Tennessee Valley News Week in Review 10-20-2023
Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.
A new state congressional map ordered by federal judges earlier this month will be used in the 2024 election despite the state’s opposition. In a meeting with Jefferson County elected leaders Wednesday, Attorney General Steve Marshall said that while state officials including Marshall continue to oppose the new district map, the document will determine the next members of Congress from Alabama. AL.com reports the map creates a new District 2 in south Alabama where Black residents comprise nearly half of the voting age population.
The Alabama Supreme Court has denied an appeal from the state Department of Human Resources to overturn a temporary restraining order obtained by a Madison foster care organization seeking to stop the state agency from removing foster care children from their homes. AL.com reports the ruling is a victory for Kids to Love, who has been denied foster care referrals from DHR since June and is seeking a court ruling to undo that suspension. Kids to Love went to court Sept. 12 to ask for and received a temporary restraining order after the organization said DHR attempted to remove two children from a Kids to Love-licensed foster home. In a statement to AL.com about the court’s ruling, DHR said, “There is ongoing litigation and another side of the story to tell.”
The Madison County Commission continues to distribute funds designated through the American Rescue Plan Act. Where the money should go is an ongoing debate among commissioners. WHNT TV reports some of the $72 million given to the county in 2021 remains unallocated, and the commission will have to direct those funds before the end of next year. At a commission work session on Wednesday, $23.6 million was set aside for infrastructure improvements including water and road upgrades. More than $7 million remains for community development.
Downtown Huntsville, Inc. is prioritizing growing the office market after a study revealed that tight vacancies and other challenges could be a threat to downtown’s current market. Rob Buddo, CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc., says a healthy office vacancy rate is around 10% to allow room for growth. Currently, there is a 5.1% vacancy of office space. A news release from DHI notes that office space is a major driver of economic development in downtowns across the country. It attracts businesses and jobs, which in turn generates tax revenue and supports other businesses in the area.
Huntsville Hospital Health System and COPT Defense Properties have jointly confirmed that they will begin work later this year on a comprehensive primary care clinic at Redstone Gateway. The mixed-use development is located along Rideout Road near Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 9. The Huntsville Business Journal reports Huntsville Hospital’s Physician Care-Redstone is expected to open in the summer of 2024.
Brian Key and Scott Bellamy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center accepted the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal this week in a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington. AL.com reports they earned the award for leading a team that successfully deflected a moving asteroid in what could be a preview of a future Earth-saving maneuver. In a mission called Double Asteroid Redirection Test - or DART - a NASA spacecraft hit an asteroid with a spacecraft in September 2022. The spacecraft was launched in November 2021 and flew more than 6.8 million miles into space. It hit an asteroid the size of the Great Pyramid in Egypt moving at roughly 14,000 miles per hour and changed its orbit. NPR reports astronomers are still watching that asteroid to see how it reacted to getting whacked.
The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is hosting another ReLaunch Job Fair, Tuesday, Oct. 24 at First Baptist Church of Huntsville. The collaboration with the local Alabama Career Center, the Alabama Community College System, and community agencies helps bridge the gap between under-resourced job seekers and employers. The event is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event is free to all job seekers. Registration not required.