Ask Us: Is old Haysland Square being considered for redevelopment?

Q: With all of the exciting development going on northwest of Huntsville, has any thought been given to the empty buildings and parking lots in southeast Huntsville? Specifically, the former Haysland Square – the buildings are empty and weeds are growing. It is a sad sight for what was once a bustling place. Are there any plans for redevelopment?

A: City Councilman John Olshefski said revitalizing South Huntsville Square (formerly Haysland Square) is one of his top priorities.

The retired Army colonel said he has met twice with brothers John and Jim Hays, who own the property, and is trying to schedule a meeting with Aronov Realty of Montgomery, which handles the leasing.

“It’s a focal point of my vision,” Olshefski said Tuesday. “I’m doing everything I can.”

The oldest part of the 359,000-square-foot shopping center has just two tenants – Staples and Burkes Outlet – and nine empty storefronts. The newer section, anchored by Home Depot and dotted with smaller stores including RadioShack and CiCi’s Pizza, is in better shape.

Olshefski said he doesn’t buy arguments that the Memorial Parkway overpass at Weatherly Road has hurt the shopping center. He pointed out that Costco, located near a similar overpass, is thriving.

“If we could get a Trader Joe’s in there, it would go hot,” Olshefski said.

Q. The digital information signs in Madison are distracting. I am all for messages that announce new traffic flow or new speed limits or that school is starting soon, but keep the messages “short and sweet.” They become in some respects like reading a large text message while driving. Why does Madison want to distract drivers like this? – Dave Jernigan, Madison

A. Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey said the use of the mobile signs by the Police Department around the city “clearly is not to distract drivers, but to better inform them. However, we can always improve and are working on improving our messages.”

The message on the signs, now positioned at the Bradford Farms crosswalk on Hughes Road, Muncey said, is intended to caution people to stop for kids in the crosswalk. The signs read: “Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.”

- Yvonne Betowt

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Austal gets high marks from U.S. Navy chief Adm. Gary Roughead (photo gallery)

Navy Chief Adm. Gary Roughead Visits Austal 2011

MOBILE, Alabama — The highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy called Austal USA’s Mobile shipyard “a model for others to follow” after touring the facility this morning.

“What I have seen here at Austal, I have not seen in any other shipyards,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, the outgoing Chief Naval Officer. “What excites me is the commitment and innovation that have gone into building a shipyard that I consider to be state of the art and at the leading edge of shipbuilding.”

Austal is Mobile’s largest industrial employer with more than 2,100 workers. The shipyard has contracts with the Navy to build littoral combat ships and high-speed transports, and has said that it will double the size of its facility and workforce in the next few years to be able to complete the work.

Industry insiders have lauded Austal’s Mobile shipyard for its advanced used of modular production. Instead of building the hull of the ship all at once, Austal builds dozens of ship sections, or modules, and then welds them together.

Roughead praised Austal’s shipbuilding processes. But he also said he was equally impressed with the Maritime Training Center built by Alabama Industrial Development Training and run jointly by the organization and Austal. The center trains workers to weld and operate heavy machinery.

“The buildings don’t make the ships,” Roughead said. “The people make the ships.”

Roughead will be retiring from the Navy Sept. 29, to be replaced by Adm. Jonathan Greenert. Roughead said Wednesday that he doesn’t have any post-retirement plans beyond spending time with both his and his wife’s parents.

Wednesday’s tour of the second littoral combat ship built at Austal was appropriate for Roughead. The admiral said one of his first trips as Chief Naval Officer was to see an LCS, and steering the program through a troubled four years was his “highest priority.”

Littoral combat ships are speedy, light-armed vessels designed to operate in shallow coastal waters.

Instead of designing the ships to be able to handle any enemy in the sea, the Navy decided to make the seaframes very open and then create a number of interchangeable mission packages to equip the vessels for specific tasks.

The program’s ride has not been smooth. Ship costs have more than doubled from initial projections, and mission packages aren’t expected to be ready until 2016 at the earliest. Several members of Congress, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have been highly critical of the program.

But the Navy convinced Congress last winter to sign off on 10-ship contracts for both Austal and Lockheed Martin, which is building a different design of the seaframe in Wisconsin. The Navy plans to buy 55 LCS eventually, which would comprise more than one-sixth of its entire fleet.

“The value of these ships is going to be off the scale,” Roughead said today. “The capability, flexibility, efficiency and speed that they will be able to operate globally with is going to be an aspect of the Navy that we haven’t had before. I think it’s going to be huge for us.” 

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AT&T to seek expedited hearing for T-Mobile merger

ATT said it will seek a legal remedy to the Department of Justice’s decision to block its $39 billion deal to acquire T-Mobile USA.

“We plan to ask for an expedited hearing so the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed,” said Wayne Watts, ATT senior executive vice president and general counsel. ”The DOJ has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive affects and we intend to vigorously contest this matter in court.”

The Justice Department said today it is blocking the merger because the No. 2 wireless carrier in the country (ATT) acquiring the No. 4 wireless carrier (T-Mobile) would reduce competition and raise prices.

Those are the same arguments raised by consumer groups and No. 3 carrier Sprint since it was announced in March. ATT said the DOJ’s announcement today was unexpected.

“We are surprised and disappointed by today’s action, particularly since we have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DOJ that this action was being contemplated,” Watts said.

Watts said ATT’s T-Mobile purchase will:

  • Solve the nation’s spectrum exhaust situation and improve wireless service for millions;
  • Allow ATT to expand 4G mobile broadband to another 55 million Americans, or 97 percent of the population;
  • Result in billions of dollars in additional investment and tens of thousands of jobs.


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Roedl Warren Averett LLC opens Auburn office for Korean clients

Paul Han.jpgPaul Han leads the firm’s Auburn office.BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The accounting firm of Roedl Warren Averett LLC said it has opened an office in Auburn to cater to Korean companies.

The firm’s Korean Business Services, located in the heart of what it calls the “Korean Automotive Corridor,” is headed by Jangkeun “Paul” Han. Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia operate assembly plants nearby.

 ”With the growth of foreign owned automotive manufacturing companies and automotive suppliers establishing operations along the southern Georgia/Alabama state line, a Korean focused office in Auburn was a logical and client centric move for Roedl Warren Averett,” the firm said.
The firm is a joint venture between Birmingham-based Warren, Averett, Kimbrough Marino LLC, Atlanta’s Roedl Langford de Kock LLP, and Nuremberg, Germany-based Roedl Partner.

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ADO’s Canfield: State close to winning projects with up to 3,500 jobs

canfield.jpgBIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The new head of the Alabama Development Office said the state is close to winning eight projects that will bring 3,500 new and potential jobs into six counties in the state.

Greg Canfield, who is a few weeks into the job as the new ADO director, told the Rotary Club of Birmingham at its weekly meeting at the Harbert Center today that project activity in the state is 12.8 percent higher than it was at the same time a year ago.

He said since January, there have been 4,700 new or expansion jobs created or announced in the state.

Projects working in the state range from distribution centers to missile defense systems and come from countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, Mexico, France and Germany.

“When you take over as ADO director, you can’t just wade in, you must dive in,” Canfield said. “Today, when you talk about who do we compete against for economic development opportunities in the state of Alabama, the answer is we compete against the rest of the world.”

Canfield said the state is competitive and relies on some of the same tools as others, to include incentives, infrastructure, and prepared sites and properties. He said the state has some other weapons like the AIDT worker training program, the Alabama Technology Network, the Community College System and the Robotics Technology Park in Decatur.

But Alabama’s secret weapon is the teamwork of economic developers from the state, regional and local levels and the top-notch staff at ADO, Canfield said.

Canfield said for years, ADO has enjoyed competitive advantages against other states, but they are now rapidly catching up, forcing Alabama to do more.

“We can no longer sit back and enjoy doing things the way we’ve always done them,” Canfield said.

Which is why Gov. Robert Bentley has established the Alabama Economic Development Alliance, which ties together the economic development efforts of ADO, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, the state’s worker training programs, the state’s universities, local economic developers and the corporate economic development efforts.

The group’s first charge is to create “Accelerate Alabama” a statewide economic development master plan. The alliance and its consultants are traveling across the state to seek input from companies and citizens and will be at the Federal Reserve Bank at 524 Liberty Parkway in Vestavia Hills on Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon.

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Huntsville-based Teledyne Brown Engineering awarded Missile Defense Agency contract

Rex Geveden.jpgRex Geveden, president of Teledyne Brown Engineering. (Dave Dieter/The Huntsville Times)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Huntsville-based Teledyne Brown Engineering was awarded the Missile Defense Agency’s Objective Simulation Framework contract. The contract has a potential value of $595 million over five years beginning Sept. 1.

Under the contract, Teledyne will design, develop, test, implement and maintain the OSF. OSF will be the centerpiece test and simulation framework for all elements of the missile defense system.

The OSF will be capable of supporting full-scale simulations, ground tests and live fire events.

“Under the contract, we will develop a capability for conducting detailed simulations and tests for the missile defense system – ranging from a detailed, high-fidelity simulation to a live fire event,” said Rex Geveden, Teledyne Brown’s president.

“This is very good news for the company,” Geveden said. “It fits our strategy; it fits our capabilities, and we’re very pleased about it.”

“Winning this significant contract reflects well on our capabilities for designing and developing test systems for complex applications such as missile defense,” said Robert Mehrabian, chairman, president and CEO of Teledyne Technologies, in a news release. “We expect similar test technologies will have use in other markets we serve, including energy, marine, aviation, space and environmental applications.”

Teledyne Brown, a subsidiary of California-based Teledyne Technologies, developed the first digital and Hardware-in-the-Loop (HWIL) test and assessment capabilities for missile defense, the company said, and developed and supported advancements in test frameworks that established ground test standards for missile defense systems.

The company also developed an OSF prototype that incorporates legacy digital and HWIL capabilities to support Ballistic Missile Defense System test and assessment activities. Teledyne Brown has executed BMDS tests and assessments at its Huntsville headquarters and at other locations.

For the first time, high fidelity simulations will be tied to HWIL test capabilities in a unified test framework, Geveden said.

“As we get into the normal tempo of the contract, we’ll see an additional work force of 200 to 250 between Teledyne Brown and its subcontractors,” Geveden said. There are opportunities for more growth, he said, “depending on what the government chooses to do and the availability of funding.”

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Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport objects to proposed Alabama Aircraft Industries sale

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Callers to Madison County Courthouse could experience delays next week

telephone(Stock photo)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – The installation of a new phone system in the Madison County Courthouse has been delayed for a week.

The new phone system will be installed Sept. 8-9 instead of Thursday and Friday as originally planned.

People trying to call an office in the courthouse on Sept. 8-9 may have to wait for someone to answer the phone while the system is installed. Callers to county offices outside the courthouse will not be effected.


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Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce search committee wants new CEO in place in October

kettle.jpgCharlie Kettle, chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce board of directors. (The Huntsville Times/Glenn Baeske)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — A search committee wants to have a new president/CEO for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce on board in October.

An executive search firm, Waverly Partners, was retained this summer and, after evaluating a larger group, presented 11 potential candidates for the job to the 12-member search committee.

After the committee screened that group, “we turned eight names over to the search firm,” said Charlie Kettle, the chair of the chamber’s board of directors who’s heading the search committee. Waverly Partners is finishing up extensive interviews with that group of eight this week.

“We’re excited about the candidates,” said Kettle, “We think we have some very, very good options.”

Waverly will next narrow the selection to four or five people, Kettle said, then the committee will interview those individuals in three weeks.

“We hope to have someone in place in October,” Kettle said.

Though Waverly Partners is providing professional advice, the committee will make the final decision, Kettle said.

Brian Hilson, the former president and CEO, left in March to become president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, an organization that focuses on the economic growth of a seven-county region.

Tommy Beason, a former chamber board chair, is the interim president/CEO through the transition period.

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Jones Walker to merge with Mississipi law firm Watkins Ludlam

William Winter.jpgView full sizeFILE – Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter said his firm, which was founded in 1905, is excited to join Jones Walker. (The Birmingham News/ Mark Almond, file)

MOBILE, Alabama — Mississippi law firm Watkins, Ludlam, Winter Stennis will become part of New Orleans law firm Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere Denegre by January, officials announced today.

The combined firm will have more than 375 attorneys, adding 67 new attorneys, one government relations specialist and three Mississippi offices in Jackson, Gulfport and Olive Branch to the Jones Walker firm.

The move was approved by shareholders of both groups this month.

Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter said his firm, which was founded in 1905, is excited to join Jones Walker, a respected organization in the Gulf of Mexico region. Watkins Ludlam is known for working with Fortune 500 companies to defend complex lawsuits.

“This transaction adds depth and expands the practices that we are able to offer to our clients,” Winter said in a news release. “Together, our two firms strengthen our capabilities across the region and throughout the Southern United States. The combination of the two firms fits well with both firms’ strategic business objectives and allows us to offer services in additional states and in Washington, D.C.”

Jones Walker has a large presence in Mobile. In 2008, the firm absorbed most of the lawyers from the Mobile firm of Miller, Hamilton, Snider Odom LLC.

The law firm will continue under the name of Jones Walker, led by William H. Hines as Managing Partner. After the merger is completed, Jones Walker will have 15 offices in six states and the District of Columbia.

“The firm is well recognized for serving clients in the corporate, banking, construction, financial services, gaming, government relations, public finance, tax, and real estate sectors with the utmost integrity and legal talent,” Hines said. “This expansion for Jones Walker into Mississippi and the addition of the above-referenced capabilities in the Mississippi market offers a wider range of services to our client base. Many Jones Walker clients have business interests in the Mississippi market and across the Gulf South, and we can service them more efficiently with a larger footprint.”

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