Hurricane Sandy continues to hamper Huntsville businesses, government agencies


Leada Gore | lgore@al.com

By

Leada Gore | lgore@al.com

The Huntsville Times

on October 30, 2012 at 12:25 PM, updated October 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Brought to you by



SANDY Nasa.JPG
NASA’s satellites show images of Sandy. Though no longer a hurricane, Sandy continues to affect a large area of the eastern United States after coming ashore on Monday evening. (NASA photo) 

Former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell was
supposed to be in Huntsville Tuesday to speak on cyber security at a
Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce event. Instead, Hurricane Sandy left him stranded in
Washington, D.C. as the storm and its aftermath continued to cancel flights,
delay meetings and interrupt the flow of work and information between the East
Coast and Huntsville.

With many Huntsville government agencies and contractors
having offices in the storm-impacted areas of Washington, D.C. and Virginia, communication
and travel have been severely impacted by massive power outages and closed
airports.

It was the lack of flights that cancelled East Coast meetings
for Raytheon, according to Doug Shores, Public Relations for Missile Systems at
Raytheon Company.

Boeing suspended its Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and
Pennsylvania operations Monday and they remained closed on Tuesday. Company
officials said operations will be “evaluated on a day-by-day basis,” but said
there were no notable issues or site damage as of Tuesday.

Lockheed Martin, with headquarters in Bethesda, Md.,
activated its emergency response plan last Friday. Company officials said
several of its East Coast facilities remained closed Tuesday and the company is
working to verify all its employees are safe. The company has also opened the
Lockheed Martin Employee Disaster Relief Fund to assist those whose homes were
damaged in the storm.

Lockheed Martin said none of its facilities received major
damage.

Pamela Rogers, Public Affairs Officer Pamela Rogers of the
Missile Defense Agency, said MDA’s Virginia headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va.
remain closed Tuesday with no information on when it will reopen.

“We are essentially shut down until further notice,” she
said.

Much of Fort Belvoir remains without electricity and it is operating under its Emergency Essential Only Conditions status.

Several Army Materiel Command subordinate agencies and
facilities were in the path of the storm, including the U.S. Army Research,
Development and Engineering Command and other entities at Aberdeen Proving
Grounds, Md., Tobyhanna Army Depot. Penn., and U.S. Army Natick Soldier
Research, Development and Engineering Center, Mass., among others.

According to AMC, the facilities at Aberdeen Proving Ground received “severe weather and storm damage.” Tobyhanna received some wind damage but is open and Natick Center is open with a liberal leave policy.

AMC, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, is working to
support the U.S. Northern Command. The Northern Command is charged with
providing support to FEMA through the Department of Defense. They also work
with the National Guard and the recently appointed Dual Commanders, who are
charged with leading both the state and federal National Guard forces in the
affected areas.

AMC supports the Northern Command through its work with the
Army Sustainment Command and the Army Contracting Command in a variety of
logistical operations.

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Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/10/hurricane_sandys_continues_to.html

Strip club across from University Place Elementary School? Huntsville police ask City Council to say no


Steve Doyle | sdoyle@al.com

By

Steve Doyle | sdoyle@al.com

The Huntsville Times

on October 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM, updated October 31, 2012 at 6:29 AM

Brought to you by



Silver Dollar club.jpg
The Silver Dollar adult club near the corner of University and Boxwood drives has been closed since October 2010, but a Birmingham businessman wants to open another adult club there called Volcano 256. (Steve Doyle | sdoyle@al.com)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Police, parents of young children and some nearby residents are urging the Huntsville City Council to say no to a Birmingham businessman who wants to open an adult club almost directly across from University Place Elementary School.

Daryl Williams recently received a city certificate of occupancy to open his Volcano 256 club near the corner of University and Boxwood drives, but a separate city board has refused to grant him a liquor license. The building most recently housed another adult club, the Silver Dollar, and has a long history as a bar.

Williams is asking the City Council to override the decision of the Liquor License Review Committee. The council tabled a vote until Dec. 6 to give west Huntsville’s council representative, Will Culver, time to see how nearby residents feel.

“Whatever my constituents want is what I hope to deliver,” Culver said Tuesday.

Williams’ attorney, Lucien Blankenship, could not be reached for comment.

If Tanya Newsom is any indication, Volcano 256 doesn’t have much neighborhood support. Newsom, who has a son in kindergarten at University Place, started a petition drive against the club last week and has gathered about 40 signatures. Her church, Woodland Hill Baptist on Sparkman Drive, is also involved.

Newsom said she has a hard time believing the city would allow a club with exotic female dancers and “drunk, sexually aroused” customers within about 500 feet of an elementary school. She said many University Place students walk past the proposed club every day on their way to and from class.

“When we already have so many problems with children being abducted, why would you do this?” Newsom said Monday. “It’s because we’re a Title 1 school. You’d never see this happen in the Grissom district.”

Dennis Cole, who chairs the Liquor License Review Committee, said the group rarely denies a liquor license but was swayed by crime statistics from the old Silver Dollar club and other concerns raised by Huntsville police.

Police Sgt. Mark Roberts said there has been a “considerable decrease” in criminal activity at the University Plaza shopping center and in the surrounding neighborhood since the Silver Dollar went out of business in October 2010.

Of the 87 crimes reported at the shopping center from December 2008 to October 2010, Roberts said, 49 involved Silver Dollar customers. In the almost two years since the club’s closing, there have been 39 reported crimes at the shopping center. Located just east of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, University Plaza has an ABC store, adult video store and several other small businesses.

Total police calls in the surrounding neighborhood dropped from 4,709 during Silver Dollar’s last two years in operation to 3,452 in the two years since, said Roberts. There are approximately 1,000 apartments within a short walk of the club, he said.

Denying Volcano 256 a liquor license “gives us an opportunity to lessen the impact of that type of adult business on the surrounding area,” said Roberts. “That’s what we’re asking the council to uphold.”

Culver said he hopes to schedule a meeting in late November to hear from people for and against the proposed club.


Will Culver.jpg
Huntsville City Councilman Will Culver

“It’s not the type of business I want to see in my district,” said Culver, a former police officer. “But if that’s what the people want, I’m fine with it. You can’t legislate morality.”

Culver said the neighborhood’s wishes need to be balanced against concerns raised by Williams that he was denied a liquor license after spending more than $50,000 on building renovations.

“Why couldn’t that have been nipped in the bud before he spent all that money?” said Culver.

During a meeting last week, Councilman Richard Showers said Williams appears to have “met the intent of the letter of the law” to open his club. He also said the city can’t judge what kind of business owner Williams will be without giving him an opportunity.

Williams operates an adult club called Club Volcano in Birmingham’s Ensley neighborhood.

Roberts said Williams began renovating the old Silver Dollar space without the necessary Huntsville permits and was given a warning on March 25, 2011. When city building inspectors again spotted contractors inside six days later, they issued a written stop-work order. Roberts said police arrested Williams on April 26, 2011, after unlicensed contractors were seen inside the building a third time.

Williams was charged with doing business without a permit, a misdemeanor, and found guilty in municipal court that summer. He was ordered to pay $308 in fines and court costs, records show.

Roberts, who serves on the liquor review committee, said adult clubs are generally prohibited within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or home. Williams can legally open a club in the former Silver Dollar space because the building’s use as a lounge predates the city’s 1989 zoning ordinance.

Cole said the city has denied liquor licenses before amid questions about public safety. In March 2011, the review committee said no to a proposed strip club near Farley Elementary School in south Huntsville. The owner appealed, but the City Council upheld the committee’s decision.

Newsom, the University Place parent, said she isn’t questioning whether adult clubs should be allowed in the Rocket City.

“My concern is just that it doesn’t belong on top of an elementary school,” she said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/10/strip_club_across_from_univers.html

Hidden cemetery discovered in Meridianville


Jonathan Grass | jgrass@al.com

By

Jonathan Grass | jgrass@al.com

The Huntsville Times

on October 31, 2012 at 4:43 AM, updated October 31, 2012 at 6:33 AM

Brought to you by


MADISON COUNTY, Alabama — Construction on the Madison County Executive Airport in Meridianville has unearthed a surprise. According to The Times’ news partner, WHNT News 19, an unknown graveyard was discovered while digging the runway expansion.


Madison County Executive Airport
Digging for the Madison County Executive Airport expansion has uncovered hidden graves. (Contributed by WHNT News 19)

WHNT reports that experts from the University of Alabama Office of Archaeological Research found the remains of four adults and 11 children on a hill near where the Meridianville Bottom Road was to be moved.

The road will move 50 feet away to avoid disturbing the graves. Airport officials say that a fence will be put in around the cemetery and a pull off area will be built for visitors.

WNHT reports that experts believe the graves could date as far back as 1820 through 1830 and could be part of a family plot. Madison County District Four Commissioner Dale Strong says they may be connected to his ancestry.

Click here to read WHNT’s full story.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/10/hidden_cemetery_discovered_in.html

Mobile area home prices rise in September

house.JPGA Victorian cottage on Old Shell Road just east of North Pine Street, Oct. 30, 2012, in midtown Mobile, Ala. (al.com, Mike Kittrell)

MOBILE, Alabama — The median list price for homes in Mobile last month was down from a year ago, but up nearly 0.5 percent from last month, according to the real estate website Realtor.com.

In September, the median list price for homes in Mobile was $189,900, a 0.05 percent decrease from September 2011 and a 0.48 percent increase from August this year. The national median list price in September was $191,500, a 0.78 percent increase compared to the same month last year.

Last week, Freddie Mac announced that fixed mortgage rates rose slightly from the week before but held at near-record lows.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.41 percent, down from 3.55 percent in August but up from 3.37 from the week before. The rate for a 15-year mortgage was 2.72 percent, up from 2.66 percent last week but down from 2.85 percent in August, Freddie Mac said.

Buyers seemd to be taking advantage of the low rates.

The active for sale inventory of homes in Mobile last month was 6,710, a, 18.06 percent decrease from September 2011 and down 1.88 percent from 6,838 in August this year. Homes were available115 days in September, an drop of 10.85 percent from last year but up by one day compared to August.

National inventory counts for September were 1,803,347, a 17.77 percent decrease compared to a year ago and 2.19 percent decrease from last month’s number of 1,843,736. The median age of inventory nationally was 95 days in September, increasing from 91 days the month before, according to Realtor.com.

Analysts say lower inventories, combined with somewhat higher median list prices, suggest that the housing market in 2012 is in better shape than it was a year ago. However, a growing number of older industrialized areas are showing signs of weakness, and the gains observed earlier in the year in many markets appear to be moderating.

Mobile was also the 100th most-searched real estate market in the country last month, falling three spots from 97th. Birmingham and Huntsville remained in the same spots from August to September, at 76th and 136th, respectively.

Nationally, Realtor.com said the top 10 most-searched markets in September were unchanged from a month ago, with the top spots going to Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Atlanta, Dallas, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton, Phoenix-Mesa and Orlando.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/10/mobile_area_home_prices_rise_i.html

Mobile dentist hosting post-Halloween candy buyback program

Dr. Shaun SmallDr. Shaun Small brought the national Operation Gratitude Halloween candy buyback program to Mobile in 2011, and his practice is hoping to collect 1,000 pounds of unopened candy for U.S. soldiers Nov. 1-2, 2012. (Special to the Press-Register)

MOBILE, Alabama – Mobile area children might drift off into their sugar-induced dreams after trick-or-treating tonight, but one local dentist is offering a substantial incentive to back away from the chocolate bars and gummy bears.

Dr. Shaun Small with Complete Dental of Mobile is offering $1 per pound of unopened Halloween candy, with all the collected goodies then shipped to American soldiers overseas.

“When I started my own practice last year, I knew this was something I wanted to do,” said Small, whose 2011 effort netted 748 pounds of confections.

The buyback program will take place at the Complete Dental office at 5651 Three Notch Road Nov. 1 and 2 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The national “Operation Gratitude” sends 100,000 care packages each year filled with snacks, toiletries, entertainment items and other tokens of appreciation to deployed members of the U.S. military, their children, Wounded Warriors, veterans and first responders. Since its 2003 debut, the program has shipped more than 815,000 packages.

“It started with a dentist in California, and now it’s done nationwide, but when I got here (five years ago) there wasn’t anybody doing it in this area,” said Small.

Halloween Candy BuybackCan Dr. Shaun Small and the staff at Complete Dental of Mobile surpass the 748 pounds of candy collected in 2011 for Operation Gratitude? At $1 per pound, his chances are improving. (Special to the Press-Register)

When asked how confident he is he and his staff can top last year’s haul and meet the 1,000-pound goal set for 2012, he said, “My back says no. But yeah, we’d really like to.”

Small said he also encourages the children and adults making the exchange to take the time to write a personal note or draw a picture for the soldier who will receive their treats.

“It’s just a wonderful program, and this is just our small part in helping,” he said.

For a complete list of the items Operation Gratitude includes in the care packages, visit the nonprofit’s website, and Small said his office will be glad to include those items in the shipment.

Follow Kelli Dugan on Twitter @KelliMDugan98

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/10/mobile_dentist_hosting_post-ha.html

Mobile-based Volkert Inc. acquires Florida firm

Volkert logo

MOBILE, Alabama – Mobile-based Volkert Inc. has acquired Allied Engineering and Testing Inc. of Fort Myers, Fla., with no immediate plans to adjust operations or staffing levels.

“Allied and Volkert have worked together on numerous projects, and their culture of professionalism is very similar to that of ours,” said Paula McQueen, Allied’s founder and president, in a prepared statement.

McQuenn, who will now serve as a vice president with Volkert, said she expects the union to create a “positive match for our staff, as well as our clients.”

Founded in 1925, Volkert is a multi-disciplinary, full-service engineering and environmental firm that provides services to state departments of transportation, federal agencies, local and municipal governments and private industry.

Thirty-year-old Allied, meanwhile, specializes in geotechnical engineering; construction materials testing; construction engineering and inspection; threshold inspection; environmental assessments; and geotechnical, environmental and contract drilling services.

The Florida firm employs 90 with offices in Fort Myers, Tampa, Punta Gorda, Sarasota and Sunrise, Florida, while Volkert employs 650 at 25 offices in 11 states and the District of Columbia.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/10/mobile-based_volkert_inc_acqui.html

Alabama’s foreclosure inventory falls slightly in September

foreclosure-rates-increase.jpgCompleted foreclosures declined across the U.S. over the past year.Nationwide foreclosures are declining, as is the inventory of such homes on the market, mortgage researcher CoreLogic said today.

In September, there were 57,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S., down from 83,000 in September 2011.

Meanwhile, there were 1.4 million homes, or 3.3 percent of all homes with a mortgage, in the national foreclosure inventory as of September, compared to 1.5 million, or 3.5 percent, a year earlier.

In Alabama, 1.4 percent of all homes with a mortgage were in the foreclosure inventory last month, down from 1.5 percent in September 2011.

The foreclosure inventory is the share of all mortgaged homes in any stage of the foreclosure process.

“The continuing downward trend in foreclosures along with a gradual clearing of the shadow inventory are signs of stabilization and improvement in the housing market,” Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive of CoreLogic, said in a prepared statement.

Nallathambi cited improving market conditions and industry and government policy that is allowing distressed homeowners to pursue refinancing, loan modifications or short sales instead of foreclosure.

For the 12 months ended in September, there were 763,589 completed foreclosures in the U.S. Five states accounted for nearly half of those: California (108,000), Florida (92,000), Texas (59,000), Georgia (55,000) and Michigan (51,000).

In Alabama, there were 6,196 completed foreclosures during the year that ended in September.

Related reading: Metro Birmingham foreclosure rates fall in August

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/10/alabamas_foreclosure_inventory.html

BioCryst stock falls 28 percent; drug application withdrawn a day earlier

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Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/10/biocryst_stock_falls_28_percen.html

Remember Katrina, and its post-disaster scams, officials warn in wake of Sandy

Alabama Securities Commission logo.JPG

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Investors should be wary of post-disaster con jobs in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Alabama Securities Commission warned today.

Many common scams target those in the path of destruction, but some investment schemes may capitalize on disasters a continent away.

Securities Commission director Joseph Borg said Alabamians should be wary of cold-calling salesmen pitching investment opportunities related to the hurricane. Such schemes sometimes offer investment pools, bonds that supposedly benefit storm victims or opportunities to invest in distressed real estate.

“Potential investors should be very cautious if approached with unsolicited Sandy-related investment offers,” Borg said.

borg.jpgAlabama Securities Commission Director Joe Borg.

“Some will be looking for your money; some will be attempting to steal your credit card information for identity theft,” he said. “As with any charitable contribution, people wanting to help with relief efforts following Sandy should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record.”

Alabama saw many fraudulent investment and charitable solicitation schemes after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Borg said. He urged Alabamians to hang up on aggressive cold-callers and to delete unsolicited emails pitching investments in small companies with hurricane-related products.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/10/remember_katrina_and_its_post-.html

Hurricane Sandy continues to hamper Huntsville businesses, government agencies


Leada Gore | lgore@al.com

By

Leada Gore | lgore@al.com

The Huntsville Times

on October 30, 2012 at 12:25 PM, updated October 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Brought to you by



SANDY Nasa.JPG
NASA’s satellites show images of Sandy. Though no longer a hurricane, Sandy continues to affect a large area of the eastern United States after coming ashore on Monday evening. (NASA photo) 

Former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell was
supposed to be in Huntsville Tuesday to speak on cyber security at a
Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce event. Instead, Hurricane Sandy left him stranded in
Washington, D.C. as the storm and its aftermath continued to cancel flights,
delay meetings and interrupt the flow of work and information between the East
Coast and Huntsville.

With many Huntsville government agencies and contractors
having offices in the storm-impacted areas of Washington, D.C. and Virginia, communication
and travel have been severely impacted by massive power outages and closed
airports.

It was the lack of flights that cancelled East Coast meetings
for Raytheon, according to Doug Shores, Public Relations for Missile Systems at
Raytheon Company.

Boeing suspended its Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and
Pennsylvania operations Monday and they remained closed on Tuesday. Company
officials said operations will be “evaluated on a day-by-day basis,” but said
there were no notable issues or site damage as of Tuesday.

Lockheed Martin, with headquarters in Bethesda, Md.,
activated its emergency response plan last Friday. Company officials said
several of its East Coast facilities remained closed Tuesday and the company is
working to verify all its employees are safe. The company has also opened the
Lockheed Martin Employee Disaster Relief Fund to assist those whose homes were
damaged in the storm.

Lockheed Martin said none of its facilities received major
damage.

Pamela Rogers, Public Affairs Officer Pamela Rogers of the
Missile Defense Agency, said MDA’s Virginia headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va.
remain closed Tuesday with no information on when it will reopen.

“We are essentially shut down until further notice,” she
said.

Much of Fort Belvoir remains without electricity and it is operating under its Emergency Essential Only Conditions status.

Several Army Materiel Command subordinate agencies and
facilities were in the path of the storm, including the U.S. Army Research,
Development and Engineering Command and other entities at Aberdeen Proving
Grounds, Md., Tobyhanna Army Depot. Penn., and U.S. Army Natick Soldier
Research, Development and Engineering Center, Mass., among others.

According to AMC, the facilities at Aberdeen Proving Ground received “severe weather and storm damage.” Tobyhanna received some wind damage but is open and Natick Center is open with a liberal leave policy.

AMC, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, is working to
support the U.S. Northern Command. The Northern Command is charged with
providing support to FEMA through the Department of Defense. They also work
with the National Guard and the recently appointed Dual Commanders, who are
charged with leading both the state and federal National Guard forces in the
affected areas.

AMC supports the Northern Command through its work with the
Army Sustainment Command and the Army Contracting Command in a variety of
logistical operations.

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Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/10/hurricane_sandys_continues_to.html