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Gov. Ivey awards $18.7 million to improve infrastructure in 58 Alabama communities

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Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded $18.7 million in grants for improvements in 58 Alabama communities. The funds from the Community Development Block Grant program will enable communities to provide water, improve roads and sewage systems, construct public community buildings and remove blight.

“Community Development Block Grants are vital to Alabama communities wanting to raise living standards and improve living conditions for their residents,” Ivey said. “I am pleased to award these grants, and I commend all those local leaders who, by seeking these grants, show they have their communities at heart.”

The competitive grants are awarded annually in several categories including county, large city, small city and community enhancement. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“As a former mayor, I know how valuable these grants are to communities and I also realize the time and effort that local leaders, planners and residents invest in obtaining funding,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA is pleased to have a role in this process that will benefit communities all across Alabama.”

Grants awarded and projects include:

North Alabama

  • Cullman (City) – $450,000 to provide sewer, water, drainage and street improvements in the Katherine Street area.
  • Guntersville – $450,000 to provide street and drainage improvements in the East Lake community.
  • Hackleburg – $85,000 to provide improvements along four streets, including widening and paving or sealing.
  • Hanceville – $250,000 to build a 2,500-square-foot senior center.
  • Leighton – $350,000 to provide water line improvements at several locations.
  • Scottsboro– $208,958 to demolish and clear 25 deteriorated and dilapidated structures throughout the city.
  • Town Creek – $350,000 to upgrade and repairs sections of the town’s sewer system.

North Central Alabama

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  • Ashland– $350,000 to provide road and drainage improvements and water upgrades.
  • Blount County – $350,000 to improve three roads totaling eight miles north of Blountsville.
  • Childersburg– $450,000 to improve sewer services in the Coosa Court and Childersburg/Fayetteville Highway areas.
  • Clanton – $239,400 to demolish and clear 28 dilapidated and vacant houses.
  • Fayette County – $250,000 to improve water lines and provide road resurfacing in an area west of the town of Belk.
  • Heflin– $40,000 to help the city develop a plan that will assess needs and goals.
  • Marion County – $350,000 to provide public water service in the Bexar Church area.
  • Millport – $203,315 to upgrade one the town’s three water tanks serving 340 persons.
  • Oneonta – $450,000 to replace deteriorating sewer lines and collection system in an area involving sections of Hillcrest Circle and Underwood and Valley avenues.
  • Pell City – $450,000 to improve the efficiency of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
  • Reform– $350,000 to renovate and repair various sections of the town’s sewer lines.
  • Steele – $189,977 to raze and remove 15 dilapidated structures throughout the town.
  • Sylacauga – $250,000 to demolish 11 dilapidated structures throughout the city.
  • Tuscaloosa County – $235,990 to provide public water service benefitting 63 residents in the Evanstown Road and Sid Davis Road areas.
  • Weaver – $122,628 to raze and clear 11 dilapidated and unsafe structures throughout the city.

South Central Alabama

  • Camp Hill – $350,000 for sewer improvements at the town’s wastewater plant.
  • Dallas County – $350,000 to supply public water service connections to residents in the Bogue Chitto community.
  • Hayneville – $349,601 to make improvements on sewer lines and wastewater treatment facility.
  • Forkland – $350,000 to upgrade water lines and improve two streets.
  • Greensboro– $350,000 to improve sewer lines.
  • Lanett – $250,000 to complete the final phase of a downtown revitalization project.
  • Marengo County – $350,000 to pave five roads.
  • Marion (City) – $450,000 to improve its wastewater treatment plant.
  • Millbrook – $250,000 to construct a new senior citizen center.
  • New Site – $177,460 to renovate its senior citizen center.
  • Perry County – $350,000 to provide public water services to 145 residents south of the city of Marion.
  • Randolph County – $350,000 to provide public water services to 78 residents along two county roads east of the city of Roanoke.
  • Tallapoosa County – $350,000 to provide public water services in a rural area near Dadeville.
  • Tallassee – $250,000 to demolish 27 vacant, abandoned and dilapidated structures throughout the city.
  • Valley – $450,000 to improve sewer services in the Langdale Mill Village area.

Southeast Alabama

  • Abbeville – $350,000 to provide full or partial rehabilitation of up to 27 houses in the Stegall Heights area.
  • Brundidge – $350,000 to improve water services and demolish 13 residential and commercial structures.
  • Clayhatchee– $127,288 to resurface a section of Providence Lane and improve drainage.
  • Dale County – $308,700 to provide public water to 42 households along Dale County Road 21 and Penny Point Road.
  • Geneva– $450,000 to improve drainage in a local neighborhood.
  • Gordon – $349,787 to provide water and sewer improvements at various locations within the city.
  • Goshen – $325,000 to upgrade the town’s water lines and improve water quality.
  • Kinston – $350,000 to rehabilitate up to 20 occupied houses and bring them up to compliance with the Southern Building Code.
  • Level Plains – $250,000 to provide street and drainage improvements along Faith Street and Phyllis Avenue.
  • Opp – $450,000 to provide sewer system line improvements along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive from Cannon Drive to Hardin Street.

Southwest Alabama

  • Brewton – $450,000 to renovate or replace dilapidated sewer lines along multiple streets.
  • Castleberry – $350,000 to replace aging and undersized water lines and improve streets in various sections of the town.
  • Chatom – $350,000 to rehabilitate sections of the town’s sewer lines and a lift station. 
  • Choctaw County – $350,000 to resurface multiple roads in the northeast part of the county.
  • Flomaton – $201,115 to resurface several roads within the city to reduce safety hazards.
  • Loxley – $350,000 to replace aged and damaged sewer lines along the east part of town.
  • Monroeville – $450,000 to replace sewer lines along multiple streets on the west part of the city.
  • Pennington – $350,000 to resurface 5.5 miles of road in various locations within the city.
  • Repton – $350,000 to improve drainage and improve streets at various locations within the city.
  • Robertsdale – $450,000 to replace sewer lines and improve drainage at various locations.
  • Silas – $350,000 to improve drainage and resurface streets at several locations within the city.  
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AARP Alabama asks for details on $50 million federal COVID-19 aid to nursing homes

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama chapter of AARP is asking the state to ensure federal coronavirus relief funds are spent wisely and in the open. Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday announced $50 million in grants would go to state nursing homes to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

Candi Williams, AARP’s Alabama state director, told APR on Monday that the organization, which advocates for the elderly, wants a better understanding of how that money will be spent and to ensure some is spent for ongoing COVID-19 testing.

A spokesman for the Alabama Nursing Home Association says details on how the money can be spent is already publicly available, however, and Ivey in early June announced the award of $18.27 million in federal CARES Act funds to be spent toward regular nursing home COVID-19 testing.

“What we’re looking for is specifics on how it will be used, and we want those specifics to be made publicly available,” Williams said.

Ivey on Friday said the money is to be administered by the Alabama Nursing Home Association Education Foundation. The Alabama Hospital Association is to administer up to $50 million in grants to state hospitals through another program.

“This allocation of up to $50 million will be for operational costs that are COVID-19 related, such as PPE, cleaning, personnel costs and other costs incurred related to the pandemic,” Ivey’s office said in a press release Friday.

“In partnership with the state of Alabama, the Alabama Nursing Home Association Education Foundation will administer the funds fairly and impartially on behalf of the people of Alabama, for all of Alabama’s nursing home facilities,” the statement goes on to say.

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Williams said the public deserves to know how the federal funds will be used, and said Ivey’s office hasn’t yet signaled whether those details will be made public.

Ivey’s office, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment, and referred a reporter to the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

John Matson, communications director for the Alabama Nursing Home Association, told APR that AARP Alabama need only read the memorandum of understanding published along with Ivey’s announcement about the grants on Friday to see how the money must be spent.

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According to the memorandum, the Alabama Nursing Home Association Education Foundation can only disburse the funds to nursing homes “for the purposes of responding to or mitigating the COVID-19 public health emergency” and details what facilities must do to receive the money.

Among the requirements, nursing homes in their applications must provide supporting documentation, which can include invoices, purchase orders, payroll records and financial records, according to the memorandum. The foundation must also provide the Alabama Finance Director’s Office with a detailed report on the 15th of each month noting how the money was spent, according to the document.

“I think it would be helpful for them to read that,” Matson said, referring to AARP Alabama and the memorandum of understanding.

AARP Alabama is also asking that the money be used for ongoing and methodical testing of all residents and staff in the state’s long-term care facilities.

“We’ve seen across the country that testing can be hit or miss, and testing frequency can vary,” Williams said. “We’ve seen in other states where that has helped curb the loss of life and helps protect residents.”

Matson noted that Ivey in early June also announced a separate $18.27 million in federal CARES Act funds to be spent toward regular nursing home COVID-19 testing and “proactive surveillance” through the end of the calendar year, which is also being administered by the Alabama Nursing Home Association Education Foundation.

Alabama’s long-term care ombudsmen, who are tasked with protecting residents’ rights and investigating health and safety concerns, have been largely banned from entering Alabama’s long-term care facilities since early on in the pandemic when the facilities ended visitations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Williams said AARP would also like to see the safe reentry of ombudsmen into state facilities and for those details to be included in a publicly-released plan.

“We also have been advocating for transparency and real-time data about the COVID cases and death in Alabama nursing homes and long-term care facilities. That continues to be a struggle,” Williams said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is collecting that state data, but it’s weeks old by the time it’s published on the federal agency’s website, Williams said.

“Having that information would help us protect the residents, staff and surrounding communities, but also making sure families have that information,” Williams said.

The Alabama Department of Public Health has declined to release county-level or facility-level details on coronavirus in long-term care facilities and nursing homes, citing privacy concerns. Many other states do release that information, however.

According to CMS, there have been 3,841 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 562 deaths among residents in Alabama nursing homes as of July 26. AARP Alabama said COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents make up approximately 42 percent of the state’s total coronavirus deaths.

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Governor issues call to action on mask wearing: “We are at war with an invisible enemy”

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Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday issued a new call to action for all Alabamians to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Transcript:

Today we are at war with an invisible enemy.

Not that long ago, families across Alabama helped America turn the tide in World War II. Some joined the front lines in combat, while others led the fight on the home front.

Those sacrifices helped our nation win the war and go on to define the Greatest Generation. Now, we must answer today’s call. By comparison, our sacrifice is small.

But each of us can do our part. Mask up Alabama!

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Democratic women condemn comments on Gov. Kay Ivey’s appearance

“These comments are disrespectful, inappropriate in every way, and represent a broader culture of casual sexism,” read a joint statement from four Democratic women.

Josh Moon

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Gov. Kay Ivey held an Coronavirus update Press conference Wednesday, July 29, 2020 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

A group of Democratic women on Wednesday issued a statement condemning comments made by a state school board member who was critical of Gov. Kay Ivey’s weight. 

Wayne Reynolds, a Republican who represents portions of northwest Alabama on the board, wrote during a live stream event that Ivey, who is also a Republican, “is gaining weight.” 

Afterward, in an interview with AL.com, Reynolds doubled — and then tripled — down on his comments as he critiqued Ivey’s choice of clothing. 

“She looked heavy in that white suit,” Reynolds said of Ivey, who held a press conference on Wednesday to update the state’s “safer-at-home” order. “I don’t know what she weighs. I just made an observation.”

Later in the interview, Reynolds said the pantsuit Ivey wore was unflattering and that he had seen her wear other suits “that were more slimming on her.”

The backlash to Reynold’s comments was swift and bipartisan with women around the state rightfully taking issue. 

“These comments are disrespectful, inappropriate in every way, and represent a broader culture of casual sexism,” read a joint statement from four Democratic women. “Women all over Alabama know what it is like to be subjected to unfair criticism on the basis of their appearance or weight. 

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“We need to cultivate an environment where individuals are judged on the basis of their skill and proficiency. Alabama elected officials should be discussing policy, not the physical appearance of policymakers. Anything less is a disservice to Alabamians. We are disturbed by Mr. Reynold’s remarks, and we hope other elected officials and candidates will likewise condemn his comments. Mr. Reynolds was wrong and we deserve better.”


The statement was signed by Amy Wasyluka, president of Alabama Democratic Women, Phyliss Harvey Hall, a District 2 congressional candidate, Dr. Adia Winfrey, a District 3 congressional candidate and Laura Casey, a candidate for president of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

 

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Nine people protesting for Medicaid expansion arrested outside Alabama Capitol

Among those arrested was former State Sen. Hank Sanders.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Nine people were arrested during a protest in front of the Alabama Capitol on Tuesday. (Hank Sanders/Facebook)

Nine people were arrested during a protest in front of the Alabama Capitol on Tuesday, which for some was the second time they’d been arrested this month while trying to bring attention to expanding Medicaid in the state and to the need for racial reconciliation.

As members of Alabama Black Lives Matter and Alabama SaveOurSelves held a demonstration Tuesday, which was live-streamed on former State Sen. Hank Sanders’ Facebook page, some began attempting to spray paint the words “Good Trouble,” a reference to the late Georgia Rep. John Lewis and his civil rights work, and “Expand Medicaid” on the street in front of the Capitol and were arrested.

Still, others began to try and spray paint onto the street and were also arrested, as can be seen in the video.

Among those arrested was Sanders, who could be seen in the video being handcuffed and loaded into a Montgomery Police Department vehicle, and his wife, 75-year-old Faya Rose Toure, an attorney, civil rights activist and former municipal judge.

The groups had planned Tuesday’s demonstration to bring attention to their push to expand Medicaid and to the arrest of five members after a demonstration there on July 16, in which members tried to use yellow spray paint to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” and “Expand Medicaid” on the street. The five turned themselves into police on July 20.

Montgomery Police Department public information officer Capt. Saba Coleman in a press release Tuesday evening said that those detained had not yet been charged. Montgomery Police declined to identify those persons who were detained.

“On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at about 12 noon, MPD responded to the area of the Capitol in reference to protesters painting the street in front of the Capitol steps. Upon arrival, MPD witnessed the protesters painting the street. At which time, MPD notified the City of Montgomery’s Traffic Engineering Department regarding the painting of the street,” Coleman said in the statement. “The paint was deemed noncompliant because organizers failed to request and obtain proper permitting and prior approval, which resulted in a crew being dispatched to the area. Protesters involved in the offense were subsequently detained; however, they were released with charges pending. There’s no additional information available for release.”

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Faya Toure, Sanders’ wife, attorney, civil rights activist and former municipal judge, speaking to APR on Tuesday morning before the demonstration said she planned to once again work to bring attention to the need to expand Medicaid in Alabama in order to save thousands of lives a year and that she’s also addressed the arrests earlier in the month, of which she was one.

Sanders told APR on Monday that he was “mad as hell” over the arrests which included strip searches for the women but not for the men.

In an open letter to Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Toure wrote of her experience being strip-searched at the police station.

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“Some say I should have resisted, but I did not,” Toure starts the letter of, then describes the act of having to strip for officers. “Within minutes the ordeal that changed my soul was over.”

In a statement, ACLU of Alabama noted that the latest arrests came “just days after a memorial service honoring Representative John Lewis was held on the same steps.”

“Once again, we see Alabama police officers using the power of the government to unnecessarily seize and detain people who are exercising their constitutionally protected First Amendment right to assemble and protest,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of ACLU of Alabama in a statement. “While the Constitution does not explicitly protect people from legal repercussions when protesting crosses into civil disobedience, we paid tribute mere days ago to the life and legacy of Representative John Lewis, a man dedicated to peaceful civil disobedience.”

“His phrase ‘good trouble’ was called that precisely because protesting unjust laws means breaking those laws. Nevertheless, we have seen time and again that change does not happen without protesters who are willing to accept these consequences in order to upend the status quo and those who uphold it,” Marshall continued. “We stand with these freedom fighters–in Montgomery, Hoover, and across the state of Alabama–who are continuing to fight for a more just and equitable world where every social problem is not addressed with handcuffs.”

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