MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Driver License Division on Dec. 7 is adding to its Saturday operations lineup. Beginning this week, the Montgomery, Sheffield, Jacksonville, Tuscaloosa and Dothan locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday. The agency launched the Saturday pilot program in April with its Birmingham, Opelika and Mobile offices; and it expanded Nov. 2 to include its Huntsville office. On Saturdays, walk-in customers are assisted on a first-come, first-served basis for such services as first issuances and renewals of standard driver licenses and non-driver IDs, as well as STAR IDs; knowledge and road skills tests; and out-of-state transfers. For reinstatement, customers may call 334.242.4400 Monday through Friday.
On Thursday morning, November 21, 2019, Greene County public officials and community leaders joined Manager Jeff Klug to cut a symbolic green ribbon to officially open the Love’s Travel and Truck Stop at the Interstate 20/59 exit 40 in Eutaw, Alabama. More than 70 officials including County Commissioners, City Council members, State Senator Bobby Singleton, Mayor Raymond Steele, school system and hospital officials attended the ribbon cutting. The facility has been open for business since October 24, 2019. An official press release issued by Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, celebrated the opening of two new stores in its network, on the same day, one in Eutaw and another in Missoula, Montana. Love’s is the nation’s industry-leading travel stop network with more than 500 locations in 41 states. The official statement says, “The Eutaw store, located off Interstate 20, adds 101 jobs and 96 truck parking spaces to Greene County. We’re eager to provide quality services and products to customers in western Montana and western Alabama,” said Tom Love, founder and executive chairman of Love’s. “These locations are separated by thousands of miles, but both have the same great amenities that professional and four-wheel drivers enjoy.” The release, lists the amenities of the Eutaw site as: •More than 8,000 square feet. •Chester’s Chicken, Godfather’s Pizza and Hardee’s. •Ninety-six truck parking spaces. •Seventy-four car parking spaces. •Three RV parking spaces. •Eight diesel bays. •Seven showers. •Speedco location on-site. •Laundry facilities. •Bean to cup gourmet coffee. •Brand-name snacks. •Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics. •CAT scale. •Dog park. Mayor Steele indicated that the City of Eutaw raised a million dollars in grants and loans to bring sewage service to the Love’s site, improving lanes and lighting at the Interstate exit leading to the truck stop site. “We are looking forward to additional business development in this new corridor from the Interstate into the city,” said Steele. City and County officials are also looking forward to an economic boost from the new gas tax and sales tax revenues generated by the truck stop and travel center. Jeff Klug, local manager says that the Eutaw location is the largest full service truck stop between Meridian, Mississippi and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “ We anticipate serving 700 to 1,000 trucks a day, selling 7,000 to 10,000 gallons a day in fuel,” said Klug. Manager Jeff Klug presented a check for $2,000 to District Judge Lillie Osborne, President of the Greene County Children’s Policy Council, which serves low-income young people. Love’s made the donation in honor of the ribbon cutting and opening of the new store in Eutaw. In its official release, the company states that Love’s provides professional truck drivers and motorists with 24-hour access to clean and safe places to purchase gasoline, diesel fuel, fresh coffee, restaurant offerings and more. Love’s has more than 350 truck service centers, which include on-site and stand-alone Speedco and Love’s Truck Tire Care locations. Love’s and Speedco combined is the largest oil change, preventive maintenance and total truck care nationwide network. Love’s is committed to providing customers with “Clean Places, Friendly Faces” at every stop. To learn more, visit loves.com.Official ribbon cutting held at Love’s Truck Stop
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
The ancestral home of modern humans is in Botswana, according to a new study by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. Although some of the oldest skeletal remains suggest an eastern African origin, Southern Africa is home to contemporary populations that represent the earliest branch of human genetic phylogeny, researchers said. Vanessa M. Hayes, of the Genomics and Epigenetics Division of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and her colleagues said they used the mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down exclusively from mother to child, to map out the oldest known maternal line of humans alive today. “It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors,” Hayes told reporters. “We’ve been able to pinpoint what we believe is our human homeland.” The study found that ancestors of modern humans thrived for about 70,000 years in and around Botswana until climate change forced a migration out of the area. Study authors noted that some previous evidence had suggested East Africa as the ancestral home of modern humans, but their new DNA evidence concludes that it’s South Africa. The new report was published in the journal Nature. Hayes noted that the Lo lineage and its sub-branches point back to an ancestral home that spreads from Namibia across Botswana and into Zimbabwe. Her team then focused on geological, archaeological, and fossil evidence to gain insight into the climate and broader ecosystem in the region. They discovered that a body of water called Lake Makgadikgadi – which is now salt pans – had at one time dominated the area. Researchers said it was previously home to Homo Sapiens and was populated by modern humans for at least 70,000 years. However, the water eventually became a massive wetland. “It would have been very lush, and it would have provided a suitable habitat for modern humans and wildlife to have lived,” Hayes stated. “We’ve known for a long time that modern humans originated in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago, but what we hadn’t known until the study was where exactly this homeland was,” she noted. According to the DNA analyses reported in the study, the L0 lineage split 130,000 years ago when some of the founder population moved north-east along a green vegetated route that opened up as rains drenched the arid land. The L0 lineage is the earliest known modern human populations. The second wave of migration headed southwest about 20,000 years later as rainfall also increased vegetation in that direction. Those who headed Northeast gave rise to farming populations, while those who went South became coastal foragers, the scientists believe. “Essentially, these ancestors were the first human explorers,” Hayes stated. “Every time a new migration occurs, that migration event is recorded in our DNA as a time-stamp. Over time our DNA naturally changes, it’s the clock of our history,” Hayes continued. “Everyone walking around today… it does actually come back to L0 being the oldest, and it all comes back to this one region.” Hayes and her colleagues used DNA to trace the first 100,000 years of modern humans. She said they worked with communities throughout Namibia and South Africa where they collected fossils and blood samples. “Mitochondrial DNA acts like a time capsule of our ancestral mothers, accumulating changes slowly over generations,” Hayes stated. “Comparing the complete DNA code, or mitogenome, from different individuals provides information on how closely they are related.” Taking into account the intensive study, “we propose a southern African origin of anatomically modern humans with sustained homeland occupation before the first migrations of people that appear to have been driven by regional climate changes,” Hayes said.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
Katherine Johnson, one of the African American women whose stories received global attention in the best-selling book and blockbuster movie, “Hidden Figures,” has turned 101. The renowned mathematician was instrumental in Alan Shepherd’s 1961 journey to space. She also played a pivotal role in John Glenn becoming the first American to successfully orbit Earth one year after Shepherd’s flight. Johnson will also receive a Congressional Gold Medal thanks to a bipartisan bill passed by Congress earlier this month. All four of the heroines depicted in “Hidden Figures” will receive recognition. In addition to Johnson, Dr. Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson will also receive medals. Vaughn’s and Jackson’s medals will be presented posthumously. The book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race,” by Margot Lee Shetterly, helped tell the women’s story. “Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden made monumental contributions to science and our nation,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a statement. Harris and five other members of Congress introduced legislation to secure Congressional Gold Medals for Johnson and her colleagues. “The groundbreaking accomplishments of these four women and all of the women who contributed to the success of NASA helped us win the space race but remained in the dark far too long,” Harris stated. “I am proud our bill to honor these remarkable women has passed Congress. These pioneers remain a beacon for Black women across the country, both young and old.” The honor isn’t the only one for Johnson. Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) agreed this month to rename its 7000 Columbia Gateway Drive building in Columbia, Maryland, the Katherine G. Johnson Building. A plaque will be placed at DreamPort’s 7000 Columbia Gateway Drive entrance commemorating the naming of the building in honor of Mrs. Johnson and her legendary accomplishments as a NASA mathematician and her essential role in the space program, according to a news release. At 101 years of age, Mrs. Johnson is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, multiple NASA Langley Research Center Special Achievement awards, and many others. In addition to the recognition by COPT, Johnson has other buildings, schools, and libraries named after her. In an earlier interview, Johnson told NNPA Newswire that she missed working“I’d go back now,” she said. After leaving her teaching job in 1953, Johnson began working for NASA and was able to calculate the trajectory for numerous space missions, including for the space flight of Alan Shephard, the first American in space and the path for the famed 1968 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. “I’d do them over if I had to. I’d do anything for anyone,” Johnson stated. At an early age, Johnson developed enviable math skills so much so that even NASA officials wrote a story about her titled, “The girl who loved to count. I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to the church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed anything that could be counted, I did,” Johnson said. “I entered college; I was 15. I was going to be a math teacher because that was it. You could be a math teacher or a nurse, but I was told I would make a good research mathematician and they had me take all of the courses in the catalog,” she stated. When Glenn went to the Moon, Johnson said her “Hidden Figures” crew acted as the computer for the mission. Calculating everything involved in the flight became like a geometry problem, Johnson recalled. “I felt most proud of the success of the Apollo mission. We had to determine so much. Where you were, where the Moon would be and how fast the astronauts were going,” Johnson stated. “We were really concerned, but the astronaut had to do it just as we laid it out. I was looking at the television and hoping that we’re right.”
By Lauren Poteat, NNPA Newswire Washington Correspondent
On Sunday night, Dave Chappelle, the legendary, no holds barred comedian, was awarded the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Gifted with a spirit of perseverance, determination and extreme creative intelligence, the award recognizes Chappelle as one of the world’s greatest humorists. Bestowed only on a select few, including comedic geniuses Eddie Murphy, David Letterman and the late Richard Pryor (who received the inaugural award), Chappelle emphasized the importance of the genre, while also paying tribute to the late Pryor, during his award at the Kennedy Center. In honor of Chappelle’s brilliance and ability to convey more than one thought-provoking message within a single joke, the event brought out a slew of a-list celebrities, all eager to support the clever comedian and his work, including Morgan Freeman, Bradley Cooper, Marlon Wayans, Tiffany Haddish, Keenan Thompson, QTip, Sarah Silverman and Saturday Night Live (SNL) creator, Lorne Michaels, who recounted Dave’s 2016 anticipated hosting debut on SNL. “I knew when the moment came, [Dave would] be ready to perform, yet small doubts about his appearance still lingered until, [he sat down] beside me and everyone in the room and asked if he could read a quote by Toni Morrison,” Michaels reminisced, as he delivered the first official remarks of the night. “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal,” Michaels recited. “I knew then, we’d be ok. A Washington, D.C. native and former student of the Duke Ellington School of Performing Arts (located in the Northwest quadrant of the District of Columbia), Chappelle recounted his love for the arts and an even bigger appreciation for those cultivating those same skills within the youth. “To be on a list with Richard Pryor is unfathomable, like nobody would actually feel worthy enough,” Chappelle reflected during an interview prior to the award ceremony. “And not just Richard, you’ve got George Carlin, Lorne Michaels—that really shaped my imagination, my life… and I hope that one day, somebody will look at me the same way and literally stand on something that I’ve built on, that wouldn’t fall apart.” “There’s something divine about artistry, it’s like the god-like part of a person that can write a song or tell a good joke, it’s the best part of our nature,” Chappelle said. “Life without art would be miserable. If I could never laugh again at a great joke, hear no beautiful music, or only see bare walls, what kind of life would that be?” Dave went on. “You touch a higher part of yourself, you connect with people on a more profound level and society is better with good art, so it should be protected and cultivated, and the youth should be encouraged to express themselves in every way.” Chappelle earned his bearings as a stand-up comedian from many platforms, including Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam (1990’s), Eddie Murphy’s “The Nutty Professor” (1996), and Martin Lawrence’s “Blue Streak” (1999). However, it was Chappelle’s 2003 Comedy Central show, aptly titled, “Chappelle’s Show,” that cemented his place in history. Challenging race relations with controversial skits like “Ask a Black Dude,” Black White supremacist “Clayton Bigsby,” and his spoofs of celebrity icons Rick James, Prince and Wayne Brady — the segmented show earned three Emmy nominations and became the best-selling TV show in DVD history. In a special recorded interview presented during the awards ceremony, Eddie Murphy heralded Chappelle as one of the most intellectual comedians ever. As the ceremony was coming to a close, the former host of “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart, took to the stage to share his appreciation and admiration for Chappelle. “I met Dave in the early ‘90s, a 17-year-old kid cutting his teeth in the toughest comedy clubs in the country and he was shockingly formed. This young prodigy. This young Mozart,” Stewart said. “But he didn’t become a legend to me until 2005. I was at ‘The Daily Show’ and he was at ‘Chappelle’s Show.’ …Comedy Central offered him $50 million to just give us one more [season]. He walked away. It was at that moment I remember thinking, ‘Comedy Central has $50 million?’ …Dave left, but I knew that money was going to need a home. I want you to know that I raised that money like it was my own.” Like the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain, Chappelle is among the small group of people whose humor has been able to have an enduring impact on American society and culture.
Chappelle shared that maybe the only thing second to being able to make people laugh is having the right to do so. “There’s something so true about this genre when done correctly,” Chappelle said. “That I would fight anybody that isn’t a true practitioner of this artform’s way, because I know this is the truth and you are obstructing it. I’m not talking about the content. I’m talking about the artform.”
The show will air on Jan. 7, on PBS.
The Love’s Truck Stop and Travel Center at Exit 40 on Interstate 20/59 opens for business on Thursday morning, October 24, 2019 at 7:00 AM. The business provides full service for parking, fueling and servicing 18 wheeler trucks. The travel center will provide gas, food and a convenience store to persons driving along the Interstate or coming on county roads. The center will have three fast-food restaurants – Hardee’s, Chester’s Chicken and Godfathers Pizza. Love’s has hired more than 70 full and part time staff, many from Greene County, to operate the business.
September 30- October 4 was a week long celebration of homecoming activities for the Greene County School System from coronation, to wear you favorite team shirt, breast cancer awareness pink, mix match clothing, dance contest and an array of beautifully decorated floats, cheerleaders and marching band. Shown Above GCH Tiger’s preparing to pounce on the Hale County High School Wildcats.
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA) received a contribution of $1,000 to advance its work in bringing economic development to the county.
Danielle Kimbrough, Alabama Power public relations officer for west Alabama, at Tuscaloosa, said, “We help bring industrial and commercial customers to our area, which in turn brings jobs, tax revenues and improvement in the overall quality of life. Donations to organizations like GCIDA, allow us to help communities have resources to grow their communities.”
Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the GCIDA said, “We appreciate the support of companies like Alabama Power Company to assist us in our basic mission of bringing development and jobs to Greene County,”
Belcher pointed out that the GCIDA has a 1000 acre Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee, which is served by Interstates 20 and 59, railroads running north and south and east and west to connect to anywhere in the nation and access to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway for barge traffic to the Port of Mobile and inland river parts across the nation.
“We have two major industrial companies, located in our Crossroads Park.
These are EPPCo, a petroleum products distributor that has a Waterway port and West Rock, a paper company, which has a warehouse on the interstate highway. We are always looking for new industries to come and locate in our park or other industrial locations around the county,” said Belcher.
Belcher pointed out that the GCIDA has been instrumental in helping to recruit and support Love’s Truck and Travel Store company, to locate its truck stop at the Interstate 20/59 Exit 40, in Eutaw. GCIDA assisted the City of Eutaw in securing over a million dollars in grant and loan support to bring sewage to the Love’s site and make other site and lighting improvements.
“This commercial development will bring 43 jobs and new tax revenues to Eutaw and Greene County. It also opens up the Exit 40 area for other needed development,” said Danny Cooper, Chairperson of the GCIDA.
At Wednesday’s meeting the board heard from Donnie Wedgeworth, owner of Consolidated Catfish Producers, the catfish processing plant on Highway 43 in Eutaw. Wedgeworth stated his interest in working closely with the IDA in future development of his catfish processing business.
At the meeting the GCIDA discussed various projects and prospects that are considering Greene County. A hemp processing company is interested in lease-purchasing the 50,000 square foot Speculative Building, which stands empty in the Crossroads of America Park. A railroad company is negotiating to store railroad cars on a temporary basis on tracks in the park. Other wood products industry prospects have visited the park in the past year to see if it was suitable and useful for their future plans.
Phillis Belcher said, “We have one great challenge remaining to make our Crossroads of America Park attractive to industrial prospects. We do not have a natural gas pipeline serving our industrial park. We have met with many industrial prospects for whom this was a ‘deal breaker’. We need access to natural gas for industries that need gas heat in their industrial processes.
“We have been working on exploring ways to bring natural gas to our Crossroads Park. The nearest gas sources are 15 to 20 miles away and the cost of constructing a large diameter pipeline to serve our Crossroads Park is estimated in the $15-20 million dollar range. We have asked for help from Spire, the gas company serving our area and our state and Federal public officials. The GCIDA is continuing to work on this challenge.”
By Linda Givetash, David Ingram and Farah Otero-Amad, NBC News
Climate strike rally at Federal Courthouse in Opelika, Alabama (photo by Jim Allen)
Crowds of children flooded the streets of major cities in a global show of force Friday to demand action on climate change, with many young people skipping school in protest and sharing a unified message aimed at world leaders.
Rallies were held across Alabama including Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, Birmingham, Mobile and east Alabama at Opelika.
“No matter how many times they try to ignore the issue, you can see every teenager in the area is here,” said Isha Venturi, a 15-year-old high school sophomore from New Jersey who joined tens of thousands in New York’s lower Manhattan taking part in a second “Global Climate Strike.”
“We’re not quiet anymore,” she added, “and change is coming.”
From New York to London and San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, not just children but other groups took part in the strikes, including trade unions, environmental organizations and employees at large tech companies such as Amazon and Google. And their demands were similar: reducing the use of fossil fuels to try to halt climate change.
“As leaders, we’ve failed them,” Halima Adan, 36, of Somalia, said amid the large number of young people in New York, where the city’s 1.1 million public school students were told they could skip classes to attend protests.
Adan, who was in the city for the Peoples’ Summit on Climate, organized by the United Nations Human Rights Office and others, said her own war-torn African nation has felt the effects of “every aspect of [the] climate crisis.”
In a day of coordinated global action, when millions were expected to protest:
• Australia saw some of the first protests kick off Friday morning with organizers estimating that upwards of 300,000 students and workers filled the streets of Melbourne, Sydney and other cities in the biggest protests the country has seen in years.
• New Delhi, India, one of the world’s most polluted cities, saw dozens of students and environmental activists chant “we want climate action” while hundreds marched in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, before staging a “die-in” outside the Ministry of Natural Resources
• In London, thousands of people from infants to grandparents blocked traffic outside the Houses of Parliament chanting “save our planet.”
• Crowds gathered in European capitals, including Berlin and Warsaw, Poland, and African capitals such as Nairobi, Kenya, while organizers said there are some 800 events planned across the U.S.
“The climate crisis is an emergency — we want everyone to start acting like it. We demand climate justice for everyone,” organizers said on one website dedicated to Friday’s protests, adding that there was action planned in more than 150 countries.
A coalition of environmental groups, youth organizations and others using the hashtag #strikewithus have demanded passage of a “Green New Deal.”
The climate strike movement began as a weekly demonstration led by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg in August 2018.
The latest worldwide demonstrations are timed to nearly coincide with Monday’s U.N. Climate Summit in New York, where U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he wants to see governments and businesses pledge to abandon fossil fuels. “We are losing the fight against climate change,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
Anna Taylor, 18, who co-founded the climate strikes movement in the U.K., addressed a crowd in London on Friday that young people are now “desperate.”
Writer Lavinia Richards, 41, said she decided to take the day off work to join the London march when her 6-year-old son, Ruben, asked to join.
“I was pleased that he wants to do the right thing and he’s standing up for what he believes in,” she said. “If these children are brought up to be ethical and responsible, then maybe there is a chance.”
Ruben told NBC News that he wanted to strike in hopes of seeing Thunberg, his role model, and “to save the rainforest and all the tarantulas and the gorillas.”
“Some people think there is going to be a sixth mass extinction, so we don’t really want that to happen,” said Rosa Cormcain, 9, with her group of friends carrying signs that read “there is no planet b” and “don’t be a fossil fool.”
Protesters blocked roads around London’s Parliament, waving flags, beating drums, chanting and singing in the sunshine for hours. At 1 p.m. local time, strikers honked horns, rang bells, blew whistles and cheered in an effort to sound the alarm for action on climate change.
“If we don’t take action now … it won’t be a certain amount of people who will suffer, it will be everyone on this planet,” said activist Al Shadjareh, 16.
Shadjareh and his peers point to warnings from scientists, including an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from last year, that forecast severe consequences for the environment and human life if global temperatures rise more than 2.7 degrees.
More than 2,300 companies around the globe from a variety of industries, including law, tourism and technology, have joined the Not Business As Usual alliance and pledged to support their workers to strike with students on Friday.
Global brands including Ben & Jerry’s and Lush announced they would be closing their stores on the day of the protest.
Thousands of tech workers say they are planning to join the protests in the middle of their workdays, showing a renewed level of political activism in Silicon Valley where software engineers and other employees traditionally haven’t spoken up in public against their bosses.
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said it expected more than 1,600 employees would walk off their job sites to protest what they called the company’s lack of action in addressing the climate crisis. It will be the first strike at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters in the company’s 25-year history, according to Wired magazine.