Thursday, the St. Clair County Republican Party met for their monthly session in Pell City. The group focused on the upcoming Republican primary.
Former St. Clair County District Attorney Van Davis (R) spoke for two candidates that he has endorsed.
“I am here supporting Billy Murray,” for sheriff. “I worked with him during my 18 years as District Attorney. I was asked to speak a few words for a lady I am supporting for Attorney General, Alice Martin. I met her when she was the U.S. Attorney. My perception of her was that she is a tough prosecutor.”
Later, Davis said that he was involved in a public corruption trial in Lee County, “Battling day in and day out with a criminal defense team that was unruly.” Attorney General Luther Strange abstained from the case because his campaign had done business with Craftmasters Printing, which was involved in the case. In the Attorney General’s Office, “We were really having internal problems,” from people in the office who did not want the prosecution to go forward. “When she came in [as Deputy Attorney General], our problems were gone in 30 days. She called me up and said whatever you need in manpower and resources are yours. She is an incredible lady. She is extremely smart and is by far the most qualified person in the Attorney General’s race.”
St. Clair County Board of Education member Bill Morris (R) said, “I have been asked to serve as Governor Ivey’s county campaign coordinator. I would like to introduce the central Alabama Ivey campaign coordinator, George Anderson.”
“I am honored to serve as Governor Ivey’s field representative,” Anderson said. “I came down three
weeks ago from Iowa. When I started out in politics, we did door to door walking from paper lists, that has all been condensed into phone apps. We are using the advantage dialer for phone calling.”
“We are the best supported candidate in the state,” Anderson said. “We have 67 percent support but we can not let off the gas or we will have a runoff. My job is to make sure that that does not happen. We are reaching out to hard Rs. I was a regional field director for the RNC in Iowa. I also worked for the Iowa Republican Party. I come from an evangelical background. Hopefully I can recruit your help to get Governor Ivey back into office.”
State Senator Jim McClendon, R-Springville, said that the legislature set an all-time record. “We are allowed to meet just 30 legislative days in a session. All the time I have been there, we always barely make it. This last session, we actually met 26 legislative days and saved the taxpayers $100,000. Not every bill got passed but teachers got raises. Income taxes and sales taxes are coming in at all time highs. Our economy in Alabama is a reflection of the economy nationally. We put money into the prison system and are going to add some troopers for the first time in years. We have added some money into mental health, but not nearly enough. We may have a federal judge tell us we have to put in more.”
Sen. McClendon said that under current law, when cities have over 12,000 residents, the mayor goes from being a voting member of the council to a chief executive with a council being a separate legislative branch. Moody is close to that threshold. “We passed a state law giving those cities a choice. They can make that choice until they reach 25,000 residents.”
McClendon said, “I would like to say a word for a candidate in a down ballot race for Agriculture and Industries. Senator Gerald Dial, he has done a lot for St. Clair County. If it had not been for the way the districts were redrawn, I would likely not be your Senator. It would be somebody who lived in some other county and they would not be here. He is a strong friend and ally of mine, and I would love to see him get that position. Agriculture is the biggest industry in Alabama. It is not a very high profile job but a very important job.”
Former St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Paul Thibado said, “I am here to speak for Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh for lieutenant governor. I have always supported her for everything she has run for. I got to know her when she was state Republican Chairman and she was an excellent chairman. She is going to come to St. Clair County and will spend a couple of days here. I will be calling on help with that.”
Thibado said, “The new ethics law [HB317] is a decay of the legislative process. I would like to recognize Sen. Jim McClendon for voting against it. It was passed and was signed, and it was a decadence to the state. There will be more money paid under the table, and Jim voted against that and that means a lot to me. That is a bad law that got signed by the Governor and that breaks my heart.”
St. Clair County Deputy Freddie Turrentine is chairman of the St. Clair County Party bass tournament. Turrentine reported that the St. Clair County annual bass tournament was a tremendous success and that the party had raised the most they had ever made in the tournament. The party will begin awarding scholarship awards in May.
St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Lance Bell announced that the next meeting will be at the City Market Grill in Pell City on May 24 at 11:45 a.m.
Judge Robert Minor announced that Judge Bill Weatington was in the hospital for five or six days but got out of the hospital on Saturday and would be returning to work on Friday, April 27.
Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup announced that he is running for state House District 30 and asked for the group’s votes.
The major party primaries will be on June 5, 2018.
Alabama DHR announces grants providing temporary assistance for stabilizing child care
The Alabama Department of Human Resources announced on Friday a new grant program to provide assistance to licensed child care providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Temporary Assistance for Stabilizing Child Care, or TASCC, grant program’s purpose is to stabilize the number of child care providers that are open and providing services, as well as encourage providers to reopen.
DHR is now accepting applications for TASCC grants. The deadline to apply is August 7, 2020. The total grant amounts will be based on each provider’s daytime licensed capacity with a base rate of $300 per child.
To be eligible for a grant, licensed providers must be open or plan to reopen no later than August 17, 2020, and continue to remain open for a period of one year from the date of receiving the grant award. As of this week, 1,306 of Alabama’s 2,448 child care facilities were open in the state.
“We are proud to offer this program as a support and an incentive to an important sector of our economy. These grants will give the support many providers need to reopen and assist those already open,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “This program is going to be vital for our child care numbers to reach the level required to provide adequate services as parents return to work. We have already made significant strides in reopening facilities over the past several months; in April only 14 percent were open while now 53 percent are open.”
These grants will provide support for paying employees, purchasing classroom materials, providing meals, purchasing cleaning supplies, providing tuition relief for families, as well as other facility expenses.
DHR recommends child care providers read all guidance prior to submitting a TASCC application. Child care providers need to complete the application to determine the estimated grant amount. Grant applications will be processed as they are received and grants awarded once approved.
An online fillable application is available for the TASCC grant at www.dhr.alabama.gov/child-care/. The application must include an Alabama STAARS Vendor Code in order to be processed. For questions regarding the application, please email DHR at [email protected].
Gov. Ivey awards grant for new system to aid child abuse victims
Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $375,000 grant to establish a statewide network that will ensure that victims of child abuse receive immediate and professional medical care and other assistance.
The grant will enable the Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pediatrics to collaborate with the Alabama Network of Children Advocacy Centers in creating the Child Abuse Medical System.
“Child abuse is a horrendous crime that robs children of their youth and can negatively affect their future if victims do not receive the proper professional assistance,” Ivey said. “I am thankful for this network that will ensure children get the professional attention they need and deserve.”
The medical system will be a coordinated statewide resource that includes pediatric physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and other medical professionals along with specialized sexual assault nurse examiners.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant.
“ADECA is pleased to join with Gov. Ivey and those dedicated people who are part of the Child Abuse Medical System to support these children at a time they need it most,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.
Ivey notified Tom Shufflebarger, CEO of Children’s of Alabama, that the grant had been approved.
ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.
U.S. Attorney Jay Town announces resignation
Jay Town, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, on Friday announced his resignation and plans to work at a Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company.
Town’s resignation will be effective Wednesday, July 15, according to a press release.
“After much thoughtful prayer and great personal consideration, I have made the decision to resign as the United States Attorney of the Northern District of Alabama. I have tendered my resignation to Attorney General William Barr. General Barr expressed his gratitude for my service to the Department of Justice and to the Northern District and, despite having hoped I would continue in my role, understood and respected my decision,” Town said in a statement.
“I am extremely grateful to President Trump, to whom I also tendered a letter, for his special trust and confidence in me to serve as the U.S. Attorney. It was an honor to be a part of this Administration with an unrivaled class of United States Attorneys from around the nation. I will forever remain thankful to those who supported my nomination and my tenure as the U.S. Attorney,” Town continued.
Town said his job with the unnamed Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company is to begin later this year, and the company is to announce his position “in a few weeks.”
“The Attorney General of the United States will announce my replacement in the coming days or weeks,” Town said in the release.
Town has served in his position since confirmation by the U.S. Senate in August 2017. Prior to that appointment, Town was a prosecutor in the Madison County District Attorney’s office from 2005 until 2017.
Attorney General William Barr in a statement Friday offered gratitude for Town’s three years of service.
“Jay’s leadership in his District has been immense. His contributions to the Department of Justice have been extensive, especially his work on the China Initiative and most recently as a Working Group Chair on the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best,” Barr said in a statement.
The U.S. Justice Department in April 2019 notified Gov. Kay Ivey that the department’s lengthy investigation into the state’s prisons for men found systemic problems of violence, sexual assaults, drugs and corruption which are likely violations of the inmates’ Constitutional protections from cruel and unusual punishment.
Town’s office leads the discussions between the U.S Department of Justice and the state on the prison conditions.
Problems with violence, deaths and drugs in Alabama’s overcrowded, understaffed prisons have not markedly improved in the year’s since the U.S. Department of Justice released its report.
Alabama’s daily COVID-19 deaths second highest since start of pandemic
In the past two weeks the state recorded 190 coronavirus deaths, a 38 percent increase from the previous two weeks.
Alabama saw 35 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, the second highest daily number of deaths since the pandemic began.
The previous record daily high was May 12, when the state recorded 37 coronavirus deaths. Prior to that, the high was on April 22, when Alabama saw 35 deaths from the virus. In the past two weeks the state recorded 190 coronavirus deaths, a 38 percent increase from the previous two weeks.
While cases have been surging since mid-June, deaths have largely remained stable. Deaths are considered a lagging indicator, meaning that it takes longer for deaths to begin rising after cases and hospitalizations begin rising.
“The fact that we’re seeing these sharp increases and hospitalization in cases over the past week or two is really concerning,” said UAB expert Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom earlier this week. “And we expect, given the lag that we know there is between cases and hospitalization — about a two-week lag, and a three-week lag between cases and deaths — that we’re on a part of the curve that we just don’t want to be on in our state.”
It’s unclear whether this new rise in deaths will become a trend, or whether it is a one-day anomaly, but the 14-day average of deaths per day is now nearly as high as the previous peak on May 14 — weeks after the state hit its first “peak” in cases per day in late April. The previous high of the 14-day average of deaths per day was 16 on May 14. The average is now at 14 deaths per day, on average.
The uptick in deaths comes after days of record-high new daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The state added 1,304 new COVID-19 cases Friday, down from Thursday’s record-high of 2,164, but the trend of rising daily cases has continued largely unabated since early June.
The 14-day average of daily tests was at an all-time high Friday, at 8,125, which was 308 more tests than the previous high, set Wednesday. The percent of tests that were positive also increased, however, so the new cases can’t be attributed solely to more testing.
The 14-day average of the percent positivity was 14.22 on Friday. Excluding Thursday’s figure, because the Alabama Department of Public Health didn’t publish total tests administered on Thursday, which threw off percent positive figures, Friday’s 14-day average was the highest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were a few higher 14-day average percent positivity days in April, but those numbers were skewed as well, because ADPH wasn’t able to collect all testing data from commercial labs during that time period.
Along with surging new cases, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Thursday was higher than it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. On Thursday 1,125 coronavirus patients were being treated in state hospitals, which was the fifth straight day of record current hospitalizations.
UAB Hospital’s COVID-19 Intensive care units were nearing their existing capacity earlier this week. The hospital has both a COVID ICU and a COVID acute care unit designated to keep patients separated from those who don’t have the virus, but it has more space in other non-COVID units should it need to add additional bed space.
Hospitals in Madison County this week are also seeing a surge of COVID-19 patients. Paul Finley, the mayor of the city of Madison, told reporters Wednesday that local hospitals were reporting record numbers.