During its committee meeting Tuesday, the Jefferson County Commission applauded the demolition of public nuisance properties but expressed concern for blight that could follow.
Mike Thomas, building inspection services manager with the county’s Department of Developmental Services, presented a resolution for about 30 nuisance properties to be torn down. County Manager Cal Markert commended Thomas, who has 17 demolitions under bid already and another 30 in line.
“That’ll be 77 within 24 months,” Markert said, “so I’m superexcited.”
Said Thomas: “We’ve always been reactive, looking at when we have complaints. Now we’ve had the opportunity to go proactive and try to clean up some communities and make things better for the people who live there.
“What we want to do is make an impact. We don’t want to do one house here and one house there.” Read more.
Birmingham has changed its zoning ordinance to encourage the reuse of historical structures throughout the city.
The changes, which were approved Tuesday by the City Council, will provide “incentives and exceptions that are intended to foster the reuse of historical properties and further the goal of maintaining historical character within the city,” said Chief Planner Tim Gambrel.
This will promote the conversion of “older, economically distressed, historically significant buildings” into apartments, live-work units or mixed-use developments while excepting them from zoning requirements that would require significant structural changes. Read more.
After months of planning, several cities in the Gulf South are finally ready to give guaranteed income a test run.
Birmingham, New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana each received a $500,000 grant to pilot a guaranteed income — the idea that one of the best ways to help people in need is to give them regular cash payments without any strings. Participants for each city’s pilot have been selected and, in some cases, money has already been sent out.
Those unwilling to wait to see results from these roughly year-long pilots to can look to Jackson, Mississippi. For the past three years, Springboard to Opportunities, a local nonprofit, has been successfully running its own guaranteed income program focused on helping Black mothers living in affordable housing. Read more.
Jimmie Stephens declared after today’s committee meeting of the Jefferson County Commission that there are activities and events aplenty in Birmingham, the county seat.
“There’s more to do in the city of Birmingham now than we ever had in the past,” the commission president said. “I was actually at the (USFL) ball game (Monday) night and the City Walk is beautiful. I am so excited of the opportunity that citizens are gonna have to be able to utilize that great new space.”
Stephens’ comments came after commissioners heard presentations from the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Authority. Each received American Rescue Plan Act funds, as each has had to deal with shortfalls brought about by the pandemic. Read more.
Monique Acosta began the month of March as a pre-K classroom assistant in Arizona, with no credential beside her high school degree.
She ended it with a certification in a booming branch of electronics and started applying to entry-level jobs at Boeing.
For four hours a day, over 10 days total, Acosta studied the fine art of stripping, cutting and crimping wire as part of a technical “boot camp” at Mesa Community College outside Phoenix. The program, created in partnership with Boeing and taught by company engineers, aims to rapidly upskill students into jobs that local employers need to fill.
Now — amid a labor shortage that has baffled businesses and slowed the nation’s economic rehabilitation — policymakers, community college administrators and private businesses in several states are fueling new workforce-oriented initiatives, from tuition incentives and paid apprenticeships to boot camps such as the one Acosta completed. Read more.
Coal mines are, unsurprisingly, a tough place to work. They’re dark and dirty and every breath brings in toxic chemicals.
And Brian Kelly wants to be back there.
“I love it,” Kelly said. “It’s paradise to me.”
Kelly fell in love with the mines because of the brotherhood he forged 2,000 feet underground. Over the past year, that bond has been tested. Friday marks one year since Kelly and 900 other coal miners went on strike in Brookwood.
The strikers demand that Warrior Met Coal, the company they’re striking against, restore the pay and benefits miners gave up in 2016 when the mines were in danger of shutting down.
As the months crawled on, the miners stuck with a slogan — “one day longer” — as in, they’re willing to hold out on this strike one day longer than Warrior Met Coal will. But a year without their old paychecks has caused a few workers to cross the picket line. The hundreds that remain still defiantly say “one day longer,” though they admit that it requires deep sacrifice and it’s building resentment. Read more.
The added expense affects people in Alabama’s Black Belt differently, including road trippers, commuters and even those who can’t drive. Read more.
Experts say activating unused oil wells could temper the rising costs of gas, but consumers should not expect prices to get anywhere near their COVID low. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has approved the sale of 222 acres near Lakeshore Parkway to Green Meadow Apartments LLC, which will redevelop the property into single-family, multi-family and senior housing.
The city will receive $1.5 million for the property, which is located at 1911 Tiger Walk. General contractor Michael German, the former Alabama field office director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has represented Green Meadow Apartments at council meetings. He told councilors that the proposed development will include a park, walking trail and a town center — including a grocery store and a community center — and compared the development to the nearby Ross Bridge community.
Green Meadow is a minority developer, and Cornell Wesley, the city’s director of innovation and economic opportunity, described its project as potentially transformational for the city.
“We are looking at what I believe to be the largest economic impact led by African Americans in our storied history as a city, that being over $100 million worth of economic impact and investment in our area,” Wesley said. Read more.
A Family Dollar in York, Alabama is one of the few shopping options in town. But it’s shuttered due to a warehouse rodent infestation. Read more.