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Tuscaloosa, Lee County homeowners made over $1 million with Airbnb during Football weekends

Brandon Moseley

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Airbnb reports that homeowners in Lee County and Tuscaloosa County earned over $1 million in combined supplemental income through home sharing on Airbnb during this year’s Auburn and Alabama home football weekends. This helped the counties significantly expand their lodging capacity and welcome the surge in visitors as hotels reached peak capacity during football weekends.

In Lee County Airbnb hosts welcomed 2,700 guest arrivals during those weekends while earning a combined $440,000 in supplemental income. In Tuscaloosa County, hosts welcomed 3,200 guest arrivals while earning a combined $618,000 in supplemental income through sharing their homes. This includes a projected 560 guest arrivals and $130,000 in income for this coming weekend’s Iron Bowl match-up.

The respective October 13 games helped spur the largest influx of Airbnb guests to the state of Alabama in the history of the platform, as Auburn hosted Tennessee while Alabama hosted Missouri for its Homecoming game. That weekend also represented the largest influxes of guests specifically to Lee County and Tuscaloosa County in Airbnb’s history.

The data indicates that fans of the opposing teams are increasingly taking the opportunity to make the trips to both Lee and Tuscaloosa counties and experience the region. For example, during the weekend of Alabama’s game against Missouri, 50 percent of the Airbnb guests to Tuscaloosa County where from the state of Missouri, while 33 percent of the guests during the Texas A&M game were from the state of Texas. Meanwhile in Lee County, 33 percent of the guests for the Tennessee game and 29 percent of the guests from the Texas A&M game were from those states.

With local hotels achieving peak occupancy in Lee County during Auburn games and in Tuscaloosa County during Alabama games, the growth of home sharing in Alabama has allowed the counties to host thousands of extra visitors and take full advantage of the unique economic opportunity presented by the football program. This benefits the local economy by keeping visitors’ food and shopping dollars within the two counties.

At a broader level, Alabama’s hotels have enjoyed steadily increasing occupancy rates and prices, illustrating the value to the region as short-term rentals expand lodging capacity during popular events and open up the market to families less able to afford hotels.

The region benefits further from the expanded lodging capacity during Auburn and Alabama home weekends thanks to a tax agreement between Airbnb and the Alabama Department of Revenue that allows the company to collect the state sales tax and local lodging taxes on behalf of its local hosts and remit the revenue directly to the state. Airbnb also has individual tax agreements with the cities of Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Opelika to collect and remit the tax revenue for their respective lodging taxes.

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In Lee County, the Alabama State game on September 7 and 8 drew 120 out of county guests to Airbnb homes for total earning of $13,000. The LSU games on the weekend of September 14-15 drew 480 guests to Airbnb homes generating $88,000 in supplemental income. The Arkansas game on the weekend of September 21-22 drew 300 guests who spent $43,000 with Airbnb. The Southern Miss game on September 28-29 drew 420 guests to Airbnb homes who spent $74,000. The Tennessee game on the weekend of October 12-13 drew 620 guests generating $110,000 in supplemental income. The Texas A&M game on the weekend of November 2-3 drew 540 people who spent $92,000. The Liberty game on the weekend of November 16-17 drew 220 guests to Airbnb homeowners who spent $22,000 for their stays.

In Tuscaloosa County, the Arkansas State game on the weekend of September 7-8 attracted 145 people who paid $22,000 for their stays with Airbnb hosts. The Texas A&M games on the weekend of September 21-22 drew 590 guests who spent $122,000. The Louisiana game on the weekend of September 28-29 attracted 360 guests who spent $66,000. The Missouri game on the weekend of October 12-13 drew 690 guests who paid $135,000. The Mississippi State game on November 9-10 attracted 580 guests who paid $106,000 for their stays. The Citadel game on the weekend of November 16-17 drew 270 who spent $37,000. It is projected that the Auburn game on November 23-24 will bring 560 guests to Airbnb homes in Tuscaloosa generating an anticipated $130,000 in supplemental income.

Nancy who visited Lee County in October 2018, said, “We very much enjoyed our stay! Your welcome basket was so thoughtful and enjoyed by our teenagers! Your home was perfect for our gathering Saturday night and we were able to grill steaks and sit as a family in the dining room for a lovely meal. An Auburn win would have made it even better but oh well 🙁 thank you for your hospitality and we would rent again!”

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Kim, who visited Tuscaloosa County in October 2018, said, “It was a great house for our family of 8 on an Alabama Football/Homecoming weekend! Close to the University and had everything we needed. Very clean! We would definitely rent again!!”

Airbnb was founded in 2008. Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where people can belong through healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable. Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetize their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs. Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace provides access to 5+ million unique places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries. With Experiences, Airbnb offers unprecedented access to local communities and interests through 15,000 unique, handcrafted activities run by hosts across 1,000+ cities around the world. Airbnb’s people-to-people platform benefits all its stakeholders, including hosts, guests, employees and the communities in which it operates.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Education

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program gets more national attention

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The state’s First Class Pre-K program gives children advantages in math and reading that last into middle school, far longer than the gains studied in other high-quality pre-K programs, according to an article published in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy.

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

While programs like Head Start and Tennessee’s pre-K program have been shown to lead to significant educational improvements when children enter kindergarten, those benefits appear to experience a “fadeout” within a year. 

The new research followed students through the 7th grade. Further research should examine the persistence of benefits through high school, according to the article, which was published by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, ThinkData and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The research “is reassuring and supports accountability for continued investments and expansion,” the article concluded.

The journal that featured the article is a publication of the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

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Congress

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne announces new chief of staff

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, on Friday announced that Seth Morrow will serve as his chief of staff.

“As we enter the last half of 2020, my office remains busy assisting constituents and advancing our legislative priorities. I know Seth shares my focus on finishing out my term in Congress strong, and he is well prepared to move into the Chief of Staff role,” Byrne said in a statement. “My staff and I will continue working hard every day to fight for the people of Southwest Alabama and advance our conservative agenda.”

Morrow is a native of Guntersville and has worked for Byrne since June 2014, serving as deputy chief of staff and communications director. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity, and I’m committed to ensuring our office maintains our first class service to the people of Southwest Alabama. Congressman Byrne has always had the hardest working team on Capitol Hill, and I know we will keep that tradition going,” Morrow said in a statement.

Morrow replaces Chad Carlough, who has held the position of Byrne’s chief of staff since March 2017. 

“Chad has very ably led our Congressional team over the last few years, and I join the people of Southwest Alabama in thanking him for his dedicated service to our state and our country,” Byrne said. 

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Crime

Alabama Department of Corrections investigating inmate death

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of an inmate at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

“While Adams’ exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, at the time of his passing inmate Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, was not under quarantine following direct exposure to an inmate or staff member who previously had tested positive, and was not in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 test,” said ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose in the message.

Because Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he had not been tested, Rose said.

An ADOC worker who contacted APR Friday morning about the death, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from ADOC administrators, said it’s suspected that Adams may have overdosed after being given a cigarette laced with a drug.

Adams is at least the sixteenth state inmate to die this year from either homicide, suspected drug overdose or suicide. Additionally, fifteen inmates and two prison workers have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Alabama GOP chair: “We expect our elected officials to follow the law” after Dismukes arrest

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Alabama GOP chair Terry Lathan said on Twitter.

Brandon Moseley

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State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been arrested on the charge of felony theft.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said Thursday that Alabamians expect their leaders to follow the law. Her comments came in response to news that an arrest warrant had been issued for State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, on the charge of felony theft.

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Lathan said on Twitter. “No one is immune to these standards. It is very disappointing to hear of these allegations. This is now a legal matter and it must run its course.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said Friday in a statement that Dismukes will get his day in court.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I have faith in the criminal justice process and trust that he will receive a full and fair hearing,” McCutcheon said. “Both Democrats and Republicans have been accused of similar crimes in the past, and we cannot tolerate such behavior whether the lawmaker involved has a D or an R beside their name.”

Dismukes has been charged by his former employer, a custom flooring company, of felony theft charges. Dismukes left that employer and started his own custom flooring company.

Dismukes, who is serving in his first term and is one of the youngest members of the Alabama Legislature, has been heavily criticized for his participation in a birthday party for Confederate Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Selma. Forrest was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

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The party in Selma occurred the same week that Congressman John Lewis’s funeral events were happening in Selma. Dismukes resigned his position at Valley Baptist Church when the Southern Baptists threatened to disassociate the Prattville Church if they retained Dismukes. He has defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature, but if convicted of a felony, he would be automatically removed from office.

Both Democrats and Republicans have called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives over his being the chaplain of the Prattville Sons of Confederate Veterans and his Facebook post lauding Forrest. The investigation into the theft predates the controversies surrounding Dismukes’s glorification of the Confederacy and Forrest.

Republican State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who also represents Prattville, has called on Dismukes to resign.

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“Since first being elected in 1996, I’ve had a policy of not publicly criticizing other elected officials, but at this time I am making an exception since Rep. Dismukes is MY state representative. He does not represent my views or the views of the vast majority of people of District 88,” Chambliss said. “The post is bad enough, the timing is even worse, but the real problem is that an elected official in 2020 would attend a celebration of the life of someone that led a group that terrorized and killed other human beings. He has had 24 hours to understand why people are so upset, but his interview on WSFA a few moments ago confirms that he is lacking in understanding and judgment — he should resign immediately.”

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has repeatedly called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives.

The Alabama Democratic Party recently said in a statement, “Will Dismukes is morally unfit for office. Republicans and Democrats statewide seem to agree. Unfortunately, despite the mounting calls for his immediate resignation, Will intends to stay in office and seek re-election without penalty from the Republican Party.”

“While Alabama Republicans hope this will be a distant memory when Dismukes runs for re-election in 2022, we are not going to let him off the hook,” the ADP wrote. “The Alabama Democratic Party is going to leverage every tool we have to send Will packing when he comes up for re-election in two years.”

“In our darkest hours in life there is still light in Christ!” Dismukes wrote on social media Wednesday. “As the storm continues to blow with heavy force, there is yet a peace that this too shall pass. I guess sometimes we find out if we have built our house on sand or the solid rock of Christ. Psalm 23.”

When Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, was indicted on 21 charges of felony ethics violations, he did not resign and actually remained speaker until a jury of his peers in Lee County convicted him on 12 counts.

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