‘Dingo’ Back in the Fold at WDRM; Joins ‘Dan and Josie Morning Show’

If you tuned into WDRM FM this week and thought you heard a familiar voice, your ears did not deceive you.

Brent “Dingo” Crank has returned to the country music station and joined the “Dan and Josie Morning Show,” which broadcasts weekday mornings from 5-10 a.m. and Saturdays from 6-10 a.m.

Dingo joins veteran show host Dan McClain and his partner, Josie Lane, to help listeners kick-start their mornings. Consistently rated No.1 in the market, the show focuses on family, patriotism, humor and the very best country music as well as the latest news, traffic and weather updates.

“I had the pleasure of working with Dingo when he was first hired at 102.1 WDRM, so I know first-hand his passion for the station, listeners and the country music format,” said Carmelita Palmer, market president for iHeartMedia Huntsville. “He made such an impact here that, even though he’s been gone from the market for more than eight years, I continue to have listeners request that we ‘bring back Dingo.’

“I’m thrilled that we are able to honor their request.”

Dingo returns to the Huntsville market from Louisville, where he most recently served as the morning show host on WQNU. Before Louisville, Dingo hosted morning shows in Phoenix, Myrtle Beach and Destin. He began his radio career at 102.1 WDRM and is a graduate of the University of South Alabama.

“I’ve had a blast doing radio all over the country – I’ve seen some amazing things, met some wonderful people, but nothing ever compares to home,” said Dingo. “It’s great to be back in the Tennessee Valley and back where it all started for me on 102.1 WDRM.”

With Dingo in the lineup, the station puts itself in a position to continue its hold on the important morning drive market.

“Dan and Josie have been dominating this market for years, but to add a new element like Dingo to the show puts us in a position to grow the WDRM morning show,” said Erich West, senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Huntsville. “I know listeners will enjoy Dingo’s upbeat energy and chemistry that he has with Dan and Josie.”

iHeartMedia Huntsville owns and operates WDRM-FM, WTAK-FM, WQRV-FM, WBHP/WHOS AM and FM, KISS-FM 106.5 and ALT 92.9.

 

Finding Jobs for 10 Years: St. Joseph the Worker Job Networking Club Continues Its Mission

MADISON — For the past 10 years, St. Joseph the Worker Job Networking Club has helped hundreds of people learn how to effectively craft a resume, dress appropriately for an interview and, most importantly, land a job!

A recent celebratory luncheon included Job Club members, past and present, local employers, and the volunteers who have helped the Job Club grow and thrive over the past decade. The club meets every Tuesday in the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on Hughes Road.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley congratulated the Job Club and discussed the abundance of new jobs on the horizon, the need for a skilled workforce, coupled with the exponential growth taking place in Madison City, Huntsville-Madison County, and North Alabama as a whole.

“Between 2016-18, 30,00 jobs have been created in this area,” said Finley. “The Mazda Toyota plant is bringing in 4,000 jobs. These new jobs have a 2.5 multiplier. For every job created, there are 2.5 other jobs that support it.”

Borne out of the 2008 recession, Job Club was developed to meet the employment needs of the local and neighboring communities.

As a result of founder Maureen Chemsak’s passion, enthusiasm and expertise, coupled with the support of Father Phil O’Kennedy at St. John’s, Job Club took off like a rocket.

However, without the help of a large group of loyal volunteers, Job Club would not be the success that it is.

The mission of the Job Networking Club, a nondenominational organization, is to assist people in developing their job search skills. Volunteers provide the free service.

A Google group e-mails daily local job postings ranging from service and administrative to high tech and defense.

Along with networking, the Job Club features weekly presenters, workshops, and special interest groups, such as Experience Plus, which is geared for job seekers 55 and over.

Guest speakers are always welcome. For individuals who would like to speak at future Job Club meetings, contact Katharina Loudin at katedmonds2015@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.sjwjobclub.org

Lynne Berry Vallely to Receive Humanities Service Award

Lynne Berry Vallely has been honored for serving Alabama Humanities.

BIRMINGHAM — Lynne Berry Vallely has been named the recipient of the 2019 Wayne Greenhaw Service to the Humanities Award, the Alabama Humanities Foundation Board of Directors announced.

Vallely, former AHF chair and longtime member of the board, will be honored with the Greenhaw award Oct. 7 at The Colloquium at Birmingham’s The Club. The award, named in memory of the author and former board member, is given to a past or current AHF board member who has contributed significantly to serving Alabama Humanities.

“My long association with the Alabama Humanities Foundation has been one of the great joys of my life,” Vallely said. “It was a privilege to work with talented staff and board members to share Alabama’s rich heritage, particularly its fascinating literature and history.

“I am especially delighted to have been chosen for the award named for Wayne Greenhaw, who was a dear friend and mentor.”

A native of Huntsville, Vallely is a graduate of Lee High School and Vanderbilt University. She retired after serving as executive director of the HudsonAlpha Foundation.

She was the founding executive director of the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County. She has served in the offices of former U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions.

“Lynne was an outstanding board member and chair, and she served our organization with great energy and enthusiasm,” said AHF Executive Director Armand DeKeyser. “Her leadership set the standard that will serve us well in years to come.”

Vallely was a member of the Alabama Humanities Foundation Board for 20 years and served as board chair in 2016. She was a member of the board of directors of The Nature Conservancy, Alabama chapter, and served as board chair 2009-2010.

She was in Class 1 of Leadership Huntsville and is a past board chair, 1992-1993. Vallely proposed and established Huntsville Hospital’s Community Health Initiative in 1996. She received the 2018 Women’s Economic Development Council’s Women Honoring Women Award.

Playing leadership roles in service to the community, Vallely has worked in positions that promoted Huntsville’s tourist attractions, preserved its historic sites and protected the area’s natural environment.

Marshall to Lead Lunar Lander Program with Huntsvillian in Charge

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine delivered some welcome news Friday to the Marshall Space Flight Center.

In fact, there were two announcements:

One – he said the Marshall Center, which is in charge of developing the rocket program, will also manage the lunar lander program.

And, two, a Huntsvillian will lead that program.

“We greatly appreciate the support shown here today … for NASA’s Artemis program and America’s return to the moon, where we will prepare for our greatest feat for humankind – putting astronauts on Mars,” Bridenstine said. “We focus on a ‘One NASA’ integrated approach that uses the technical capabilities of many centers. Marshall has the right combination of expertise and experience to accomplish this critical piece of the mission.”

The program will be managed by Huntsville native Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan.

“Imagine this: We are landing the next man and the first woman,” Bridenstine said. “The program that will be managed here … that landing system is being managed … by one of NASA’s best engineers, right here, and she just so happens to be a woman.”

Watson-Morgan, a 30-year NASA veteran engineer and manager, previously served as deputy director of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall.

“Lisa’s appointment to this key role not only reflects NASA’s confidence in her visionary leadership, but confidence in the proven expertise and world-class capability that define Marshall’s contributions to safely landing humans on the Moon and launching complex spacecraft to the Moon and Mars,” said Marshall Director Jody Singer.

Bridenstine also noted that some members of Texas’ congressional delegation were upset that work was being split between Marshall and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, after lobbying the space agency to get the lander program.

“I understand some of their concerns,” Bridenstine said. “I will say that this is not a decision that was made lightly. A lot of hard work has been done here in Huntsville over, really, well over 10 years now regarding landing systems.”

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks thanked Bridenstine for recognizing the work performed at Marshall.

“Marshall Space Flight Center is the birthplace of America’s space program. It was Marshall scientists and engineers who designed, built, tested, and helped launch the giant Saturn V rocket that carried astronauts on the Apollo missions to the Moon,” Brooks said. “Marshall has unique capabilities and expertise not found at other NASA centers.

“I’m pleased NASA has chosen Marshall to spearhead a key component of America’s return to the moon and usher in the Artemis era. Thanks to Administrator Bridenstine for travelling here to share the great news in person.”

With years of expertise in propulsion systems integration and technology development, engineers at Marshall will work with American companies to rapidly develop, integrate, and demonstrate a human lunar landing system that can launch to the Gateway, pick up astronauts and ferry them between the Gateway and the surface of the moon.

The Johnson Space Center in Houston, which manages major NASA human spaceflight programs including the Gateway, Orion, Commercial Crew and International Space Station, will oversee all aspects related to preparing the landers and astronauts to work together. Johnson also will manage all Artemis missions, beginning with Artemis 1, the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems.

 

Airport CEO: Huntsville’s Economic Future is Tied to Airport’s Success

By Rick Tucker

Rick Tucker

Huntsville is one of the fastest growing local economies in our nation. Boosted by federal and private sector investments, our region is on a strong economic trajectory. In fact, a recent population boom has put the Rocket City on track to potentially be the largest city in Alabama in the next six years.

Our airport represents a key component to continuing this trend because current and new industry considering locating to our region depend on passenger and air cargo operations that support their own operating needs. The local economy depends on our ability to connect with other communities across the globe, so Huntsville International Airport (HSV) is vital to maintain those bonds as the region’s gateway to the world.

But similar to other airports around the country, HSV needs infrastructure investments in order to continue to be able to meet the expected flow of passengers and goods in the future. Projected growth in the area and HSV’s desire to continue to propel this region forward is why in 2012 the airport completed a major $92 million terminal and landside project that included creation of a public waiting area, a security screening checkpoint, a baggage claim and a second parking deck. Those necessary upgrades that were a part of the 2002 Master Plan update have improved the passenger experience and the efficiency of the airport.

Although HSV has seen many improvements and aesthetically offers visitors a very warm welcome to our community, other portions of our terminal are between 30 and 50 years old and in immediate need of improvement. As determined by HSV’s current Master Plan update, the parts of the airport’s facility that passengers use every day, such as elevators, escalators, restrooms and concessions, need redevelopment and expansion to keep up with demand.

In addition, these anticipated terminal improvement projects are imperative to adhere to new federal standards and provide our passengers with facilities that meet their expectations like nursing rooms and pet relief areas.  The terminal improvement projects would reinvigorate HSV and set the stage for continued growth for our region for years to come.

We are grateful to Senator Shelby and our Alabama congressional delegation for recently securing significant FAA discretionary grants, however these funds are designated for specific federal government high priority airfield projects. The previously mentioned terminal improvement projects are considered a lower priority for federal discretionary grants. Therefore, our challenge is to find funding for these necessary terminal improvement projects that are currently on hold.

The good news is that there’s a solution that doesn’t require taxpayers to foot the bill.

If Congress would lift the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) — a small user fee paid only by air travelers on which airports depend to fund their infrastructure – HSV could begin this project immediately. The PFC is federally capped at a maximum of $4.50 and hasn’t been updated in nearly 20 years, making it ineffective and inadequate to serve 21st century airports that have experienced inflation just like everyone else.

For example, HSV’s current PFC dollars are already committed through 2030. By modernizing the PFC for the first time since 2001, Congress would allow our airport to generate funding from only the people using the airport, for the project referenced above – all without a dime of taxpayer dollars.

Starting these terminal improvement projects would have a major impact on our region’s economy. On top of the tens of thousands of jobs that Alabama’s airports already support, it’s estimated that these projects would create 608 construction jobs and inject $19.1 million into the Huntsville economy via construction labor wages alone.

Some will say that we should leave the PFC alone. However, those voices fail to acknowledge that maintaining the current PFC could result in stalled growth in Huntsville.

The airport has a major footprint on the local economy, with a total regional economic direct impact of 7,692 jobs equating to a payroll of $474,327,000 and a total multiplied impact of 24,293 jobs equating to a payroll of $942,828,000. Failing to upgrade our airport infrastructure could harm our economy and job growth.

We have recently experienced lower fares at HSV due to the addition of two new carriers and the competition that those carriers created in the market. The improved and expanded infrastructure projects will further encourage the airlines to grow and expand, therefore modernizing the PFC can have a positive and direct impact on passenger fares.

HSV is not alone, America’s airports need nearly $130 billion in infrastructure over the next five years in order to match the demand. It sounds like a staggering number, but the number of passengers traveling through U.S. airports has doubled since 2000 to approximately one billion annually. Conversely, the PFC that pays for critical infrastructure of those airports has not increased in nearly two decades. These airports in their current state were designed for half of that traffic so it is clear that something must be done to modernize airports.

Airports across the country and organizations such as Airports Council International-North America and the American Association of Airport Executives stand alongside numerous conservative organizations asking Congress to consider eliminating the PFC cap entirely or, raising the cap and adjusting it periodically for construction cost inflation.

There’s no doubt that Huntsville is a city on the rise. With a strong economy and a growing population, we are poised to continue to enjoy this success.

HSV has always worked to provide the community with an airport that acts as an economic engine by taking proactive measures that allow for immediate and long-term growth. However, to stay on this path we must ensure that our airport is able to meet the vital needs of the growing population and business community.

Modernizing the PFC isn’t just important for HSV – it’s critical for the future of our region.

(Rick Tucker is the CEO of Huntsville International Airport)

 

Riley Receives Russell G. Brown Leadership Award

“Fire and Ice” was the theme of the 34th annual Small Business Awards Celebration. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Randy Riley won the prestigious Russell G. Brown Leadership Award at the 34th annual Small Business Awards Celebration presented by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Amid the theme “Fire and Ice” and Von Braun Center North Hall decorations, more than 1,000 people attended to recognize the outstanding work businesses and individuals are doing in the community.

Riley is the CEO of Archarithms, a small, high-tech HUBZone company providing innovative products, solutions and services to the government and commercial customers.

More than 1,000 people turned out for the annual Small Business Awards Celebration. (Photo/Steve Babin)

“We are so proud of our contenders and winners, and we are thrilled to celebrate with each of them,” said Pammie Jimmar, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s vice president of Small Business & Events. “It is no easy task to start and grow a small business, but our community is blessed with individuals who aren’t afraid to tackle tough challenges, and Huntsville continues to grow because of their dedication.”

This year’s judging was completed by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. The winners are:

  • Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award: Randy Riley, Archarithms, Inc.
  • Young Professional of the Year: Lauren Johannesmeyer, Google Fiber
  • Nonprofit of the Year – (tie): Greater Huntsville Humane Society, Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG)
  • Professional Services Business of the Year: Palco
  • Culinary Business of the Year: Cyn Shea’s Café & Catering
  • Emerging Business of the Year: Outpost Technologies, Inc.
  • Government Contracting – Professional Services Business of the Year: HigherEchelon, Inc.
  • Government Contracting – Technology Business of the Year: Mission Multiplier
  • Service Business of the Year: Armstrong Relocation Company, Huntsville, LLC
  • Retailer of the Year: Haley’s Flooring & Interiors
  • Local “Creative” of the Year: Church Street Wine Shoppe
  • Medical Practice of the Year: Dunagan Yates & Alison Plastic Surgery Center
  • Woman-Owned Business of the Year: Nesin Therapy Services, PC

Nielsen joins VBC as Marketing, Public Relations Manager

Samantha Nielsen has been named the marketing and public relations manager for the Von Braun Center.

Nielsen will manage internal and external communications, including media relations and advertising campaigns for the VBC.

A native of Huntsville, Nielsen was the director of communications for the Huntsville Museum of Art and also assisted the marketing and public relations efforts at the Port of Huntsville.

“I have had the pleasure of promoting different aspects of our city throughout my career and am excited to now begin marketing the VBC as it continues to grow with Huntsville,” she said.  “I am honored to begin marketing an organization that constantly works to improve the quality of life for our community.”

MSFC Director Singer Named Humanities Fellow

MSFC Director Jody Singer

Alabama Humanities Foundation will honor Jody Singer, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, as one of four fellows inducted into its 2019 class at The Colloquium. The event is Oct. 7 at Birmingham’s The Club.

Singer will be honored with three other people with Alabama ties who have made significant contributions in the humanities in their lives and careers: Dr. Marquita Davis, deputy director, Early Learning, Pacific Northwest for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Fred Gray, attorney and civil rights activist; Howell Raines, retired executive editor of The New York Times.

“This is our third year of The Colloquium, and each year brings us new inspiration as we hear from such distinguished people who have had such an impact, not just in our state but around the world,” said AHF Executive Director Armand DeKeyser. “To think that they all have Alabama ties makes us proud and makes this event so special.”

All four fellows will be featured in a live conversation moderated by National Public Radio’s Michel Martin, host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Singer is the first female director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and is a former deputy director of MSFC. The center has nearly 6,000 on- and near-site civil service and contractor employees and an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.

She also served as deputy program manager for the Space Launch System program – the only rocket designed and tested from the ground up to return humans to deep space.

Singer spent a number of years supporting the Shuttle program. It was Singer, who was responsible for safety during the ground test program that led the agency back to flight after the Columbia accident.

She has been recognized with numerous awards during her NASA career, including NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and two Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive Awards, the highest honor for career federal employees. She received the Space Flight Awareness Leadership Award in 2005 for inspiring the Shuttle Propulsion Office to strive for excellence and continuous improvement; and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1993 while managing the External Tank project’s business office.

A native of Hartselle, she earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama in 1983. She has completed two NASA Fellowships – one at Penn State University and another at the Simmons College Graduate School of Management in Boston.

Singer and her husband, Chris, live in Huntsville. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Trash Pandas Name Fahrmann VP/GM

Veteran baseball executive Garrett Fahrmann has been named Vice President and General Manager of the Rocket City Trash Pandas, CEO Ralph Nelson announced Thursday.

The Trash Pandas, which begin Southern League play in April 2020, announced several other key front office appointments, including Chuck Domino as Special Advisor to the CEO, and Elaine Ballew as Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer.

Fahrmann, who joined the Trash Pandas in June as Vice President of Ballpark and Baseball Operations, assumes the GM title immediately and reports directly to Nelson. His baseball career includes Director of Operations for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Senior Vice President of Operations for the Fresno Grizzlies. The IronPigs are the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Grizzlies were the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants when Garrett was there.

He earned a master’s degree in sports management from Slippery Rock University and a bachelor’s in business management from Concord University.

“Garrett comes to North Alabama with a solid baseball management background from two of the marquee Triple-A organizations in our industry,” Nelson said. “He adds strength to our executive team as we continue to assemble an extraordinary front office. With Garrett, Elaine, Chuck and David Bier, our staff will have unparalleled leadership that will deliver North Alabama an unparalleled baseball experience.”

Domino, Chief Executive of the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels, is a 37-year veteran of the baseball business. President of Domino Management and Consulting, Chuck is a consultant for eight Minor League Baseball teams and has worked with the Trash Pandas since their inception.

Nelson also announced Elaine Ballew has been named the club’s Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer and David Bier has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

“Elaine brings an incredible business and financial background, along with astonishing energy to our organization,” Nelson said. “There are few professionals more respected in the North Alabama business community than Elaine Ballew. With her unmatched community connections and impeccable reputation, we are beyond excited to have her on board.”

Ballew started with the Trash Pandas July 1, and her first order of business has been to finalize corporate partnerships for the team and their new stadium. Elaine was most recently State Director of Corporate Partnerships for the Alabama Media Group/This Is Alabama. She is also former Executive Director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce.

“The introduction of the Trash Pandas is one of the most exciting things to have happened in the Huntsville-Madison area in quite some time,” Ballew said. “I am very excited to join this special team of professionals and, especially, to introduce so many of the corporate connections I’ve made throughout the years to the amazing things the Trash Pandas are doing for our region.”

Bier joined the Trash Pandas in January as Senior Vice President, Operations. His responsibilities include oversight of all business operations for the Trash Pandas organization and the new stadium in Town Madison. He is the former Vice President of Operations and Operating Partner for Monaco Entertainment, LLC.

Other personnel moves announced by the Trash Pandas include: Gayle Milam, Director, Stadium Events. Previously served 26 years as Event and Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Madison; Mojo Jones, Director of Game Entertainment. Will also remain as morning host of the “Mojo Radio Show” on Cumulus Broadcasting’s WZYP in Huntsville; Ricky Fernandez, Manager, Game Entertainment. Will also remain as morning show producer on Cumulus Broadcasting’s WZYP in Huntsville; Nate Leaser, Manager, Box Office Operations. Previously worked for Tickets.com as on- site field technician for the San Diego Padres; Mareca Watson, Director, Customer Experience. Previously worked for Forty-2 Property Management where she was a corporate trainer and oversaw investor relations;

Corey Ausderau, Senior Account Executive. Previously Director of Group Sales for the Birmingham Barons; Charlie Weaver, Groundskeeper. Previously groundskeeper for the Hoover Met Stadium; Brennan Patrick, Account Executive. Previously an intern for the Nashville Sounds; Bud McLaughlin, Manager, Public Relations. Currently Editor of the Huntsville Business Journal. Previous Sports Information Director at Alabama A&M University; Elizabeth Cornett, Manager, Online Store and Merchandise Operations. Previously worked part-time for BallCorps, beginning when Trash Pandas merchandise was introduced Oct. 27; Ivory Snow, Manager Retail Stores. Previously served 20 years in retail operations in the Huntsville area including positions at Belk and Michael Kors.

Ford Thornton Named Development/Communications Director For Princess Theatre

DECATUR – Melissa Ford Thornton has been named development and communications director for the Princess Theatre, the Board of Directors for Decatur’s Princess Theatre and Performing Arts Center announced.

Melissa Ford Thorton, Princess Theatre Development and Communications Director

An alum of the University of Alabama-Huntsville, Ford Thornton has more than 25 years of communications, public and media relations experience. She and her husband, Mark Thornton, established the Suzanne Kay and Gregory Ford Memorial Scholarship at UAH.

“In addition to her wide-ranging communications skills, Melissa is a gifted storyteller, which gives her a unique perspective on and passion for sharing and connecting patrons to the Princess Theatre’s incredible history and narrative,” said Mary McDonald, executive director of Princess Theatre. “I’m thrilled to have Melissa join our team.”

Ford Thornton said the position brings her career “full circle.”

“My first paying job at 16, was working behind the concessions counter at Madison Twin Theatres in Huntsville,” she said. “My professional career is varied, from marketing and corporate communications to musician promotion and booking and podcast host. So, this position with the Princess Theatre, is a beautiful, full-circle and career highlight for me.”