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OTR: District 10 race shaping up; highway robbery in N. AL; and more …

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


Lands vs. Powell 

It’s looking like a Lands vs. Powell match up for the District 10 race. Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to set a special election date any day now to fill the District 10 seat recently vacated by State Rep. David Cole after he pleaded guilty to voter fraud chargesl. Last week we told you Madison City Council member Teddy Powell, a Republican, would be throwing his hat into the ring. Now we’re hearing from insiders Marilyn Lands, who was defeated by Cole in the 2022 general election, will be making another go after a very close race. Pointing to the cross-party support that showed up for her in the last election and the district’s “purple” demographics, insiders say Lands, a Democrat, could take the seat in a special election. Notoriously unpredictable, those who enjoy the sport of Alabama politics are eagerly awaiting what could be the wild ride of this special election.

North Alabama left out?

Gov. Kay Ivey’s pledge last week to spend $500 million for interstate improvements in Hoover and Shelby County has drawn some questioning from leaders in North Alabama. $300 million of the $500 million announced by the governor at Hoover City Hall will widen I-65 in Shelby County. Another $120 million will be spent to build an interchange in Hoover on I-459 and then the final $80 million will widen I-59. This $500 million follows the $700 million the state spent to fix and elevate I-65 and I-59 in downtown Birmingham in 2020 and the many millions it continues to spend building the Birmingham Northern Beltline. North Alabama leaders are starting to wonder when Ivey’s Road Funding Fairy Godmother persona will benefit projects here. They note that the $112 million announced by the governor to much fanfare last year to widen I-565, Alabama 53 and U.S. 72 is just a fraction of the most recent $500 million announced for Shelby County. To further the burn, the cities of Huntsville and Madison, along with Madison County pledged to pay for 40% of those projects themselves – meaning the state of Alabama investment in the area’s priority roads is only $67 million. There was no mention of any local match being paid by Hoover, Jefferson County or Shelby County. 

Tuberville staff change-up

Looks like there has been a change in leadership in Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s Huntsville office. Word is that Gwen Shelton, who had served as the senator’s Huntsville regional director is no longer on the team. Shelton, who is a former mayor and economic director for Fayetteville, Tenn., has been the regional director for North Alabama since Tuberville was sworn in after his election in 2020. While no announcement has been made of a replacement, early betting centers on Brian Naugher to take the spot. Naugher, an Army veteran, is the senator’s senior defense liaison in Huntsville. 

Tuscumbia charges up 

Tuscumbia will be unveiling EV car chargers this weekend. Enterprising communities are installing charging stations for electric vehicles as a draw to their downtowns. The concept of EV tourism brings an essentially captive audience to shop, dine and explore while they charge their vehicles. Tuscumbia’s picture-perfect streets and rich cultural history is expected to become the charging destination of choice for those traversing Northwest Alabama.  

Long arm of the law or overreaching?

With the latest revelation that Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall will arrest Alabamians who go out-of-state for abortions when they return, does that mean he will do the same for other activities that are illegal in this state, but legal elsewhere? Will busloads of senior citizens returning from Tunica be boarded and mass arrests made when they cross the state line into Alabama? Will John and Jane face incarceration and a conspiracy charge when they return to Athens after playing the lottery in Ardmore, Tenn.?

Pickleball profusion

Pickleball’s world domination continues to make its way across North Alabama. In addition to the highly anticipated Pickleball Fest in Athens on Sept. 23, the city of Madison is getting ready to unveil 12 pickleball courts at the Hexagon campus. According to Pickleball USA, Pickleball grew in 2021 to 4.8 million players. Apparently, many of those players are in North Alabama.  

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