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OTR: Congressional calls; courtroom art; and more in this week’s Off The Record


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

Congressman calling

Imagine the surprise of 5th Congressional District constituents who received a call from their congressman Tuesday night. U.S. Rep. Dale Strong invited participants to partake in a phone call town hall. While many seemingly expected a pre-recorded message, they were shocked to hear Strong live on the phone, asking them to share their questions and concerns with him. Callers from Jackson County to the Shoals asked the congressman about everything from border security to Space Command developments. Sources say at its peak there were more than 2,000 participants on the line.    

Picture perfect courtrooms

Work continues on the new federal courthouse in downtown Huntsville. While the building with five courtrooms is needed, local observers worried it would lack the character of the current courthouse – especially the large WPA mural on the courtroom wall painted in the 1930s. But sources tell OTR that a federal requirement mandates a percentage of the building’s $80 million cost be spent on public art and the new courtrooms will have their own murals. Artists have been commissioned for the murals depicting scenes from across the Tennessee Valley.

Larkin launches

A Lawrence County heavyweight has recently been added to a regional collaborative effort.  Larkin Martin of Courtland will be adding her considerable skills as a county co-chair for Launch 2035, a nonprofit focused on connecting the Tennessee Valley through regional economic partnerships. Nine Tennessee Valley counties are represented and, according to Launch leaders, more are on the way.   

Headaches for medical marijuana

The lawsuits plaguing the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission continue to add up. Created after the state approved medical marijuana in 2021, the AMCC was put in charge of overseeing the effort, including granting licenses to sell or cultivate. “The application process was a train wreck from start to finish. With this much potential money on the line, there were going to be lawsuits,” one insider said. Seven companies left on the outside looking in are now suing the AMCC. Officials, perhaps too optimistically, planned to have medical cannabis available by the end of the year or the beginning of 2024.

The Trump train

The Alabama Republican Party’s Summer Dinner featuring former President Donald Trump is next Friday and you can expect to see numerous high-profile endorsements from state officials in the week ahead. We hear many state and congressional office holders are ready to offer their support for the current GOP frontrunner for president, who now faces more charges in the Mar-A-Lago classified documents case. Meanwhile, the dinner is Aug. 4 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel.

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