State OKs creation of 40-bed long-term acute care facility at Athens-Limestone Hospital


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 ATHENS, Alabama – Athens-Limestone Hospital officials got state approval Thursday to add 40 beds for long-term acute care, which would make it the only facility of its type between Birmingham and Nashville, a hospital official said.

The State Health Planning and Development Agency issued a Certificate of Need for the new facility, which is expected to be completed within the year, said the hospital’s chief financial officer, Randy Comer.

“Once established and operational, this will provide patients with the opportunity to have family closer to them as currently the nearest LTAC is in Birmingham or Nashville and is inconvenient for day travel,” Comer said.

The facility at Athens-Limestone Hospital, expected to cost about $9.6 million, will specialize in treating long-term chronic conditions with the goal of transitioning patients to skilled-nursing care or home, if possible.

“This facility will treat patients who need more critical care than a skilled nursing facility normally provides, but over a longer period of time than a normal acute care facility provides,” Comer said. “Admissions will come from facilities across North Alabama, as well as Athens-Limestone Hospital itself. We are looking to establish this facility as a wing in our hospital and are looking at partners who specialize in this type of facility to actually run the day-to-day operations.”

Comer said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services placed a moratorium on establishing new long-term acute care facilities a few years ago.

“However, this moratorium is expected to be lifted at the end of this month,” he said.

Currently, Athens-Limestone Hospital, a Huntsville Hospital affiliate, has 101 beds and is run by CEO Kelli Powers.

Recently, hospital officials completed renovation of the emergency room, as well as renovating the front lobby and its nursery, and installing a hospital-wide sprinkler system. 

Follow Kelly Kazek on Twitter. 

Email Kelly Kazek at kkazek@al.com or call 256-701-0576 or find
her on Facebook.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/12/post_996.html

Closings, garbage pickup announced for New Year’s holiday in Athens, Limestone


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Here are closings in Athens, Limestone County in observance of the New Year’s holiday:

Limestone Commission offices: Closed Monday and Tuesday. Next meeting is at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 in the Clinton Street annex.

Limestone County Courthouse: Closed Monday and Tuesday.

City of Athens offices: Closed Tuesday.

Limestone County schools: Students return Jan. 3.

Athens City Schools: Students return Jan. 3.

Athens State University: Closed, classes resume Jan. 2.

Athens State University Center for Lifelong Learning. Closed, classes resume Jan. 2

Calhoun Community College: Closed, classes resume Jan. 7.

Garbage collection

Collection for the City of Athens will be on its regular schedule next week.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/12/closings_garbage_pickup_announ.html

Outokumpu completes sale of ThyssenKrupp’s Inoxum unit


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A ThyssenKrupp worker cleans a roll of stainless steel in preparation for sending the metal through the company’s 72-inch cold rolling mill, Oct. 20, 2011 in Calvert, Ala. (Press-Register file photo)



 

ThyssenKrupp AG today said it has completed the combination of Inoxum, its stainless steel business, with Finnish steel company Outokumpu Oyj.

Outokumpu will give ThyssenKrupp one billion euros ($1.32 billion) in cash for Inoxum and will assume about 133 million euros ($175.9 million) of the stainless steel unit’s external debt.

Outokumpu also will assume pension liabilities of around 338 million euros ($447 million), and give ThyssenKrupp a 29.9 percent stake in the new company. Outokumpu will owe the German steelmaker an additional 1.25 billion euros.

“As promised we have implemented the portfolio measures announced in May 2011 within the timeframe we set ourselves,” ThyssenKrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger said in a statement. “We have taken a further important step in leading ThyssenKrupp into a successful future.”

The Finnish steel company announced in January that it would buy the stainless steel arm of ThyssenKrupp for 2.7 billion euros ($3.55 billion) and in November won European Union Commission approval for the acquisition.

ThyssenKrupp decided to divest Inoxum last year due to overcapacity among stainless steel makers in Europe and widely swinging stainless prices. The German steelmaker’s $5 billion complex in Calvert, located on the Mobile-Washington county line, is shared by both stainless and carbon steel units. The company segregated the stainless steel business in May 2011, renaming it Inoxum.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/12/outokumpu_completes_sale_of_th.html

Report: Navy gives General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls huge U.S. submarine orders


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Pre Commissioning Unit Mississippi (SSN 782), the Navy’s newest Virginia-class submarine, in Groton, Conn., April 9, 2012. The Navy has awarded submarine contracts worth up to $4.5 billion to General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls, which include the construction of two Virginia-class submarines. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy)



 

The U.S. Navy last week awarded submarine contracts worth up to $4.5 billion to General Dynamics Corp. and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.,  securing the contract funds from automatic budget cuts, Reuters reported.

The Navy awarded General Dynamics a five-year contract valued at up to $1.99 billion if all options are exercised, for research and development work on a new submarine to replace the current Ohio-class vessels, which carry nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.

It also awarded a separate contract worth nearly $2.5 billion for construction of two smaller Virginia-class submarines, work that will be split between General Dynamics’ Electric Boat division, based in Groton, Conn., and Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News shipyard, Reuters reported.

Most of the work will be done at General Dynamics’ Connecticut facility, but about 7 percent of the work will be done by Huntington Ingalls. The Navy eventually plans to buy 12 new submarines to replace the current fleet of aging Ohio-class submarines, with construction slated to begin in 2021, according to Reuters.

The largest military shipbuilder in the country, Huntington Ingalls builds and maintains ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. The company’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Pascagoula and Gulfport employs about 9,900 workers and builds destroyers and amphibious transport ships.

Read the full Reuters report here.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/12/report_navy_gives_general_dyna.html

Original Oyster House to harness Causeway breeze, sun with green energy additions (photo gallery)

Original Oyster House Wind Turbine

SPANISH FORT, Alabama — The Original Oyster House this morning became the latest Baldwin County business to cash in on green energy with the installation of a wind turbine and solar water heater at the restaurant’s Causeway location.

Restaurant staff and Mobile and Baldwin county officials and chamber members gathered as the turbine propeller was attached and the 45-foot tower it was affixed to was raised. Students from the Green Club at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School were on hand to pass out pin wheels to observers and help attach the propeller.

Joe Roszkowski, president of the Original Oyster House, said he got the idea to use a wind turbine and solar water heater after Original Oyster House began producing biodiesel out of used cooking oil from its two restaurants in Gulf Shores and the Causeway two years ago. The fuel runs the company’s delivery trucks and four other company vehicles.

“We saw that there was savings in that and green is the right thing to do,” he said of his decision to install the turbine. “We’re celebrating our 30th year in business here on the Causeway and we figured we’d take advantage of the Causeway breezes and generate some power with this.”

The wind turbine generates power whenever winds reach eight miles per hour or greater. Power generated by the turbine will light the restaurant’s playground and holiday lights and any surplus energy will be put back on the grid.

The two panel, 80 gallon solar water heater, installed at the restaurant’s Causeway and Gulf Shores locations, uses energy from the sun’s rays to generate hot water to be used for cleaning or cooking.

Roszkowski said the turbine cost about $42,000 once installed and the solar water heaters cost about $3,000 each. Though he’s not sure how much money he will save with the new additions, he hopes it’s a lot.

“We plan to put a computer up in the restaurant that will monitor the output of the wind turbine,” he said. “We’ll know more about the cost savings then.”

The Original Oyster House bought the turbine and solar water heaters from Robert Harris at Gulf Coast Green Power in Fairhope, the same company that installed a 45-foot windmill at LuLu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores and Windmill Market in Fairhope. The turbines are manufactured in Flagstaff, Ariz., while the water heaters are made in Turkey.

Harris has sold six wind turbines in Baldwin County and 15 across Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. He said the Deep Water Horizon oil spill really put a dent on the sale of green energy equipment, but business has begun to pick back up in recent months.

Roszkowski said the Original Oyster House is partnering with the Gulf Coast Exploreum to help educate children on the positive effects of green energy. The restaurant will begin hosting field trips for area schools in early 2013 to allow students to see the wind turbine and solar water panels in effect. 

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/12/original_oyster_house_to_harne.html

Scientific American picks 10 cool tablet and smart phone apps


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This free app will help you find the International Space Station.


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The editors of Scientific American magazine have picked their top 10 tablet and smart phone apps of 2012

Their picks include an app that tracks – live – the movements of tagged sharks, apps that identify stars and planets and show you where to find the International Space Station, and apps to help you identify birds.

Many of the apps are free, though some cost as much as $6.

The free version of the iBird app for Android provides basic information on dozens of birds, including photos and a recording of their calls. A version that includes more than 900 birds costs $2.99.

The free iRecycle app will help you find a nearby recycling center to properly dispose of anything from old batteries to hazardous waste.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/12/skeptical_about_apps_for_your.html

Report: Dairy crisis averted; ‘fiscal cliff’ mini-deal will stabilize milk prices in 2013

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Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/12/report_dairy_crisis_averted_fi.html

Balch & Bingham’s Cooper re-elected as ABA delegate for Alabama


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Clark Cooper



 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Clark A. Cooper, a partner in Balch Bingham’s Creditors Rights
Bankruptcy and Litigation Practice Groups, has been re-elected as Alabama’s
State Delegate for the American Bar Association House of Delegates, the firm said.

The group, which sets ABA policy, meets twice each
year. Cooper will serve a three-year term as Alabama’s only ABA State Delegate and
is one of 50 total state delegates. He also serves as a division
director for the ABA Section of Litigation, in which he oversees multiple
committees in the section.

Cooper has more
than 19 years of experience as a litigator. He has represented clients in a
wide variety of litigation, including creditor and lender rights matters and
concerns, construction disputes, class actions, fraud claims and insurance claim cases. He has held leadership positions with the
ABA since 1998.

“Clark’s
commitment and dedication to the legal profession is a noteworthy achievement.
We congratulate him on this accomplishment and know that he will continue to
serve as an exemplary representative for the State of Alabama,” Alan T.
Rogers, Balch Bingham’s managing partner, said in a prepared statement.

The American Bar
Association has nearly 400,000 members.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/12/balch_binghams_cooper_re-elect.html

City of Athens to begin collecting additional 1-cent sales tax on New Year’s Day


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ATHENS, Alabama – On New Year’s Day, businesses in the city limits of Athens will begin charging consumers an additional 1 percent sales tax, bringing the total to 9 cents on every dollar.

The controversial increase approved by members of Athens City Council in October will provide the city with the funds for long overdue maintenance, infrastructure upgrades and fleet replacement for fire and police departments, Mayor Ronnie Marks said. Those items are needed if the city hopes to stay competitive with retail recruitment, he said.

“It gives you an opportunity to plan rather than be in a reactive mode,” Marks said. “Like we’ve said before, it’s a difference between having a revenue stream to do planning or do like we’ve always done and kick (projects) down the road.”

Council members who approved the increase about a week before a new council was seated said at the time that voters would not approve an increase in property taxes to fund the much-needed improvements and equipment purchases and they felt the sales tax increase was the only solution.

Residents who opposed the increase were upset to learn a few weeks ago that the city ended its fiscal year in October with a $1.4 million surplus.

“They said, ‘Why are you doing a tax increase if you finished at $1.4 million to the good?’” Marks said.

He responded that not only does Athens want to remain in good financial condition and plan for future projects but, because it insures its employees, the city must prepare for bad years.

“We chose to be a city that is self-insured,” Marks said. “We’ve been very fortunate we haven’t had many catastrophic illnesses or difficult situations but if we had two or three bad years, there would not be a surplus.”

Marks said revenue from the sales tax increase, expected to be about $4.4 million annually, would be used for:

• Infrastructure: 30 percent. These funds would go for bridge, road, sidewalk and green space improvements.

• General fund: 30 percent. Funding would go to public safety, services and quality-of-life improvements.

• Schools: 20 percent. Money would go into a special account that would be used at the discretion of the council for projects proposed by city schools.

• General fund contingency: 20 percent. These funds would be used for debt service and emergency items.

All expenditures using revenue from the new tax must be approved by the City Council.

Follow Kelly Kazek on Twitter. 

Email Kelly Kazek at kkazek@al.com or call 256-701-0576 or find
her on Facebook.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/12/city_of_athens_to_begin_collec.html

State OKs creation of 40-bed long-term acute care facility at Athens-Limestone Hospital


doctor.jpg



 ATHENS, Alabama – Athens-Limestone Hospital officials got state approval Thursday to add 40 beds for long-term acute care, which would make it the only facility of its type between Birmingham and Nashville, a hospital official said.

The State Health Planning and Development Agency issued a Certificate of Need for the new facility, which is expected to be completed within the year, said the hospital’s chief financial officer, Randy Comer.

“Once established and operational, this will provide patients with the opportunity to have family closer to them as currently the nearest LTAC is in Birmingham or Nashville and is inconvenient for day travel,” Comer said.

The facility at Athens-Limestone Hospital, expected to cost about $9.6 million, will specialize in treating long-term chronic conditions with the goal of transitioning patients to skilled-nursing care or home, if possible.

“This facility will treat patients who need more critical care than a skilled nursing facility normally provides, but over a longer period of time than a normal acute care facility provides,” Comer said. “Admissions will come from facilities across North Alabama, as well as Athens-Limestone Hospital itself. We are looking to establish this facility as a wing in our hospital and are looking at partners who specialize in this type of facility to actually run the day-to-day operations.”

Comer said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services placed a moratorium on establishing new long-term acute care facilities a few years ago.

“However, this moratorium is expected to be lifted at the end of this month,” he said.

Currently, Athens-Limestone Hospital, a Huntsville Hospital affiliate, has 101 beds and is run by CEO Kelli Powers.

Recently, hospital officials completed renovation of the emergency room, as well as renovating the front lobby and its nursery, and installing a hospital-wide sprinkler system. 

Follow Kelly Kazek on Twitter. 

Email Kelly Kazek at kkazek@al.com or call 256-701-0576 or find
her on Facebook.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/12/post_996.html