Home Tags October 2016

October 2016

Top News Links: Monday, Oct. 31


Five questions for HealthSouth’s soon-to-be CEO

Jay Grinney, who led HealthSouth from legal troubles and near-bankruptcy to a thriving health care company, is retiring after 12 years. But the new guy knows Grinney's direction well: he's been the second in command for nearly a decade. – AL.com

New condo rules may benefit Alabama market

Fallout from the housing crash of 2008 can still be felt throughout the housing market today. One area in particular is the condominium market, where lending over the past eight years has become more strict for individual units. Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a statement that should loosen some of those tighter standards and perhaps provide FHA financing for some condominium purchases. – Alabama News Center

Doster Construction to build $23M VA clinic

Birmingham-based Doster Construction Co. has won a contract to build a $23 million, 65, 000-square-foot Outpatient Clinic at the VA in South Hillsborough County, Florida. Work will begin in March and is scheduled to complete in the fall of 2018. Hokanson Companies Inc. is the developer/owner, Doster Construction Company is the general contractor and Nika Solutions is architect. – News release

Lewter Hardware gets props form Popular Mechanics

One of Huntsville's longest-running businesses is among the best hardware stores in America, according to Popular Mechanics magazine. Lewter Hardware, open since 1928 on 222 Washington St. N.E. in downtown Huntsville, was recognized for its old-fashioned, small-town vibe and years of service to the community. – AL.com

Luckie & Co. to represent Bradford Health Services

Luckie & Company is pleased to announce that it has been selected by Bradford Health Services as agency of record. Luckie will be working with Bradford to develop a strategic marketing and communications plan in order to achieve short-term and long-term business objectives through data-driven media planning/buying, digital marketing and overall creative duties. – News release

Alabama gas/coal plant to test Exxon green technology

A 2.7GW mixed-use coal and gas power plant in Alabama has been selected by ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy to test fuel cell carbon capture technology being developed by the two companies. Under an agreement announced between the two firms in May, the James M. Barry Electric Generating Station near Mobile – operated by Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power – is to host pilot demonstrations of carbon capture from natural gas-fired power generation. – BusinessGreen

Danish heating plants criticized for using Drummond coal

Two heating plants in Denmark have been burning coal from the controversial Alabama-owned mining company in Colombia. Drummond has been accused of supporting paramilitary groups in Colombia and being behind thousands of murders and the displacement of some 60, 000 people. “It’s deeply problematic that Danish energy companies are delivered coal from Drummond, and it is very surprising that the Danish consumer has to get energy from coal mined in such a way, ” said Misha Wolsgaard, an Oxfam senior policy advisor. – CPH Post

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Friday, Oct. 28


HeathSouth Corp. CEO to retire at year’s end

HealthSouth Corp. reported a strong third quarter in revenue, volume and earnings Thursday, the same day its CEO Jay Grinney announced he will retire at year's end. The healthcare company reported a 19 percent increase in earnings over a year's time, $926.8 million. That figure in 2015 was $778.6 million. Adjusted earnings per share were 65 cents. – AL.com

GKN Aerospace ships 300 jobs to Tallassee from St. Louis

GKN Aerospace has recently informed the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers District 837 that it will be laying off more than 300 union workers at its St. Louis, Missouri facility and shipping their jobs to a right-to-work state. GKN has confirmed that the company plans to shut down its St. Louis Composites Department and move the bonding mechanic work to its facility in Tallassee, Alabama. – The Telegraph

North Alabama gets worst of spreading drought

Six months into a drought across much of the South, the weather is killing crops, threatening cattle and sinking lakes to their lowest levels in years. The very worst conditions are in the mountains of northern Alabama and Georgia. But it's spread downhill and across 13 southern states, from Oklahoma and Texas to Florida and Virginia, putting about 33 million people in drought conditions. – AP/Madison.com

Shelby continues to man Ex-Im Bank blockade

Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and formerly a pro-business supporter of the Export-Import Bank, is single-handedly blocking the bank’s ability to approve large deals, leading others in Congress to look for a way around Shelby’s blockade by the end of the year. Shelby, R-Ala., who calls the specialty bank a form corporate welfare, has refused all year to allow a vote on a nominee to the bank’s board. – USA Today

‘We are not doing our job’ says NASA rocket scientist

“We are not doing our job, ” NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman told a roomful of aerospace engineers in Huntsville Thursday. “I can put it clearly on us.” An aerospace engineer herself, Newman was speaking to the 9th Von Braun Space Symposium about the hurdles the profession puts in front of women and minority students. – AL.com

UA signs with RSQ for national advertising campaign

The University of Alabama has partnered with Mobile-based digital specialists RSQ, to launch its first national advertising campaign, which kicked off during the Crimson Tide’s season opener on Sept. 3. The 30-second national TV spot is the first glimpse at the campaign that will also span digital, print and outdoor platforms in Alabama over the coming months. – News release

AutoNation widens strategy with more used-only stores

AutoNation Inc. is embarking on a wide-ranging, $500 million brand extension strategy led by the launch of stand-alone used-vehicle stores. The retailer’s AutoNation USA used-vehicle stores will begin operating next spring, with the first store planned for Houston. – Automotive News

America’s First raises money for local groups

America’s First Federal Credit Union recently presented the Autism Society of Alabama, Red Mountain Park, and Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind each with significant donations. The more than $75, 000 raised in this employee-driven Community First campaign was split among the organizations. – News release

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Thursday, Oct. 27


Google Fiber starting to sound iffy

Google Fiber gave reassurances to Huntsville Thursday, a day after the internet service provider decided to pause expansion plays and lay off staff in eight metropolitan areas as it looks for new technologies and new methods to deliver high-speed internet to customers. “Once the Huntsville Utilities high-speed fiber network is built, we plan to bring Google Fiber to Huntsville as planned, ” a spokesman said. – WAAY

Hyundai net income falls for 11th straight quarter

Hyundai Motor Co. posted a drop in quarterly profit after labor strikes hurt domestic production and a stronger currency eroded repatriated earnings. Operating profit declined 29 percent to 1.07 trillion won ($943 million) in the three months ended Sept. 30, the company said Wednesday. – Automotive News

Every man’s dream: Beer that delivers itself

Anheuser-Busch hauled a trailer loaded with beer 120 miles in an autonomous-drive truck, completing what's believed to be the first commercial shipment by a self-driving vehicle. The trip happened last week in Colorado as Anheuser-Busch, collaborated with Otto, a subsidiary of Uber that is developing self-driving truck technology. The semi drove autonomously on the highway between Fort Collins, Colorado and Colorado Springs, Colorado. – CNBC

Lawyers argue fate of minimum wage law for state

Lawyers for the state of Alabama made their case before a judge Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate a state law that prevents cities from raising their own minimum wages. The outcome of the case could determine if Birmingham gets to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. – AL.com

Impeachment committee insisting that Bentley testify

An impeachment committee is demanding that Gov. Robert Bentley testify under oath. The House Judiciary Committee sent a formal demand for the governor to provide deposition-like testimony to the committee's special counsel on Nov. 9. Committee Chairman Mike Jones says the committee wants a “clear, truthful record from the governor and his staff.” – APR

BBVA Compass, Opportunity Finance Network partner

BBVA Compass and Opportunity Finance Network are joining forces to cultivate the next generation of leaders for Community Development Financial Institutions. The Opportunity Fellows Program helps CDFIs deliver affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. – PRNewsWire

USDA offers drought assistance to many Alabama counties

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently classified 32 counties in Alabama as primary natural disaster areas and 15 additional counties as contiguous counties because of drought. Several drought assistance programs are now being offered by the USDA.  – News release

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Wednesday, Oct. 26


States seek dismissal of lawsuit tied to higher minimum wages

The state will argue to dismiss the federal lawsuit that seeks to repeal the state law that prevents Birmingham and other cities to set their own minimum wages in court Wednesday. The Alabama National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Greater Birmingham Ministries filed the suit in U.S. District Court in April, claiming that HB 174 is tainted “with racial animus” and that is violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. – AL.com

Auburn, Gulf Shores building new $12M facility

Auburn University and the city of Gulf Shores are partnering on a new $12 million college facility that will be anchored by veterinarian medical services. The new 25, 000-square-foot building will also house programs related to organic horticulture, marine fisheries, specialty courses on unmanned aircraft systems, economic development research and 4-H extension. – Aviation Pros

Google Express open for business in Alabama

Google is bringing its new Express service to Alabama, giving residents another option for personal shopping for everything from toys to dry foods. The service works by a user logging on to Google Express' web page or opening the app, which is available for iPhone or Android phones. Then store employees pick and package the order and work with another one of Google's delivery partners, which include FedEx and UPS, who then deliver either overnight or within two days. – AL.com

Cost of Obamacare rising, but subsidies to rise as well

The cost of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is expected to rise an average of 22 percent in 2017, according to information released by the Obama administration Monday afternoon. Still, federal subsidies will also rise, meaning that few people are likely to have to pay the full cost after the rate increases to get insurance coverage. – APR

Polaris shares fall 3.2 percent after earnings report

Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE:PII) shares fell 3.2% during trading on Tuesday following a weaker than expected earnings announcement. The stock traded as low as $76.22 and last traded at $79.02, with a volume of 2, 311, 594 shares traded. The stock had previously closed at $81.65. – Cerbat Gem

Alabama credit unions seeing growth in loans

Member-owned credit unions in Alabama have seen positive growth in the second quarter of 2016 as recently revealed by 2016 2Q Call Report data. Member business loans in Alabama grew by 10.3 percent in the first six months of the year, almost double the national average. Total loans in Alabama grew at 5.7 percent, exceeding the national growth rate of 4.6 percent. – News release

Moore case requires creation of ‘Special Supreme Court’

The Alabama Supreme Court will recuse itself from suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore's appeal of his ethics convictions, and defer to a special court to hear the appeal. A public lottery will be held in the Alabama Supreme Court chambers Thursday afternoon, where the names of seven justices drawn from a pool of retired judges will take place. – Montgomery Advertiser

Lawyer gets six-month term for scamming UA sorority

 A South Carolina lawyer has been given a six-month prison sentence after stashing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a shoebox as part of a scam involving a $14 million sorority house at the University of Alabama. – AP/WVTM

compiled by dave helms

The Designers and Builders of Space Exploration

NASA is building the most powerful rocket in the world to fulfill its “Journey to Mars” mission. And the space agency is relying on the people of Alabama to get it done.

Building the SLS has created many new tech partnerships, according to NASA’s Jerry Cook. Photo by Tyler Brown

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is being designed, tested and built at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and a number of companies from throughout the state are playing important roles.

“Exploring space is imperative to addressing the fundamental questions about our place in the universe and the history of our solar system, ” says Jerry Cook, deputy director of the NASA Space Launch System. “As demonstrated by the numerous inventions created because of America’s space exploration efforts, we expand technology and create new industries that make Earth a better place, and SLS is the vehicle that is going to allow us to explore like never before.”

Building a Better Rocket

Like the Saturn V rocket that first took humans to the moon and the space shuttle that helped build the International Space Station and inspired generations, the SLS will have strong ties to Huntsville and Alabama. Its technology builds on the engineering and history of those earlier programs and promises a more powerful result that can travel farther than any other space vehicle before it. “From the start, NASA designed SLS to take advantage of five decades of investments in technology, facilities and a skilled workforce, ” Cook says.

A powerful rocket is needed to send both humans and cargo to deep space destinations such as Mars. For instance, the first human travelers to Mars will need to take many things such as support equipment, habitats, food, water, tools and experiments. “The SLS design makes it easier to transport astronauts and the necessary equipment and payloads with fewer launches, reducing planetary trip time because of its unprecedented capability, ” Cook says. “SLS is the only rocket capable of taking humans and the huge payloads required for deep space exploration, and it will carry more than any launch vehicle ever made.”

Building such a powerful rocket hasn’t been easy. A vehicle traveling through space will encounter harsh environments, and meeting the challenges of designing and building a powerful launch vehicle that can survive the trip is a feat of engineering.

Various components that make up the rocket must be integrated with each other and all function together properly for launch, and harmonizing all those moving parts has been the greatest challenge in building a vehicle for deep space travel, Cook says. To overcome the challenge, NASA has worked to combine new technology and engineering with successful pieces of the past. “While NASA is taking advantage of proven launch vehicle components, such as the RS-25 engines that flew on 135 Space Shuttle missions, we have adapted those engines to the new loads and environments that this bigger, more powerful vehicle will experience, plus added a new controller (computer) to power the engine, ” Cook says.

During 2017, NASA will integrate those engines into a brand new Core Stage that will hold all the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen needed to fuel the engines, as well as the flight computers and most of the avionics that control the rocket’s flight. Similarly, there are numerous other components that must be integrated across the entire rocket — and all must ultimately come together to create a new vehicle, ready for its first flight in 2018.

A qualification test article for the liquid hydrogen tank on NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System, is lifted off the Vertical Assembly Center after final welding at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Funding the Project

The SLS and the people and companies working to make it happen have benefited greatly from the support of the U.S. Congress. In 2010, President Barack Obama and Congress established a space exploration plan that “continues to have broad consensus and aligns all of NASA’s work in support of the goal to send American astronauts farther into space than ever before, ” Cook says.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee overseeing space flight announced that it would fund NASA’s 2017 budget at more than $19 billion, a $21 million increase from the previous year. In addition to allocating funding for the first SLS launch in 2018, Congress has also committed funding for NASA to begin working toward the more powerful Block 1B version of the rocket, which will fly on the second mission in 2021. That second mission is planned to send the first astronauts farther away from Earth than any humans have ever ventured before.

Congressional funding for SLS allows opportunities for numerous private companies to contribute their skills and expertise to the project. For instance, Huntsville-based businesses Radiance Technologies and Dynetics are partnering to fabricate, assemble and transport the Space Launch System Core Stage Pathfinder Vehicle. When complete, SLS will represent work that is taking place at more than 800 companies in 43 states around the country. “This is truly America’s rocket, ” Cook says.

These companies are providing an array of products and services to support the program, including precision fasteners, engineering and procurement services, developing alloy products for Aerojet’s RS-25 rocket engines, designing and qualifying critical components for the Boeing SLS core stage, and manufacturing the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter pedestals.

“The funding allocated to the SLS rocket is dedicated to building and testing the most powerful, capable launch vehicle ever constructed, and it isn’t being used for any other purpose, ” Cook says. “NASA is partnering with private industry in new and innovative ways, freeing up our resources to focus on our exploration of the Red Planet, all while creating good-paying, high-tech jobs here at home. Thanks to the hard work of thousands of scientists, astronauts and engineers, we are closer to sending humans to Mars than ever before.”

The interim cryogenic propulsion stage test article made a five-hour journey on the Tennessee River from United Launch Alliance in Decatur to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Staying on Schedule

In October 2015, the SLS program completed its Critical Design Review (CDR), marking the first time in almost 40 years that a NASA human-rated rocket has completed all steps needed to clear a critical design review. “This milestone proved the program has a technically and structurally robust vehicle design and is ready for testing and manufacturing, ” Cook says.

NASA is meeting its schedule commitments and is on track to launch the first integrated mission of SLS and Orion in late 2018. For instance, the program has completed the second booster test at Orbital ATK in Utah and is continuing testing on the RS-25 engine at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Currently, there are 16 RS-25 engines in inventory at Stennis Space Center, enough for the first four flights.

At Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, full-scale welding of flight hardware for the SLS Core Stage is under way, with all major welded components scheduled for completion this year. By late 2016, Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie will complete the new test stands for SLS core stage testing, and the testing will begin by early 2017.

When the SLS is ready, its maiden SLS flight will not include a crew but will test the launch vehicle, the Orion spacecraft, and technologies, such as navigation and communication systems, necessary for carrying astronauts farther away from Earth than people have ever traveled before. But from the first launch, SLS will help provide information for further research: “Even on its first flight, SLS will carry 13 small satellites that will study everything from the moon to asteroids to radiation in deep space, ” Cook says. “We are making progress every day on the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft and modernizing NASA’s ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to support deep space exploration, including NASA’s journey to Mars.”

Nancy Mann Jackson is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She is based in Huntsville.

Career Notes, October 2016


Scott Goldsmith has been elected president and managing shareholder of JamisonMoneyFarmer PC. Goldsmith replaces Bryan Chandler, who will take on special projects and work with clients in the firm’s affiliate JMF Capstone Wealth Management LLC as a managing member. 

HORNE LLP has promoted Carla Wallace to director; Chandler Croom and Lauren Lanefski to supervisors; Diane Barnhill, Kellie Beam and Summer Bayles to senior accounting technicians and Carrisa Crain to accounting technician in the firm’s Mobile office. 

Russell Thompson Butler & Houston LLP have added Christian Day to their team. Also Katherine McKenzie has been certified as a valuation analyst by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts. 

Bonnee Bailey, Scott Grier and Jason Westbrook have been admitted as partners to Aldridge, Borden & Co. PC. In addition, Melissa Hill and Kacie McCloud have been promoted to the position of senior accountant.

Chris Taylor, of Anglin Reichmann Snellgrove & Armstrong PC, has been promoted to manager in the firm's Tax Advisory Services group. In the firm's Audit and Assurance group, Jessica Cassiday has been promoted to supervisor and Katie Teichmiller has been promoted to senior. Britton Twyman has been promoted to senior in the ARSA Solutions group. Christopher Cook and Dustin Schaefer have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam and are seniors in the Tax Advisory Services group.

Warren Averett Workplace, an affiliate of Warren Averett, has hired Anna McLaughlin as senior consultant and Amy Jackson as client administrator.

Wilkins Miller LLC Marketing Coordinator Morgan Cooper has been selected as an ambassador for the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce. 


Aaron Broach has been hired as a contract administrator for Chambless King Architects, of Montgomery. 


Brad Sklar has been appointed to the board of directors of Progress Bank. He will serve on the Human Resources and Compensation Committees.

Regions Financial Corp. Directors Carolyn Byrd and John Maupin Jr. have been named to Savoy Magazine's Power 300: 2016 Most Influential Black Corporate Directors listing.

Max Austin has joined the Birmingham office of Synovus Mortgage Corp. in the Correspondent Lending Division.


BioAlabama has named Ted Clem and Jonathan Nugent as its new board members. Clem is director of business development with the Alabama Department of Commerce. Nugent is vice president of innovation and technology at the Birmingham Business Alliance. 

Business Advisor

Transworld Business Advisors has announced its affiliation with Dick Walker as an M&A advisor. 


Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diane Poole has been presented the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama Chamber Executive of the Year award. 

Credit Unions

Jody Mattson has been named community engagement manager at America's First Federal Credit Union


The Council of Presidents, an advisory group to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, has elected its new leadership for 2016-2017. They are: John Stewart III, of the University of Montevallo, as chairman and Ken Tucker, of the University of West Alabama, as vice chairman. In addition, Amy Shipley Price, the chief nursing and operating office at Coosa Valley Medical Center, has been appointed to ACHE to represent the Third Congressional District. 

Wallace State Community College has named Stefany Pate its new cheerleading varsity squad coach. 


PPM Consultants has hired Bill Parrish as senior project manager for the firm’s Spanish Fort office. 

Building & Earth has hired Billy Wilson as project manager for CTL, a division of the company located in Montgomery. 

Event management

DeeDee Mathis has joined the Bruno Event Team as senior vice president of marketing. 


Keith Lusk, of Golden Flake Snack Foods, has been presented the Alabama Grocers Association Spirit of Alabama award. 

Gary Tatem, general manager of the Red Lobster in Florence, has received the company’s top honor for performance, the Lighthouse Club Award, for a second time. He also was given the Legacy Award. 

The National Grocers Association and the Alabama Grocers Association have honored Jack Greer Sr. with the NGA Spirit of America Award. Greer is president of Autry Greer & Sons Inc.


Kathlyn Powell has joined Children's of Alabama as pediatric oral surgeon. 


Fair Haven Retirement Community has added Shanna Black as marketing director. 


LBA Hospitality has named Elaine Myers general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, Clarion Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn and Hampton Inn, all in the Dothan area.


Sha Embree has been named the managing partner of the Montgomery General Office of New York Life Insurance Co.


Gil Rogers is the new director of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Georgia and Alabama offices. 

McGlinchey Stafford PLLC has added Christopher Couch as of counsel to its Birmingham office in the firm's Corporate and Banking practice groups.

Linda Klein, senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson, has become president of the American Bar Association. In addition, Marcus Maples has joined the Business Litigation Group at the firm's Birmingham office.

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP has named Abigail Harris, Daniel Murdock and Patrick Schach as associates. Also Partner Kevin Newsom has been elected as a fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Partner Tripp Haston has been appointed to the 2017 International Association of Defense Counsel's Corporate Counsel College as dean-elect. Partner Virginia Patterson has been selected for the 2016-2017 class of Leadership Alabama.

Burr & Forman LLP has added Emily Crow to the firm's Labor & Employment practice.

Brett Adair has joined Carr Allison in the firm's Birmingham office.

Elizabeth Tissot will be working with the Jefferson County Community Law Office, in Birmingham, as part of the Gideon's Promise Law School Partnership Program at UC Irvine School of Law.

Three Maynard Cooper & Gale shareholders have been selected for inclusion in the Benchmark Litigation Under 40 Hot List 2016. They are Stephanie Houston Mays, John Holmes III and Mitesh Shah


Bay Wood Products Inc. has expanded its leadership team with Chris Patillo, Andy Hosmer and Jason Cummings. Patillo will serve as facility manager, Hosmer as logistics and production planner and Cummings and production manager. 


Benson Orcutt has been hired by ESPN Events as an associate manager of events to work with the Birmingham Bowl. Orcutt previously served at Samford University as director of marketing.


Southeast Alabama Medical Center, in Dothan, has named Brooke Segrest director of 2 East Nursing Unit, which serves orthopedic patients. In addition, Tena Knight has been named director of the new Neuro Critical Care Unit. 


ALS Association of Alabama has named Lisa Holman executive director. She has 20 years experience in the non-profit sector.

Ryan Mains has been named the Alabama Coastal Foundation's new administrator. Beth Walton, who previously as administrator, will now serve as public engagement coordinator for the Oyster Shell Recycling Program. In addition, ACF Board Member Sam St. John has been awarded the Environmental Excellence Award from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation.

Jack Darnall, of Brasfield & Gorrie, has been elected to the board of directors of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

AQAF CEO Wesley Smith has been named to the board of examiners for the 2016 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award by The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Business Council of Alabama has presented former Congressman Jo Bonner with the Spirit of Leadership Award.

The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation has named former Alabama and NFL football player Bobby Humphrey and O2Ideas President and Partner Bill Todd to its board of directors.

Kara Lankford has assumed the role of interim director for Ocean Conservancy's Gulf Restoration Program. She succeeds Bethany Carl Kraft, who has served in this role since 2011.

Richard Guthrie, of Bullock County, and Barnett King, of Crenshaw County, have been inducted into the Southeast Region National Association of Conservation Districts Hall of Fame

Reida Underwood


Real Estate

Taylor Glaze has been promoted to business director for the Birmingham area for NAI Chase Commercial. In addition, Janine Miller has joined the company as administrative coordinator of the Huntsville office. 

RealtySouth has named Reida Underwood as managing broker of the company’s Shelby office in Pelham. Underwood succeeds Kent Brenner.


Qualis Corp. has hired Charlotte Hughes as senior proposal specialist, responsible for proposal development, marketing and business development. Hughes has over 20 years experience. 

Mike DeMaioribus, executive vice president of business operations, retired in mid-September from Dynetics. He had served the company for 39 years. In addition, Mike Moody has been appointed vice president of the company in addition to his role as manager of Product Development and Hardware Division. 


Tami Reist, president and CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, has been presented the Dorothy Hardman Spirit of STS award from the Southeast Tourism Society.

Richard Becker, longtime controller at Bellingrath Home & Gardens, has retired. Sidney Weinacker has been named the new controller. 

Col. William Loyd Webb III, retired, has received the Leroy McAbee Distinguished Service Award from Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports.


Huntsville Utilities President and CEO Jay Stowe has joined the Tennessee Valley Authority as senior vice president of Distributed Energy Resources.

Wealth Management 

Kelley & Mullis Wealth Management has added Sam Shober as financial consultant. 

Compiled by Erica Joiner West

Top News Links: Tuesday, Oct. 25


Legislators once again hunt for budget cure

The leaders of an attempt to address Alabama’s perpetual budget woes won’t oversell it. Both Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, and Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, said in separate interviews Monday that the Joint Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform – meeting Wednesday afternoon – aimed to gather information and float ideas to address a yawning gap between General Fund revenue and expenses that grows wider each year. – Montgomery Advertiser

Here’s a quick guide to 14 amendments on the ballot

State voters will have the chance to vote on 14 amendments to the state Constitution. Some deal with big issues like economics and labor. Some aim to clarify constitutional language. Some repeal age limits for elected officials. Any one of them winning passage will add to the pile of amendments passed to address issues that state or local government can't or won't tackle. There are currently 895 amendments to the Alabama Constitution. – Montgomery Advertiser

Both Democrats and Republicans unsure about AT&T merger

AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner is already raising eyebrows among an important constituency: politicians. Reaction to the deal, which was announced Saturday night, has been swift, and skeptical, from both sides of the aisle. – APR

Small building at UAH now runs on its own power

UAH research scientist Bill Carswell says powering your home without help from a local utility company will become “the wave of the future.” Carswell has designed an alternative energy system for a 900 square foot building on the University of Alabama in Huntsville campus. Several solar panels help provide a power source to batteries inside the building, behind Von Braun Research Hall. – WAY

Explosion halts production, injures 1 at Pickens County plant

An internal investigation is under way at a Pickens County plant,  following an explosion Sunday night. A spokesperson for Westervelt Renewable Energy says the explosion happened around 9 p.m. at the company's Aliceville production facility on Highway 17. One employee, a heavy equipment operator, suffered minor injuries. The employee has since been treated and released from Pickens County Medical Center in Carrollton. – WBRC

McCutcheon preps for his new role in Legislature

Like the maestro of a band, newly elected Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon finds himself about to begin directing the business of the Alabama House of Representatives. Only, unlike West Limestone & Ardmore High Schools, whose bands performed Monday night at Speaker McCutcheon's reception at the Limestone County Event Center, the legislature is 'out of tune.' – WHNT

Alabama once again wades into water wars

Alabama has filed a brief in support of Florida’s federal lawsuit to cap Georgia’s water use from federal reservoirs that terminate in Apalachicola Bay. The state cited its “long experience combating Georgia’s excessive withdrawals” and said Georgia “has largely chosen not to invest its resources in reservoirs and other infrastructure” as Atlanta outgrows its water supply. – Alabama Today

Why do so many teachers leave profession each year?

For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment. Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the “I'm outta here” rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions. – APR

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Monday, Oct. 24


‘60 Minutes’ ponders painful story of Country Crossing

Correspondent Armen Keteyian of “60 Minutes” on Sunday interviewed Jeff Rubin, “the disgraced financial advisor” who lost a total of $43 million on behalf of several NFL players including former all-pro running back Fred Taylor and Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis. Rubin persuaded his clients to invest in Country Crossing in Alabama, a gambling development ultimately declared illegal and closed in July 2012. Rubin tells Keteyian, “If I can go back in time, I wish I’d never set foot in Alabama.” – CBS News

Alabama computer experts weigh in on Friday’s massive hack

The computerized attack that left more than 1, 200 websites unreachable on Friday stemmed from efforts, years earlier, by players of online games to frustrate and slow their opponents, security experts say. The massive denial-of-service attack was launched from thousands of internet-connected devices, including cameras, video recorders and routers. – Wall Street Journal

UA’s LIFT program extends to Haiti

In the Culverhouse College of Commerce, “lift” is more than just a verb. The college's LIFT program focuses on the economic education and development of West Alabama’s youth.  LIFT, which stands for Learning Initiative and Financial Training, is led by professor Lisa McKinney, who devotes a massive amount of time towards the advancement of the job skills of children in the Tuscaloosa area – and now beyond. – Crimson White

Regions CFO notes they’re 1, 200 employees lighter this year

Regions Financial Corp. has about 1, 200 fewer workers than it did this time last year, an executive told listeners on an earnings call this week.  “We do have built-in natural inflation that we have, salary increases and alike that we try to curtail by insuring that we have the right number of people, the right number the right kinds of the people to manage our business and run our businesses, ” David Turner, Regions' Chief Financial Officer, said. – AL.com

International Space Station captures resupply craft

Astronauts used the International Space Station's robotic arm to grapple the Cygnus cargo spacecraft early Sunday morning, starting the process of bringing more than 5, 100 pounds of supplies and research equipment aboard. The cargo's experiments include one thing astronauts normally avoid: fire. – APR

Ford CEO says they won’t give up on cars quite yet

Ford Motor Co. isn't giving up on cars, CEO Mark Fields says, even as the automaker abandons most U.S. production of them, but it also won't keep piling on discounts to boost sales “unnaturally, ” as he put it. “You can only go so far in terms of trying to entice customers to purchase those kinds of products, ” Fields said in an interview last week. – Automotive News

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Thursday, Oct. 20


Harbert working on $27.5M expansion to FBI school at Redstone

A Birmingham company is behind a $27.5 million expansion to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal. BL Harbert International said it is overseeing the project, which will allow the FBI to boost its training efforts and provide new bomb technician certification programs at the U.S. Army post. Completion is expected in January 2018. – AL.com

Annual Iowa farm gathering suggests ill wind for growers

An annual gathering of thousands of farmers and the country’s biggest agribusiness starts Tuesday against one of the gloomiest economic backdrops for the U.S. Farm Belt in years. Tractor shipments in North America are down almost a quarter this year from a year earlier, and combines are about 20% lower. – Wall Street Journal

Massive pawn shop raids find stolen goods, piles of cash

The simultaneous raids on 12 Birmingham area pawn shops in Jefferson and Shelby counties last week led to the seizure of more than $600, 000 cash and enough stolen goods to fill two 53-foot trailers, authorities said Tuesday. Friday's raids, dubbed Operation Get Fit, targeted a dozen businesses owned by 58-year-old Steve Scott of Pelham, as well as his Shelby County home, and led to the arrests of Scott and 15 of his employees. – AL.com

State Democrats suddenly realize they’re not doing well

The leader of the House Democrats Wednesday called on two key leaders in the Alabama Democratic Party to resign, accusing them of allowing the party to wither in state and missing opportunities to contrast their message with Republicans. Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, wrote in a letter to chairwoman Nancy Worley and Joe Reed accusing them of “neglect and mismanagement” of the Democrats' infrastructure in the state. – The Montgomery Advertiser

Twitter continues to totter on social media brink

A growing list of companies like Disney and Salesforce have said they won't be buying Twitter. That puts the social network in a tight spot. Twitter almost has 350 million active users, but user growth has stalled (and in tech, if you aren't growing, you're dying). Twitter's stock has definitely felt the plunge. – Tylt

Alabama shows big upward swing in high school grad rates

The White House this week released numbers showing graduation rates on the rise across the country, results that show Alabama catapulting past most of the nation. Alabama ranked third in the United States in 2015, behind Iowa and New Jersey. – AL.com

Justice Department says it will have fewer poll watchers

Justice Department officials are warning that they'll be dispatching fewer trained election observers as a result of a Supreme Court opinion that gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The reduction is likely to diminish the department's ability to detect voter intimidation and other potential problems at the polls. – AP/AllGov

compiled by dave helms

Movers & Shapers, October 2016

David H. Bradford 

Bradford is mayor of Muscle Shoals. Only the second full-time mayor for the city, he has served since 2000. Born and raised in Colbert County, he was educated in local schools and attended the University of North Alabama. Since his election, he has earned Alabama League of Municipalities certification as a Trained Elected Municipal Official and the more advanced Certified Municipal Official. He has served as president and as vice president of the Alabama League of Municipalities. Before becoming mayor, Bradford served as the assistant chief of police. He is a 27-year veteran of the police department and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Among his government and community work, Bradford is president of the Shoals Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Sean Collin 

Collin is CEO of IPWatch Corp., which helps companies manage intellectual property assets. The firm has offices in Florence and in Kansas City, Missouri. Collin is licensed to practice law in three countries and has worked on IP issues in more than 70 countries as a partner in multinational law firms and as a consultant. Clients include international technology, energy and manufacturing companies. Collin earned degrees in economic and law at Otago University in New Zealand and an LLM from Georgetown University. He is assistant professor of business law at the University of North Alabama and is director of legal affairs at the UNA Institute for Innovation & Regional Development. He has lectured at several universities, has published a number of papers in the field, received multiple awards for his work, and is a frequent speaker at professional conferences. He has been an accredited United Nations NGO representative in both New York and Geneva, Switzerland. He is involved in Native American and Indigenous non-profit activity and is a member of the Cherokee Tribe.

Jackie Hendrix


Jackie Hendrix 

Hendrix is founder and president of Party Pros USA and an entrepreneurship graduate of the University of North Alabama. A Shoals native, he has been actively involved in the community for the past 30 years. Past and present boards include the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, past chairman; Shoals Home Builders Association; Northwest-Shoals Community College Foundation; Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments; American Rental Association of Alabama, past president; Selective Service System, County Board Member, and the American Red Cross. Awards and accomplishments include The Shoals Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Award, SHBA Hall of Fame, and SHBA Associate of the Year. Hendrix is a graduate of Leadership Shoals. Hendrix led the successful endeavor to pass Sunday sales for the City of Florence on behalf of the local hospitality council. Most recently Hendrix worked on behalf of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce to draft and pass legislation to create the Alabama Craft Beer State Championship, held in Florence. Hendrix and his wife support local arts programs including the Shoals Symphony, Shoals Onstage, the Arts Alive festival and the Reader Riot book festival.

Jan Ingle 

Ingle is purchasing manager for SBS Electric Supply Co., where she has worked for 21 years. She is a graduate of the University of North Alabama and a member of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi. She is second chair elect of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce Board. Ingle serves on the boards of several community organizations and has been honored for her service to the community by UNA, United Way, Exchange Club and the Chamber. She has been involved in community theater and is a charter member of Florence Camerata. 

Ken Kitts 

Kitts became president of the University of North Alabama in the spring of 2015. A native of Waynesville, North Carolina, Kitts worked previously at Francis Marion University in South Carolina and at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Kitts holds BA and MA degrees from Appalachian State University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of South Carolina. He also earned a post-graduate certificate from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. He is the author of an award-winning book on blue-ribbon commissions. Kitts and his family live in the President’s Home on the UNA campus and are next door neighbors to Leo III and Una, the two African lions that serve as the university’s mascots.

Keith Lankford

Lankford is superintendent of Sheffield City Schools. In his two years on the job, he has worked to create collaboration among students, parents, teachers, business and church leaders to raise expectations and achievement within the school system. One outgrowth of this teamwork is the Guided Pathways for Success Academy, which allows students to earn college credit through dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses, or sample career options in business, multimedia, health science, hospitality and tourism. These programs, funded through a local education trust fund, have raised achievement levels and increased attendance. Prior taking the helm of the Sheffield schools, Lankford was an administrator in the Jefferson County School System.

Humphrey L. Lee


Humphrey L. Lee 

Lee is in his 14th year as president of Northwest-Shoals Community College, a public institution with campuses in Muscle Shoals and Phil Campbell. Lee has 42 years of experience in education, and holds bachelor’s, master’s and Ed.D. degrees from the University of Alabama. He has served as president of the Alabama Community College Association, chairman of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, regional coordinator of Phi Theta Kappa, and on the board of directors for North Alabama Industrial Development Association, Shoals Economic Development Authority and Shoals Entrepreneurial Center. Lee is a graduate of Leadership Alabama.

Laquita Logan 

Logan graduated from UNA in 1984 with a B.A. in commercial art and a minor in marketing. In 2013, while attending a concert in downtown Sheffield, she noticed all the dilapidated buildings and approached the mayor about redevelopment. With the help of others, she opened Zoey Belle’s clothing store, which became the cornerstone of the city’s renovation. Since then, she has purchased other buildings to open Sheffield Hardware; The Rock, a conservative Christian bookstore, and Salon 310, a full-service hair salon. The second floors of the buildings have been converted to loft apartments. She is working on a restaurant called York Bluff 1818 (Sheffield’s original name and founding date) operated by Chef Alan Phillips, and plans to house a real estate agency in the same building. Logan is involved in local charities and projects in the Shoals area including Faith Baptist Church, Shoals Save-A-Life, Heavenly Grace Homeless Ministries, Samaritans Purse, A New Beginning, International Church Planters, United Cerebral Palsy and Crippled Children’s Foundation.

Alex Parrish 

Parrish is customer relations manager for Alabama Interconnect, a telecommunications company based in North Alabama and serving the Southeast. He is a co-founder and current chairman of NextGen Shoals, a leadership-oriented young professional organization responsible for the implementation of The Shoals Area Mayoral debate and many other events and gatherings in The Shoals. He was recently appointed to the board of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, and is working to bridge the gap between established business leaders and young professionals.

Alan K. Phillips

Phillips, a native of Sheffield, is owner of Red Clay Epicurean catering company, with a focus on fresh and local products and produce, mingling Southern and international cuisines. He started at the incubator culinary center before opening his own production kitchen in Sheffield. He attended Pepperdine University, graduated first in his class from Le Cordon Bleu California School of Culinary Arts and worked for 10 years in restaurants in Los Angeles and as a private chef. He returned to Sheffield in 2012, to help his mother care for his father, and decided to stay in the area. Along with his catering company, he was approached by St. Joseph Catholic School to help offer organic, homemade lunches daily, resulting in the Fresh Café program that buys fresh food in bulk from local farms.  

Russell Pigg

Pigg is market president and CEO of Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. Pigg joined ECM in April 2012 and has been responsible for directing the facility’s growth and development into a regional provider of heart and stroke services. Under his guidance, ECM has received first silver, then gold recognition for stroke services by The American Heart/Stroke organization, along with Stroke Center recognition by the Joint Commission. In addition, he led the drive for the hospital’s Chest Pain accreditation in 2014. Pigg is now overseeing construction of a new, regional medical center for northwest Alabama. He led a similar project while serving as the COO in Clarksville, Tennessee. Pigg received his MSHA and MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is active in the community, holding several board positions, including participation with the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.

Forrest Wright 

Wright is president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, a position he has held since April 1991. As SEDA’s president, he coordinates and directs industrial and economic development for Colbert and Lauderdale counties and their municipalities. He has accumulated more than 38 years of service in the economic development field. Before coming to SEDA, he served as executive director of the 27-county Southern Kentucky Economic Development Corp. Before that, he was economic development training manager for the Barren River Area Development District in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Kentucky University. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and is a certified economic developer. He is past president of the Economic Development Association of Alabama, and is a member of the Southern Economic Development Council and numerous boards and committees.

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