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Shelby announces $25.9 million in FAA Grants for Statewide Airport Infrastructure Upgrades

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) announced that 20 local airports throughout Alabama will benefit from more than $25.9 million in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants. The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for various airport improvements to support infrastructure construction, safety advances, and equipment acquisition.

“The FAA grants awarded to these local airports across Alabama support key projects that aim to improve safety, security, and efficiency,” said Senator Shelby. “Airport infrastructure impacts overall economic success, and as a result of this funding, twenty of Alabama’s airports will receive the upgrades and advances needed to continue serving communities and driving development.”

The FAA grants range from $10.4 million for the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport to $100,200 for the Camden Municipal Airport. They are funded through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and federal appropriations.

The 21 FAA grants, total $25,902,595.

The grants will support the following airport projects in Alabama:

  • The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham Airport Authority will receive $10,395,000 for attaining an aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle; and for building aircraft rescue and firefighting building.
  • The Bessemer Airport has been awarded $2,277,393 for runway rehabilitation and runway lighting rehabilitation.
  • The Mobile Regional Airport, Mobile Airport Authority has been awarded $2,361,754 for taxiway rehabilitation.
  • The Merkel Field Sylacauga Municipal Airport, City of Sylacauga has been awarded $1,948,542 for runway rehabilitation and runway lighting rehabilitation.
  • The Cullman Regional-Folsom Field Airport, City and County of Cullman will receive $1,543,500 for taxiway reconstruction.
  • The Pryor Field Regional Airport, Counties of Morgan and Limestone will receive $1,150,000 for runway rehabilitation.
  • The Walker County-Bevill Field Airport will receive $1,108,500 for runway lighting rehabilitation.
  • The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham Airport Authority has been awarded $1,080,000 to conduct an environmental study.
  • The Northeast Alabama Regional Airport in Gadsden will receive $900,000 to improve airport drainage and taxiway rehabilitation.
  • The Ashland/Lineville Airport in Clay County has been awarded $497,488 for apron and taxiway construction.
  • The Bibb County Airport in Bibb County has been awarded $382,518 for apron and runway rehabilitation.
  • The Shelby County Airport will receive $348,814 for final reimbursement of construction of a 14,830-square-foot hangar building.
  • The H.L. (Sonny) Callahan Airport in Fairhope will receive $325,000 for access road expansion.
  • The Geneva Municipal Airport, Town has been awarded $310,500 for runway rehabilitation.
  • The Clayton Municipal Airport will receive $281,341 for runway rehabilitation.
  • The Wetumpka Municipal Airport has been awarded $244,727 for taxiway construction and taxiway lighting installation.
  • The Abbeville Municipal Airport will get $197,053 for runway rehabilitation.
  • The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport will receive $150,265 for taxiway construction.
  • The Anniston Regional Airport will receive $150,000 to conduct a miscellaneous study.
  • The Talladega Municipal Airport, City of Talladega has been awarded $150,000 for taxiway rehabilitation.
  • The Camden Municipal Airport, will get $100,200 for installation of a new runway vertical/visual guidance system and removal of hazardous obstructions.

Senator Shelby is the chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Appropriations, which authors and advances the FAA funding legislation. The funding distribution is based on both entitlement and discretionary awards.

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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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Elections

Voter Protection Corps recruiting local organizers in Alabama

Micah Danney

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The national nonprofit March On is recruiting regional leaders for its Voter Protection Corps. (GRAPHIC VIA MARCH ON)

The national nonprofit March On is recruiting regional leaders for its Voter Protection Corps, a grassroots network of organizers who will be trained to spot and counteract voter suppression ahead of the 2020 election in 14 key states, of which Alabama is one.

“With closed polling places, broken machines, long lines and the assault on mail-in ballots, voter suppression efforts have reached dangerous new heights in 2020,” said Andi Pringle, March On’s director of strategic and political campaigns. “Coupled with a global pandemic, these efforts threaten our ability to hold a free, fair and safe election in November. March On is looking for young leaders who are fired up to turn out the vote and protect democracy.”

Selected recruits will function as captains who then recruit at least five volunteers to form a squad. There will be about 20 squads in each state, Pringle said.

Captains will be trained by lawyers to know the ins and outs of their local election laws. They will train their squads to help voters exercise their rights to mail-in voting and early voting and will establish relationships with local election protection initiatives, election officials and community leaders.

Voter suppression can take many forms, Pringle said, including misinformation about polling locations, voter ID laws and various legal and administrative obstacles that can prevent average people “who don’t live and breathe this stuff” from casting their vote. Fighting such tactics is generally talked about in terms of attorneys and happens on or after Election Day, but that doesn’t prevent bureaucratic disenfranchisement that occurs in the days and weeks before the election, Pringle said.

“So the vote is already suppressed before they even get to the polls,” she said.

March On is recruiting captains from the Divine 9 Black fraternities and sororities, as well as women, veterans, young professionals, college students and recent graduates. It plans to have more than 7,000 corps members nationally.

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Elections

Barry Moore “pleased” Trump is taking action to support America’s reopening

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate Barry Moore (VIA BARRY MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Republican congressional candidate Barry Moore, a former state representative from Enterprise, released a statement expressing confidence in President Donald Trump’s leadership after recent remarks by the president.

“President Trump continues to show strong leadership during this crisis, and the most recent round of economic numbers shows this,” Moore said. “I’m pleased that he’s taking action to continue providing the relief Americans so desperately need with his executive orders while the Democrats in both the House and Senate are blocking this relief for their own political gain.”

“I was especially pleased to hear the President speak out so strongly in favor of school choice and ‘paying the student’, so that parents and students could be free to find the best education opportunities, whether that’s a public, private or a charter school,” Moore said. “President Trump and I both agree that the child should come first, and school choice is a strong part of that. The President wants us to reopen our schools safely, as I do, because sitting at home playing on the computer is not the same as being in school.”

At a press conference on Monday, Trump cited the recent upward trend in the stock market, economic numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics July report and a rise in homebuilder’s confidence. The president asserted that “the stock market rebound signals a V-shaped recovery” and that the U.S. has “the strongest performing economy in the world.”

Trump also noted that the U.S. economy was also performing significantly better than in Europe.

“We had to turn the economy off and now we’re turning it back on,” the president said.

The president went on to criticize Democrats including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Californi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, for wanting “radical left agenda items” and “ridiculous things that have nothing at all to do with the China virus” in the most recent relief bill, which is currently stalled in Congress.

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Trump used Democratic demands for $3.5 billion dollars for universal mail-in voting, which the president described as setting up “the greatest rigged election in history,” as just one example of Democratic obstruction.

Trump accused Democrats of holding up money for schools, state and local governments, and extending unemployment benefits and the moratorium on evictions. Trump said that this is what prompted him to sign a series of executive orders on Saturday addressing these issues.

“My hope is that, with the President’s continued leadership, we can continue to reopen our country and our economy, and I look forward to working on our complete recovery when I’m elected to Congress to represent District 2,” Moore concluded.

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Moore is the Republican nominee for Congress in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore is an Auburn University graduate, a small businessman, veteran, husband and father of four. Moore served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives for 2010 to 2018. He ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 2018. Moore credits that failed run for setting up the groundwork for his winning the Republican nomination in a crowded GOP field in 2020.

Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring from Congress at the end of this term.

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Economy

USDA announces more eligible commodities for CFAP

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The U.S. secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, announced that additional commodities are covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This decision was made in response to public comments and data, and the USDA is extending the deadline to apply for the program to Sept. 11, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment.

After reviewing over 1,700 responses, even more farmers and ranchers will have the opportunity for assistance to help keep operations afloat during these tough times.

“President Trump is standing with America’s farmers and ranchers to ensure they get through this pandemic and continue to produce enough food and fiber to feed America and the world,” Perdue said. “That is why he authorized this $16 billion of direct support in the CFAP program and today we are pleased to add additional commodities eligible to receive much-needed assistance. CFAP is just one of the many ways USDA is helping producers weather the impacts of the pandemic. From deferring payments on loans to adding flexibilities to crop insurance and reporting deadlines, USDA has been leveraging many tools to help producers.”

Economic developer Nicole Jones said, “A stable food supply at all times is critical to any nation’s survival. The United States Department of Agriculture and the Trump Administration listened to producers and acted based on results of feedback. Adding specific commodities to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, loan payment deference, and flexibilities on reporting deadlines are some of the many ways USDA and the Trump Administration have demonstrated support for America’s farmers. Agriculture and food production is a dominant industry in Alabama, and farmers across our state have been beneficiaries of this assistance.”

USDA collected comments and supporting data for consideration of additional commodities through June 22, 2020.

The following additional commodities are now eligible for CFAP:

  • Specialty Crops including aloe leaves, bananas, batatas, bok choy, carambola (star fruit), cherimoya, chervil (french parsley), citron, curry leaves, daikon, dates, dill, donqua (winter melon), dragon fruit (red pitaya), endive, escarole, filberts, frisee, horseradish, kohlrabi, kumquats, leeks, mamey sapote, maple sap (for maple syrup), mesculin mix, microgreens, nectarines, parsley, persimmons, plantains, pomegranates, pummelos, pumpkins, rutabagas, shallots, tangelos, turnips/celeriac, turmeric, upland/winter cress, water cress, yautia/malanga, and yuca/cassava.
  • The program has also been expanded to include liquid eggs, frozen eggs and all sheep. Only lambs and yearlings (sheep less than two years old) were previously eligible.
  • Also now eligible are aquaculture including catfish, crawfish, largemouth bass and carp sold live as foodfish, hybrid striped bass, red drum, salmon, sturgeon, tilapia, trout, ornamental/tropical fish, and recreational sportfish.
  • Farmers with nursery crops and cut flowers are also eligible.

Seven commodities — green onions, pistachios, peppermint, spearmint, walnuts and watermelons — are now eligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act funding for sales losses. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for payments on marketing adjustments.

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More details can be found in the Federal Register in the Notice of Funding Availability and Final Rule Correction.

To ensure the availability of funding, producers with approved applications initially received 80 percent of their payments. The Farm Service Agency will automatically issue the remaining 20 percent of the calculated payment to eligible producers. Going forward, producers who apply for CFAP will receive 100 percent of their total payment, not to exceed the payment limit, when their applications are approved.

Farmers and ranchers, especially those who have not worked with FSA previously, are recommended to call 877-508-8364 to begin the application process. An FSA staff member can help producers start their application during the phone call.

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On farmers.gov/cfap, producers can download the AD-3114 application form and manually complete the form to submit to their local USDA Service Center by mail, electronically or by hand delivery to their local office or office dropbox.

Complete the application form using the CFAP Application Generator and Payment Calculator. This Excel workbook allows customers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, then signed and submitted to their local USDA Service Center.

If producers have login credentials known as eAuthentication, they can use the online CFAP Application Portal to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center.

All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from the site. For existing FSA customers, these documents are likely already on file.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment.

Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social-distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face-covering during their appointment. The program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with producers in the office, by phone and using online tools.

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National

Alabama Democratic Party Chair Chris England applauds Biden’s VP pick

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People. (VIA GAGE SKIDMORE/FLIKR)

Alabama’s Democrat Party Chair, Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, on Wednesday applauded former Vice President Joe Biden’s pick of Sen. Kamala Harris for his 2020 running mate. 

“Joe Biden made the right choice by selecting Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate and I could not be more excited. No one has a more impressive political resume. First as a prosecutor, later as California’s Attorney General, and now as a Senator, Kamala Harris has stood up for justice and fought for what is right. She beat the big banks and cracked down on mortgage fraud, fought big oil to protect the environment, and prosecuted companies that stole worker wages and put worker safety at risk. This is the type of leadership we need,” England said in a statement. 

“This presidential election is perhaps the most consequential of our lifetime. Now more than ever, people who value democracy and fairness must come together to put America on the right path. I think we are going to make history this November. Not only are we going to restore the soul of our country, but we are also going to elect the first-ever Black female Vice President. The Alabama Democratic Party is all in for Biden and Harris. It is an exciting time to be a Democrat, especially in Alabama,” England continued. 

The California senator was the first Black woman to be elected as the state’s attorney general in 2010. She was elected to Congress in 2016, and serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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