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Shelby speaks at dedication ceremony for Mobile federal courthouse

Brandon Moseley



via US District Courts

Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) delivered remarks at the dedication ceremony for the new federal courthouse for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile.

“Today’s dedication is a historic moment for the city of Mobile, the Southern District of Alabama, and the Eleventh Circuit,” said Senator Shelby. “It is my hope that decisions made in this new federal courthouse will uphold the rule of law and the values upon which our nation was founded. I am proud of the tireless efforts of all those involved in the process. This courthouse will without a doubt have a major impact on the Southern District of our state for years to come.”

Shelby’s office said that the new state-of-the-art judicial complex is located directly north of the existing 80-year-old John Archibald Campbell Courthouse and will be a 155,000-square-foot building that will take up the entire block at the corner of St. Louis and St. Joseph streets.

The new state of the art facility was built with various modern upgrades, including advanced security and new technology, along with improved public access.

The opening of this new federal building is the first step in completing a two-part federal project.

Employees have moved from the old Campbell courthouse to the new facility. This will allow renovations of the 80-year-old courthouse building to progress. The renovated facility will house federal bankruptcy courts, probation offices, appeals offices, and U.S. congressional offices.

The 115,015 square foot John Archibald Campbell Courthouse was constructed in 1932 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The project includes re-using four existing courtrooms and seven existing judges’ chambers. The repairs and alterations include: improved accessibility; perimeter security improvements; building façade cleaning and maintenance; window replacement; HVAC, plumbing and electrical improvements; hazardous materials abatement; replacement of the emergency generator; a new fire suppression system including fire pump. All interior work will be completed in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s standards to maintain the historic integrity of the building.

The new courthouse currently has six courtrooms. Three are for magistrate judges and three for district judges. The district courtrooms have galleries that can seat up to 80 people. The new courthouse has five floors and a below-grade secured tenant parking garage.


The groundbreaking for the new courthouse was held in March 2016. W.G. Yates and Sons is the contractor on the project. The completion of the restoration of the old courthouse is expected by June 2020. The project was funded with two appropriations (PL 111-17 for $50,000,000 in 2009 and PL 113-76 $67,500,000 in 2014).

Last month, Jeffrey Beaverstock of Mobile, Alabama, and Judge Terry Moorer of Greenville, Alabama, were confirmed by the Senate to be U.S. District Judges for the Southern District of Alabama. Beaverstock and Moorer were both nominated by President Donald J. Trump (R) in September 2017. Democrats have been obstructing the confirmation process of Trump’s nominees to the federal court system.

Senator Richard Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and is currently in his sixth term in the U.S. Senate.



Rogers: CARES Act will help families and businesses get through the COVID-19

Brandon Moseley



Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, voted in favor of H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The CARES Act is a $2 trillion bipartisan stimulus package that sponsors hope will be able to keep the economy from going into a deep recession, while the nation is gripped in a forced economic lockdown in order to fight the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“This bill today is vital to helping families and businesses get through this terrible pandemic that is bringing our economy and lives to almost a halt,” Rogers said in a statement. “More will be needed and more will be done. I am proud to have been on the House Floor to support it. We must continue to stand together as one nation to get through this unprecedented crisis. With our shared faith and perseverance, soon we can get back to work, school and life.”

The bill provides resources for state and local governments straining from the effects of the pandemic; support for hospitals and health care workers; funding for medical equipment; support for law enforcement and first responders; funding for scientists researching treatments and vaccines; aid for small businesses; support for local schools and universities; and funding for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs.

Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-Alabama) office said that he measure contains provisions, that will impact Alabama:$150 billion for State and Local Governments; $45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund; $1.5 billion for State and Local Preparedness Grants;$3.5 billion for Child Care Development Block Grants; $250 million for Hospital Preparedness; $100 billion for Reimbursements for Health Care Providers; $30.75 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund; $400 million for First Responder Grants; $10 billion for Airport Improvements Grants; $1.5 billion for Economic Development Administration Grants; $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program; $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program; $349 billion for Small Business Administration Loan Guarantees; $425 million for Mental and Behavioral Health Services; $265 million for Small Business Grants for Counseling, Training, and Related Assistance; $300 million for Fishery Disaster Assistance; $850 million for Byrne JAG Grants; and $23.5 billion for Support for Agricultural Producers.

The legislation also provides $339.855 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to aid Americans during the Coronavirus crisis. More than 80 percent of the total funding provided in the Coronavirus emergency supplemental appropriations division of the package will go directly to state and local governments.

This package follows two previous Coronavirus emergency relief bills passed by the Senate to provide relief for the American people during this unprecedented time. The first emergency supplemental package was passed by the Senate on March 5, 2020, which provided $8.3 billion in total resources to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Coronavirus. The second legislative initiative – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed the Senate on March 18, 2020 – provides flexibility for the Departments of Treasury and Labor to assist small businesses, establishes emergency paid family and medical leave for those affected, and increases unemployment benefits and food aid.

The House of Representatives passed the bill on Friday after the U.S. Senate passed it unanimously on Wednesday night.


Congressman Mike Rogers is serving in his ninth term represents Alabama’s Third Congressional District. Rogers serves as the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security and is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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Byrne says help is on the way with stimulus bill

Brandon Moseley



Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, spoke Friday on the floor of the House of Representatives to offer his support for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Byrne said, “Help is on the way!”

“Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment,” Byrne said. “Small businesses around this country are shuttered. Millions of Americans and their children are at home, practicing social distancing, a term that few knew two weeks ago. Countless others are on the frontlines in our hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, or simply checking us out at the grocery store.”

“Yesterday, I spoke to many small businesses in my district on a call,” Byrne continued. “I was asked to give them hope. To the American people who are watching, there is hope, and help is on the way!

Republicans have criticized Democrats for some of the spending items in the bill, and Democrats have criticized Republicans for some of the items that were not in the final version of the bill that passed the Senate last week after an often heated debate.

“There are many things in this bill I do not like,” Byrne said. “There are portions that I think are a mistake. But, colleagues, this is our time for action. Do not hold this bill up. We owe it to the citizens of this great country who are struggling. We owe action for them – today.”

The Senate passed the $2 trillion stimulus bill in a late-night session on Wednesday. The members of the House returned to D.C. and passed the bill by voice vote.

President Donald Trump wasted no time in adding his signature to the historic legislation.


“I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first,” Trump said.

“We got hit by the invisible enemy and we got hit hard,” Trump added.

The bill gives the Treasury Department $500 billion to assist struggling companies. There is also money in the bill for small businesses to borrow funds to make payroll and other overhead expenses. If the businesses use the money for that they will get their loan forgiven.

Each American taxpayer who filled out a 2018 return is to get a check from the government of about $1,200. Taxpayers with $75,000 or more in income will have to pay it back. There is money for education systems and for state and local governments.

The American economy was growing, and new jobs were being created even before Trump was elected president. Under Trump, the economy soared to new heights with unemployment dropping to record lows not seen since the 1960s during the Vietnam War. The stock market was soaring and set new record high after new record high.

Late in 2019 a coronavirus previously unknown to science apparently crossed over from the bat world to humans at a live animal market in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The virus, now known as SARS-CoV-2, causes a condition that scientists have abbreviated to COVID-19.

The virus which can be transmitted by casual contact has since spread all over the globe killing 33,976 as of press time. Trump shut down travel from China, but our European allies did not. As a result, it quickly began spreading there as well and the USA began getting infections from Europe as well as the infections that had begun earlier from Wuhan.

Faced with projections by scientists showing a potential American death toll in excess of two million, the president made the unprecedented step of ordering an emergency shutdown of most of the American economy in order to slow the spread of the virus and give our scientists time to work on a cure and a vaccine.

Americans are being advised to stay in their homes as much as possible, don’t shake anyone’s hands, wash their hand frequently, don’t gather in groups bigger than ten, avoid getting closer than six feet from other people, and not to panic or hoard supplies. Businesses have been warned not to price gouge.

Congress has already passed two bills to fund the war against COVID-19. This $2 trillion stimulus package is designed to prevent a crushing deep recession caused by the forced government shutdown.

President Trump was optimistic that the stimulus would help the situation and that the economy would rebound once restrictions are lifted.

“I think we are going to have a tremendous rebound,” the President said.

Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He is not seeking re-election.

The legislation, which passed unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday, will provide billions of dollars in relief for struggling industries, a significant boost to unemployment insurance and direct cash payments to Americans, many of whom have been financially devastated by the outbreak.

Before signing the bill, Trump marveled at the size of it.

“I never signed anything with a ‘T’ on it,” he said.

The more than $2 trillion bill is the largest economic relief package in modern U.S. history.

(Original reporting by NBC News’s Rebecca Shabad and Adam Edelman contributed to this report.)

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Five patients with COVID-19 have died at EAMC hospital in Opelika

Chip Brownlee



UPDATE: East Alabama Medical Center said Sunday that its death toll has increased to six.

Five patients who were being treated for COVID-19 at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Alabama, have died since Friday, the hospital said in a statement Saturday.

“Our hospital family expresses its collective condolences to the families of these five patients,” said Laura Grill, EAMC President and CEO.  “As everyone knows, this virus has taken a toll on our nation and world, and our community is not exempt from that. Our hearts and prayers are with these families at this very difficult time.”

Three of the patients were from Chambers County and two were from Lee County. The Alabama Department of Public Health is still investigating the deaths and has not updated their website to reflect them.

Hospital officials and ADPH are working through the process for official state determination before adding them to the COVID-19 death count.

“The ICU staff, respiratory therapists and physicians who worked most closely with these patients are especially struggling and we ask that the community lift them up today just as they have been lifting up our whole organization the past two weeks,” Grill said.

EAMC is currently treating 19 patients hospitalized with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. Five patients who were previously hospitalized with COVID-19 have been discharged. There are 22 patients who are currently hospitalized at EAMC with suspected COVID-19.

The number of hospitalized patients has more than doubled from seven on Tuesday. It anticipates more.


The county had at least 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by Saturday afternoon, more per capita than Jefferson County, Shelby County and Madison County. That number has also continued to grow. To the north, Chambers County, which falls under EAMC’s service area, has the most cases per capita in the state, meaning there are more confirmed cases per person than any other county. That county’s total stands at 17.

Many of the patients who have tested positive, according to EAMC, had a common “last public setting” in church services.

“While there are no absolute patterns among the confirmed cases in Lee County, one nugget of information does stand out a little—the last public setting for a sizable number of them was at church,” East Alabama Medical Center said in a statement Friday night.  “Not at one church, or churches in one town, but at church in general.”

The hospital has urged churches to move online and cancel in-person services. Some churches have continued to meet, as recently as last Sunday, despite “social distancing” directives from the Alabama Department of Public Health that prohibited non-work gatherings of 25 or more people.

EAMC is urging the public to act as if they are under a “shelter-in-place” at home order, as the state has so far refused to issue such a directive.

“EAMC is asking everyone to shelter in place at home,” the hospital said in a statement Friday night. “Sheltering in place means you stay at home with immediate family members only and should not leave your home except for essential activities such as food, medical care, or work. You should not host gatherings of people outside of your immediate family. You should also maintain a 6-foot distance from other people as much as possible, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time, and frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces.”

It’s also asking businesses that have access to personal protective equipment like gowns, masks, latex gloves and hand sanitizer to bring those items to a collection site outside of EAMC’s main lobby. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

This story is developing and will be updated.


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Perdido Vineyards making hand sanitizer during COVID-19 crisis

Eddie Burkhalter



Jim Eddins, president of Perdido Vineyards, has always been a fighter. 

Now he’s helping his community fight the deadly COVID-19 virus by pivoting his business from crafting muscadine wine and wine vinegars to making hand sanitizer. 

Eddins, a retired U.S. Marine, opened the first winery in Alabama in the 1970s. 

“He’s used to fighting,” said Sherri Clay, marketing director at the vineyards who spoke to APR on Thursday. “So he’s just fighting something else, is the way he’s looking at it.” 

The numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as a result, have been steadily increasing in Alabama. As of Thursday, there were 472 confirmed cases and two deaths. 

Health experts and state officials urge the public to practice social distancing, stay home when at all possible, wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, and use hand sanitizer. 

Clay said Eddins spoke with Alabama treasurer John McMillan, state Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings, and others about the need for hand sanitizer during the pandemic. 

The decision was made to initially offer the product to first responders, nursing homes, essential businesses and to the local community, Clay said. 


They’re still waiting on one ingredient to finish the first batch, but Clay said they’re having trouble acquiring gallon jugs needed to bottle the product. They got 48, but the first batch will fill 66 gallons, she said. 

“Everybody’s probably got the same idea across the country or, people are buying them to put water in,” Clay said of the hard-to-find containers. 

Regardless, Clay said they’re getting orders. Already, all 48 gallons of the hand sanitizer have been claimed.  

“Because of the response we’re already making plans to do a second batch,” Clay said, adding that 11 gallons of the next batch have also been claimed. 

It’s not hard for a winery to learn to combine alcohol, glycerin and other ingredients into hand sanitizer, but it helps to have an employee with experience. 

“Lucky for us our distiller is also a retired pharmacist, so he’s making it to the World Health Organization standard of 80 percent alcohol,” Clay said. 

Ross Centanni, the company’s distiller, said federal regulations that govern manufacturing of such products were loosened temporarily to allow companies like the vineyard to produce the vital product.   

“I’ve got a quantity of 95 percent alcohol, which is what hand sanitizer requires, so let’s get in here and help the community and the first responders out,” Centanni said. 

Centanni said just like the jugs, he’s seen evidence of people buying up bulk ingredients used in the making of hand sanitizer. He suspects some are making a profit off of the crisis.

“There are entrepreneurs out there that are going to go corner the market on glycerine and go sell it for exorbitant prices,” he said, adding that he’s seen evidence on Ebay that seems to indicate that’s happening. Still, he’s certain he’ll manage to get what’s needed to make more.

The vineyards regular business has been down, Clay said, but the focus is on helping by doing what they can. 

“This is a priority,” Clay said. “We need to get a jump on this and try to prevent it, and the best place to start is with our own community.”

Perdido Vineyards also operates Boogie Bottom Spirits, which produces rum and muscadine brandy.

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