Subscribe: Breaking News from The Birmingham News: Business
http://blog.al.com/spotnews/business/rss.xml
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
adams produce  alabama  birmingham  business  city  company  council  county  new  produce  shelby county  vestavia hills 
Rate this Feed
Rating: 3 starRating: 3 starRating: 3 starRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Breaking News from The Birmingham News: Business

Retired: Real-Time News from Birmingham: Business



Archives of local news updates from Birmingham and surrounding communities



Last Build Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2014 2:00:00 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2016
 



Blackwell's Pub in Cahaba Heights continues cleanup one week after fire

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 02:00:00 UTC

2014-06-05T02:00:04Z

The Vestavia Hills Fire Department battled the blaze at Ashley Mac's for at least three hours, said the Pub's owner Tyler DeStefano.

VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama -- For about a week now, the staff at Blackwell's Pub has been working inside the dimly lit building at 3151 Green Valley Rd. with protective masks and gloves.

Along with the K&S Done Right cleanup crew, they've been sifting through the water-damaged and smoke-infested items of the popular hangout after a kitchen fire tore through an adjacent business early Wednesday morning, May 28.

The Vestavia Hills Fire Department battled the blaze at Ashley Mac's for at least three hours, said the Pub's owner Tyler DeStefano.

Luckily for both DeStefano and his business partner, Chris Abrams, the damage to Blackwell's involved only the smoke and water damage from the fire department's hoses. Next door at Ashley Mac's, things looked more complicated. But because of the smoke damage, he said, everything will have to be professionally cleaned.

"This is in a way, a blessing in disguise," said DeStefano.

The work that needs to be done to the building has allowed Stefano and Abrams to look into not only rebuilding the space, but improving it as well. Insurance money will help cover the necessary repairs. From there, the plan is to add more draft beer options, new TVs and update the menu, he said.

"We appreciate everything the community has done for us during this time," said DeStefano. "We'll never be able to thank the fire department enough for what they did."

DeStefano said that when the pub is back and running--in about two or three weeks, conservatively--he hopes the community will continue to support them.

"We're doing what we can to make sure that we come back as good as we can for everyone who has supported us through it all," he said.

For more information about Blackwell's visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Efforts to reach Ashley Mac's for comment were not immediately successful. An answering service at the Cahaba Heights location provided the following message: "Due to a fire at our Cahaba Heights location, this location will be closed until further notice."

Ashley Mac's has two other locations in the Birmingham-area. For more information, click here.

For more Vestavia Hills news, click here.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/06/15124610-large.jpg




Treat dad to an afternoon at the Birmingham Zoo for free this Father's Day

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:23:00 UTC

2014-06-05T00:23:13Z

In honor of the most important man in our lives, the Birmingham Zoo will offer free admission for dad with the purchase of a child's full-price admission.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- This Father's Day, treat dad to a day packed with "wild" adventures. In honor of the most important man in our lives, the Birmingham Zoo will offer free admission for dad with the purchase of a child's full-price admission.

During the day, guests can get a glimpse at the Zoo's youngest animals in "The Baby Bunch," take an aerial journey 20 feet above ground on the new Jane H. Brock Soaring Safari Zipline Adventure, experience the Predator Zone, watch an alligator feeding and join a "keeper meet and greet" in the reptile building.

Guests can also take part in the Red Diamond Sea Lion Splash Show, which showcases new behaviors from the Zoo's California sea lions and features an even closer look at the aquatic species. The Wildlife Show, another favorite, is an exciting and educational narrated presentation that includes a variety of animals trained to exhibit their natural behaviors. Visitors will have a unique opportunity for an up-close encounter with some of the Zoo's most fascinating animals.

The day doesn't have to end there. Other activities include feeding the giraffes at the Kiwanis Giraffe Encounter, learning about the African bull elephants during the Boma Encounter, feeding the colorful lorikeets, seeing an assortment of butterflies in Granny's Butterfly Garden, cooling off in the Splash Pads and participating in a pelican feeding.

Extended summer hours--9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday--now through August 10, mean there's even more time to explore all the Zoo has to offer.

The cost to ride the zipline is $12 (plus tax) for members or $15 (plus tax) for non-members, not including the purchase of a regular priced admission ticket. The Kiwanis Giraffe Encounter is open daily from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The cost to feed is $3 (plus tax).

For more information about the Zoo, click here.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15124885-large.jpg




Crestline Shell station could close after 36 years in the community

Wed, 04 Jun 2014 20:24:00 UTC

2014-06-04T20:24:54Z

McPherson Oil Products, who Jack King leases the property from, has given him 90 days to either buy or vacate the premises. McPherson, said King, has granted him the first right to buy the property.

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama -- For 36 years, Jack King and his family have been providing the Crestline community with automotive services that are hard to find these days

In the summertime, kids know they can roll in their bikes to the Crestline Shell Station at 80 Church Street and have their tires bumped up with air; gardeners know the Shell is the place to have their lawnmowers serviced; and drivers can rest assured that after a check-up by Danny Barker, their car is ready for any road trip.

"Even though I'm not a resident of the city," said King, "I feel like I am. We've been here so long and have taken care of so many residents."
King took over the lease in 1980, three years after his dad first began leasing the space.

But come September 3, everything could change.

(image) Crestline Shell is one of the few service stations that still offers full service including pumping gas, cleaning windshields and checking tires along with mechanics to repair cars Thurs., Dec. 16, 2011 in Birmingham, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale). 

McPherson Oil Products, who King leases the property from, has given him 90 days to either buy or vacate the premises. McPherson, said King, has granted him the first right to buy the property.

"At this time," said King, "I am not in a situation financially to be able to buy it."

The situation, he said, is unfortunate. For King, it hits close to home.

"I've got my sister who works for me," he said, "and Danny. He's been working for me for 25, 26 years. He's been in the community for 30. He's got a great following people, some who will only bring their cars to him."

Leaving the community, said King, would have just as much of an impact on him as it would on its residents. It is his understanding, he said, that should someone else buy the property, it would no longer be a service station.

"We work with third generation families every day," said King. "I'm an important part of the community because there's not another facility like mine in the area."

For more than three decades, he said, the Shell's role in the community has been a balanced relationship.

"The community has always been good to us," said King, "and it's my belief that we've been good to them as well."

Efforts to reach McPherson Oil Products were not immediately successful. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

For more Mountain Brook news, click here.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15122562-large.jpg




Police Lieutenant to speak at Vestavia Chamber of Commerce Luncheon

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 18:32:00 UTC

2014-06-03T18:32:34Z

Vestavia Hills Police Lt. Brian Gilham will be the featured speaker at the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Tuesday, June 10 at the Vestavia Country Club.

(image) (Vestavia Hills Police Department) 

VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama -- Vestavia Hills Police Lt. Brian Gilham will be the featured speaker at the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Tuesday, June 10 at the Vestavia Country Club.

Gilham will share information about the Community Oriented Policing division--known as COPS--and what it's all about. He will also share information with business owners about police department services they could take advantage of, including free security inspections at their companies.

Gilham will also address concerns regarding narcotics abuse both in Vestavia Hills and in surrounding communities.

Reservations must be made by 4 p.m. Friday, June 6. The cost is $18 before Friday and $25 after that. Click here to make reservations.

Vestavia Country Club is located at 400 Beaumont Drive.

For more information, click here.



Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15113240-large.jpg




Going bankrupt more costly; court filing fees hiked beginning June 1

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 21:30:21 UTC

2014-06-02T21:30:38Z

The Judicial Conference has amended and increased filing fees for bankruptcy cases and adversary proceedings. The filing fees went up by a range of about 9.5 percent to 41.5 percent.

(image)  

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Starting Sunday, the cost of going bankrupt went up.

According to an announcement from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Judicial Conference has amended and increased filing fees for bankruptcy cases and adversary proceedings. The filing fees went up by a range of about 9.5 percent to 41.5 percent.

Here's a chart on the fees, old and new:

ChapterOld FeeNew Fee June 1, 2014Percentage increase
7 $306 $335 9.5
9 $1,213 $1,717 41.5
11 $1,213 $1,717 41.5
12 $246 $275 11.7
13 $281 $310 10.3
15 $1,213 $1,717 41.5
Adversary Complaint $293 $350 19.5


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/opinion/photo/14691650-large.jpg




5 questions we have about federal investigation into Adams Produce

Sat, 31 May 2014 18:00:07 UTC

2014-05-31T18:03:21Z

Some details about the investigation and the allegations regarding the more than 100-year-old company, which was sold in 2010 by the Adams family to a group of investors, have been made public. But we still have some questions.

(image)
 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - An FBI investigation begun more than two years ago into fraudulent billing on government contracts for fruits and vegetables at the now shuttered Birmingham-based Adams Produce Co. so far has resulted in indictments or charges against seven former company officials.

Five former Adams Produce officials have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Two others, including one on Thursday, have been charged in the past month and both proclaim their innocence.

Adams Produce had contracts with the Defense Logistics Agency for the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia to provide fruits and vegetables for use at military bases and schools, prosecutors charge. The federal government would pay a certain price above what it would cost Adams Produce to get the produce from its suppliers. Adams Produce was required to submit proof of its costs.

Adams Produce officials between August 2011 and November 2011 arranged transactions with the Georgia location of T.L.C., a major nationwide wholesale produce company, to create fraudulent purchase orders reflecting a higher cost so it could get more money from government contracts.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012 following months later with the first of the indictments and charges. The bankruptcy left 400 employees without jobs

Some details about the investigation and the allegations regarding the more than 100-year-old company, which was sold in 2010 by the Adams family to a group of investors, have been made public.

But here are six questions we still have:

  • Is the investigation closed or can we expect more charges?
  • Will anyone from the wholesale company, T.L.C., in Georgia be charged?  
  • Prosecutors have said the scheme was hatched in July 2011 during a meeting between company officers and employees of Adams Produce about ways to increase profit margins. But who at Adams was the first to come up with the idea?
  • What was the red flag or tip that led federal investigators look at Adams Produce?
  • Are other produce companies around the nation being investigated, or have been investigated, for similar schemes?


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/adams-produce-e1f06473de31f8a0.jpg




Attorney for former Adams Produce COO likens federal investigation to 'witch hunt'

Fri, 30 May 2014 21:10:23 UTC

2014-05-30T21:10:50Z

Steven Craig Finberg, 45, of Texas, former CCO at Adams Produce, faces a 33-count indictment for conspiracy and wire fraud issued by a federal grand jury on Thursday, according to a press release used by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham.

(image) (File) 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - An attorney for the former chief operating officer for Birmingham-based Adams Produce Co., said Friday that his client is innocent of fraud charges and likened the federal investigation to a "witch hunt."

Steven Craig Finberg, 45, of Texas, former CCO at Adams Produce, faces a 33-count indictment for conspiracy and wire fraud issued by a federal grand jury on Thursday, according to a press release sent by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham.

"We will be entering a plea of not guilty to the indictment and look forward to having a jury actually hear the evidence in the case rather than have to rely on the one sided allegations that the U.S. Attorney's Office has continued to re-cycle in all of its press releases in this matter," Finberg's attorney, John Lentine, stated in an email to Al.com on Friday.

Finberg is the seventh company official to face charges.

The charges against Finberg and the others relate to a scheme to create false records, which were used to show it was paying higher costs for the produce it was providing to a defense agency. Under its contract the defense agency would pay a percentage over Adams' costs for the fruits and vegetables.

Lentine stated that it is time that all the facts came, rather than the version "being paraded out" by government prosecutors. "It's interesting that Steve Finberg is left as the last person to be indicted after a nearly two-year investigation especially when Steve, who has always maintained his innocence, voluntarily cooperated with the government from the very beginning," he stated.

"Now Steve's indictment at the midnight hour smacks more of the end of a witch hunt rather than an honest effort to find out the truth of what really happened by a few persons at Adams, but thankfully that's what juries are here for," Lentine stated.
"Steve Finberg is innocent of these charges."

Lentine noted that Finberg had not been mentioned in previous indictments or court documents regarding the other defendants. "Steve was Chief Operating Officer and had little if anything to do with the financial aspects of Adams. I believe they simply lumped everyone together and charged them regardless," he said.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham said prosecutors would not respond to Lentine's comments.

John Steven Alexander, of Mountain Brook, who was CFO for Adams Produce, also was charged in April with conspiracy and wire fraud in a 33-count indictment. Five other former Adams Produce officials have pleaded guilty to charges and have been sentenced to prison or probation in the investigation in the past year. Four of the men were ordered to jointly pay $481,000 restitution to the government.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/breaking/photo/15013108-large.jpg




A look at Sassy and Bety: Black bear yearlings settle in at Birmingham Zoo

Fri, 30 May 2014 18:07:00 UTC

2014-05-30T19:47:12Z

For the first time this morning, the public got a glimpse at Sassy and Bety, two North American Black Bears the zoo had rescued from southwestern Montana. Watch video BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - They're back! The Birmingham Zoo is now once again, officially a home for bears. For the first time this morning, the public got a glimpse at Sassy and Bety, two North American Black Bears the zoo had rescued from southwestern Montana. The bears initially arrived back in March, but had to remain quarantined for a period of time based on zoo policy. The orphaned siblings are currently being housed at the Predator building until the construction of their permanent home, the Barbara Ingalls Shook Black Bear Trail, is finished. Theirs was a journey long in the making--made possible by FedEx. Katrina Cade, Vice President of Marketing for The Birmingham Zoo confirmed to AL.com on March 6 that the zoo was expecting the arrival of two black bears cub siblings from southwestern Montana. The bears--both females--she said, were referred to as "yearlings" by zoo staff because they were unsure of exactly how old they are. According to an Associated Press article published in March, the yearlings were sent to the Birmingham Zoo because they had become "too habituated to people." A Montana-area resident had apparently been feeding the fuzzy females. Montana Wildlife Rehabilitation Center manager Lisa Rhodin told the AP the bears were recently captured in Big Sky, where they had been "lounging around on somebody's porch." Rhodin told the AP that although the rehabilitation center takes in orphaned wildlife with the goal of returning them to the wild, these two bears in particular were "simply too used to people." The bears departed Great Falls early Sunday morning, March 9 on a FedEx plane, confirmed Cade, and the Birmingham Zoo was ready. "For years now, the community has been asking when the zoo would bring bears back," said Cade. "I think this is something to get excited about." The bear cub reveal was just one of the events planned as part of the Birmingham Zoo's baby shower to celebrate the Baby Bunch Weekend. Today, visitors are invited to drop off a package of diapers to receive half price admission to the Zoo (only new, sealed packages of diapers will be accepted to qualify for the discount). This diaper drive will benefit First Light, a center for homeless women and children. From Saturday, May 31 through Sunday, June 1, visitors are encouraged to bring the entire family to meet members of The Baby Bunch, enjoy face paintings courtesy of Children's of Alabama, baby-themed animal enrichments, educational keeper chats, Get Rhythm(r) Drum Circle and much more. The Baby Bunch includes an ostrich, reticulated giraffe, Sumatran orangutan, two North American black bears, two giant river otters, two red pandas and nine Dwarf Nigerian goats. Families and guests can have fun spotting the various members of The Baby Bunch throughout the Zoo. The public can also enjoy the Jane H. Brock Soaring Safari Zipline Adventure during Baby Bunch Weekend for an additional price. Guests of all ages can soar 20 feet above ground level as they glide on the zipline through the treetops of the Alabama Wilds. Here's the weekend's schedule of events: Friday, May 30 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Receive Half-Price Admission by Donating to the Diaper Drive Saturday, May 31 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Face Paintings in the Special Events Yard provided by Children's of Alabama 11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: Red Panda Keeper Chat and Enrichment 11:30 a.m. - noon: Giraffe and Ostrich Keeper Chats and Enrichments 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Get Rhythm(r) Drum Circle 1:30 p m. - 1:45 p.m.: Otter Enrichment 1:45 p.m. - 2 p.m.: Orangutan Keeper Chat 3 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Goat Enrichment at Activity Yard Sunday, June 1 11 a.m. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/15080400-large.jpg




Vestavia Hills residents allowed to retrieve belongings from closed dry cleaning shop

Thu, 29 May 2014 22:52:00 UTC

2014-05-29T22:52:30Z

According to the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, the dry cleaner's owner agreed to open the doors to the business, located at 1457 Montgomery Highway, every day this week from 4-6 p.m.

(image) (Stock photo)

VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama -- Vestavia Hills residents seeking to pick up their belongings from the recently closed Fashion Cleaners will have until Friday afternoon to do so.

According to the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, the dry cleaner's owner agreed to open the doors to the business, located at 1457 Montgomery Highway, every day this week from 4-6 p.m. in order to allow customers to retrieve their belongings--which had been locked inside since the business closed several weeks ago--through Friday.

The store's owner told CBS 42 earlier this week that he is dealing with family issues and intends to close the store for good.

Customers had been left in the dark since the store's closing, unsure of when and if they would ever get their belongings back.

According to Fox 6, several customers, including Frank Carnaggio who had been coming to Fashion Cleaners for several years, said their clothes had been locked inside.

According to Carnaggio, the last time he went in to the store a few weeks ago, something seemed off.

He was asked to pay in advance--which he said has never happened before.
He paid as asked, but when we came back to pick up his dry cleaning, he found the shop closed.

"We don't care about the money, just give us our clothing back," Carnaggio told Fox.

From 4-6 p.m. tomorrow, customers will have a final chance to do so.

For the entire CBS 42 story, click here.

For the entire Fox 6 story, click here.

For all news Vestavia Hills, click here.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15073287-large.jpg




7th former Adams Produce official indicted in government contract fraud scheme

Thu, 29 May 2014 22:19:26 UTC

2014-05-31T15:39:29Z

Steven Craig Finberg, 45, of Texas, is the seventh Adams Produce official charged in connection to the scheme, according to a joint statement from U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.

(image) Adams Produce filed for bankruptcy in 2012 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - The chief operating officer for Birmingham-based Adams Produce Co., which went bankrupt and closed in 2012, was indicted by a federal grand jury today related to fraud involving government contracts for fruits and vegetables.

Steven Craig Finberg, 45, of Texas, is the seventh Adams Produce official charged in connection to the scheme, according to a joint statement from U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.

Finberg engaged in a scheme to create false records that reflected an inflated cost to Adams Produce for fruits and vegetables it purchased from a national distributor. That distributor was identified as T.L.C. in previous court documents. The higher costs were then presented to the U.S. Government, according to the statement, which cited the indictment.

Finberg was indicted on one count of conspiring to defraud the government and 32 counts of wire fraud in connection with the scheme.

John Steven Alexander, of Mountain Brook, who was CFO for Adams Produce, also was charged in April with conspiracy and wire fraud in a 33-count indictment. Five other former Adams Produce officials have pleaded guilty to charges and have been sentenced to prison or probation in the investigation in the past year. Four of the men were ordered to jointly pay $481,000 restitution to the government.

Finberg met with the other officers and employees of Adams' Produce in July 2011 and they discussed ways to increase the company's profit margins on government contracts, including conducting transactions designed to create fraudulent purchase orders, according to the statement.

Finberg also was part of an Aug. 1, 2011, e-mail exchange with other Adams' officials, including Kirkland, about naming a company being created within Adams Produce to keep track of the fraudulent transactions, according to the indictment. O'Brien "suggested naming the company 'dsf (Dave's slush fund)... gbm (guranteed bonus maker).'," according to the statement, which cites the indictment.

The FBI investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney George A. Martin Jr. is prosecuting.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/adams-produce-e1f06473de31f8a0.jpg




Alabama Power gets approval to expand industrial park designation at Shelby County site

Thu, 29 May 2014 17:33:04 UTC

2014-05-29T17:36:44Z

SHELBY COUNTY, Alabama -- Alabama Power has received approval to expand its industrial park designation around its existing site east of the Shelby County Airport off Interstate 65 to include additional land in the area. The Shelby County Commission at its meeting Tuesday night unanimously approved the company's request. The action followed a public hearing on May 12 and...

(image)  

SHELBY COUNTY, Alabama -- Alabama Power has received approval to expand its industrial park designation around its existing site east of the Shelby County Airport off Interstate 65 to include additional land in the area.

The Shelby County Commission at its meeting Tuesday night unanimously approved the company's request. The action followed a public hearing on May 12 and discussion about the proposal at a commission meeting in April.

T.J. Fincher, external affairs manager for Alabama Power, told commissioners on May 12 the company is seeking to expand the industrial park boundaries for the general services complex east of the Shelby County Airport at 744 County Road 87N.

"To be precise about what is going on at this meeting, we are expanding the industrial park in the sense that we are taking property we already owned and recently rezoned and incorporating it into the existing industrial park," Fincher said.

The company is not constructing a new industrial park, he said. "This is just straightening out the land in terms of the legal descriptions," he told commissioners previously.

The proposal adds about 144 acres to the current industrial park, which is roughly 433 acres, Fincher said. He said more than 600 Alabama Power employees work at the general services complex in Shelby County.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/alabama-power-logojpg-ae1ebf669a18db36.jpg




Alabama coal war: Judge rules permits allowing stream filling by mining companies okay, river group appeals

Wed, 28 May 2014 23:23:37 UTC

2014-05-29T02:05:19Z

U.S. District Court Judge William Acker last week issued a ruling in a 2012 lawsuit brought by the Riverkeeper and one other environmental group over the permits that allow the filling of streams with coal waste. The judge granted summary judgments in favor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issues the permits, and the Alabama Coal Association and four of its member companies.   BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - The Black Warrior Riverkeeper last week lost a federal court battle to bring a halt to permits that allow Alabama mining companies to fill small streams with coal waste. Coal groups applauded the judge's ruling, saying it protects coal jobs in Alabama. They called the Riverkeeper's lawsuit frivolous and a part of what they say is a war by the Obama Administration on the coal industry.     "The baseless attacks of these local liberal groups are nothing more than an effort to do the bidding of west coast extremists who will stop at nothing to get their way in Alabama and kill our jobs and raise our energy prices," Alabama Coal Association President George Barber stated in a Wednesday press release. But the war isn't over for the Birmingham-based Riverkeeper group, which says the issue is about protecting state water resources. "We are disappointed in the ruling because it effectively gives Alabama's rivers and streams less protection from destructive coal mining impacts than rivers in other mining states, including Kentucky and West Virginia.," Catherine Wannamaker, attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said Wednesday. The Riverkeeper's attorney, Eva L. Dillard, on Wednesday also filed the group's notice of appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Alabama Coal Association was represented by attorneys from Balch & Bingham LLP. U.S. District Court Judge William Acker last week issued a ruling in a 2012 lawsuit brought by the Riverkeeper and one other environmental group over the permits that allow the filling of streams with coal waste. The judge granted summary judgments in favor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issues the permits, and the Alabama Coal Association and four of its member companies. The four companies are MS&R Equipment Co., Inc., Reed Minerals, Inc., Twin Pines, LLC, and Walter Minerals, Inc. The Riverkeeper in the lawsuit, among other things, challenged the grandfather provision in the 2012 Nationwide Permit 21. That permit, which is issued by the Corps under the federal Clean Water Act, allows the filling of streams and wetlands with coal mining material. The grandfather provision allows mining companies that had five-year permits under 2007 rules to continue the unlimited filling of streams for five more years without obtaining a new authorization under the more restrictive 2012 rules, according to the group's lawsuit. The Riverkeeper claims more than 27 miles of streams in the Black Warrior River watershed are being filled as a result of 41 permits issued in Alabama. Courts have barred coal mining companies in other states, including Kentucky and West Virginia, from operating with permits under the grandfather rule, the Riverkeeper has noted. Acker had earlier rejected a motion by the Riverkeeper for an injunction to halt the permits while the lawsuit proceeded. The group, the Corps and coal industry then each sought summary judgments in their favor on the issues.  Acker granted the summary judgment motions by the Corps and coal industry but not the Riverkeeper in last week's ruling. Acker, in his 38-page opinion, rejected arguments by the Riverkeeper that contended that the Corps improperly relied on an analysis of the accumulative effects of allowing stream fills pe[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15064761-large.jpg




ALDI's Alabaster store proposal gets input from Shelby County planners

Wed, 28 May 2014 00:31:16 UTC

2014-05-28T03:02:21Z

ALABASTER, Alabama -- Shelby County wants the developer of an ALDI grocery store in Alabaster to make improvements on County Road 11 to provide property access near the junction with Highway 31. "They've got to make substantial improvements to County Road 11 for us to issue an access permit," Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole said in an interview tonight....

(image) ALDI is planning to open a store in Alabaster off Shelby County Road 11 near the intersection with Highway 31. (File / The Huntsville Times) 

ALABASTER, Alabama -- Shelby County wants the developer of an ALDI grocery store in Alabaster to make improvements on County Road 11 to provide property access near the junction with Highway 31.

"They've got to make substantial improvements to County Road 11 for us to issue an access permit," Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole said in an interview tonight.

The Shelby County Commission at its meeting in Columbiana tonight approved a right-of-way acquisition from ALDI Inc. to help facilitate the property's development off County Road 11 near Highway 31.

"The plans that their engineer submitted showed some improvements that we thought were best contained in the right-of-way, so we asked them and they agreed to donate the right-of-way," Cole said after the meeting.

The project will result in relocating utilities and ensuring proper drainage in the area, as well as installing right- and left-hand turn lanes from County Road 11 to the property.

"You're going to have to widen the road and you've got to relocate utilities and the drainage, and in doing that you've got to give a little more right-of-way," Cole said.

Cole was unsure when the development would happen. Efforts to reach ALDI representatives tonight were unsuccessful.

The development of the grocery store would mark its second location in Shelby County, following the opening of its Pelham site in March 2012.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15057398-large.jpg




Out of luck and out of money: Birmingham Race Course three years late on property taxes, seeks bailout from board

Fri, 23 May 2014 16:48:31 UTC

2014-05-23T16:46:58Z

Representatives with the Jefferson County Racing Association, controlled by gaming magnate Milton McGregor, recently asked the Birmingham Racing Commission to give them about $800,000 to pay delinquent taxes at the race course. BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --Operators of the Birmingham Race Course are three years behind on property taxes and have turned to the Birmingham Racing Commission for a bailout. Representatives with the Jefferson County Racing Association, controlled by gaming magnate Milton McGregor, recently asked the Birmingham Racing Commission to give them about $800,000 to pay delinquent taxes. "It's just financial difficulties. We're struggling to stay in business literally," said   General Manager Joe O'Neill. "Simulcast is more expensive than it's ever been." The race course wants money from an escrow account previously set up from a percentage of wagers at the facility. The fund was created to ensure payouts for live horse racing, but because there have not been regular live horse races in nearly 20 years, the McGregor group wants to close out the fund. After some debate, the commission agreed to a partial bailout of $398,000 to pay 2011 delinquent taxes. The five-member commission also agreed to revisit the remaining money after race course officials negotiate with the county and determine the exact amount owed for 2012 and 2013. The money was approved with Dr. Tom Dawkins as the lone, dissenting board member. Race course officials and the Racing Commission's attorney, Bob Jones, maintain that the association is entitled to the money. Dawkins disagrees. He agrees with horse racing supporters who say emptying the fund will erase most incentives to bring back live racing to the facility. "It's not their money, it's the horsemen's money and it was paid on by people who bet on horses," Dawkins said. "It makes a hard argument that they're not interested in bringing horse racing back." The closest Birmingham gamblers get to real horses are the television monitors broadcasting races from other states. Race course officials said horse racing by itself is not financially feasible. They argue that the state must allow other gaming alternatives to supplement the live horse amenity. "Unfortunately, for this facility to be successful we have got to have some sort of legal gambling that will subsidize horse racing," said attorney David Johnston. "Otherwise, none of us are successful. Without that alternative source of revenue, it doesn't matter what you budget." On the other side, David Harrington, president of the Alabama Horsemen Benevolent Protective Association, urged the commission to reject the request. Harrington questioned the sincerity of race course officials when it came to returning live horse racing to Birmingham. "Why will they not sit down with the horsemen and get something done?" Harrington asked. Some horse racing supporters went further, saying if McGregor and his group could not pay their taxes, then the property should be sold the same way others are for delinquencies. Maybe then a buyer could be found who could operate the facility to its maximum capacity, they argued. The Racing Commission in 2010 approved a similar emergency race course bailout using the escrow fund. The same arguments were made for and against turning over the money. Another withdrawal was also made in 2011 for repairs and renovations. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/15023399-large.jpg




Helena Business Association taking over First Friday event management

Thu, 22 May 2014 18:38:04 UTC

2014-05-22T18:42:01Z

HELENA, Alabama -- The Helena Business Association has taken over management of the First Friday event that attracts proprietors and customers once a month to the city's Old Town area. Mayor Mark Hall said the event's new management resulted from discussions with city leaders and others about changing the operation from the previous organizer, who has closed shop in...

(image) The Helena Business Association is taking over the management of the First Friday event in the Old Town area at the direction of the city. (Courtesy) 

HELENA, Alabama -- The Helena Business Association has taken over management of the First Friday event that attracts proprietors and customers once a month to the city's Old Town area.

Mayor Mark Hall said the event's new management resulted from discussions with city leaders and others about changing the operation from the previous organizer, who has closed shop in Helena.

"Speaking with the revenue department, we will not have individuals doing events or festivals on a regularly scheduled basis for a profit," Hall said today about the decision. "We would prefer that any event to promote Helena businesses as a whole be through the Helena Business Association or a similar one designed to serve all the businesses."

Former organizer Kim McCoy closed her shop, Tougie Baby, and does not operate in Helena any longer, according to the city. McCoy, who created the Helena event that started last fall, did not return a phone message today.

Helena Business Association President Bob Van Loan said today his organization is taking over the event at the request of the mayor. "We're very honored to have the opportunity to take what is an very important event for the city and to take it to the next level," Van Loan said.

"In terms of the Helena Business Association, we as an organization have a mission to promote the use of Helena businesses by the residents of Helena. We want people to shop Helena first. This being a bedroom community, most of our citizens are out of town when most businesses are open," Van Loan said.

The event that happens from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Old Town district on the first Friday of each month is an "opportunity for local Helena citizens to get out and meet business owners and managers. ... It's an opportunity that they don't get due to their work schedules or the operating hours of the business themselves," he said.

Councilwoman Leslie Bartlett, who previously served on the Helena Business Association board, agreed with the decision. "That's what the Business Association is for -- to promote those businesses," she said. "That's where it needs to be in the first place. That will help not only the First Friday event but that will also help the businesses in the association."

Any vendor or Helena business that wants to participate can send an email to info@helenafirstfriday.com. The First Friday event has a page on Facebook.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15013692-large.jpg




Bowing to pressure, Birmingham Mayor William Bell changes course on old Social Security building proposal

Thu, 22 May 2014 15:20:07 UTC

2014-05-22T16:56:12Z

Mayor William Bell's changed position comes after controversy and public pressure over a $50 million proposal to buy space in the former Social Security building for a joint police and fire department headquarters. Birmingham Mayor William Bell has changed his stance regarding a proposal to buy space in the former Social Security building downtown.  BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --Mayor William Bell has agreed to take additional proposals to build a new public safety center.  Bell's changed position comes after controversy and public pressure over a $50 million proposal to buy space in the former Social Security building for a joint police and fire department headquarters. Bell had endorsed proposals from Chattanooga developer Franklin Haney. "There seems to be a lot of interest from people who would like to submit a proposal and this gives everyone an opportunity to do that," Chuck Faush, Bell's chief of staff, told AL.com.  Bell had endorsed the Social Security building option and completed a study showing its feasibility. The council has taken no action on the proposal. "What was asked for previously has already been submitted to the council and that's where it stands right now," Faush said. "This would certainly add more options to choose from, if any." Faush said the administration will advertise an official request for proposal, RFP. The Social Security building is owned by Haney, a longtime Bell campaign donor, who also contributed to several council races including Council President Johnathan Austin, Steven Hoyt, Marcus Lundy, Kim Rafferty, Jay Roberson and Sheila Tyson. Several council members later distanced themselves from Haney, including Hoyt, who said he returned his contribution. Those opposing the Haney proposal have assailed it as too expensive, too politically incestuous and too closed. Bell's changed position also comes after meetings with Citizens Coalition for a Better Birmingham, a grassroots group formed to oppose the Social Security option and call for alternatives. When Bell met with the group, he gave members a challenge: If they didn't like the proposal, then find a better one. "In the first meeting he said to me I would never, ever issue an RFP," Brenda Dickerson, the group's founding chairwoman recalled. "Then he said to me, 'if you want to go out and find somebody who will make a competitive bid, I will meet with them and I will give you the specs.' So I came home and I called a developer." While Dickerson said she was pleased Bell plans to open the process, she reserved claiming victory. "I don't feel anything about it quite frankly," she said. "I won't feel this has worked until the deal is done, until he has issued an RFP." The Social Security option has had several versions in response to council and public concern over costs. The final proposal involved buying floors in the office tower near the Birmingham Jefferson County Civic Complex. Facing competition, controversy and criticism, Haney returned with a new proposal to sell floor space for $50 million. An earlier proposal for the Social Security building involved a 30-year lease that would have cost the city nearly $139 million. Haney cites adequate space and recent major capital improvements to the building as strong selling points. A city-commissioned analysis of cost and feasibility options for a joint police and fire station concludes that the latest $50 million proposal for the former Social Security building is the lowest price compared to alternatives, but also called the former Carraway hospital "ideally suited" for current and future needs[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15011931-large.jpg




Take a tour of Summit Express Urgent Care now open on Highway 31 in Vestavia Hills

Wed, 21 May 2014 20:09:00 UTC

2014-05-21T20:09:04Z

On Monday, May 19, Dr. Nicol Pettway opened the doors to her brand new facility, Summit Express Urgent Care at 1360 Montgomery Highway Suite 114.

VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama -- Vestavia Hills has a new doctor in town.

On Monday, May 19, Dr. Nicol Pettway opened the doors to her brand new facility, Summit Express Urgent Care at 1360 Montgomery Highway Suite 114.
Pettway, a native of Alabama and a resident of Vestavia, has been practicing medicine in the Birmingham area for 18 years. It is her 15-year experience in emergency medicine, she said during a recent tour of the space, which sets her facility apart from the others in the area.

"I can take care of a lot of different things," said Pettway, "because I've seen all types of things."

Before opening her own urgent care facility in partnership with her husband, Bruce, CEO of Birmingham'sEmployer Benefits Consulting LLC, Pettway was on staff at one. What she learned there, she said, helped inspire her to open a facility where she could handle things the way she was trained in the emergency room.

Some of the in-house lab services offered at Summit Express include:

  • Flu, strep, RSV and mono screens
  • Electrolytes, liver and complete blood counts
  • HgB A1c, Helicobacter pylori and cholesterol screens
  • Urine exams, including drug screens and pregnancy tests
  • STD evaluation and treatment

The facility has room to treat nine patients in eight exams rooms and one pelvic exam room.
"I've delivered babies before," said Pettway with a laugh as she showed off the pelvic exam room, "but I don't plan on delivering any in there."
The room, she said, is intended to help treat women with minor issues.

In-house minor surgical procedures include, but are not limited to:

  • Laceration repairs
  • Abscess drainage
  • Small joint reductions
  • Foreign body removals
  • Knee and elbow joint aspirations
  • Ingrown toenail treatment

Through June 19, Summit Express will perform school physicals and sport physicals for $15. Pettway is also certified to perform Department of Transportation screenings.

Bruce said the overall goal of the facility is to serve as a center where patients can go if they need immediate attention that does not warrant a visit to the emergency room.

"We want our patients to come in, get treated and get well without having to worry about long waits or delayed appointment times. Based on its population size, this is something Vestavia Hills needed."

Summit Express is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and Sunday 1-6 p.m.
For more information, visit www.summitexpress.net.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/15005616-large.jpg




Northern Beltline construction continues, blasting to begin in a couple weeks

Wed, 21 May 2014 20:05:49 UTC

2014-05-21T20:39:48Z

PINSON, Alabama -- Construction continues on the Northern Beltline highway project. The first phrase will run between Hwy. 75 and Hwy. 79 in northeast Jefferson County.  Heavy equipment including bulldozers, trackhoes and heavy dump trucks are moving dirt and grading an area near where the interchange will be. Two construction entrances to Hwy 75 have been added so equipment...

PINSON, Alabama -- Construction continues on the Northern Beltline highway project. The first phrase will run between Hwy. 75 and Hwy. 79 in northeast Jefferson County. 

Heavy equipment including bulldozers, trackhoes and heavy dump trucks are moving dirt and grading an area near where the interchange will be. Two construction entrances to Hwy 75 have been added so equipment can enter the site.

Wright Brothers Construction Co. from Tennessee is doing the work on the $46 million segment that stretches 1.34 miles. Linda Crockett with ALDOT said that some blasting will take place at the site in a couple weeks.

By the fall of 2016, Alabama Department of Transportation officials say the new highway's first segment, complete with interchanges linking Alabama 75 and Alabama 79, will be complete.

See more stories and photos about the northern Beltline here.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/15005095-large.jpg




Alabaster getting Panda Express restaurant in Target shopping center

Wed, 21 May 2014 15:38:51 UTC

2014-05-21T15:42:19Z

ALABASTER, Alabama - The site work is under way for a new Panda Express drive-through restaurant coming to the Alabaster Promenade shopping center anchored by Target and J.C. Penney off Highway 31 and Interstate 65. Candito Construction out of Georgia is the contractor on the project located next to the O'Charley's restaurant. Already, construction crews were preparing the foundation...

(image) Workers with Candito Construction install a sign for the new Panda Express restaurant that's being built in the Alabaster Promenade shopping center off Highway 31 and Interstate 65 in Alabaster on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (Martin J. Reed / mreed@al.com) 

ALABASTER, Alabama - The site work is under way for a new Panda Express drive-through restaurant coming to the Alabaster Promenade shopping center anchored by Target and J.C. Penney off Highway 31 and Interstate 65.

Candito Construction out of Georgia is the contractor on the project located next to the O'Charley's restaurant. Already, construction crews were preparing the foundation for the structure as some this morning installed a sign announcing the new Panda Express.

The company plans to finish work on the restaurant building by mid-August, and the eatery that specializes in Asian-style food should be open a couple of weeks afterward.

The restaurant's arrival will follow the recent opening of Dick's Sporting Goods in the shopping center next to Target.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15002851-large.jpg




Yogurt Mountain in Gardendale to begin accepting applications May 30

Wed, 21 May 2014 01:03:42 UTC

2014-05-21T01:09:54Z

Potential employees should bring applications to the store between 1 and 5 p.m. and be prepared for a brief interview.

(image)  

GARDENDALE, Alabama - Birmingham-based Yogurt Mountain is slated to open its Gardendale location soon and will begin accepting applications Friday, May 30.

The frozen yogurt chain announced the new Gardendale location in January. It will be located in the shopping center with Panera Bread at the corner of Fieldstown Road and Mt. Olive Road.

Yogurt Mountain Gardendale announced on its Facebook page that it will accept applications May 30. Potential employees should bring applications to the store between 1 and 5 p.m. and be prepared for a brief interview. To print an application, visit www.yogurtmountain.com, click on the careers link at the bottom of the page, and download the printable version.

The minimum age for team members is 16 years old, and the minimum age for shift leaders is 18 years old.

Yogurt Mountain is located at 521 Fieldstown Road.

For more stories on Gardendale, visit al.com/local/gardendale.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/10295706-558846894236696-387713086988922624-npng-ea76b4c75d367c42.png




UAB prof, a key figure in booming field of 'digital forensics,' gets national press from Inc. magazine

Tue, 20 May 2014 17:21:26 UTC

2014-05-20T18:13:05Z

Thanks to the new Internet of things, we will all leave a "visible trail" wherever we go and whatever we do, says UAB prof Ragib Hasan. An expert in the booming field of digital forensics, Hasan was featured Monday on the web site for Inc. magazine. UAB professor Ragib Hasan (UAB photo).  BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) who is becoming a major figure in the growing field of digital forensics -- the use of data mining to help fight crime -- drew national attention on Monday when the business publication Inc. featured him on its web site.  Dr. Ragib Hasan, the director of the UAB Secure and Trustworthy Computing Lab, also known as the UAB SECRETLab, tells writer Will Yakowicz the digital forensics industry will "expand dramatically" the next few years because the world is entering what he calls "a new age of computing shaped by the Internet of Things."  In this new age, according to Hasan, "everything will be smart, including our cars, thermostats, and refrigerators. But this means we will generate and leave a visible trail at every place we visit, on everything we touch, and with everything we do."  Because of this, Hasan says, "every activity, including any law enforcement investigation, will have a digital forensics component."  As Yakowicz says, police will break cases by "mining location data from a suspect's smart car and extracting files from her cloud accounts and communications from her smartphones."  The article -- "Digital Forensics: A Billion-Dollar Market in the Making" -- is part of Inc.'s 2014 Best Industries package. Being a "digital detective" is one of the "most promising ground-floor opportunities" in business this year, according to the magazine.  Hasan said that his lab, and the UAB Department of Computer and Information Sciences, is attracting interest from a lot of students.  "(The lab gets) a lot of interest from students and researchers worldwide," he told AL.com in an email on Monday. "UAB also has a digital forensics master's program which gets many students. As the digital forensics market grows in the coming years, there will be a huge demand for personnel trained in digital forensics analysis techniques, so I anticipate a large growth in the job market. As a result, I predict that UAB's Computer and Information Sciences program as well as the digital forensics program will attract more students and grow."  Hasan started the UAB SECRETLab right after he came to UAB in 2011 to join the department. The lab conducts work in such areas as cloud forensics, security and privacy; computer security; data waste; data and location provenance; and mobile malware defenses.  The presence of the lab is a point of pride for UAB, according to Hasan. "While there are no such rankings of security labs nationally, I'd say we are unique in our expertise on cloud security and cloud forensics," he said in the email. "Very few, perhaps less than a handful of groups or academic research labs are working on cloud forensics in the country or even the world."  Hasan said that he and his lab collaborate closely with other UAB researchers and with the local-spin off firm Malcovery Security.  "UAB possesses a unique position among universities nationally as a top-class center of research on all things related to digital and cloud forensics," Hasan said. "We are also one of the first to take on t[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14993799-large.jpg




Birmingham Zoo to undergo $15 million renovation with plans for new entrance, Asian Forest

Tue, 20 May 2014 17:15:00 UTC

2014-05-21T19:07:32Z

The Birmingham City Council today approved a resolution to raise $7.5 million in bonds toward the Zoo's $15 million Capital Campaign project. BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Prepare for change: The well-known face of The Birmingham Zoo will soon undergo a $15 million facelift. The Birmingham City Council today approved a resolution to raise $7.5 million in bonds toward the Zoo's $15 million Capital Campaign project. The funds will be used to transform the front entrance of the 59-year-old facility, create an entrance plaza complete with a state-of-the-art classroom and build a new Asian Forest exhibit to house tigers, orangutans and siamang apes. "These forms of capital funds will also help to ensure Birmingham's thrust as a global attraction," said Council President Johnathan Austin.  "The Zoo continues to provide numerous benefits for our city, and we are excited about what is to come." The other half of the funds needed , said Dr. William Foster, President and CEO of the Zoo, Dr., will be raised through private donations. Planned Changes Some of the most immediately striking changes are the planned upgrades of the front entrance. "These necessary changes are the product of our success," said Foster. The zoo entrance, which has sometimes been described as "tired," he said, must match the quality of the exhibits and animals housed within the zoo. BZI hired renowned zoo designer Ace Torre to help their vision come to light. Torre's composite sketches include concepts found in the surrounding local community, said Foster, emphasizing stone and wood features. One wing of the new, energy-efficient entrance will be dedicated exclusively to education. "That's part of our mission," said Foster, "one of the reasons we are here." Nairi the orangutan, and her mother, Lipz, will have a new home in the Asian Forest (Joe Songer/jsonger@al.com) The new addition will serve as an orientation hub for visiting students. Along with serving as an area of introduction to the zoo, students will be able to get involved with hands-on activities as part of a portal to a natural classroom. The second floor of the new entrance will be lined with floor-to-ceiling windows and will house the zoo's office staff. A ticket counter and gift shop will round out the rest of the building. As soon as visitors walk through the entrance, they will walk into a water feature-lined hard-surface orientation plaza designed for high-traffic activities such as an Earth Day celebration. A secondary tier, designed like a meadow, will serve to host after-hour celebrations including weddings, dinners and concerts. A paved promenade will surround the two areas to facilitate guests' desired entry into the various areas of the zoo. The promenade is designed to contain a water feature built with historic fish hatchery stone known to many zoo visitors. Guests who choose to veer off to the right of the promenade toward the Children's Zoo will be able to gain access to a second-story elevated walkway that will lead visitors over the train tracks and into an enclosed exhibit area of the planned Asian Forest. The new exhibit is designed to replace the currently outdated predator building. Within the Asian Forest, guests will encounter orangutans that can move around the glass from all angles--creating the experience that it's the humans who are the ones on display. The outdoor exhibits, built to house the oran[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/14995528-large.jpg




Birmingham agrees to spend $625,000 to help restore historic downtown building

Tue, 20 May 2014 17:09:00 UTC

2014-05-20T17:08:17Z

The City Council unanimously approved incentives to transform the Florentine Building at Second Avenue North into an event center, restaurant and bar.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Efforts to renovate a historic Italianate downtown building received major support this morning with city approval of $625,000 in incentives.

The City Council unanimously approved incentives to transform the Florentine Building at Second Avenue North into an event center, restaurant and bar.

Under the agreement, the city will rebate up to $350,000 in sales tax generated by the Florentine Building LLC over seven years. In addition, the city agreed to provide $275,000 in cash for building renovations.

The entire project is expected to cost about $2.5 million and would move Corretti Catering in the building.

Rebecca Corretti and Ken Effinger, owners and operators of Corretti Catering, have owned the building since 2008. The structure dates back to the late 1920s.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14993553-large.jpg




Birmingham City Council approves $1.78 million in incentives for Crestwood shopping center

Tue, 20 May 2014 14:05:40 UTC

2014-05-20T16:07:21Z

Under the proposal, the city will rebate up to 50 percent in sales taxes at around $356,800 annually for five years.

(image)  

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --The Birmingham City Council this morning is set to vote on nearly $1.8 million in incentives for a Crestwood shopping center.

Owners of the Crestwood Festival plan $1.78 million in improvements following earlier renovations and want city assistance.

Under the proposal, the city would rebate up to 50 percent in sales tax at around $356,800 annually for five years.

Canadian investors bought what was a struggling shopping center in April 2012, when the property  had a 36 percent vacancy rate.

Since then, the commercial area has strengthened its position with $3.2 million in upgrades, and now boasts nearly full occupancy.

Mark Gold acquired the shopping mall with partner Skyline International Development Inc. and changed the name to Crestwood Festival Center from Eastwood Festival Centre.

Gold later acquired the struggling Grants Mill Station shopping center in Irondale, with plans for a similar commercial revival.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14992052-large.jpg




14-unit condominium development, The Manning, to be built on Cahaba Road in Mountain Brook

Tue, 20 May 2014 14:00:00 UTC

2014-05-21T18:24:55Z

During its regular meeting last week, the City Council approved the rezoning of eight lots containing 80,634-square-feet from Residence-C to Residence-D to allow for the condominiums.

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama -- Cahaba Road will soon be home to a new, 14-unit condominium development in the heart of Mountain Brook, City Manager Sam Gaston confirmed to AL.com

During its regular meeting last week, the City Council approved the rezoning of eight lots containing 80,634-square-feet from Residence-C to Residence-D to allow for the condominiums.

According to the council agenda, the development, named "The Manning," will include a variety of unit layouts planned with up to four bedrooms.

The eight single family dwellings at 2400, 2404, 2408, 2418, 2420, 2422 and 2424 Cahaba Road and 2333 Lane Circle that currently occupy the land parcel will be demolished to make room for The Manning.

To development will be built with the Birmingham Zoo to its south and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to the east.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/15004301-large.jpg




Little Hardware, not Tavern on the Summit, to relocate to Mountain Brook's English Village

Tue, 20 May 2014 13:00:00 UTC

2014-05-20T13:00:37Z

During its regular meeting last week, the Mountain Brook City Council approved a resolution to allow Little Hardware to build a dry storage shed outside of 2117 Cahaba Road

(image) Little Hardware is currently located at 2703 Culver Road in the Mountain Brook Shopping Center. (File Photo)

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama -- Little Hardware, not Tavern on the Summit, will replace Park Lane by Kathy G. in Mountain Brook's English Village this summer.

During its regular meeting last week, the Mountain Brook City Council approved a resolution to allow Little Hardware to build a dry storage shed outside of 2117 Cahaba Road where it is expected to relocate to when Kathy G.'s lease expires.

The council initially reviewed a proposal submitted by Tavern on the Summitto take over the Kathy G. space back in March. Mike Mouron, who purchased the English Village property, had been in talks with Tavern owners to lease the space but the plan never reached fruition.

The longtime restaurant staple closed its doors at The Summit Dec. 28 after more than 15 years of business when contract negotiations fell through.

Mouron has now leased the space to Little Hardware, currently located at 2703 Culver Road in the Mountain Brook Shopping Center.

The full-service hardware store has been in business in Mountain Brook since the late 1950s with product lines including Weber Grills, Pratt & Lambert Paint, Natural Balance Pet Foods, Cole's Wild Bird Seed, Keurig K-Cups & Brewers, Mythic Paint, Colonial Candles, Echo Power Tools, Blue Buffalo and Wellness Dog Food.

For more information on Little Hardware, click here.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14991144-large.jpg




Helena City Council hears debate over noise complaints, loud music

Tue, 20 May 2014 02:31:12 UTC

2014-05-20T02:54:33Z

HELENA, Alabama -- Some residents near the popular Old Town Helena eatery Papa Saia's Sports Grille aren't against the music that draws locals to the late-night hotspot. They just want it turned down. "There are times when the music at Papa Saia's is so loud, not only do the windows in my home vibrate, the artwork on my walls... The Helena City Council is planning to revisit the municipality's noise ordinance to address concerns about loud music coming from businesses including Papa Saia's Sports Grille. (Martin J. Reed / mreed@al.com)  HELENA, Alabama -- Some residents near the popular Old Town Helena eatery Papa Saia's Sports Grille aren't against the music that draws locals to the late-night hotspot. They just want it turned down. "There are times when the music at Papa Saia's is so loud, not only do the windows in my home vibrate, the artwork on my walls vibrate," said Henry Neff, who lives in the Old Town Cottages neighborhood located across Buck Creek from the gathering place. Neff with neighbor Devin Murray addressed the Helena City Council tonight to express their concerns about the municipality's noise ordinance, which changed last October to address complaints about excessively loud music from places including Papa Saia's. Listing numerous calls to police about noise complaints in past months, Murray wanted to raise the issue of "what we, in our eyes ... see as a failure of the current noise ordinance," he said. "It hasn't solved the problem. ... The weather is nice and the music is as loud as ever." Murray's home is 331 feet from the restaurant, while other homes twice as far away can hear loud music from the business, he said. "Most frequently this can happen up to midnight" and on weekends, he added. The issue has sparked a debate with many coming to defend Papa Saia's, saying the restaurant provides musical entertainment enjoyed by all ages in a social atmosphere. "I don't see any reason to change any noise ordinance," said Julius Clay Valentine, a 21-year resident of Helena who performs music at Papa Saia's. "And I think people should be able to play music at a certain time. If you don't like where you live, move." City Council members said they will consider ways to help the neighbors with their noise concerns, possibly by equipping officers with a decibel meter and setting appropriate sound levels for certain times. Papa Saia's owner Tammy Casteel said she wants to help the noise situation. She's planning on installing "acoustic egg crates" in areas on the outdoor patio to help deflect or absorb the amplified music. "We're doing that this week," she told the council. Stopping the music will mean a drop in her bottom line, Casteel said. "If we take the music away, it's going to cut down our business," she said. Mayor Mark Hall said the city thought about using decibel meters previously, but there were questions about certifying them and other legal issues. The ordinance amendment approved last October was intended as an experiment to see if it would help address the noise concerns. "My recommendation tonight is allow Tammy to make those modifications," which "is showing good faith" on her part to address the matter, Hall said. He also recommended looking at the decibel meters. "That, in itself, is the only way a determination can be m[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14990484-large.jpg




Parrots in the Park: See exotic birds up close at Avondale Park

Mon, 19 May 2014 14:43:07 UTC

2014-05-19T14:42:07Z

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama Parrot Rescue holds Parrots in the Park event at Avondale Park. The monthly event is a great place to see exotic birds up close. After problems with bad weather over the past several months, co-founders Art and Steff Davis have been able to hold two events. It is a great opportunity to see parrots, macaws,...

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama Parrot Rescue holds Parrots in the Park event at Avondale Park. The monthly event is a great place to see exotic birds up close. After problems with bad weather over the past several months, co-founders Art and Steff Davis have been able to hold two events.

It is a great opportunity to see parrots, macaws, amazons, cockatoos and other exotic birds up close. The event is held on the 3rd Sunday of every month from 12 noon until 2 p.m. at one of the pavilions at Avondale Park in Birmingham.

The Davis' have been rescuing parrots and other exotic birds for years. When owners can't care for the birds anymore, Art and Steff take them in, care for them and find them new homes.

The Davis' have been involved in rescuing and care for the tropical birds since they lived in Florida. The couple moved here two years ago and settled in Hoover, close to Art's clients. They customized the interior of their home to make it suitable for caring for their flock. The parrots have their own room with several cages and special lighting to mimic sunlight. Art built an aviary in the back yard for the birds to play and get out of the sun. 

The Parrots in the Park event is a way for Art and Steff to get the birds out into the community and help promote their cause.

The first event brought out a handful of parrot lovers. This month the number tripled. It was a cool damp day with rain threatening but people came out to see the birds.

Sunday featured several rescue birds along with parrot lovers who brought their pets. Blue and Gold Macaws, a Yellow Headed Amazon, an African Gray, a Blue Fronted Amazon and, what looked like a flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos.

Since last summer, The Davis' have taken in 17 birds, adopted out 5 and are fostering 4 at the rescue facility at their home. For more information about Alabama Parrot Rescue click on this link. There are many photos and a video of the facility.

Here is a link to Alabama Parrot Rescue.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/14984305-large.jpg




Alabama's Splash Adventure Waterpark opens the 2014 season under new ownership

Sat, 17 May 2014 19:48:22 UTC

2014-05-17T19:46:34Z

BESSEMER, Alabama -- Alabama's Splash Adventure Waterpark opened its gates under new management Saturday morning to an enthusiast crowd. The temperature was in the lower 60's with a passing shower but that didn't dampen the excitement for those that showed up for opening day. Daniel Koch, president of the park, gave me a quick tour of some of the...

BESSEMER, Alabama -- Alabama's Splash Adventure Waterpark opened its gates under new management Saturday morning to an enthusiast crowd. The temperature was in the lower 60's with a passing shower but that didn't dampen the excitement for those that showed up for opening day.

Daniel Koch, president of the park, gave me a quick tour of some of the new rides in the reopened kids section. He said the 8 new rides will be opened by June on the 90 acre property and hinted that the Rampage roller coaster might reopen late this year, though 2015 is the scheduled date.

A few hundred visitors were splashing around on the water slides and in the pools in the first hour. One visitor said she loved the "no lines, no waiting" on the first day. A few children were riding the kids rides over and over.

Morgan Jordan, a 3 year old from Tuscaloosa, went from a boat ride to the train ride and back several times.

Koch Family Parks bought the water park a couple months ago and have invested $7 million in the renovation. They are utilizing about 50 of the 90 acres and have a five year plan for the expansion. For more information about the park click here.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/14969900-large.jpg




Birmingham Water Works Board ends project gridlock, awards $4.5 million construction contract

Sat, 17 May 2014 17:51:56 UTC

2014-05-17T18:50:03Z

The issue centered on whether the Water Works should continue to do business with companies with a history of criminal activity. The Birmingham Water Works Board (Frank Couch/AL.com)  BIRMINGHAM, Alabama --The Birmingham Water Works Board has approved a $4.5 million construction contract, ending three months of delay that threatened a major pipeline project. The issue centered on whether the Water Works should continue to do business with companies with a history of criminal activity. Rast Construction and its leaders were among several convicted of giving gifts to high-ranking county officials, including former Commissioner Chris McNair. Rast is a longstanding Water Works contractor on the Carson Loop project, a major initiative designed to provide backup water supply for parts of the system when demand is high or when other sources are down. The total cost for the current contract is $6.4 million, including the $1.9 million for materials that will be paid by the Water Works. Rast won the low bid for the work. The Water Works Board Friday approved the contract with Rast with three yes votes and an abstention from George Munchus. Board Chairman Jackie Robinson was absent. "My reasons are simple. I do have some concerns about the company's reputation having been convicted in the courts, but I also recognize that they paid their fine, they're off probation and their company does good work," Munchus told AL.com. "This is not an indictment on the company, but I have some concerns about how the Water Works itself procures construction services." Board member Sherry Lewis in February initially raised concerns and put on hold the contract to Rast Construction, a company whose former executives were convicted for fraud tied to Jefferson County's sewer system corruption. In 2007, Bobby Rast was sentenced to serve 51 months in prison and to pay a $2.5 million fine. Danny Rast was sentenced to a 41-month prison term and ordered to pay $1 million. Rast Construction was ordered to pay a $1.7 million fine and serve five years of probation. The company has since restructured its management and the Rast brothers were later granted permission to return to the company, according to documents. The Rast brothers are not part of the company's management committee, according to company officials. Although they approved the Rast contract, the board did not take an action on developing a policy to address the original concerns than caused the delay. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14969062-large.jpg




Councilman urges citizen participation in North Birmingham industry air permitting process

Sat, 17 May 2014 16:03:27 UTC

2014-06-13T04:42:03Z

Walter Coke in North Birmingham is applying to renew its Title V air permit, and a hearing is set for Tuesday, May 20 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the North Birmingham Library.

(image) Councilman William Parker 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Birmingham Councilman William Parker is urging North Birmingham residents and concerned citizens to participate in a public hearing and comment period for a proposed air permit renewal for a nearby industry.

Walter Coke in North Birmingham is applying to renew its Title V air permit, and a hearing is set for Tuesday, May 20 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the North Birmingham Library.

At the meeting, the public will have time to make recorded statements about the company's permit application. Residents may come anytime between 4 and 7:30 p.m.

Walter Coke processes coal to produce coke for fuel use in blast furnaces and foundries in the steel industry.

There is also a written comment period that ends June 16. The comment period is normally 30 days, but was extended for North Birmingham area because several of its neighborhoods were declared a federal superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The superfund declaration allows the EPA to investigate pollution in the area and force industries found responsible to either clean up the site or pay the government to do the work.

"With all the EPA activity in our area, it is essential that officials hear directly from the people most affected by the industries in our neighborhood," Parker said. "This is our chance to communicate directly with the decision makers"

Title V air permits are renewed every five years.

Written comments should be sent to Corey Masuca, Jefferson County Department of Health, 1400 6th Avenue South, Birmingham, 35233.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/parker1jpg-c8f52a9cdf6307bf.jpg




Former Adams Produce CFO faces 33-count conspiracy and wire fraud indictment; defense lawyer calls him 'whistle blower'

Thu, 15 May 2014 20:10:00 UTC

2014-05-31T15:40:42Z

Five other former Adams Produce officials have pleaded guilty to charges and have been sentenced to prison or probation in the investigation in the past year. Four of the men were also ordered by judges to jointly pay $481,000 restitution to the government. Five former Adams Produce officials have pleaded guilty so far in an federal investigation   BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - The former Chief Financial Officer for Birmingham-based Adams Produce, which closed and filed for bankruptcy in 2012, has been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in a 33-count indictment. A defense attorney, however, describes the former CFO as a whistle blower. Five other former Adams Produce officials have pleaded guilty to charges and have been sentenced to prison or probation in the investigation in the past year. Four of the men were also ordered by judges to jointly pay $481,000 restitution to the government. John Steven Alexander, who was CFO for Adams Produce from 2007 until the company closed in April 2012, was arraigned Thursday morning on the charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Staci Cornelius. He pleaded not guilty and remains free on a $5,000 unsecured bond. Alexander is charged with one count of conspiracy and 32 counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud, according to the indictment, which was filed May 2. "Mr. Alexander has entered a plea of not guilty, and we will vigorously defend against these allegations," according to a statement this afternoon from Alexander's attorney, Augusta S. Dowd. "Contrary to these allegations, Mr. Alexander was in effect a whistle blower and has cooperated fully with this investigation." Adams Produce had contracts with the Defense Logistics Agency for the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia to provide fruits and vegetables for use at military bases and schools. The federal government would pay a certain price above what it would cost Adams Produce to get the produce from its suppliers. Adams Produce was required to submit proof of its costs. According to the indictment and other court documents, certain Adams Produce officers and employees between August 2011 and November 2011 arranged transactions with the Georgia location of T.L.C., a major nationwide wholesale produce company, to create fraudulent purchase orders reflecting a higher cost to Adams Produce of purchasing fruits and vegetables. Alexander and other Adams officials then submitted the fraudulent purchase orders to the Defense Logistics Agency as proof of what the produce cost. The scheme was designed to increase Adams Produce's profit margins and inflate the income reported on Adams Produce's financial statements, according to the indictment. The scheme was hatched in July 2011 during a meeting between Alexander and other officers and employees of Adams Produce about ways to increase profit margins, according to the indictment. The indictment against Alexander includes a few new details of the alleged fraud. Around Aug. 1, 2011 Alexander participated in an email exchange with other officers and employees of Adams Produce, including former purchasing director David Andrew Kirkland regarding the naming of the company being create[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/adams-produce-e1f06473de31f8a0.jpg




Rescheduled Tonya Jones SalonSpa Earth Month Party to kick-off at 5 p.m. today

Thu, 15 May 2014 17:10:00 UTC

2014-05-15T17:10:07Z

Guests are invited to Jones' English Village location at 5 p.m. today to enjoy food from The Pantry and drinks from Cahaba Brewing Company. The first 50 to arrive will receive an Aveda swag bag. Everyone who buys a ticket will be entered to win an Aveda gift basket. MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama -- Tonya Jones SalonSpa celebrated Earth Month in style. Throughout the month of April, Jones worked to raise $10,000 in donations through various "HairRaiser" events at her Cahaba Village and English Village locations to be split between two Alabama conservation non-profits: Cahaba River Society and Cahaba Riverkeeper. For her final event on Monday, April 29, however, Mother Nature had other plans. The night's storms forced Jones to reschedule the Earth Month Party & Silent Auction to today, Thursday, May 15. Today is the day! Join us tonight for our Earth Month Silent Auction + Art Party. See you at 5:00pm at our... http://t.co/NbuvEJfY76 -- Tonya Jones SalonSpa (@TonyaJonesSalon) May 15, 2014 Guests are invited to Jones' English Village location at 5 p.m. today to enjoy food from The Pantry and drinks from Cahaba Brewing Company. The first 50 to arrive will receive an Aveda swag bag. Everyone who buys a ticket will be entered to win an Aveda gift basket. Art work by local high school students who have partnered with Jones will be auctioned throughout the evening beginning at 5 p.m. Mary Maude Crenshaw, a Senior of Mountain Brook High School, will donate a piece for the Auction. Students from Altamont School will be painting during the event and each piece will be auctioned off. In addition, a student from Hoover High School will donate a piece for the event. The SalonSpa will also auction donated items and offers from local businesses. The evening will also feature a fashion show using Earth friendly materials to create unique fashions for the competition. Tickets to the event at 2410 Fairway Drive are $20. I am renewed daily by my experience with nature," said Jones. "Alabama is especially blessed with beautiful flowing rivers and thick forests." Tonya Jones SalonSpa--an Aveda salon--maintains with the practices of the organization in developing products and practices that are in harmony with nature. Participation in Earth Month is a yearly tradition for Aveda salons nationwide. Jones alone has raised $20,000 in the past four years of celebrating Earth Month. Monday's event is the third hosted by Jones this month alone. "I am renewed daily by my experience with nature," said Jones in a news release. "Alabama is especially blessed with beautiful flowing rivers and thick forests--we want to do our part to help keep it that way." For more on Tonya Jones SalonSpa, click here. For more on the Cahaba River Society, click here and for more on the Cahaba Riverkeeper, click here. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/02/14324005-large.jpg




Retail Strategies to recruit business for Gardendale at International Council of Shopping Centers

Thu, 15 May 2014 11:41:20 UTC

2014-05-15T11:54:51Z

The city of Gardendale will be represented at a global convention for the shopping center industry and retail real estate professionals next week in Las Vegas.

(image)  

GARDENDALE, Alabama - The city of Gardendale will be represented at a global convention for the shopping center industry and retail real estate professionals next week in Las Vegas.

In an effort to spur business growth, the Gardendale City Council entered into a 3-year agreement last fall with Retail Strategies, a company that helps cities with their retail recruitment initiatives. The company says it takes a comprehensive approach to retail recruitment and touts itself as a "leading national advisory firm focused on retail market analysis, strategic planning, retail recruitment and development." Part of the service includes representing Gardendale, as well as its other clients, at the International Council of Shopping Centers Global Retail Real Estate Convention in Las Vegas.

"We engaged their services to try to enhance economic development in Gardendale," Council President Stan Hogeland told AL.com. "Their job is to put our information together and try to get in front of those tenants and developers to show them that their business will work in Gardendale. They will be going to the ICSC in Vegas this weekend selling Gardendale."

Meade Silsbee with Retail Strategies told the council during a work session this week the company will be meeting with 170 retailers and developers.

In addition to the conference, Retail Strategies will continue to work with city leaders in developing its business sector, including working with local businesses as well as new businesses to fill gaps in the city.

For more stories on Gardendale, visit al.com/local/gardendale.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14764251-large.jpg




Chelsea hosting community center groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday

Wed, 14 May 2014 19:35:44 UTC

2014-05-14T19:40:43Z

CHELSEA, Alabama -- The City of Chelsea is inviting the community to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the new community center at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The gathering will happen at the construction site of the roughly 29,000-square-foot community center on 37 acres located off Highway 47 across from Liberty Baptist Church in Chelsea. The groundbreaking ceremony will happen...

(image) An architect's drawing shows the exterior of the planned 29,000-square-foot community center for the City of Chelsea. (File photo) 

CHELSEA, Alabama -- The City of Chelsea is inviting the community to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the new community center at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The gathering will happen at the construction site of the roughly 29,000-square-foot community center on 37 acres located off Highway 47 across from Liberty Baptist Church in Chelsea.

The groundbreaking ceremony will happen before the City Council's meeting that evening.

The Chelsea City Council during its meeting March 19 awarded the community center construction contract to Argo Building, which had the lowest bid at $3.68 million. The facility should take about a year to complete.

The community center will have a full-size gymnasium, an overhead walking track, an exercise room, a nursery for visitors' children, meeting rooms, a kitchen and other features.


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14939906-large.jpg




Dollar General to celebrate grand opening of Trafford location Saturday

Tue, 13 May 2014 16:46:53 UTC

2014-05-13T20:09:58Z

Dollar General will celebrate the opening of its new location in Trafford this Saturday, May 17 at 8 a.m. with free prizes and special deals.

TRAFFORD, Alabama -- Dollar General will celebrate the opening of its new location in Trafford this Saturday, May 17 at 8 a.m. with free prizes and special deals.

The Trafford store will offer the first 50 adult shoppers a $10 Dollar General gift card, and the first 200 shoppers will receive a Dollar General tote bag.

"Dollar General is committed to delivering a pleasant shopping experience that includes a convenient location, a wide assortment of merchandise and great prices on quality products," said Dan Nieser, Dollar General's senior vice president of real estate and store development, in a news release.  "We hope our Trafford customers will enjoy shopping at Dollar General's new location."

The new store is located at 2450 Warrior Trafford Road.




Project Homewood to host 'Dough Raising' event at Slice later this month

Tue, 13 May 2014 16:26:00 UTC

2014-05-13T16:26:51Z

Families, friends and coworkers are invited to dine in--for lunch or dinner--on some of Birmingham's most popular pizza, all while supporting Project Homewood's mission to ensure each child in Homewood has access to Extended Day Programs. View full sizePrint this ticket out before heading to Slice on May 27. (Project Homewood)  HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- Homewood will host a 'Dough Raising' event at Slice Birmingham Tuesday, May 27. Families, friends and coworkers are invited to dine in--for lunch or dinner--on some of Birmingham's most popular pizza, all while supporting Project Homewood's mission to ensure each child in Homewood has access to Extended Day Programs. "We are working to help those families who struggle to get their kids to the program have the ability to enroll them," said Project Homewood Founder Zach Isbell in a previous interview with AL.com. Isbell said that Project Homewood's first goal is to raise $20,000 initially--enough money to both distribute several EDP scholarships to families in need and help the program remain successful. "Wherever the need is greatest," said Isbell, "we will go. That means providing financial assistance to families and purchasing more supplies for the program." EDP, now offered at Shades Cahaba, Edgewood and Hall-Kent Elementary Schools, provides after school care for children whose parents can't pick them up when the bell rings. The Bajalieh Special pizza at Slice in the Lakeview District of Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011. (The Birmingham News / Michelle Campbell) A total of 10 percent of the proceeds raised during the May 27 event will go toward benefitting the children and their families in Homewood City Schools who are unable to afford EDP. Those planning to attend must bring their Dough Raising ticket to present to their server in order for Project Homewood to receive the 10 percent of the proceeds from the day. Visit www.facebook.com/ProjectHomewood to get your ticket today or click on the image at the top of this article. Project Homewood will also be collecting other monetary donations, along with gently used toys such as LEGOS, toy trucks, dolls, books, crafting supplies, and dress up clothes. These items will be donated to Homewood City Schools' EDP. Slice is located at 725 29th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35233. Visit www.slicebirmingham.com to view Slice's full menu. For more of AL.com's coverage on Project Homewood, click here. To visit the group's website, click here. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14930519-large.jpg




What's your special 'Pizza Palace' memory? Beloved Mountain Brook restaurant celebrates 50 years

Tue, 13 May 2014 15:39:00 UTC

2014-05-13T15:39:26Z

Help us tell the stories of Jim Davenport's Pizza Palace. Do you have fond memories of the restaurant? What does it mean to you? MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama -- The poster-lined walls at Jim Davenport's Pizza Palace have seen it all. For 50 years, the Mountain Brook institution has been witness to countless birthday parties, dozens of celebrations and never-ending battles via the classic arcade games--Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and The Star Wars Trilogy--that still line its walls. Parents--who grew up frequenting the establishment with their parents--bring their children, who will probably grow up to share its legacy. Couples make sure to stop by once a month--a tribute to the location of their first date or a sweet reminder of where they got engaged. Here's what AL.com's readers had to share about the pizza joint: MtnBrookSubversive: My very first pizza ever, 1969. My first car date, 1978. My first date with my future wife, 1990. My kids' birthday parties. And, hopefully, my 100th birthday party.AlabamaSeeker: As much as I have eaten there over my 39 years of life, they should give me a honorary booth. Wait times for carry out have gotten out of control but still great pie. bpblazer: Really good pie. I love American success stories. This month, Davenport's--affectionately nicknamed "The Pizza Palace"--will celebrate a half-century of successful business. Through it all, things have remained relatively the same. But that's just how things go at Davenport's: It's all about maintaining tradition. "We strive to do one thing," said the restaurant's owner Heather Norris in a previous interview, "and do it well." Her father, Rex Hollis, opened the pizza joint in May of 1964. Today, the menu holds true to its original form: thin-crust pizza and fresh, crisp garden salads. Subtle changes, however, that were deemed necessary to help the restaurant improve, have occurred over the years. "Yes, there have been a few changes," said General Manager Nick Nicholson. "Yes, we have gone through some growing pains with some expansion, but in the end, it's the tradition that keeps them coming back. Why fix what's not broken?" Last November, the restaurant tore down a couple of its walls--a major commitment to a place where tradition is the norm. The restaurants surging popularity meant busy weekends and longer-than-usual turnover times. The Pizza Palace, said Norris, could no longer resist expanding and decided to purchase another oven. The new oven sits there today with a shiny new facade, in contrast to the time-worn staples that surround it. A tangible reminder that the present must always at some point, meet the past. In similar, progressive-minded fashion, the menu now also offers Good People Brewing products--a tribute the growing popularity of locally-brewed craft. There are still more changes to come, said Nicholson. But, despite the changes, said Norris, the heart of the institution will always remain the same. Trying to dilute ones fundamentals, she said, will onl[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/birmingham-news/photo/2013/06/12893247-large.jpg




City of Homewood reaches settlement agreement in budget hotel lawsuit

Tue, 13 May 2014 13:05:00 UTC

2014-05-13T13:51:51Z

The lawsuit, originally filed on March 21 after the city refused to grant the hotel owners a business license, was dismissed with prejudice yesterday afternoon. HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- The City of Homewood has settled a lawsuit filed against them by the owners of America's Best Value Inn and Suites, court records show. The lawsuit, originally filed on March 21 after the city refused to grant the hotel owners a business license, was dismissed with prejudice yesterday afternoon. The hotel owners and the city filed a Joint Stipulation for Dismissal with Prejudice, records show, meaning both parties agreed it can never be revisited in court. The hotel owners released the following statement through their lawyer this morning: "Americas Best Value Inn & Suites is pleased that it was able to reach a mutual agreement with the City of Homewood that will allow the hotel's owners to control the future of the property. Unfortunately, until the institution of proceedings before the City Council, the City never raised any of its concerns with the hotel's owners. The Patel family wishes that the City would have worked with them sooner to resolve any of their concerns because they have always attempted to run their business with the highest degree of excellency, and they certainly did not condone any illegal or improper activities at their hotel. In the hospitality business, it is important to serve guests in a non-discriminatory manner, and the hotel's owners cannot control who chooses to lodge in the City of Homewood. Certainly, any issues raised with Americas Best Value Inn & Suites apply equally to other hotels in the area, but it is regrettable that the City chose to begin addressing area issues with this hotel. The hotel's owners are glad to see the litigation come to an end. The last few months have been a very difficult time for the Patel family, and they look forward to focusing their energy on other matters." Court documents do not reveal the details of the settlement: America's Best Value Inn & Suites Order 5.12 class="scribd_iframe_embed" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/223741639/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true" data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" scrolling="no" id="doc_67088" frameborder="0" height="600" width="100%"> In a previous email to AL.com, however, City Attorney Mike Kendrick said the agreement requires the hotel owners to sell the budget hotel at Interstate 65 and Oxmoor Road or voluntarily close by July 31 of this year, whichever occurs first. The settlement comes just under a month before the lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial. The Homewood City Council last week voted 9-0 to enter into negotiations, Council President Bruce Limbaugh said. The hotel had initially been deemed "the city's worst" after it drew nearly 150 police calls over 32 months for crimes such as homicide, prostitution and more. The hotel's owners, court documents revealed, said the [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/03/14537626-large.jpg




Vestavia Hills hopes to kick-start revitalization with sale of old library, development incentives

Tue, 13 May 2014 02:55:00 UTC

2014-05-13T14:32:08Z

The sale is part of a plan to kick-start revitalization efforts along U.S. Highway 31 that will coincide with the city's plans for a new Municipal Center.   VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama -- The Vestavia Hills City Council tonight approved the sale of the property at 1112 Montgomery Highway, the site of the former Vestavia Hills Library, to America's First Credit Union. The sale is part of a plan to kick-start revitalization efforts along U.S. Highway 31 that will coincide with the city's plans for a new City Hall. According to the contract, America's First will purchase the approximate 1.69 acres of property for $950,000--a total of $125,000 more than its appraised value. The increased price, said City Manager Jeff Downes, was agreed upon because America's First will not generate sales tax revenue for the city. The property--which was donated to the city--has been vacant since 2010 when the Library in the Forest moved to its new location. Downes said he is confident the sale to America's First is the "best and smartest use of the property." Though the sale will not set the city up to receive tax revenue, said Downes, it will send a clear message that Vestavia Hills is ready to do "whatever it takes, within reason, to bring business into the city." Tonight, the council took steps to ensure development plans move forward when it approved a non-binding resolution in support of the economic development project along Highway 31. The City has plans to use the profits made from the sale of the library to fund an incentive for the development of 3.34 acres located at 1099 Old Montgomery Highway--nicknamed the "Project." For details about the sale of the old library and plans for the development incentive, refer to the City Council's Agenda Packet below. Continue scrolling to read the rest of the article. Vestavia Hills City Council Agenda 5.12 class="scribd_iframe_embed" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/223674248/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true" data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" id="doc_33801" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" height="600" width="100%"> Should the City reach a final agreement with GBT Realty Corporation to develop a retail shopping facility in the space, according to the resolution, the City would agree to pay up to $1.6 million of financial assistance funded primarily by the sale of the library. The retail shopping development is planned to consist of no less than 30,000-square-feet of gross leasable retail space and conservatively generate $500,000 in new sales tax revenue for the city. Mayor Butch Zaragoza said that he too is confident this is the direction the city needs to move in. "We have the right man in place to get these things done," said Zaragoza about Downes. "In five to six years, the face of Vestavia Hills will have changed." For more on the city's revitalization efforts and for all news Vestavia Hills, click here. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14928057-large.jpg




Pelham garden homes proposal getting Planning Commission reconsideration

Tue, 13 May 2014 02:36:10 UTC

2014-05-13T02:46:00Z

PELHAM, Alabama -- The Pelham City Council tonight voted to have the planning board review a new proposal for a subdivision in the Indian Lake Drive area off Highway 261 that failed to receive support during its initial attempt. The council approved a resolution that returns to the Pelham Planning Commission a rezoning request for property located at 3442...

(image) Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes says a requested rezoning for a proposed subdivision in the Indian Lake Drive area is offering a scaled-back plan.

PELHAM, Alabama -- The Pelham City Council tonight voted to have the planning board review a new proposal for a subdivision in the Indian Lake Drive area off Highway 261 that failed to receive support during its initial attempt.

The council approved a resolution that returns to the Pelham Planning Commission a rezoning request for property located at 3442 Indian Lake Drive "due to significant changes made" to the plan.

Specifically, the new plan takes into account less land for development and a smaller number of home sites. The developer has "cut from over 60 lots to 41 garden home lots," City of Pelham Engineer Jesse Jowers told the council at its work session.

Council President Rick Hayes said the subdivision plan's density has been reduced and the proposed homes are "more consistent" with others around the Indian Lake area. However, he warned that traffic will continue to remain a concern for the area.

"This is simply an official vote to send it back formally to the Planning Commission," Hayes said before the council voted on the matter.

The Planning Commission in a 3-3 vote failed to give a recommendation of approval to the council after holding a public hearing on the matter Jan. 9.

Many members of the public who voiced concerns said the property when developed would direct water runoff toward the neighboring Stratford subdivision and other nearby areas that are already prone to flooding problems.

The Planning Commission at the time considered the request to change zoning from A-1 Agricultural District to R-G Residential Garden Home District.



Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/rick-hayes-editjpg-7470ac3a36da1060.jpg




City of Homewood asks budget hotel owners to sell or voluntarily close in proposed settlement

Mon, 12 May 2014 17:08:00 UTC

2014-05-12T17:08:45Z

Judge Helen Shores Lee granted the owners a temporary restraining order that allowed the hotel to remain in business until she could review all evidence during a trial set for June 9. HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- The City of Homewood hopes to settle a lawsuit filed against them by the owners of America's Best Value Inn and Suites by day's end, City Attorney Mike Kendrick said in an email to AL.com. The settlement, said Kendrick, requires the hotel owners to sell the crime-ridden hotel and property or voluntarily close by July 31, 2014, whichever occurs first. The original lawsuit, filed March 21, alleges the city acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" in its decision to deny the hotel a business license. The city maintains that because the budget hotel at Interstate 65 and Oxmoor Road drew nearly 150 police calls over 32 months for crimes such as homicide, prostitution and more, it had been deemed the "city's worst" and should not be granted a business license.Judge Helen Shores Lee granted the owners a temporary restraining order that allowed the hotel to remain in business until she could review all evidence during a trial set for June 9. The lawsuit asks the Jefferson County Circuit Court to either review Homewood City Council's decision regarding the denied business license renewal or compel the city to grant the owners a business license. It also claims that the reputation of the hotel has been "damaged and will continue to be damaged as a result of the City's actions." Closing the hotel, it states, would cause additional damage to the hotel's reputation and would leave the city with a large, vacant building that could potentially "encourage vagrancy and crime."But, with just under a month before the scheduled trail, the Homewood City Council last week voted 9-0 to enter into negotiations, Council President Bruce Limbaugh said. "Talks are ongoing," he said in a previous interview, and the city is yet to hear whether or not the hotel's owners will agree to the settlement. Click here to read the lawsuit in its completion. AL.com reviewed 500 pages of documents used by the City Council in its decision to deny the license renewal. For more, click here. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/03/14537626-large.jpg




Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham CEO reaches out to Shelby County

Mon, 12 May 2014 16:43:18 UTC

2014-05-12T16:49:12Z

SHELBY COUNTY, Alabama -- Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham CEO Christopher Nanni encouraged Shelby County nonprofit groups and other agencies to seek benefit including funding and other assistance from the organization. While addressing more than 30 agencies gathered at the Shelby County Commission meeting this morning in Columbiana, Nanni acknowledged a common observation that the foundation is focused more... Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham President and CEO Christopher Nanni and Montevallo City Councilwoman Dee Woodham, who serves on the foundation's board, talk after the Shelby County Commission meeting in Columbiana on Monday, May 12, 2014. (Martin J. Reed / mreed@al.com) SHELBY COUNTY, Alabama -- Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham CEO Christopher Nanni encouraged Shelby County nonprofit groups and other agencies to seek benefit including funding and other assistance from the organization. While addressing more than 30 agencies gathered at the Shelby County Commission meeting this morning in Columbiana, Nanni acknowledged a common observation that the foundation is focused more on the Birmingham area than elsewhere in its five-county region. "I would say that is true, and part of the reason is because we are responding to requests, so we are responding to what people are writing us in grants," Nanni said. Over the last three years the foundation has awarded roughly $1.3 million to entities in Shelby County, he said. That compares to a total of $14.2 million awarded last year, with roughly $12 million from donor-advised funds and about $2 million from discretionary dollars the foundation determines how to spend, he said. Nanni, who joined the foundation as CEO and president in February, said there were 80 grants submitted in the last round of funding and 25 of them received an award. "So it's a pretty competitive process," he said. The grant application process takes about four to five months from start to finish, he noted. "I think that's extremely long. I want to try to shorten that," he said. Montevallo City Councilwoman Dee Woodham, who serves as the only non-Jefferson County member on the Community Foundation board, said the organization has "supported Shelby County nonprofits for years, many with six-figure grants." Woodham pointed to numerous agencies that have received the foundation's support including the Shelby County Arts Council and SafeHouse of Shelby County. Commission Chairwoman Lindsey Allison thanked the agencies attending this morning's meeting for their service. "County government cannot do everything. We're dependent on y'all and we consider y'all partners with us," she said. "We are continually looking for new resources and possibilities, and putting people like Dee on that board or suggesting that Dee be on that board, so that we can look for new reso[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14923647-large.jpg




Alabama Power closer to expanding Shelby County industrial park designation

Mon, 12 May 2014 15:35:44 UTC

2014-05-12T16:40:50Z

SHELBY COUNTY, Alabama -- The Shelby County Commission is planning later this month to consider approval of Alabama Power's request to expand the industrial park designation around its existing site off Interstate 65 to encompass additional land in the area. The commission held a roughly two-minute public hearing at its meeting in Columbiana this morning to solicit comments about... SHELBY COUNTY, Alabama -- The Shelby County Commission is planning later this month to consider approval of Alabama Power's request to expand the industrial park designation around its existing site off Interstate 65 to encompass additional land in the area. The commission held a roughly two-minute public hearing at its meeting in Columbiana this morning to solicit comments about the company's request. No one had signed up to speak on the matter. Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock told commissioners that staff members have been working with Alabama Power on the request. "They have been very responsible to all of our inquiries and needed submittals," Dudchock said, noting that "we have no concerns." T.J. Fincher, external affairs manager for Alabama Power, told commissioners the company is seeking to expand the industrial park boundaries for the general services complex east of the Shelby County Airport at 744 County Road 87N. "To be precise about what is going on at this meeting, we are expanding the industrial park in the sense that we are taking property we already owned and recently rezoned and incorporating it into the existing industrial park," Fincher said. He wanted to clarify the "misunderstanding of people thinking we are building a brand new industrial park." He added, "This is just straightening out the land in terms of the legal descriptions." Dudchock said the commission can expect Alabama Power's proposal on the board's agenda for its May 27 meeting that starts at 6 p.m. The meeting is happening on a Tuesday due to Memorial Day. Fincher in a previous interview said the proposal would add about 144 acres to the current industrial park, which is roughly 433 acres. He said more than 600 Alabama Power employees work at the general services complex. [...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/alabama-power-logojpg-4e23e3d26e4fa3d9jpg-1ea5952d248c8d1d.jpg




Homewood Council attempting to settle lawsuit filed by owners of budget hotel

Thu, 08 May 2014 22:43:00 UTC

2014-05-08T22:43:19Z

The budget hotel at Interstate 65 and Oxmoor Road drew nearly 150 police calls over 32 months for crimes such as homicide, prostitution and more, records have shown.

HOMEWOOD, Alabama -- The City of Homewood is attempting to settle a lawsuit filed by the owners of the America's Best Value Inn & Suites alleging the city acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" in its decision to deny the hotel a business license, Council President Bruce Limbaugh told AL.com today.

The budget hotel at Interstate 65 and Oxmoor Road drew nearly 150 police calls over 32 months for crimes such as homicide, prostitution and more, records have shown. It had been deemed the "city's worst," but remained open after Judge Helen Shores Lee granted the owners a temporary restraining order that allowed the hotel to remain in business until she could hear all evidence during a trial set for June 9.

The lawsuit, filed March 21,asks the Jefferson County Circuit Court to either review Homewood City Council's decision regarding the denied business license renewal or compel the city to grant the owners a business license.

It also claims that the reputation of the hotel has been "damaged and will continue to be damaged as a result of the City's actions." Closing the hotel, it states, would cause additional damage to the hotel's reputation and would leave the city with a large, vacant building that could potentially "encourage vagrancy and crime."

With just under a month before the scheduled trail, the council earlier this week voted 9-0 to enter into negotiations, said Limbaugh.

"Talks are ongoing," he said, and the city is yet to hear whether or not the hotel's owners will agree to the settlement.

Limbaugh did not disclose the terms of the settlement.

Click here to read the lawsuit in its completion.

AL.com reviewed 500 pages of documents used by the City Council in its decision to deny the license renewal. For more, click here.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.



Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/03/14537626-large.jpg




Birmingham-based advertising and marketing agency Luckie & Company changes leadership

Thu, 08 May 2014 16:05:20 UTC

2014-05-08T16:12:37Z

Birmingham, Alabama - Birmingham-based Luckie & Company, an advertising and marketing solutions agency, wants to strengthen the company for the technology-driven, consumer-centric age and recently announced new leadership to manage the company as it evolves. The new leadership includes John Gardner as president, Brad White as chief creative officer and Chris Statt as chief operating officer. Gardner brings more... The new leadership at Luckie & Company includes Brad White as chief creative officer, John Gardner as president, and Chris Statt as chief operating officer. (courtesy of Luckie & Company) Birmingham, Alabama - Birmingham-based Luckie & Company, an advertising and marketing solutions agency, wants to strengthen the company for the technology-driven, consumer-centric age and recently announced new leadership to manage the company as it evolves. The new leadership includes John Gardner as president, Brad White as chief creative officer and Chris Statt as chief operating officer. Gardner brings more than 20 years of experience in data-driven, integrated creative marketing solutions for clients in the U.S. and Europe. "From client interaction to internal operations, it is my goal to create a culture of innovation in everything that we do," Gardner said. "I am committed to building our solutions, developing our people, serving our communities and becoming the best place to work in every city we operate." Previously, Gardner was president of Luckie's Atlanta-based subsidiary, Integrative Logic. He now is responsible for the strategic direction of the firm with a major focus on the continued integration of Luckie's core creative, technical and data intelligence solutions. Gardner brings more than 20 years of experience in data-driven, integrated creative marketing solutions for clients in the U.S. and Europe. Brad White continues in the role of chief creative officer with additional responsibilities that include creating a stronger focus on innovation and integrated creative solutions. White has been with the firm for over 11 years. During that time, he has led award-winning, business-building multichannel campaigns for clients, including Regions Bank, Little Debbie Snacks, the Alabama Tourism Department and AT&T. His experience ranges from traditional to digital and social to experiential marketing. As chief operating officer, Chris Statt is leading internal operations, including digital development and financial activities. In 2013, he was named chief financial officer for Luckie & Company and has since become an essential part of the leadership team at the agency. Statt has held multiple leadership roles in digital and traditional agencies and has expertise in both finance and operations. "The world of advertising is constantly m[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/14890058-large.jpg




First nonstop international flight completes round trip from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport

Thu, 08 May 2014 01:11:51 UTC

2014-05-08T01:47:04Z

Nonstop service to the Bahamas runs through August. Watch video

 BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The first regularly scheduled nonstop international flight from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport has completed its first round trip.

Bahamasair Flight 935 arrived about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday from Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport, Bahamas, flight information shows.

Wednesday afternoon's trip was the return leg for the inaugural service, bringing travelers back on the first of 20 round trip flights scheduled between Birmingham and the Bahamas.

Travel company VacationExpress.com brought the service to Birmingham. The company offers vacation packages through Bahamasair, the national airline of the Bahamas.

Bahamasair contracted with Xtra Airways to operate the flight.

The seasonal service runs through Aug. 6.


Media Files:
http://brightcove01.brightcove.com/23/260701696001/201405/2875/260701696001_3533414438001_vs-536520bde4b0e39a23fd7290-782203294001.jpg?pubId=260701696001




Vestavia Hills Chamber: Be wary of out of state businesses claiming to benefit school's athletic programs

Wed, 07 May 2014 19:49:00 UTC

2014-05-07T19:49:32Z

The Chamber asks residents to be aware about the potential scam before committing any money.

(image) (Vestavia Hills City Schools)

VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama -- The Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce is warning residents to be cautious of an out of state company soliciting business for Vestavia Hills High School athletic programs.

According to the Chamber, the company is claiming that its proceeds will go toward supporting the high school's athletic program. Per Athletic Director and Coach Buddy Anderson, however, the school's athletic programs "do not see a time of this money."

The Chamber asks residents to be aware about the potential scam before committing any money.

Anyone with questions about the legitimacy of programs is asked to contact Louis Noto, President of the Athletic Association at NotoBroker@aol.com.



Media Files:
http://media.al.com/spotnews/photo/vhjpg-1262404145698a8a.jpg




Bridge girder construction will cause lane closures and delays on I-65 this week

Tue, 06 May 2014 20:12:00 UTC

2014-05-06T20:20:23Z

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Bridge Girder Construction at the I-65/I-22 interchange will cause double lane closures May 5-May 11, 2014. Work will take place each day between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. weather permitting. The use of two Alabama State Troopers will be required for the duration of this operation. A reduced speed limit of 45 mph is in effect throughout...

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Bridge Girder Construction at the I-65/I-22 interchange will cause double lane closures May 5-May 11, 2014. Work will take place each day between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. weather permitting.

The use of two Alabama State Troopers will be required for the duration of this operation.
A reduced speed limit of 45 mph is in effect throughout the work zone. Motorists are requested to consider using alternate routes, adjust arrival/departure times, observe work zone speed limits and other work zone signs, and use extreme caution in this area.

Four trucks carrying at least four huge girders arrived last week at the site and have been moved closer to the cranes that will lift them into place.   

I-22, when completed, is an Interstate Highway that will follow the U.S. 78  corridor  (Corridor X) on a 213-mile-long route from Memphis, Tennessee, to Birmingham, Alabama. I-22 will connect I-240 and I-40  in the northwest with I-65  in the southeast.  I-22 will be part of an interstate highway system that will connect downtown Atlanta with Birmingham, Memphis, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City.





Media Files:
http://media.al.com/alphotos/photo/2014/05/14876542-large.jpg




Slowed, not derailed: Birmingham train line expansion still eyed by CSX, loathed by neighbors

Tue, 06 May 2014 14:09:36 UTC

2014-05-06T14:11:46Z

CSX, in anticipation of a possible new line, recently paid the city of Birmingham $115,000 to relocate a ball field at Cooper Green Park further away from the tracks. The park is currently undergoing renovation. BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The proposal to reroute CSX train traffic and build an overpass in southwest Birmingham is slowed but not dead, a company representative told residents. The railroad wants to reroute portions of its existing track by creating an additional line through southwest Birmingham, along with an overpass. Officials want the new structure to cut down on travel time through the city. "I can tell you the project is not dead, but there's been no decision by the company about the project," Stephen Bradley, a Birmingham representative for CSX, told a group gathered at a recent District 7 community meeting. The Birmingham City Council in January, 2013 narrowly voted to allow CSX railroad air rights to build an overpass which would run through the Mason City neighborhood. But the plan was dealt a major blow in June 2013 when the Birmingham Housing Authority Board overwhelmingly said 'no' to granting an easement near Cooper Green Homes. The railroad wanted a 2.28-acre strip next to their existing rail line on land near public housing community. The proposed elevated rail line would rise at 12th Street, near Cooper Green Park.CSX, in anticipation of a possible new line, recently paid the city of Birmingham $115,000 to relocate a ball field at Cooper Green Park further away from the tracks. The park is currently undergoing renovation. However, some residents said $115,000 paled next to the burden of an expanded rail line in their neighborhood. Bradley said the relocation was a win-win either way for the city, which gets a new park regardless of whether the overpass is ultimately approved."That was simply an effort to move the ball field in case the project went through," Bradley said. "That was not an effort to buy off anyone."While there appeared to be no active movement on the CSX proposal, Rosalind Young, president of the Tarpley City neighborhood, told AL.com that residents must organize and continue their opposition. "They're sitting, waiting on an opportunity to jump right back in there," Young told AL.com. "It happens too often in our community. We think it's over and we'll leave it alone and the next thing you know it's happening and is too late for us to do anything about it."Roberson said he supports the residents in their opposition to CSX expansion. "The citizens have voiced their concerns not only with additional traffic coming through, but also environmental concerns," he said. "As a representative of th[...]


Media Files:
http://media.al.com/photogallery/photo/16630619-large.jpg