1 year ago

U.S. Dept. of Commerce awards funds to Mobile, Tallassee for booming Alabama manufacturing

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) on Tuesday announced that it is awarding a $500,000 grant to support the development of the new Flight Works Alabama Aviation Education Center in Mobile and a $2.4 million grant to the city of Tallassee to make critical infrastructure upgrades and improvements needed to enhance the competitiveness of the local business community.

Aviation Education Center, Inc. is located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (President Donald Trump’s tax cuts) designated “Opportunity Zone,” providing special incentives for further private sector participation and development.

“President Trump is committed to helping businesses acquire the skilled workforce that they need to succeed,” U.S. assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming said in a statement. “Aviation Education Center, Inc., plays a critical role in developing highly-skilled and interested students, who will help the Mobile area grow and become more resilient to the economic impact of natural disasters.”

The Mobile project will contribute to economic diversification in a region that has been impacted by natural disasters such as Hurricane Irma. The funding was made possible through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional economic adjustment assistance funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), as the powerful chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, played an integral leading role in that budget legislation.

“The new Flight Works Alabama Aviation Education Center will help provide Mobile’s future workforce with the necessary preparation to pursue opportunities in the aerospace industry,” Shelby said. “The facility will host professional training for individuals, equipping them with the skills needed to be successful in a competitive job market. I am grateful for EDA’s continued investment in Alabama’s workforce development and look forward to the growth made possible by this $500,000 grant.”

Tallassee

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross personally announced the $2.4 million grant to the city of Tallassee on Tuesday. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to create 10 jobs, retain 2,059 jobs and spur an additional $455,000 in private investment.

This project will upgrade Tallassee’s sewer collection system and construct a new, modern treatment plant to support the region’s industrial and business community.

“Infrastructure is important to the Trump Administration because it helps further propel economic advancements in our country,” Ross stated. “This investment in the city of Tallassee and the surrounding region will provide the tools necessary for business growth in the advanced manufacturing, healthcare and automotive sectors.”

The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.

Governor Kay Ivey and Shelby both voiced their appreciation and support for the important investment and public-private collaboration.

“It’s my mission as governor to help plant seeds for opportunity across every corner of Alabama. Enhancing infrastructure is a necessary component for future growth,” Ivey said. “I am grateful to the U.S. Department of Commerce and Secretary Wilbur Ross for selecting Tallassee, Alabama to receive these critical enhancements. The Trump Administration clearly understands that infrastructure must be a priority to foster a thriving economy, and I am proud to support those efforts.”

Shelby stated,“This $2.4 million EDA grant will play a vital role in generating growth and economic development in and around Tallassee. The water and wastewater system upgrades will improve quality of life for residents and promote efficiency throughout the local business community, allowing for further expansion. I look forward to seeing the impact this grant will have on Tallassee and the surrounding region.”

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

13 hours ago

Nick Saban named to board of National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches created by former Tide assistant

Former University of Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley on Thursday announced the creation of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches.

Locksley served as an offensive assistant for the Crimson Tide in 2016, followed by a year as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach the next season before becoming the full-time offensive coordinator in 2018. He is now the head coach at the University of Maryland.

Speaking to NFL.com, Locksley cited a lack of black head coaches in the National Football League as well as among the college Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I wanted to create an organization that would be able to help prepare, promote and produce the next group of coaches coming up through the ranks at every level,” he told the outlet.

258

Locksley is not the only Bama connection to the new nonprofit group, which will reportedly “seek to not only identify and groom coaches of color (male and female) for upward mobility, but also create a candidates list that will be vetted by a board of directors that includes some of the most respected and powerful names in sport.”

Included on that venerable board of directors is Tide head coach Nick Saban, as well as Ozzie Newsome.

Newsome was named to the College Football Hall of Fame after a four-year playing career at the University of Alabama. He also enjoyed a successful playing career in the NFL and is a two-time Super Bowl winning executive with the Baltimore Ravens.

Speaking about the board of directors featuring the likes of Saban and Newsome, Locksley explained, “These are all people that have either hired head coaches or coordinators or filled upper-level positions throughout their careers. They all have been at the top of the mountain, per se, in their respective areas, whether winning Super Bowls or national championships or being pioneers…”

“We want to use their experiences to help us formulate and produce the list of qualified candidates, so when people say there aren’t enough minorities to fill the positions that have come open over the years, we’re going to produce a list of qualified people that shows there are qualified people. What’s needed is opportunities,” he added.

RELATED: Alabama ranked No. 3, Auburn No. 11 in preseason coaches poll

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

UAH receives grant to research how drones can aid disaster response

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) announced Thursday that it has received $1.1 million in grant funding to study how unmanned aircraft can aid the response to both manmade and natural disasters.

The money comes from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who granted a total of $3.3 million to the 24 universities in that comprise an Alliance for System Safety that focuses on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

“These grants will help develop a greater array of innovative strategies to more effectively deploy drones during emergency response situations,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

133

UAH says it aims “to provide insight into the safe integration of UAS into the disaster preparedness and response areas,” with the funding provided this week by the federal government.

A release from the university points to a FAA study that shows there are currently 1.65 million recreational and commercial drones in the United States.

Huntsville’s biggest university says that the FAA program from which the grant is derived enables the agency “to conduct research in airspace and airport planning and design, environment and aviation safety.”

“These important grants fund the research which allows us to learn and implement the safety measures associated with UAS operations in the airspace,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

14 hours ago

Warrant issued for State Rep. Will Dismukes

MONTGOMERY — A felony arrest warrant has been issued for State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville), Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey announced in a Thursday press conference.

The warrant is for first-degree theft of property, a Class B felony. The freshman state legislator allegedly stole more than $2,500 from a former employer, Weiss Flooring in Alabama’s capital city.

Bailey said Dismukes has not yet been arrested and has until Thursday at 4:00 p.m. CT to turn himself in.

The district attorney reminded the public that a warrant represents “a mere allegation” and that Dismukes remains presumed innocent “until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.”

278

Bailey advised “the alleged amount is a lot more than” $2,500 stolen. He added that he was limited on providing specifics on the case and the allegations at this time.

The DA advised that the business owners brought the allegation to authorities. The time period of the alleged offense was “from 2016 to 2018,” per Bailey.

Dismukes reportedly told WSFA that he is innocent.

The state representative from Autauga County has come under fire recently for his participation in a celebration of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Weiss Flooring made the complaint on May 20, which would have been before Dismukes initially made headlines for Confederate-related issues. Authorities have since that date been investigating, leading to a warrant being signed on Thursday.

While Dismukes has rejected bipartisan calls for him to resign over his recent controversies, a felony conviction would automatically remove him from office.

UPDATE 3:00 p.m.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) reacted to the news.

“If true, it is disappointing when a public official, elected with the confidence of the people, abuses that trust. I support the letter of the law, and no one is above it – especially those in public office,” the governor stated.

UPDATE 4:00 p.m.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement on Dismukes.

“We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” she commented. “No one is immune to these standards. It is very disappointing to hear of these allegations. This is now a legal matter and it must run its course.”

This is breaking news and will be updated.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Shelby cautions on COVID-19 relief: ‘The Democrats might not want a deal, politically’

As the White House continues to lead negotiations with congressional Democrats over the latest COVID-19 relief package, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is sounding the alarm over election year politics possibly being put ahead of the welfare of the American people.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been at the forefront of negotiations on the Republican side of the aisle. He has said that Democrats, led by the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have rejected four different offers to extend the $600 per week federal unemployment supplemental that expired this past Friday.

“Those four different offers have been actually rejected — but more importantly than that, they’ve not even been countered,” Meadows said last week.

Democrats have said they want a broader deal that lasts through the first quarter of 2021, however Republicans have admonished items seemingly unrelated to the pandemic that their counterparts on the left have tried to force through in negotiations. This includes Pelosi’s defense of funding for marijuana businesses in the latest Democratic relief proposal.

575

The Democrats’ proposal also “omitted language restricting abortion funding [with federal monies] and added protections against deportation of illegal immigrants,” as reported by the New York Post.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the Pelosi-led proposal “reads like the speaker of the House pasted together random ideas from her most liberal members and slapped the word ‘coronavirus’ on top of it.”

Despite this Democrat proposal being dead on arrival in the Senate, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has for weeks been calling on McConnell to take up the legislation. However, even though the Pelosi bill got just one Republican vote in the House, Jones has blamed Republicans for making “this into a partisan issue.” Alabama’s junior senator, while decrying the partisan nature of the negotiations, has also campaigned on the issue, seemingly adding to the politicization of coronavirus relief efforts.

“This election, more than any other I can remember, shows us the stark choice we can make as a country. We can stand together, listen to the experts about how to beat COVID-19, work together to make real change and end racial injustice and protect our health care – or we can let the extremists drive us apart and block any hope for real change,” Jones wrote in a July 31 campaign email.

However, Alabama’s senior senator — considered one of the most bipartisan elected officials in Washington, D.C., and a true statesman — on Thursday seemed to rebut Jones’ claims that it was Republicans playing politics with COVID-19 relief.

While some on Capitol Hill have expressed relative optimism at reaching a deal in the coming days, Senator Shelby explained why a final compromise might never come to fruition, no matter how much Republicans give ground.

Per Politico, the Senate Appropriations chairman told reporters in the Capitol, “We might not get a deal. … I think there’s a lot of pessimism here — ‘will we get an agreement? Are we too far apart?'”

“We’re at an impasse right now,” Shelby advised. “I would hope over the next few days we can get together and do something that will help a lot of working people in America. Republicans and Democrats, get together. At the moment, it doesn’t look promising.”

Per Hill pool reports, Shelby further explained, “The Democrats might not want a deal, politically. Think about it.”

McConnell, an Alabama native himself, in a Thursday afternoon tweet seemed to back Shelby’s idea.

Both Republicans and Democrats have publicly voiced their support of another round of stimulus checks for Americans, likely up to $1,200 each to match the first round of checks that went out earlier this year. It remains to be seen if agreement can be reached on the many other items on the table.

If a deal cannot be reached soon, President Donald Trump has now said that he will take executive action to provide relief to the American people. Issues Trump is considering acting on himself include “Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options,” per a Thursday tweet by the president.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Alabama ranked No. 3, Auburn No. 11 in preseason coaches poll

USA Today on Thursday released its annual preseason Amway Coaches Poll of the top 25 teams heading into the 2020 college football season.

Former University of Alabama player and assistant coach Dabo Swinney’s Clemson was ranked first in the poll, with Ohio State coming next.

The Crimson Tide was ranked No. 3, trailed by fellow SEC teams Georgia and LSU to round-out the top five.

Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team was ranked 11th.

395

This marks the Tide’s 11th consecutive year entering the season ranked as one of the top-three teams in the nation.

The poll utilizes a points system. Receiving 1,495 points, Bama was closer to No. 1 Clemson than fourth-place Georgia.

USA Today wrote, “The Crimson Tide and Nick Saban start the season with a playoff cloud looming over them. The Tide did not make final four for the first time since the championship system started in 2014. With several players lost to the NFL draft including QB Tua Tagovailoa, a lot of production will need to be replaced. But senior WR DeVonta Smith will be returning as well as OT Alex Leatherwood and LB Dylan Moses. The quarterback question looms with junior Mac Jones, who made four starts last year, and true freshman Bryce Young the top contenders for the starting spot.”

The Auburn Tigers received 898 points, coming in just ahead of No. 12 Wisconsin.

“The Tigers offense should be more consistent behind sophomore quarterback Bo Nix, who was key in wins against Oregon and Alabama but struggled in other games,” USA Today explained. “WR Seth Williams provides a big-play target. There is some rebuilding to be done. The Tigers return just seven starters overall and the heaviest losses are on defense. DL Big Kat Bryant and LB K.J. Britt are elite players at their position, but the overhaul on that side of the ball might take some time to find a rhythm in a grueling SEC division. That puts more pressure on Nix to carry the load early.”

The Southeastern Conference recently approved a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 football season, with the first game set to occur on September 26.

The SEC also approved a revised preseason practice schedule as a result.

Schools are now permitted to conduct up to 14 hours per week of strength and conditioning, meetings and walkthroughs from August 7-16. From August 17 until the opening game, schools are allowed 25 practices with a limit of 20 hours per week of practice time. A five-day acclimatization period is required, with two days in helmets only, two days in shells and the fifth day in full pads. Additionally, schools must provide student-athletes a minimum of two days off per week until the week before their first game of the season.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn