Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) announced that Weedon Field in Eufaula is receiving $650,000 in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing apron. This FAA grant is awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as part of the agency’s efforts to support airport infrastructure improvements.
“This FAA grant is exciting news for Eufaula and the surrounding region,” said Senator Shelby. “The funding will improve the functionality and efficiency of Weedon Field. I am proud DOT recognized the need to invest in this local airport.”
“The robust economy is enabling more passengers to travel by air so this Administration is investing billions of dollars in America’s airports which will address safer operations, fewer airport delays, and greater ease of travel for air travelers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The Eufaula airport was devastated by a tornado earlier this year. The community has had to build new hangars and infrastructure as a result of the storm. Modernizing and improving the apron was a logical extension of the work that had already been forced by the storm.
The Fiscal Year 2018 (FY2018) Omnibus Appropriations Bill was passed and signed into law last year. It provided FAA an additional $1 billion in discretionary grants for FY2018 – FY2020.
This $650,000 grant from FAA to rehabilitate and expand the apron at Weedon Field in Eufaula is part of the third round of funding of the initial appropriation.
Senator Shelby chairs the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which authored and advanced the FY2018 measure that included these additional FAA grant resources. Sen. Shelby has served Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Prior to his Senate service, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Alabama Senate.
Seven counties get grants to expand internet access
Seven internet providers will receive $2.9 million in grants between them to extend broadband services in seven Alabama communities, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office announced on Thursday.
The grants were awarded through the Alabama Accessibility Fund that was created to extend service to homes, businesses and “community anchors” in unserved or underserved areas of the state. Community anchors include police or fire departments, city halls, libraries, schools and medical facilities.
The grants were distributed as follows:
- Butler County: Hayneville Fiber Transport Inc. (Camellia Communications) – $128,797 to provide service availability to 48 households and four community anchors in the Sherling Lake community which is northwest of the city of Greenville.
- Choctaw County/Washington County: Millry Telephone Co. Inc. – $954,902 to extend broadband service in the third phase of a project covering south Choctaw and north Washington counties. The project includes 559 households, 16 businesses and two anchors including Millry City Hall and Millry School.
- Cleburne County: Gigafy – $178,782 to provide access availability to 486 households and 38 businesses in the vicinity of the city of Heflin.
- Cullman County: Cyber Broadband Inc. – $1.33 million to provide service availability to 1,600 households, 125 businesses and 50 community anchors in the vicinity of the Baileytown and Joppa communities in eastern Cullman County.
- Dallas County: Spectrum Southeast – $55,481 to extend broadband service availability to 55 households in the Deerfield subdivision west of the city of Selma.
- Lee County: Spectrum Southeast – $8,407 to provide high-speed cable access to eight households along Lee County Road 279 near the Halawaka community.
- Tallapoosa County: Spectrum Southeast – $245,567 to extend service availability to 316 households in the Marina Marin area of Lake Martin near Alabama Highway 50.
A total of $18.5 million in grants has been awarded to expand internet access in Alabama, mostly to unserved rural areas.
“The COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized how essential broadband services are to the unserved and underserved residents of Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement. “Thanks to the Broadband Accessibility Fund and broadband providers, we are making progress in ensuring that Alabamians have access to high-speed internet services, but there is no question we have a long way to go on completing this mission.”
C Spire expands its high-speed internet to Jasper and Trussville
Mississippi-based telecommunications company C Spire announced Thursday that it has begun taking customer pre-orders in Alabama in the first two cities where it will provide high-speed broadband internet later this year.
The company has franchise agreements to expand its service to additional sections of those communities as well as to Helena and Tuscaloosa in 2021. It is soliciting interest from other communities and will continue to expand where there is enough demand, it said.
C Spire’s service is delivered over fiber optic lines that provide speeds of 1,000 megabits per second, or one gigabit. The average fastest internet speed in Alabama is 112 megabits per second.
Alabama is ranked 38 in the nation for internet coverage and speed, according to BroadbandNow, a group that studies and advocates for access to broadband internet. The state has 72 percent terrestrial broadband access. That compares to first-place New Jersey at 98.1 percent and last-place Alaska at 61 percent.
“Fiber’s symmetric speeds – for example 1 Gig upstream and 1 Gig downstream – are particularly important for interactive learning, remote work and telehealth applications beyond streaming video or surfing the web, which rely on fast download-only internet speeds,” said Ben Moncrief, C Spire’s managing director in Alabama.
Gigabit internet can accommodate dozens of devices in a home or business while using only a fraction of broadband capacity, which means no hiccups no matter how many devices are in use, said C Spire spokesperson Dave Miller.
He has more than 60 devices connected to his home’s gigabit network, he said, and can add more without concern about losing speed or streaming quality. It also adds to a home’s value, he said.
The company doesn’t require contracts or have caps on data usage, Miller said.
The service will soon be available to residents and businesses in northern Jasper and in neighborhoods scattered around Trussville.
Jasper Mayor David O’Mary said that Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle attributed his city’s growth to access to high-speed internet, and O’Mary wants the same for his community.
“C Spire Fiber will help us continue to transform our community into a 21st Century digital powerhouse,” he said.
In Trussville, Mayor Buddy Choat said he pursued the service with a sense of urgency.
The Birmingham suburb just completed a development plan for the next 20 years and infrastructure is a key component. Including high-speed broadband in that promises to improve quality of life and allow for the kinds of amenities that make a community attractive to new businesses and industries, he said.
“Jobs follow this type of investment, and that’s what our community needs,” Choat said.
Brooks to vote no on Democratic infrastructure bill
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, said he will vote no this week on a Democratic infrastructure bill in the House, which he said was “socialism” cloaked in an infrastructure bill.
“Nancy Pelosi & her Socialist comrades are hellbent on destroying America,” Brooks claimed. “They won’t stop spending until America is bankrupt. They covet economic disaster so they can rebuild a Socialist America under the guise of providing economic relief. In this instance, Socialism comes cloaked as an infrastructure bill.”
Brooks cited as examples of excessive spending $29.3 billion in grants and subsidies to Amtrak’s intercity passenger rail service, $500 million a year to pay ports to replace their cargo handling equipment, hundreds of billions for public housing and “shifting funding from roads, streets, bridges and highways badly needed by red states like Alabama to subsidies of blue state inner-city mass transit programs.”
HR2, the Invest in America Act, is sponsored by Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon.
“The Socialists’ latest attempt to bankrupt America is a 2,300+ page bill, drafted behind closed doors by a select few, introduced just last week, that increases America’s debt and deficits by $1.5 trillion!” Brooks claimed. “That’s $1.5 trillion America doesn’t have, has to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back. America’s national debt blew through $23 trillion in November, $24 trillion in April, $25 trillion in May, and $26 trillion in June.”
“In April, the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) estimated a fiscal year 2020 $3.7 trillion deficit — without including this $1.5 trillion monstrosity,” Brooks said. “Both the CBO and America’s Comptroller General Gene Dodaro regularly describe America’s financial state as ‘unsustainable,’ accounting language for insolvency and bankruptcy.”
“Incredible as it may seem, even without this $1.5 trillion monstrosity, the federal government is on a course to spend roughly $50,000 per American household this year!” Brooks said. “Of course, that spending must first be taken from taxpayers in the form of higher taxes or greater debt. History proves you can’t spend and borrow your way to prosperity. America is no exception.”
“Socialist Democrats call HR2 an infrastructure bill,” Brooks said. “The fact is, the bill contains more that would impede infrastructure projects than spur them. The bill is chock-full of new top-down, one size fits all Washington mandates and bureaucratic hurdles.”
Both President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats have been urging Congress to pass an infrastructure bill, but the two sides have been unable to agree on just what should be in the infrastructure bill. Republicans like Brooks have expressed concerns over growing the national debt on an infrastructure building spree paid for with growing budget deficits.
Brooks is serving in his fifth term representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.
Shelby announces $10.75 million for improvements to Alabama airports
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., today announced that 16 local airports across the state of Alabama will receive a total of $10,750,845 in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants for improvements to airport infrastructure. The grant funding, awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), has been made available through annual appropriations measures, as well as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) of 2020.
“Improvements to infrastructure at the local level are important for economic development in our communities,” said Senator Shelby. “I am pleased that these 16 airports will receive nearly $11 million to enhance safety and boost aviation advancements. This is great news for each of these areas and will advance economic growth. I look forward to the positive impact this funding will have throughout Alabama.”
The FAA grants are administered through Fiscal Year 2020 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) annual and supplemental awards. Additionally, funds provided through the CARES Act serve as the local match for the infrastructure grants.
A total of 16 grants were awarded to local airports in Alabama, amounting to $10,750,845 for the following airport projects:
- South Alabama Regional Airport-Bill Benton Field, Sanford, Alabama – $166,666 to construct, extend, and improve the safety area
- Auburn University Regional Airport, Auburn, Alabama – $2,085,581 to rehabilitate a runway
- Bibb County Airport, Centreville, Alabama – $150,556 to reconstruct a taxiway
- Cullman Regional Airport-Folsom Field, Vinemont, Alabama – $774,251 to rehabilitate a runway and reconfigure an existing taxiway
- Jeremiah Denton Airport, Dauphin Island, Alabama – $588,888 to reconstruct runway lighting and airport lighting vault
- Demopolis Regional Airport, Demopolis, Alabama – $166,666 to update the airport master plan or study
- Weedon Field Airport, Eufaula, Alabama – $137,765 to acquire land for development and for obstruction removal
- Evergreen Regional Airport-Middleton Field, Evergreen, Alabama – $455,663 to construct a taxiway
- Richard Arthur Field Airport, Fayette, Alabama – $150,000 to reconstruct an apron
- Posey Field Airport, Haleyville, Alabama – $604,575 to install perimeter fencing and for obstruction removal
- Headland Municipal Airport, Headland, Alabama – $282,500 to install weather reporting equipment
- Huntsville Executive Airport-Tom Sharp Jr. Field, Meridianville, Alabama – $204,934 to acquire land for development and construct an airport-related environmental study
- Mobile Downtown Airport, Mobile, Alabama – $3,000,602 to rehabilitate an apron
- Northwest Alabama Regional Airport, Muscle Shoals, Alabama – $517,600 to conduct a study, rehabilitate a taxiway, and seal runway pavement joints
- Prattville Airport-Grouby Field, Prattville, Alabama – $1,129,018 to seal apron pavement joints, seal runway pavement joints, and seal taxiway pavement joints
- Craig Field Airport, Selma, Alabama – $335,580 to rehabilitate a taxilane