Fourth Quarter 2014 Newsletter
During the final quarter of 2014, the last of this quadrennium, I put many miles on the road to complete “Ivey on the Move,” a tour to connect with local business leaders, public officials, and community members.
I traveled to Birmingham and visited with leadership at the 117th Air Refueling Wing. The 117th is the best in its field. The unit is home to the KC-135. They can activate and take off in 15 minutes, and make it to the tip of Florida in an hour. Their impressive track record is known in the military world and are called on frequently for key missions. While in Birmingham, I also had the opportunity to tour Children’s Hospital, a shining star of pediatric healthcare in the country. Children’s opened its new facility, Benjamin Russell Hospital, in 2012 with state-of-the-art medical capabilities and fantastic patient family areas. In recent years, while healthcare has been at times stressful and confusing, it’s comforting that Children’s maintains its focus of providing high quality care for our littles ones and works to ease the difficulty of having a child in the hospital on the family. We are fortunate to have such an outstanding facility in Alabama. Before departing, I enjoyed lunch and a briefing at the Birmingham Business Alliance and learned about the innovative work being done at Southern Research Institute. It’s fascinating to know the groundbreaking research and development in science, engineering, and environmental protection that’s happening in our own backyard.
In mid-October, Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh was kind enough to host me in his home district in Annistonin Calhoun County. We began the day at Bear & Son Cutlery located in Jacksonville. The company produces hand-crafted knives and recently secured the licensing to manufacture Remington knives as a result of the successful recruitment of the company to Alabama. Bear & Son expects to double its business because of the Remington agreement -- proof that our strategy to grow the economy is working! From there, we traveled to Ft. McClellan for the “Big Bang,” the culmination of an ordnance disposal program led by the McClellan Development Authority. It was pretty thrilling to push the button that triggered the explosion of the last remaining ordnance found on post. The post was closed in 1999 as a result of the 1995 BRAC and since that time, local leaders have explored how to turn a negative into a positive by re-purposing the land. With the completion of the ordnance disposal program, the land is freed up for economic development. We finished the day at the Center for Domestic Preparedness at Ft. McClellan. Thousands of emergency responders go through disaster and crisis training at the CDP each year. While we visited, the CDP served as the venue for ebola response training conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. The location and facility were the perfect fit for the CDC’s needs. It’s a credit to Alabama that we hosted such vital training during an international health crisis.
The last visit I’ll mention in detail was to Huntsville where I made several stops on Redstone Arsenal beginning with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Director Patrick Scheuermann hosted me at the Payload Operations Center for the International Space Station. From this command post, science activities in space are coordinated. We watched as skilled professionals communicated with astronauts aboard the ISS and provided instructions to conduct research and experiments -- truly fascinating. After that, it was a pleasure to meet again with General Dennis Via, Commanding Officer of Army Materiel Command. Gen. Via is a remarkable leader for this major operation -- “If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, communicates with it, or eats it, AMC produces and provides it.” AMC moved to Redstone as a result of the 2005 BRAC and is a prime example of the positive effects BRAC can have on a community. To end the day, I had the opportunity to attend one of the most moving events I have ever experienced, the Silver Star ceremony for Vietnam veteran 1st Lt. Phillip Fikes. Lt. Fikes received a Silver Star on his record, but it was never officially presented. During the ceremony, Gen. Via described Lt. Fikes’ heroic actions as he continued to advance during battle despite coming under serious fire. He put his own life at risk to save the lives of many fellow soldiers. Lt. Fikes’ emotional acceptance speech was full of humility and appreciation. His family joined him and Gen. Via pinned on the long-awaited Silver Star as a packed auditorium gave him a standing ovation.
During #IveyontheMove, I also had the chance to visit...
Gadsden with Sen. Phil Williams:
Gadsden State Cherokee
Hokes Bluff High School
Cullman with Sen. Paul Bussman:
Busy Bee Café
West Point Intermediate School
Wallace State Community College
Mobile with Sen. Rusty Glover:
USS Montgomery Christening
Following a long history of ceremony, the U.S. Navy hosted a christening for the USS Montgomery sponsored by my friend, Mary Sessions, wife of Sen. Jeff Sessions. Tradition dictates that women do the honors by cracking a bottle of champagne on the ship’s bow. The USS Montgomery is the 8th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to be completed by Austal in Mobile. I was so pleased to attend the ceremony especially since I’d recently had the opportunity to tour Austal and saw an LCS being assembled. It is fascinating how these 3,100-ton vessels are constructed. Thousands of experienced welders piece it together to produce the formidable defender we see on the water. In mid-December, Congress passed a bill which included full funding for three new LCS -- welcomed news considering a proposal earlier in the year to stop the program early. The LCS plays a significant role in our nation’s defense and it’s continuation is vital.
Aerospace States Association
On December 1st, I had the distinct honor to be named Interim Chair of the Aerospace States Association, a national organization designed to represent states’ interests in federal aerospace and aviation policy development. Aerospace is a major economic driver to the national economy. The industry contributes about $120 billion in export sales with a positive trade balance of $70.5 billion, the largest trade surplus of any manufacturing industry in the country. Alabama has capitalized on economic opportunities to invite aerospace industry growth over many decades. More than 400 aerospace companies call Alabama home including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and most recently, Airbus.
As Chair of ASA, I’ll have the opportunity to continue promoting Alabama’s interests on a national level and work with other states to develop sound policies to promote and strengthen our nation’s leadership in aviation and space. Aerospace in America is a rapidly changing industry that has revolutionized our culture -- from the first flight to landing on the moon to today’s endeavors of commercial travel to space and integrating Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into military and commercial use. Our states are significant contributors to building on this revolution for the benefit of our companies and citizens.
I’ll fulfill the remainder of Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell’s term who relinquished the chairmanship to coincide with the end of his term as Lt. Governor of Alaska. I plan to run in the April election for a full term as Chair.
My Office Budget
Since I took office in 2011, I have endeavored to reduce the budget of the Office of Lieutenant Governor. If elected leaders are talking about being good stewards of the State’s resources, streamlining government functions, and cutting wasteful spending; then I feel it’s important to lead by example. My office serves constituents and executes its duties to their full extent, but there’s no need to spend more money than necessary. At the end of the 2013 fiscal year, our books showed I’ve operated the office 32 percent less than my predecessor and significantly less than most state offices. Looking back to 2008, the previous administration spent $818,000. My office completed FY13 with expenditures of $560,000. The efficiencies have not come at a cost to citizens. We are actually doing more with much less, and the record reflects it. Conservative leadership agree that fiscally conservative practices are the best for the State. We’re certainly headed in the right direction, but the budgets aren’t getting any easier to balance. In the coming months, you’ll hear of many ideas and proposals to meet our budgets. I encourage you to stay informed and voice your opinion about how your state leaders handle the new financial challenges we face.
Logger of the Year
In November, I had the opportunity to present the Alabama Forestry Association Logger of the Year award to John McGowin of McGowin Logging Company. John is a lifelong logger from Butler County. Not one person in Alabama goes a day without using some type of forest product. Forestry is vital to Alabama’s economy and it begins with the loggers. As a member of AFA, myself, it was particularly special to me to present the award. Congratulations to John and his entire crew!
Why I’m Thankful for Alabama
It’s fitting at the end of a year to reflect on all for which we have to be thankful. In my November column, I talked about several reasons why I’m thankful, specifically, for Alabama. I love this state. It’s my home and has provided me with great opportunity. Growing up in Wilcox County, I learned how to work hard and have a strong work ethic, aspire to great things, dream big, and serve others. I’m thankful that Alabamians are giving people. We may not be the richest state, but proportionate to their income, Alabamians outgive almost every other state in the country. I’m thankful to live in a state where men and women are willing to serve their country and their service is revered. Alabamians are historically patriotic. I’m thankful that from rockets engines to Navy ships, we are still a leader in manufacturing. In Alabama, we have the ingenuity and grit to build our own. And finally, I am thankful that you have entrusted me to serve. Growing up in rural Alabama, I did not imagine that one day I’d have the opportunity to serve the people of the State I love in this capacity.
It’s an exciting time as we look ahead to 2015. Preparations for Inauguration are underway -- the ceremony takes place Monday, January 19, 2015 -- and the Legislative Session is right around the corner. In a new term, I’ll continue putting Alabamians first and working to improve our quality of life and economy.
Thank you for the privilege to serve as your Lieutenant Governor.
I hope you and your family enjoy a blessed New Year! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office if I can be of any assistance (334) 242-7900.
I am honored to serve as Lieutenant Governor of this great State. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I may be of any assistance to you.