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Daily News Digest – April 26, 2021

Presented by the

Alabama Trucking Association


Good morning!

A new edition of Inside Alabama Politics is out tomorrow, so make sure to send me any potpourri that might be out there.

Also, here’s something we’re bound to be chewing on: later today the Census Bureau will announce its first batch of 2020 data, meaning we’ll likely know whether or not Alabama loses a congressional seat.

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, April 26.

1. J&J vaccinations resume

  • U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on COVID-19 vaccinations using Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot on Friday, after scientific advisers decided its benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clot.
  • The government uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. That means the known clot rate was 0.0001875%.
  • All were women, most under age 50. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.
  • But ultimately, federal health officials decided that J&J’s one-and-done vaccine is critical to fight the pandemic — and that the small clot risk could be handled with warnings to help younger women decide if they should use that shot or an alternative.
  • Dr. Jesse Goodman of Georgetown University closely watched Friday’s deliberations and said people should be made aware of the clotting risk but that it shouldn’t overshadow the benefits of COVID-19 protection.
  • “We need to treat people as adults, tell them what the information is and give them these choices,” said Goodman, a former vaccine specialist at the FDA.
  • Read more HERE.



2. Bill would remove barriers, costs for local school projects, but contractors aren’t on board

  • A bill pending in the Alabama Senate regarding the construction of local school projects has some concerned about what it could mean for safety, while proponents see the legislation as a way to help education entities save money.
  • Bill sponsor Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said House Bill 220 would help decrease building costs for public schools by reducing bureaucratic red tape, enabling money to be better used. He gave an example of a $2.4 million project being reduced to $1.7 million.
  • “I’ve heard from K-12 and (Alabama Community College System) about the construction costs increasing due to red tape,” Ledbetter, the House majority leader, said. “This bill would help them save money, money that can be better spent elsewhere.”
  • The bill would remove the state Division of Construction Management’s authority to manage construction and renovation projects at schools and colleges and give it instead to the Alabama State Department of Education or the managing boards of colleges and universities.
  • It would also reduce current fees on capital projects less than $500,000 and roof and HVAC repairs and maintenance.
  • However, some contractors aren’t on board with the bill. Alabama Associated General Contractors CEO Billy Norrell is worried Ledbetter’s legislation could not only lead to shoddy construction but misuse of public funds. AAGC has distributed materials saying the bill equates to “the fox watching the hen house.”
  • “Safety and code compliance are of the utmost importance,” he said. “This legislation would impact these things along with funding oversight. Our fear is about the opportunities to bypass code compliance and safety measures.”
  • Read more from Will Whatley HERE.






A message from the

Alabama Trucking Association

The Alabama Trucking Association and the ATA Comp Fund recently celebrated dozens of the state’s safest fleets, managers and employees during the Annual Fleet Safety Awards Banquet.

Congratulations to Alabama Driver of the Year Nathan Heflin, Safety Professional of the Year Valerie Lindley, Maintenance Professional of the Year Todd Martin and Fleet Manager of the Year Alan Howard.

New South Express, Inc. of Mobile earned the 2020 ATA President’s Award as the safest overall fleet for in-state miles driven by company drivers.

Learn more about these honorees and the ATA’s work on behalf of the industry HERE.








3. Alabama tourism weathered pandemic better than most states

  • Tourist spending in Alabama dropped 20% last year at the height of pandemic lockdowns and business closings, but the state fared better than most during the coronavirus crisis, state tourism officials said.
  • The Alabama Tourism Department said a travel consulting firm found a nationwide decline of 42% in travel expenditures, but Alabama’s decrease wasn’t as bad because spending was robust in Baldwin County, where the beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are located.
  • Read more HERE.




4. Bo Bikes Bama marks 10 years with virtual ride

  • Bo Jackson is marking a decade of fundraising bicycle rides to help victims of the 2011 tornado outbreak that devastated much of Alabama.
  • The 10th annual “Bo Bikes Bama” event was held on Saturday in a virtual format because of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than riding through the state as a group, participants this year joined in through an online platform with simulated group rides.
  • “Ride wherever you can, raise how much you can because it’s all for a good cause,” Jackson said in a video posted on social media.
  • A small, VIP group ride through Auburn and Opelika took place Friday with safety precautions.
  • Prior to this year’s event, Jackson’s effort had raised more than $2 million for tornado relief efforts, including funding the construction of community tornado shelters.
  • Read more HERE.



5. News briefs

2 die in hospital after rescue from burning Alabama building

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Two people have died after being rescued from a burning house in Alabama.
  • Birmingham Fire Rescue tells news agencies that both died at a hospital Friday night.
  • Earlier Friday, firefighters battled heavy fire and smoke to reach the occupants of the house in north Birmingham.
  • The victims’ names have not been released.
  • Cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Court rejects appeal of man in Auburn student’s killing

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A state appeals court on Friday rejected the latest appeal of a man sentenced to death in the murder of an Auburn University student abducted from campus and slain in 2008.
  • The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals let stand the capital murder conviction of Courtney Lockhart in the killing of Lauren Burk, a freshman from Marietta, Georgia.
  • Prosecutors argued that Lockhart surprised Burk and forced her into her car at gunpoint, then made her undress in the vehicle and shot her in the back when she tried to jump out of her moving car. She died after being found along a roadside.
  • Lockhart claimed a gun went off accidentally, and he argued in an appeal that his defense was ineffective because it failed to hire a weapons expert. The court rejected the argument.
  • The appeals court also turned away Lockhart’s argument that a judge was wrong to reject his claim that the defense did an inadequate job of presenting his argument that previous military service left him with post traumatic stress syndrome or a traumatic brain injury that made him incapable of knowing that what he did was wrong.
  • The defense presented evidence that Lockhart served in combat zones in Iraq and was affected afterward by the experience. A judge cited Lockhart’s military experience and training in rejecting claims that he could have shot Burk accidentally.

UAB dean now president of American Surgical Association

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The dean of the medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is taking over as president of the American Surgical Association.
  • Dr. Selwyn Vickers’ term began this month at the annual meeting of the professional association, which includes prominent surgeons from the nation’s top academic medical institutions.
  • “One aspect of my career that I value most is caring for patients,” Vickers said in a statement. “This recognition of leadership in the surgical profession symbolizes my personal commitment to excellent patient care. To be honored by my colleagues in this way is as exciting as any accomplishment in my academic career to date.”
  • Vickers, who became dean of the UAB medical school in 2013, specializes in surgery and the research of pancreatic cancer and health disparities. He oversees the main campus in Birmingham plus regional campuses in Huntsville, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa.
  • Founded in 1880 and with members worldwide, the American Surgical Association calls itself the nation’s oldest and most prestigious surgical organization.






A message from


  • More than 800 training and education leaders from across the country met virtually this month for an Alabama-hosted conference on how to prepare America’s workforce for the future.
  • The 2021 Alabama Interstate Talent Development Convening brought together experts from 41 states and Washington, D.C. to share talent development strategies.
  • Watch and read more HERE.








ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – J&J COVID vaccinations resume


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would remove barriers, costs for local school projects, but contractors aren’t on board


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama tourism weathered pandemic better than most states


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bo Bikes Bama marks 10 years with virtual ride


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Lawmakers to vote on gambling, marijuana and trans bills


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey signs ban on transgender athletes


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘A second chance:’ Alabama approves expungement bill


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Review of police during Huntsville protests cites problems


AL.COM – Monday is a state holiday in Alabama: Confederate Memorial Day is April 26


AL.COM – Alabama woman arrested in Virgin Islands for providing false COVID-19 test


AL.COM – Will Montgomery rename Jefferson Davis Avenue after civil rights icon?


Montgomery Advertiser – A look back at the April 2011 Tornado that hit the Eclectic and Lake Martin areas


Montgomery Advertiser – A look back at the April 2011 fatal tornado in Tuscaloosa


Montgomery Advertiser – Tuskegee native in Japan for the Artillery Relocation Training Program


BIRMINGHAM WATCH – Alabama’s COVID Numbers Take a Turn for the Worse


BIRMINGHAM WATCH – Past And Present Collide As Community Health Centers Strive To Close Rural Care Gaps In The Pandemic


BIRMINGHAM WATCH – Bill Would Remove Red Tape for Local School Projects, but Contractors Aren’t on Board


Decatur Daily – Guzmans still grieve 10 years later


Decatur Daily – Child abuse cost Alabama $3.7 billion in 2018, new report says


Decatur Daily – Innovation Corporation bills pass the House


Times Daily – Transportation department opening bids Friday for U.S. Highway 72 resurfacing project


Times Daily – Innovation Corporation bills pass the House


Times Daily – Report: Child abuse cost Alabama $3.7B in 2018


Anniston Star – Bill would remove red tape for local school projects, but contractors aren’t on board


Anniston Star – Sheriff: Domestic violence suspect barricades himself in room for hours


Anniston Star – New playground built in honor of daughter killed in Oxford wreck


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Health officials hope weekend hours help increase vaccinations at Bessemer site


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Brad Keselowski wins Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Race fans soak up atmosphere at Talladega Superspeedway


Tuscaloosa News – Investigators say argument led to fatal shooting in Tuscaloosa


Tuscaloosa News – THE MOM STOP: We survived the April 27 tornado and became stronger


Tuscaloosa News – ‘I don’t have anywhere to go’: WVUA meteorologist lost home while on air during April 27 tornado outbreak


YellowHammer News – ‘God chose to leave me here’: East Alabama tornado victims reflect on 2011 storm


YellowHammer News – Tuberville to Biden: ‘Please tell me where God plays a role in your America now’


YellowHammer News – University of Alabama in Huntsville student graced with chance to give back


Gadsden Times – Bottoms up: How the Alabama Legislature learned to love alcohol legislation


Gadsden Times – Recovery, resilience manifest 10 years following devastating Tuscaloosa tornado


Gadsden Times – ‘Divine connection’: Smith, Benson honored as Big Brothers Big Sisters Male Match of Year


Dothan Eagle – Biden expanding summer food program for 34M schoolchildren


Dothan Eagle – First census data on House seats being released on Monday


Dothan Eagle – Analysis: A reckoning on racism? Not for many leaders of GOP


Opelika-Auburn News – Leaked recording of Iran’s top diplomat offers blunt talk


Opelika-Auburn News – Biden’s first 100 days: Where he stands on key promises


Opelika-Auburn News – ‘Nomadland’ wins best picture at a social distanced Oscars


WSFA Montgomery – New tech repair shop helps Montgomery stay connected


WSFA Montgomery – Man arrested, charged with murder after Saturday night shooting in Tuscaloosa


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery City Council District 3 runoff election will make history


WAFF Huntsville – Black Bear pays a visit to a few neighbors in Port Allen


WAFF Huntsville – Axxeum Aviation Operations conduct helicopter fire and rescue demonstration at Goose Pond Colony Resort


WAFF Huntsville – Officials in Hartselle arrest 2 people in connection to stolen property


WKRG Mobile – Fla. resumes use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine


WKRG Mobile – Pain, loss linger a decade after tornadoes hammer 6 states


WKRG Mobile – Airline bans Alaska state senator for violating mask rules


WTVY Dothan – Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrests man for kidnapping


WTVY Dothan – Wiregrass Electric crews work to restore power outages from Saturday’s storms


WTVY Dothan – Several roads closed due to flooding in Jackson County


WASHINGTON POST – CEO of vaccine maker sold $10 million in stock before company ruined Johnson & Johnson doses


WASHINGTON POST – India sets another daily coronavirus case record; U.S. pledges help


WASHINGTON POST – At a subdued but innovative Oscar ceremony, Hollywood affirms a message of inclusion


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Live Updates: A Billion Shots, but Global Cases Keep Rising


NEW YORK TIMES – Breaking Point: How Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook Became Foes


NEW YORK TIMES – Split-Second Decisions: How a Supreme Court Case Shaped Modern Policing


WALL STREET JOURNAL – What Wall Street Is Telling Us About the U.S. Economic Outlook


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Wobble Ahead of Economic Data, Earnings


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Uranium Miners Seeking a Foothold Take Unorthodox Approach: Buying Uranium




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