress Rail are an “outstanding example of a corporation who cared to give back to the community,” further calling them “a shining example of how corporate/government partnership… can reshape communities and change lives for years to come.”

Tommy Brigham

Tommy Brigham’s alma mater says that it seeks to equip its graduates with the ability to “talk about the ways in which your work has had an impact on you, others, and the world.”

The good people at Emory & Henry College can rest assured that Brigham is able to do exactly that – and then some.

He is one of the most successful real estate developers in Alabama. His ventures include having founded Brigham-Williams in 1982, serving as chairman and president of RealtySouth and his most recent endeavor, co-founding ARC Realty.

It is ARC Realty where he has been able to apply the teachings of his faith and decades of experience interacting with people. With “ARC” standing for “A Relationship Company,” Brigham and his business partners have sought to create a unique organizational culture built on the principle written in Philippians 2:3-4.

“That means that when our agents walk in the door, when our employees walk in the door, we’re serving them,” he recently explained to the Living Life on Purpose podcast. “Our first and foremost focus is to serve them with whatever tools, technology, training, professional standards we can provide because we want the buyer and seller to feel the same way. We want our agents serving above self.”

His work outside of business has been guided by the same compass. Brigham is a true servant. A mere sampling of his charitable activity includes his involvement in ministries to the poor as far away as Uganda and as close as Birmingham. He serves on the board of directors of Cornerstone Schools, helped found First Priority and has worked with Prison Fellowship for many years.

Brigham’s work truly has had an impact on others and the world.

Stephanie Bryan

One of the most consequential leaders in the storied history of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Stephanie Bryan in 2014 became the first female elected to the position of Tribal chair and CEO.

A constant on Yellowhammer’s Power & Influence list since then, Bryan has shown over the course of her unprecedented career how truly generational leaders can change the fortunes of an organization or community.

In fact, as of last year, the tribe’s economy had grown a stunning 1,000% since Bryan began serving as vice-chair in 2006.

She has also been intently focused on ensuring this growth benefits every member of her tribe, as Bryan helped spearhead the effort to provide healthcare to all tribal members and led the initiative to establish the Buford L. Rolin Health Clinic and the Lavan Martin Assisted Living Facility.

Her impact, while historic for her tribe, has also reverberated across Alabama and the nation.

Whether it be the tens of millions of dollars in charitable contributions, sponsorships and mutual aid agreements spread across the Yellowhammer State during her tenure, covering all of the funeral costs for recent east Alabama tornado victims or paying to help relocate and improve Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 9, Bryan continues to be a role model for handling success in the best way possible.

“I will always stay humble, no matter how far we grow as a Tribe,” Bryan has said. “I will always remember where I come from and how blessed I have been.”

Greg Brown

One wonders whether Greg Brown has ever met an opportunity to serve his community and his state that he did not accept. Beyond the quantifiable success of his business, the stewardship of his time, energy and resources have provided a model for others looking to ensure Alabama continues moving forward.

As chairman and CEO of B.R. Williams Trucking, Inc., his company employs more than 315 people with locations in Oxford, Mobile, Anniston, Eastaboga, Piedmont and Tallahassee, Florida. It provides trucking, warehousing and logistics services and manages 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space with a fleet that travels the entire continental United States and Canada.

Within the business community, he has held voluntary leadership positions for the Alabama Trucking Association, American Trucking Association and Business Council of Alabama. Brown is also a member of the board of directors of NobleBank & Trust in Anniston.

His past chairmanships in local communities include the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, the North East Alabama Entrepreneurial Center and The Donoho School. He has led the Oxford Rotary Club and the Anniston Museum Endowment and served on the boards of the Knox Concert Series, YMCA of Calhoun County and the Alabama Policy Institute. Additionally, he is a Sunday School teacher and Deacon at The First Baptist Church of Weaver.

A vocal proponent of the need to prioritize education in the state, Brown also serves as a member of the board of trustees at Jacksonville State University.

As Alabama seeks to mold its next generation of leaders, Greg Brown’s approach to the opportunities around him provides a guide for that development.

Bill Carr

Bill Carr is a visionary who has shown entrepreneurs and business leaders across Alabama what is possible with an idea and a commitment to serving the best interests of your clients.

Founder and managing partner of an accounting firm based out of Enterprise, his firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram is one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the country and has experienced year-over-year growth since its inception in 1997. It has been categorized by Accounting Today as a top 20 CPA firm nationally. The firm, as currently constituted, employs nearly 2,000 professionals and has offices in 65 locations across the United States.

The firm cites its core values as the driving influence behind its operation and growth. Its “CRI” philosophy is client service, respect and integrity. As an example of that philosophy at work, Carr often tells the story of his representation of a manufacturing company in his native Samson, Alabama. Referred to the company by an existing client back in 1977, Carr met with the owner of the company who had become disabled and faced some unique challenges in order to operate his business. Carr built a lasting relationship with the company and the family who ran it, and they are still a Carr, Riggs & Ingram client today.

Carr’s business acumen has never been in question. With his various business interests beyond Carr, Riggs & Ingram, he has been a job creator throughout the Wiregrass and beyond. Yellowhammer News has recognized Bill Carr in a previous year as one of the most influential regional leaders in Alabama.

Representing some of Alabama’s largest institutions, such as the Retirement Systems of Alabama and the Community College System, Bill Carr has left his mark throughout the state.

Mark Crosswhite

When it comes to titans of industry, Mark Crosswhite is in a league of his own. However, his impact extends far wider than his 1.4 million+ customer base or his 7,000+ group of employees.

Chairman, president and CEO of Alabama Power Company, Crosswhite is an Alabama-made juggernaut who personifies everything good about our great state. A native of Decatur, he received his bachelor’s degree in 1984 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and his juris doctorate in 1987 from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Crosswhite’s civic involvement is the stuff of legends. He recently led the efforts to return the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) to glory, still serving as chair until later this year. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

He has served as chairman of the board of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and on numerous corporate, civic and nonprofit boards, including the Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham Business Alliance, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc., Southern Research, the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, UAB Health System and Leadership Birmingham. He also serves on the President’s Advisory Council of the Freshwater Land Trust and is a member of the President’s Cabinet of the University of Alabama.

And, under his leadership, the Alabama Power Foundation, as well as other philanthropic and charitable endeavors of the company, continues to outdo itself when it comes to serving the people of Alabama.

After all, under Crosswhite’s steady hand, the company is excelling in much more than keeping the lights on – call that the “Power of Good.”

Joe Fine

Bestowing the “greatest ever” designation on someone is never as easy as it might seem. In the midst of its current historic run, Joe Fine’s beloved Alabama Crimson Tide are confronted with the enviable dilemma of deciding whether Paul “Bear” Bryant or Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach ever.

For those who follow Alabama’s governmental affairs and lobbying world, the decision is much easier.

Public service dominated the early part of Fine’s career. He served as District Attorney for Franklin County and Assistant Insurance Commissioner for the state of Alabama. Soon, he was elected to the Alabama State Senate where he served two terms, including a term in the powerful position of President Pro Tem. Awards and recognition came steadily for Fine. However, his most significant achievement was yet to come.

Following his career in public service, Fine was able to develop and implement a business plan in a way in which all entrepreneurs aspire. Through innovation, application and a relentless work ethic, he was able to build a business to service a fundamental principle of our republican form of government: people should have the ability to seek redress in their government. He capitalized on the simple notion that it is not economically viable for each store owner or business executive to take time off and go to Montgomery themselves.

At the time when Fine started his governmental affairs practice in Montgomery, there were few others in the business. And no one who employed the type of focus and intensity he did. As one long-time member of the Alabama Legislature told us, “Joe Fine essentially invented lobbying in the state of Alabama.”

The mark that Fine has left on public policy and politics in Alabama will be felt for generations. Sometimes determining who is the greatest ever at something is not all that difficult.

Johnny Johns

Johnny Johns has the type of distinguished record as a business leader that puts him in rarified air. During his tenure holding the positions of chairman, president and CEO of Protective Life Corporation, the company’s market value increased from $580 million to $5.6 billion.

Johns shepherded the acquisition of Protective by Dai-ichi Life of Tokyo, Japan and continues to serve an active role in Protective’s dealings with Dai-ichi as its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary. As leader of Protective, Johns was known as an innovator, an advocate for the company’s aggressive acquisition of life insurance policies and a promoter of a corporate culture valuing its employees and work environment.

Yet, Johns’ legacy will be his efforts to make the people and places closest to him better.

In both the business community and the community-at-large, he has sought to empower those around him. He served as chairman of Birmingham Business Alliance, Business Council of Alabama, McWane Science Center, Innovation Depot and Boy Scouts of America – Greater Alabama Council.

His extensive philanthropic activities include fundraising and leadership roles for Children’s Aid Society, Railroad Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Innovation Depot, McWane Science Center and Pre-School Partners.

He served as co-chair of The Campaign for UAB and, in his time as president and CEO, Protective Life Foundation made almost $40 million in contributions across Alabama communities.

Booker T. Washington once said, “Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than the large things; to the everyday things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.”

The sustained success Johnny Johns has enjoyed will long resonate with those whose lives were enhanced because he cared about the place he lives.

Dave King

The CEO of Dynetics in Huntsville, Dave King is on the front lines of Alabama’s continued ascent as an international leader in the aerospace and defense sectors.

He has helped lead in this field for decades now, having been a former director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center with an incredible career at the agency.

Now, he is at the helm of an Alabama company that is at the forefront of innovation. Be it keeping our nation safe or taking Americans back to the Moon and beyond, Dynetics is a worldwide leader in their field.

Founded in the Rocket City in 1974, the company is now wholly employee-owned.

This community-mindedness is evident in Dynetics’ operations and their priorities. Enjoying record successes, King recently explained what makes Dynetics so special.

“We are investing and reinvesting in our communities, helping create a better place to live, not only for our employees and their families, but everyone around us. I believe we have a moral imperative to do that,” said King.

The company has been a major supporter of causes such as Village of Promise, HudsonAlpha Foundation and the Riley Center.

Like all great leaders, that focus starts at the top. King personally has made giving back of himself a priority, currently serving as vice-chairman of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation board.

Jimmy Parnell

From rural Chilton County, Jimmy Parnell’s rise to become a four-term chairman of the board, president and CEO of Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation is already set to leave a legacy for future generations to benefit from.

Parnell, a fifth-generation farmer, is at the helm of Alabama’s biggest industry at a pivotal time in history.

His leadership continues to help steer the federation past serious challenges – and his vision has paved the way for tremendous growth potential in areas of the state that need it most.

This has come through policy efforts, such as the federation’s support of rural broadband efforts and commonsense regulations.

Yet, the crowning jewel of Parnell’s tenure, when all is said and done, is sure to be the Alabama Farm Center in Chilton County.

When completed, the center is expected to have an annual economic impact between $40-55 million for the surrounding area.

Parnell, as chair of the federation’s foundation, is responsible for this landmark project. But he also oversees one of the state’s most giving organizations and corporations, with Alfa and the federation regularly making huge contributions to community and educational causes.

Jimmy Rane

Duty, honor, country.

These are the values espoused by Jimmy Rane’s Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc. and its flagship brand, Yellawood.

However, these are also the ideals by which Rane has lived and led.

Speaking at the grand opening of Abbeville Fiber recently, Rane stressed, “You’ve got to have a purpose [in life].”

Driven by that three-word purpose, Rane has become Alabama’s richest man and a worldwide industry titan.

The money, though, for him was never the end goal. To Rane, his fortune is much more of a means, which is evidenced by the unparalleled ways in which he gives back.

Whether it be the millions and millions of scholarship dollars the Jimmy Rane Foundation has given to college students or a host of other causes, philanthropy is near and dear to his heart.

But his true impact is much, much more than monetary contributions.

Congressman Bradley Byrne recently remarked, “I don’t think any of us totally appreciates what Jimmy Rane does for this part of Alabama and Alabama as a whole.”

For the people of southeast Alabama, Rane is many things – “hero” being one term used to describe the “Yella Fella.”

He is, however, also a role model.

Rane does not just live out his purpose – he instills these values in others.

The world would be a much better place with more Jimmy Ranes.

Britt Sexton

When it comes to increasing his civic and philanthropic involvement, it’s seemingly never over for Britt Sexton.

His day job(s) serving as CEO of Sexton Inc., CEO of FS Financial Inc., managing member of Sexton Investments LLC and leader of the Sexton Charitable Foundation merely begins to describe how the Decatur man spends his time.

An influential trustee for the University of Alabama System, Sexton is on the executive committee of the Morgan County Economic Development, the University of Alabama President’s Cabinet, the Crimson Tide Foundation and the Decatur Rotary Club. He is a past chair of the Decatur General Hospital Foundation.

Known as one of North Alabama’s greatest philanthropists, Sexton and his wife, Susan, have also endowed scholarships at UAB, among a seemingly unending list of items he supports.

Sexton has had a large influence on many in Alabama for years, but his rise over the last decade has been especially remarkable.

From being named first to Yellowhammer’s “Local Leader 20,” followed by recognition on the “Who’s Next?” list and finally the Power & Influence list itself, Sexton has become one of the most meaningful Alabamians – without most of his fellow residents knowing it.

Jody Singer

As one of the leading figures in the United States space program, it is no surprise Jody Singer has been recognized as a University of Alabama Legend.

A native of Hartselle, Singer has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility throughout her 32-year NASA career in the areas of human spaceflight, technology and science flight missions programs and projects.

When she was named the 15th director of Marshall Space Flight Center — and the first woman ever to serve in that position – her legendary status was cemented.

With an approximately $2.8 billion budget, Marshall Space Flight Center has a well-documented legacy in rocket engineering and is charged with innovation and technical development for the nation’s space systems.

As director, Singer oversees everything for one of NASA’s largest field installations, with nearly 6,000 on-site and near-site civil service and contractor employees. Economic impact estimates say that the center is, directly and indirectly, responsible for more than 24,000 jobs across North Alabama.

The magnitude of that impact, and the people and families it affects, is not lost on Singer.

“When I look at how the ‘Rocket City’ has played a part, and will continue to be a part of writing the chapters of human space exploration and discovery, I am proud to be from Alabama,” she told Yellowhammer News earlier this year. “It is wonderful to contribute to something bigger than myself and important to our nation. It is so rewarding to wake up every day and know that I contribute to a workforce dedicated to discovering the unknown, enabling human space exploration and making a difference in our everyday lives here on earth.”

Gary Smith

As president and CEO of PowerSouth, Gary Smith leads an energy cooperative fiercely committed to developing communities across Alabama. And Smith has his company well-positioned for that leadership role.

A graduate of the University of North Alabama, where he was recently appointed to the board of trustees, Smith has led PowerSouth from his current position since 2000. PowerSouth is the second-largest utility provider in the state and distributes electricity to 39 counties in Alabama and 10 throughout northwest Florida.

With some major economic development successes and having fought to expand high-speed internet access for rural communities, PowerSouth was named as a top utility in economic development by Site Selection.

Smith maintains an acute awareness of what it means to fulfill the infrastructure needs of rural communities, including through broadband expansion.

“Communities without strong information infrastructure are rarely viable candidates for economic growth. Businesses will only locate where they can communicate,” Smith explained to Yellowhammer News.

In addition to promoting the development of the communities its members serve, Smith’s company works to promote growth across Alabama as a member of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and the Alabama Marketing Allies, which showcases the state to site selectors and other prospective industries.

This is all part of the company’s economic development plan promoted by Smith called the PowerSouth Playbook, which was created in 2016 to complement the activities of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

When Alabamians seek out leaders devoted to developing communities to improve economic opportunities and enhance quality of life, they need not look any further than Gary Smith.

Tim Vines

Character in leadership matters in every organization. The effect of a leader who leads with the best interest of others in mind fuels productivity and has a multiplying impact throughout the organization.

Tim Vines, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, ascribes to that approach for his company. Vines leads the largest provider of healthcare benefits in the state, serving nearly 3 million members. His company employs more than 3,600 people and has a presence in every county in the state of Alabama.

Vines has worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield for 25 years, holding various management positions throughout his time there. He ascended to his present position in November 2017.

He is a LaFayette, Alabama native who graduated from Auburn University, where he was a member of the baseball team. Perhaps the most clear statement of his leadership style came as part of a video series in which he took part on behalf of Auburn last year.

Vines said, “Everything I try to do every single day is to make sure that I do it with honesty, with integrity and with uprightness. And in doing so, I am representing my God, I am representing my family, I am representing my company and I am representing my university well.”

And his volunteer and community activities are extensive. He is a past chairman of the board of trustees for Samford University. He is a member of the board of directors for the American Red Cross Alabama Region and the Better Business Bureau serving South and Central Alabama. Vines is also a Deacon at Shades Mountain Baptist Church.

During his time as board chairman at Samford, university president Andrew Westmoreland remarked, “He’s one of the finest leaders that I have ever known, and we are extremely fortunate to rely on his effective involvement at Samford.”

More about the Yellowhammer 15:

Unlike the Power & Influence 40 list, a person can be recognized in the Yellowhammer 15 only once in a lifetime. Not only will this honor be exclusive, but the accumulation of inductees over time will also compile a “hall of fame” type list synonymous with the pinnacle of professional and civic achievement.

However, this list is about more than just honoring these leaders — the Yellowhammer 15 is a call to action.

Over the coming months, Yellowhammer will encourage these 15 honorees to recommit themselves to the transcendental efforts that landed them a place on this prestigious list. Brighter days for Alabama are possible because of leaders like these.

For now, enjoy the Power & Influence 40, which will be released over the remainder of this week, starting with numbers 31-40 on Tuesday.

This all leads up to the main event, with both the Yellowhammer 15 and the Power & Influence 40 being celebrated through the 5th annual Power of Service event, which will take place Thursday, October 17, in Montgomery.

Read more about the event here.

2 hours ago

Restoration of Alabama’s Lightning Point nearly complete

Work to restore and preserve one of Alabama’s most iconic and important coastal habitats is wrapping up as planners shift their focus to building trails, boat ramps and a pavilion at the site.

The Nature Conservancy in Alabama (TNCA) said heavy construction at Lightning Point in Bayou La Batre is almost complete. Judy Haner, Marine Program director, said contractors finished this phase of the project two months ahead of schedule.

“The contractors really went above and beyond,” Haner said. “The great thing about working with really good contractors is they know how to do it and to do it right. They found ways to do a couple of things at the same time, so it saved us time and made this project progress faster than what we thought.”

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Lightning Point restoration moves into next phase from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Contractors installed two jetties at the mouth of the channel and 1.5 miles of overlapping, segmented breakwaters along both sides of the navigation channel. The breakers provide a buffer from waves and boat wakes while the jetties help maintain access for all types of vessels, including commercial shrimp boats and recreational bay boats.

“The project was about more than the habitats,” Haner said. “It was about how those habitats supported the fisheries and the livelihoods, how the breakwaters protect the entry to Bayou La Batre, this fishing hamlet on the coast of Mississippi Sound. That is the biggest win for me.”

TNCA broke ground on the restoration project in April 2019 after securing support from public agencies and private organizations, including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Alabama Power. As the project got underway, additional support was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security ActCITGORestore America’s Estuaries, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, the city of Bayou La Batre, Mobile CountyDauphin Island Sea LabMobile Bay National Estuary ProgramPartners for Environmental ProgressUABEmbrace the Gulf 2020Alabama Law Enforcement AgencyAlma Bryant High School and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Haner said construction was handled by engineers and contractors at Moffatt & NicholGEC, J & W Marine, Magnolia Dredge & Dock, Wildlife Solutions and Hydroterra.

“When we first started this project and we saw this schematic our engineer firm, Moffatt & Nichol, came up with, we all thought, ‘Doesn’t that sound good? It looks good. It’s pretty on paper, but can we really build it?’” Haner said. “What we’ve seen is we have. We’ve watched that transformation over time and what’s really cool is the community has watched that transformation over time and they are excited.”

In addition to the breakwaters and jetties, the project created 40 acres of coastal habitats ranging from marshes to tidal creeks, scrub-shrubs and shell hash beaches that support a wide range of fish, shellfish and birds.

“We’re really excited about the diversity of the habitats we’ve been able to create at this project,” Haner said. “The wildlife we’ve seen over on the west side – otters, alligators and, in our tidal creeks, we have schools of minnows that have come in and are already using areas that don’t have the habitat fully set yet. So if you will build it, it looks like they will come.”

The project got its first test in June when Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall in Louisiana, dumping lots of rain and generating a 4-foot storm surge at the new breakwaters. Haner said the breakwaters performed as designed.

“Four feet of water came over the top of these breakwaters, but it held up like a champ,” Haner said.

What’s Next?

As TNCA moves into the monitoring phase, Haner said its team is working with partners to construct and install multiple public access amenities at Lightning Point, including a new boat ramp, an ADA-compliant viewing platform, trails and pavilion.

“What we’re doing now is we’re trying to line up the contracts, which will be super-exciting,” Haner said. “We’re really looking at big things happening down here still, even though the major part of the construction is done.”

All of the amenities are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2020.

“The best thing about Lightning Point was how it brought the community together,” Haner said. “Everything that we heard from the community we were able to input and implement within this project. It’s really exciting.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

O’Neal Cancer Center and ADPH bring enhanced cervical cancer education and screening options to 13 counties in state

Women in 13 counties across Alabama are gaining better access to education and screening for cervical cancer through a collaboration between the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The ADPH Family Planning Community Education and Outreach Pilot, which began Aug. 1, provides a team of community health workers who will work to increase cervical cancer screenings throughout the state in Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Butler, Chilton, Dallas, Fayette, Lowndes, Macon, Shelby, Walker and Winston counties.

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Cervical cancer causes the deaths of about 4,000 women in the United States each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama has one of the highest cervical cancer mortality rates in the country.

Most cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus infection but can be treated successfully if found early. The HPV vaccine is effective in preventing cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers in men and women.

“We are excited to partner with ADPH to do this work. Local health departments are the only means of health care for many women and families in our medically underserved communities,” said Claudia Hardy, MPA, program director of the O’Neal Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement. “Our goal is to increase the number of people who use the local health department for health care.”

Seven community health workers from the Cancer Center, who live in the targeted areas, will educate the public about the services of local health departments, including cervical cancer screening and HPV testing. The team will also connect patients to additional resources within their communities.

The pilot program will run through Dec. 31. The initiative adopts a local grass-roots model already used by the Office of Community Outreach and Education to promote health awareness and cancer education.

“Historically, individuals in underserved communities are suspicious of health care systems,” said Grace Thomas, M.D., medical officer of Family Health Services at the ADPH. “Community health workers will serve a vital role in bridging this divide, particularly as the nation weathers the COVID-19 pandemic and women are less likely to seek routine well-woman care.”

Hardy called the initiative a natural fit for the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement, as cervical cancer is already among the “impact cancers” that the office targets. Additionally, Hardy says the program comes at a pivotal time when many health care needs may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For additional information on the partnership and resources, please contact coeinfo@uab.edu.

(Courtesy of UAB)

5 hours ago

Hey, ABC Board … know your role!

Let’s start with clearing the air … generally speaking, I don’t hang out in bars. This is not a puff piece to defend pub crawls. So before any of my folks, fans or friends think that I’m writing this because I was hoping for one last round after 11 p.m., the answer is “no.”

What I do have a problem with is unelected bureaucrats enacting policy outside of their charter that has the effect of shutting down private enterprise. Last week the Alabama Beverage Control Board did just that.

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Before putting my thoughts in print I took the time to review the enabling legislation that established the ABC Board and its mission. I also took the time to review Governor Ivey’s proclamations regarding Alabama’s societal efforts against the coronavirus. Nothing in the Code of Alabama or the various iterations of Governor Ivey’s orders told the ABC Board that they should become the arbiters of what time of day is considered safe and healthy. Although one Board member did espouse concern that late-night consumption could increase fraternization. Well, that’s every country song ever sung. But despite a complete lack of marshaling orders the members of the Board allegedly agonized over how best to save the good people of the state of Alabama from themselves … after 11 p.m. And just like that another regulatory agency created a sweeping blanket regulation that stymies the free market.

The immediate assumption if you take this at face value is that drinking alcohol in a social setting is inherently more dangerous after the evening news has concluded. It’s a true headscratcher. And in the meantime, business owners who have invested in tourism locales, entertainment venues, restaurants, and yes – bars, have to take another hit from the government that does damage to their ability to run a business. Only this time it wasn’t from the people they elected to watch over the state. It wasn’t from some form of representative leadership. The body blow this time came from an unelected group of people whose sole function is the determination of licensure to operate.

That’s right. The business owners on the receiving end of this jackslap face the potential loss of their license because it is the licensing authority who made the rule. That’s not my interpretation. The Board explicitly stated in their emergency proclamation that violators will be subject to license revocation.

Having reviewed the verbiage in the various statutes and proclamations I suspect that the ABC Board will attempt to assert that 28-3-47 of the Code of Alabama states “The board may, with the approval of the Governor, temporarily close all licensed places within any municipality during any period of emergency proclaimed to be such by the Governor.” But they didn’t do that. Nowhere in the ABC Board resolution does it state that the Governor approved of anything. The Board resolution simply recites the fact that the Governor has declared a state of emergency. The Board then took it upon themselves to shut down businesses at 11 p.m. each night.

I could also reasonably foresee the Board responding that 28-3-2 of the Code authorizes the ABC Board to act “for the protection of the public welfare, health, peace and morals of the people of the state.” We can set aside the part about peace and morals for now…what about “health?” Is it really the purview of the ABC Board, the body that issues and regulates liquor licenses, to interpret the time of day at which bars become “unhealthy?” The Supreme Court of Alabama has already weighed in on this in the 1995 case of Krupp Oil Co. v. Yeargan by affirming that the legislature may delegate certain powers to the various executive boards and branches (such as the ABC Board) to promulgate rules at their discretion but only if clear guidance is given to do so. In this case, the guidance given required the “approval of the Governor.”

The ABC Board is made up of appointees. They are non-elected officials with regulatory authority. They are not the governor. They are not the legislature. They are not the various city councils or county commissions in which these businesses lie. And they are not the owners of businesses who have been shut down for months and are struggling to do everything right under extreme conditions only to have their regulatory agency tell them that they cannot be trusted.

The law of this state does not give the ABC Board the authority to act in this manner without the express and open approval of the governor. The Board cannot speak for the governor, only the governor can voice that approval.

This is another proverbial slippery slope. If we sit idly by and say nothing which board of appointees will act next to limit life as we used to know it? Will the Board of Dental Examiners decide that cavities can only be filled after 3 p.m.? Will the Real Estate Commission decide that houses cannot be sold during the hours of darkness? This is not about bars my friends. This is about liberty, and regulatory intrusion, and the erosion of the free market.

Hey, ABC Board … know your role.

Phil Williams, API Director of Policy Strategy and General Counsel, is a former State Senator from Gadsden. For updates, follow him on Twitter at @SenPhilWilliams and visit alabamapolicy.org.

8 hours ago

UAH student rocket team takes third overall, first in safety at NASA Student Launch

A student rocket team at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) earned first place in project safety and third place overall in competition at a COVID-shortened national NASA Student Launch.

“The students worked really hard and faced a lot of technical challenges this year, not to mention a shutdown at the end of the spring semester,” says Dr. David Lineberry, team advisor and a research engineer at the UAH Propulsion Research Center (PRC).

“This is well deserved,” Dr. Lineberry said. “It would not have happened without support from the College of Engineering, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the Alabama Space Grant Consortium and the PRC.”

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The UAH team was mentored by Jason Winningham, who assisted in rocket launches and advised throughout the project.

“We are very proud of the accomplishments of the students and their UAH instructors and mentors,” says PRC Director Dr. Robert Frederick. “Safety is an essential part of rocket science and these experiences will serve them well as they transition to industry.”

Named Baedor and designed by the UAH Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 490/491 Rocket Design team, the rocket carried a rover as its payload. It uses a Level 2 Aerotech L2200G solid fuel motor, is 136 inches long and 6.17 inches in diameter and weighs 61.5 pounds with a loaded motor and payload.

Little Dipper, the rocket’s rover, is piloted by remote control. Its mission was to deploy from the vehicle after landing, advance to a mission collection area and use its scoops to collect samples of simulated ice.

“During the spring semester, as segments of the country started to close down, the team recognized the potential impacts on the project and felt a sense of urgency to complete a demonstration flight,” Dr. Lineberry says. “After a busy couple of weeks, they were able to demonstrate the full vehicle and payload missions at a launch in Woodville, Ala., with the Huntsville Area Rocketry Association.”

Baedor achieved an apogee of 4,454 feet in its final demonstration flight, days before the UAH campus closed as a precautionary measure for COVID-19. When it landed, the rocket successfully deployed Little Dipper, which achieved its collection mission.

Competition category and overall winners were announced virtually by NASA on July 23.

NASA Student Launch challenges middle school, high school, college and university teams from across the United States to build and fly a high-powered amateur rocket carrying a complex payload to over 4,000 feet above the ground. The rocket then must descend and land safely before its scientific or engineering payload can begin its work. This year’s competition drew teams from 19 states and Puerto Rico.

College and university teams developed payloads to navigate to a designated sample site, retrieve a simulated sample of planetary ice, and navigate at least 10 feet away from the site with the sample stored safely aboard. How they tackled the challenge was up to them.

Teams earn points for progress and successes during the eight-month competition, and the team with the most points wins. Awards also are presented in 11 different categories that range from payload design and safety to best social media presence and STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – outreach.

UAH team members are:

  • Nicholas Roman, project manager; senior, aerospace engineering, Cullman, Ala.
  • Joshua Jordan, chief engineer; senior, mechanical engineering, Mount Vernon, Wash.
  • Peter Martin, vehicle team lead; senior, mechanical engineering, Coopersburg, Penn.
  • James Venters, payload team lead; senior, mechanical engineering, Huntsville, Ala.
  • Jessy McIntosh, safety officer; senior, mechanical engineering, Beaufort, N.C.
  • Maggie Hockensmith, technical writing coordinator and vehicle safety deputy; senior, aerospace engineering, Lexington, Ky.
  • Claudia Hyder, payload safety deputy; senior, mechanical engineering, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Patrick Day, project management team; senior, aerospace engineering, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Will Snyder, project management team; senior, aerospace engineering, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Rodney L Luke, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Pleasant Grove, Ala.
  • Roman Benetti, vehicle team; senor, aerospace engineering, Woodbury, Minn.
  • Rachel O’Kraski, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Huntsville, Ala.
  • Ben Lucke, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Saint Petersburg, Fla.
  • Jeremy Hart, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Gainesville, Ga.
  • Jacob Zilke, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Wilmington, N.C.
  • Joseph Agnew, payload team; senior, mechanical engineering, New Market, Ala.
  • Johnathon Jacobs, payload team; senior, aerospace engineering, Valley Head, Ala.
  • Thomas Salverson, payload team; senor, mechanical engineering, Gretna, Neb.
  • Kevin Caruso, payload team; senior, mechanical engineering, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.
  • Jacob Moseley, payload team; senior, aerospace engineering, Gaylesville, Ala.

(Courtesy of UAH)

9 hours ago

State Sen. Elliott: ‘No way in the world’ financing for Ivey new prison plan passes the smell test

Within the coming weeks, state officials are expected to announce the details of a prison build-lease plan, part of Alabama’s effort to reform its prison system and get it in compliance with federal standards. According to reports, the state of Alabama would enter into a deal with a company (or two companies) that would build three new prisons, which would be leased by the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Under this plan, savings would be generated by the upgraded facilities that would reduce costs in terms of personnel and upkeep, which would make it possible for Gov. Kay Ivey’s administration to enter into the agreement without input or a vote of the Alabama Legislature.

Critics argue the state could save taxpayers money if the state bonded the construction costs out while interest rates were low and built facilities that would be owned by the state, as opposed to paying a contractor rent on new facilities. However, previous legislatures had been unable to agree on an overall plan, which has seemingly forced the state to seek alternatives as the Department of Justice’s scrutiny increases.

During an interview on Friday’s broadcast of Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) expressed his willingness to take on the prison issue. At the same time, some of his legislative colleagues are reluctant.

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“[I] didn’t run for office to not have to make tough decisions,” he said. “I welcome those tough decisions. That’s why the people of my district elected me. That’s what I’m here to do. I think shying away from that once you’ve been elected is really the wrong answer. But I would say to anybody who is not willing to take this on, you know, we have a responsibility to the taxpayers to make sure we run this government as efficiently as possible.”

Elliott expressed his skepticism about the cost savings from using upgraded facilities as being enough to fund the Ivey administration’s proposal.

“Mark my words — we’re going to run into a situation where the governor’s projections on the annual cost of these leases are going to fast outpace what they say they’re going to be able to fund with and that is the savings on maintenance,” Elliott continued. “This is going to end up costing a whole lot more money. And most of this legislature and this governor are going to be gone by the time those chickens come home to roost. And it’s going to be left to the taxpayers to fund an inefficient and expensive plan.”

“I think there is no way in the world that that passes the smell test, and anybody believes that is going to happen,” he added.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.