Update from the chamber

Bradley Byrne to speak at breakfast

Bradley Byrne, candidate for the Republican Party 2010 gubernatorial nomination, will be the featured speaker at the chamber breakfast to be held at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan, 28, at Twin Oaks. The program will be sponsored by Sherrer and Sherrer, P.C., a law firm located in Oneonta.

Bradley Byrne practiced law in Mobile for more than 25 years after graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law. He has served two terms (1994-2002) on the Alabama State Board of Education. He was elected twice as a state senator (2002 and 2006) and was appointed chancellor of the two-year college system in 2007, serving until 2009.

Byrne highlights his record as a reformer and a champion of ethical leadership in every part of state government. He supports constitution reform carried out in an article-by-article approach. He states that higher taxes are not the answer to the fiscal crisis Alabama is currently facing. And, he will make rights for military veterans a priority. You can access Bradley Byrne’s gubernatorial platform by visiting his Web site at www.byrneforalabama.com.

Sherrer and Sherrer’s generosity allows the chamber to bring another public speaker of note to our area. The law firm is located across from the Blount County Courthouse at 231 Second Avenue East. The firm is a full-service law office that has been in existence since 1965.

The public is invited to hear Bradley Byrne present his vision for the state during the next four years. He is the fifth of eight candidates seeking the gubernatorial nomination in Alabama to speak at a Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce event.

December unemployment rate

Tom Surtees, Alabama’s Department of Industrial Relations director, announced on Jan. 22 that Alabama’s unemployment rate for December rose to 11 percent, an increase from November’s rate of 10.5 percent. During this same time frame, the national average remained constant at 10 percent.

Alabama tied with Oregon during December for the ninth-highest jobless rate among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. States with the lowest unemployment rates included: 1) North Dakota, 4.4 percent; 2) Nebraska and South Dakota, 4.7 percent; and 4) Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma, 6.6 percent. States with the highest unemployment rates were as follows: 51) Michigan, 14.6 percent; 50) Nevada, 13 percent; 49) Rhode Island, 12.9 percent; 48) South Carolina, 12.6 percent; and 47) California, 12.4 percent.

December’s rate for Alabama represents 225,596 unemployed persons. There were 9300 job losses during the month. For 2009, Alabama’s preliminary average jobless rate was 9.8 percent. Wage and salary employment slots declined by 65,100. Annual losses occurred in manufacturing, construction, trade, transportation, utilities, professional and business services, and natural resources and mining. The only annual gains were recorded in education, health services, and government.

During the month of December 2009, 15 of Alabama’s 67 counties had unemployment rates of 15 percent or higher. During the same time period, 51 of the 67 counties had unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher. Also during December, only 16 of Alabama’s 67 counties had unemployment rates of 10 percent or lower.

Alabama counties with the lowest jobless rates included: 1) Shelby, 7.6 percent; 2) Madison, 7.7 percent; 3) Coffee, 8.1 percent; 4) Pike, 8.6 percent; and 5) Tuscaloosa, 8.8 percent. Blount County tied with Crenshaw, Cullman, and Limestone counties for twelfth-lowest at 9.9 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were as follows: 67) Wilcox, 24.5 percent; 66) Monroe, 20.2 percent; 65) Dallas, 20.1 percent; 64) Conecuh, 19.9 percent; and 63) Perry, 18.2 percent.

During the month of December 2009, there were 25,143 Blount Countians in the civilian labor force, a drop of 83 from November 2009. During December, 174 Blount Countians lost jobs. From December 2008 to December 2009, the county’s jobless rate increased from 5.8 percent to 9.9 percent.

Alabama’s December rate was the highest since the jobless rate in the state reached 11.1 percent in January 1984. Several economists were quoted in the state’s daily newspapers as saying the unemployment rate will likely rise during the next year.

Shelby town hall

The chamber will hold a town hall meeting for Senator Richard Shelby at noon Monday, Feb. 22, at Twin Oaks. Lunch will be provided at no cost, courtesy of Superior Bank. Senator Shelby (RTuscaloosa) will provide information regarding the next session of Congress. Among the topics of discussion will be healthcare, terrorism, the economy, immigration, and national defense.

Senator Shelby visits each of the 67 Alabama counties each year to discuss his legislative agenda and to remain in touch with constituents. This is a great opportunity to have lunch with Senator Richard Shelby, learn about important issues facing Alabama and the nation, and to have the opportunity to ask questions. Please join us but plan to be seated by noon so the program can begin on time.

Crime Stoppers

Blount County Crime Stoppers met last week with Alpine Advertising to begin a television ad campaign to inform the public about the organization, crimes to be solved, and ease of reporting information by telephoning 274- 2746. Such tips may lead to the arrest of an individual or individuals who have committed an unsolved crime.

St. Vincent’s Heart Day

St. Vincent’s Blount will hold its annual Heart Day on Saturday, Feb. 20, from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Screenings, which cost $40, include an EKG, lipid profile, blood pressure screening, basic metabolic profile, and a t-shirt. For more information, visit www.stvhs.com.
To register, call 939- 7878 or 800-331-6777. You must register by Feb. 10.

Conclusion

A note of congratulations goes to the people of Hayden and west Blount for joining together to fight the unwarranted taxation of the area by the town of Warrior. The chamber is an active member of the West Blount Development Association and applauds the good work done by the group.

The Blount County Leadership Class had a great meeting last week studying law enforcement and the court system. Crime Stoppers continues to expand to serve the entire county and received a vote of confidence from the Blount County Commission.

The chamber’s speakers program continues to feature the 2010 gubernatorial candidates. Senator Shelby’s town hall meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 22.

By working together, we are making a very good community even better.