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Muscle Shoals
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Fort Payne

Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama



Tennessee River Bridge rehab

Construction is coming to the Tennessee River Bridge on Interstate 65 in Decatur. The 2.6-mile long bridge that carries an average of 50,000 daily motorists was completed in 1973. Word has been spreading that the bridge rehab would take 12-18 months with only one lane available on each side but the Alabama Department of Transportation says that’s not true. An ALDOT spokesperson says most of the work will be under the bridge with some shoulder closures and minimal lane closures expected. The work is to extend the life of the bridge. Construction won’t begin until spring 2024.

A ‘Strong’ impression

U.S. Rep. Dale Strong showed off some fundraising and networking power this week. The freshman congressman held a reception Wednesday night at Mar-A-Lago with former President Trump as a special guest. The event is said to have raised more than $300K for Strong’s joint fundraising committee which helps fund his campaign account as well as his new Leadership PAC and the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. One way for a freshman to gain influence is raising and contributing campaign funds for their colleagues and challengers. Strong saw Senator Shelby deploy that strategy through his Defend America PAC.

UAH, community leaders huddle up 
North Alabama might have a new college football team joining UNA and Alabama A&M. Word is that UAH President Chuck Karr is serious about the idea and is pursuing discussions with community leaders. Karr came to UAH after a 26-year career at the University of Alabama – the last 16 years as the Dean of the College of Engineering.

Retail or residential coming?

One of the last large tracts of land in Downtown Madison is reportedly being put up for sale. One community leader believes the land that borders the railroad tracks would be ideal for restaurants and retail to add to local favorites such as Old Black Bear Brewing Co. and the Shoppes of Historic Downtown Madison. However, residential development is king in North Alabama at the moment and it’s already been proven if you build abodes, people will come, be it by railroad tracks or even in the flight path of airplanes in Madison.

School choice bills ‘going nowhere’

Despite much vocal support from Republican lawmakers in the Alabama Legislature recently, we’re hearing school choice is as much as dead this legislative season. A pair of bills dealing with school choice, one that would provide nearly $7,000 per student, is expected to go nowhere without a major push by parents. According to a political insider, the Alabama Education Association has invested heavily in the fight to keep all funding intact for the Education Trust Fund.

A Grand case

Next month, arguments are expected to be heard in a lawsuit involving the Grand Hotel. Established in 1847, the storied hotel in Point Clear has played host to movie stars, socialites, and politicians throughout its history and is still a favored destination for North Alabamians in the know. At issue is a proposed expansion around the bay. However, nearby landowners have filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed expansion.

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