Tennessee Valley News Update - Week in Review May 12, 2023
Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley for the week ending May 12th, 2023.
Madison city residents voted Tuesday to keep the Mayor-Council format as their local form of government. The special election gave residents at the polls two options for the format of their local government – the “mayor-council” structure, which is what the city currently has – and a “council-manager” structure. Officials with the city tell WHNT TV they will now canvas these numbers and collect any provisional ballots to verify the count, and the official results should be out at noon on May 16. Madison City will then send notice to state offices and the probate court.
The Alabama Senate Thursday approved a bill that would require most public agencies to acknowledge and respond to public records requests. The bill sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, passed the Senate 33-0 after senators made changes to the bill on the floor. The bill as amended would require public records requests to be mailed, submitted in person, or submitted electronically if an agency establishes a process for accepting them. The Alabama Reflector reports that if the request is granted, the agency would have 15 days to determine whether the information is sensitive or nonpublic and up to 45 days to produce the material. The legislation now moves to the Alabama House.
Two Alabama research centers have won $1 million in new National Science Foundation grants to study agriculture and electric vehicles. The University of Alabama will lead and coordinate new research to “advance a domestic value chain” for electric vehicles in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville will study development of “carbon neutral” crops for sustainable agriculture. Business Alabama reports The NSF Engines Development Awardees have two years to prepare a strong proposal to become a future NSF Engine. Each team has the opportunity to receive up to $160 million.
Madison City officials say police responded Wednesday morning to reports of a 6-foot alligator off Zierdt Road. Photos from the scene show the alligator lounging in front of the brick sign for the Mountain Brook subdivision. AL.com reports that wildlife officials and an alligator wrangler humanely secured the animal and removed it from the area and transported it to a less populated area. It’s alligators breeding season and they tend to wander as they find new territory. If you encounter an alligator, contact the police and ask for an Animal Control Officer to respond.
The defense industry provides nearly two hundred sixty-five thousand jobs in Alabama with an annual payroll of over 19 billion dollars. That’s according to a new economic impact study compiled by the University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Business. The study was funded by the Alabama Military Stability Commission, a panel of lawmakers and other officials created by the Legislature. The report says military personnel and defense contracts across Alabama generate a total economic impact of more than 50 billion dollars. AL.com reports the military and defense industry is most prevalent in the Huntsville area, followed by southeast Alabama with Fort Rucker and Montgomery with Maxwell Air Force Base.
Beginning Monday, May 15, weather permitting, Washington and Jefferson Streets near the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial Park will temporarily close due to work being done at the park. Washington Street is expected to close from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., while Jefferson Street will close from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. WHNT TV reports the projects will also require a brief closure of the I-565 ramps toward downtown.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville has launched a new high-school-to-college transition program for eligible incoming freshmen who plan to major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics or STEM fields. Applications are now open for the Rocket Booster Summer Bridge Program, to be held July 10-21 on the UAH campus. Participants will live in on-campus housing and attend three mini-courses. The program offers opportunities for personal and professional development through workshops and field trips. More information is at uah.edu.