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  #1  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 4:55 AM
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Birmingham Discussion Thread

For things not exactly related to development...

Barbecue festival scheduled at Sloss
By LEIGH ANNE MONITOR
BIRMINGHAM POST-HERALD

They will be stoking the fire for barbecue — not pig iron — at the city's landmark furnaces.
Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark will presents its first "Stokin the Fire BBQ Festival" Aug. 26-27. Professional barbecue cooks are coming from across the country to compete.

It's a festival for grilling pros and amateurs, with $20,000 in prize money and special one-of-a-kind trophies up for grabs.

Organizers hope the event will give Birmingham a major annual barbecue festival, said Mary Head, marketing and development director at Sloss.

"Birmingham is a real hot spot for barbecue," Head said. "It's for people to come and see what they're doing."

The pros will follow Kansas City Barbeque Society guidelines. Fans can watch the cooks and note their equipment, Head said.

"This is hard-core serious," she said.

Barbecue, from chicken to ribs, will be available for sale from two vendors.

The festival also will sell seafood. Food prices will be in the $5 to $12 range, Head said.

Amateurs will compete for a mayor's cup trophy and bragging rights, Head said.

The event will include bands performing in the No. 1 cast shed stage area, plus a children's area with inflatables and a spray water area, art activities and more.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 4:55 AM
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OMG BBQ!

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  #3  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 5:00 AM
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This may get the ball rolling. This is from the Commentary section of the Birmingham Post-Herald

Mismanaged

To those that think the naysayers of the dome stadium just don't care, permit me to point out a few reasons why we don't have any confidence in the leadership in the city of Birmingham.

City of Birmingham leaders think they have all the answers and don't want anyone making decisions that they have not appointed to the decision-making Waterworks Board and Transit Authority. These two boards serve far more than just the city of Birmingham, but Birmingham insists on appointing all board members. These two boards have a history of mismanagement. The majority of rate payers have no say. Add to this the dog track and John Rogers Drive, the four-lane highway to nowhere. Remember John Rogers statements that people would flock from Atlanta to gamble at the race track. Now he is promising conventions and big time sports for the domed stadium.

The mentality of the city of Birmingham, "we control everything," stopped the attempt to form a countywide government in the 1970s. This has continued today.

This demand for control and a blank check from the taxpayers of Jefferson County ensures that any time the voters have the opportunity to vote on a tax increase, they will vote against it. The domed stadium will be but another item to the list of mismanagement and waste of taxpayers dollars.

I want to see Birmingham return to the prosperous city it once was, but it will never happen under the present leadership.

Donald Dunlap

Irondale 35210
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  #4  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 5:05 AM
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The mentality of the city of Birmingham, "we control everything," stopped the attempt to form a countywide government in the 1970s.
OTM killed it. I researched it extensively at Linn-Henley.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 5:09 AM
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Unfortunately (IMO), I dont think we'll ever see a countywide government here.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 2:02 PM
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What a waste of a building this would be if we couldnt find something to buy it.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Local Fed branch expected to close, Atlanta office says
Thursday, June 09, 2005
SHERRI C. GOODMAN
News staff writer

Officials with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta notified employees of the likely shutdown of the Birmingham branch of the Fed in April, according to a transcript of an internal meeting.

Jack Guynn, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Pat Barron, chief operating officer, told Fed 6th District employees during a quarterly question-and-answer session that continuing to operate the $40 million branch in Liberty Park doesn't make good business sense.

The Fed could save $2 million a year by shifting Birmingham's cash operations to Atlanta and essentially shutting down the Birmingham branch, Barron said.

"Even though Birmingham is a new building with an unbelievable vault, we simply have so much capacity there that we're just barely utilizing the minimum space," Barron said during the meeting. He added that the cash vault in Atlanta's Fed will have enough capacity for at least the next 25 years, even if the Birmingham branch shuts down.

"That is not good news if you're an employee of the Birmingham branch and we understand that," Barron said.

Needs board approval:

He told the workers: "I understand your anger, your sadness, et cetera. But the reality of it is that Jack and his colleagues and my colleagues and I all recognize that we have to do the right thing for business going forward."

The transcript provides details about why Fed official are considering closing the facility, which opened five years ago after moving from downtown, where it operated for decades.

Last week, employees of the 6th District, which includes Alabama, received a memo saying the Fed's Conference of Presidents had recommended closing Birmingham's cash operations. The Atlanta Fed's board and the Fed's board of governors must approve the shutdown.

"We expect an announcement sometime in the early part of the summer," Pierce Nelson, a Fed spokesman in Atlanta, said Wednesday.

Birmingham's cash operation employs about 20 people. Another 50 or so employees in support, educational or community outreach positions also could be affected.

`Jack and Pat Chat':

Earlier this year the Fed, citing the declining use of paper checks, shut down the check processing division of the Birmingham branch, eliminating about 70 jobs. It was one of several check processing sites closed nationwide by the Fed in reaction to a shift in consumer payment preferences.

During the April Q-and-A session, known internally as the "Jack and Pat Chat," Guynn and Barron discussed events that may lead to the closing of the Birmingham branch.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Fed studied its cash operations and determined it should stash cash at several commercial banks in the case of a national emergency.

"As you might well imagine, that immediately enabled us to reduce the amount of volume that we have in a lot of the vaults throughout the Federal Reserve System," Barron said.

The Fed also changed some of its cash services policies and as a result, cash growth has dropped off, the transcript said.

In sites where check processing was discontinued, revenue from cash operations alone did not justify continued expenses such as security and human resources.

For these reasons, the Fed closed some cash operations and replaced them with cash depots.

In at least two instances where the Fed has closed both check and cash processing sites, it left in place a staff of about 10 to handle community outreach and a board of directors to provide insight into the economy.

Building's future:

The transcript does not say what would happen in Birmingham, or whether the Fed would hold onto the building.

"Our desire is to keep it in the inventory," Barron said, adding that an armored carrier company may be interested in leasing it.

"Maybe they want to buy the building. We'll look at all those options," he said.

If the Fed sells the building, however, it expects to take a hit, Barron said.

"We probably won't get face value because of the cost of the vault and the fact that the vault is likely not needed by most private sector firms other than maybe a few individuals unnamed, like the guy who runs `The Apprentice,'" he said during the meeting. "The environment changes. It's changed in checks and it's changed in cash. And we have to deal with that and go forward."

E-mail: sgoodman@bhamnews.com
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  #7  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 2:11 PM
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Birmingham losing its Branch of the Fed?

Ugh.

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  #8  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 2:41 PM
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These two boards serve far more than just the city of Birmingham, but Birmingham insists on appointing all board members. These two boards have a history of mismanagement. The majority of rate payers have no say.

The mentality of the city of Birmingham, "we control everything," stopped the attempt to form a countywide government in the 1970s. This has continued today.
I really think newspapers should edit or annotate letters for errors of fact. There are only seven municipalities in the service area of BJCTA, of which four are directly represented on the board (exceptions are Fairfield, Hoover & Vestavia). As stated above, OTM killed the move to "One Great City" in the 70's. And the "History of Mismanagement" can hardly indict the present city government. Kincaid was elected over Arrington's hand-picked successor in 1999. Lee Loder, the senior council member, was elected in 2000. (Of course, Rep. Rogers has been occupying his seat since 1982, but he is only one of 16 members of the Jefferson County delegation)
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  #9  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 5:54 PM
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Originally Posted by DallasTexan
Birmingham losing its Branch of the Fed?

Ugh.

Well the obvious choice is to relocate the Federal Reserve from Atlanta to Birmingham.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2005, 11:29 PM
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Anyone know if construction on the northern beltline has begun yet?
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  #11  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2005, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazer85
Anyone know if construction on the northern beltline has begun yet?




Hell no.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2005, 2:31 AM
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^ Is that a no you dont know, or no it's not under construction?


What about streetcars? Good idea, bad idea? I think theyre still evaluating the costs vs the benefits.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2005, 7:26 PM
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Parking decks need millions in repairs
Friday, June 10, 2005
BARNETT WRIGHT
News staff writer

Birmingham's eight city-owned parking decks need $4.5 million worth of repairs, but money has not been budgeted for the work, according to the agency that manages them.

Phil Gary, executive director of the Birmingham Parking Authority, said city officials were told last year about problems. He said the repairs needed include $3.3 million in concrete and facade work, including waterproofing, and $1.2 million in stairs and lighting improvements.

"I'm concerned about the safety of our customers," Gary said. "When customers report concrete falling and hitting their cars and we have insurance claims on that, we may be a step away from actually hitting a person with some of that concrete."

The Parking Authority has filed at least one insurance claim. In December, concrete fell on two cars in Deck 8 on Third Avenue South, Gary said.

Insurance paid for the damage but the company said it would not be responsible for future claims until repairs are made, Gary said.

Last month, water leaked from Deck 5 into a restaurant on Fifth Avenue North. BPA, in a letter to the city dated May 5, requested money for emergency repair to the deck.

Gary said the city has not responded.

William Gilchrist, director of planning, engineering and permits for the city, said Thursday that he is aware of the water problem at Deck 5. He said members of his staff are looking for the best sealant to fix the problem.

Al Herbert, the mayor's chief of staff, said the city's finance department is examining ways to pay for repairs at the eight parking decks as well as expansion of one deck.

He said the city could issue bonds to cover those costs.

BPA Board Chairman Larry Ward has instructed the board's attorney to send correspondence related to parking deck safety to the mayor and the city's law department.

"They need to know of any impending problem or threat or concern," Ward said.

Potentially dangerous problems exist at the decks, Gary said. Among them: Some post tension barriers and cables that could give way because of deterioration. "Somebody happens to pull their car up in there and hit it, it could crack and buckle," Gary said.

"All of that is caused from water and rain," he said. "It is extremely critical that you waterproof on a scheduled basis. Ignoring this could lead to other issues, other problems.

"Water is our nemesis," he added. "When you see water ponding and it continues to stay, it's obvious some of that water seeps through the concrete to those expansion joints."

`Came home to roost':

A study by Walker Parking Consultants, which was commissioned by the Parking Authority, says about $1.3 million worth of waterproofing is needed in the eight decks. That is the highest cost on the list of repairs. The study recommends that $212,000 be spent to repair expansion joints.

Ward said decks were not maintained for many years and all the problems "came home to roost at one time."

Ward said he is optimistic the city will come up with the money.

"I am convinced that the mayor and the city are moving as quickly as possible to resolve the problem and get the necessary funding to fix all the decks," Ward said. "I'm sorry it's taking this long to get it done. But I think they realize the problem and they're making every effort to get it done."

E-mail: bwright@bhamnews.com
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  #14  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2005, 7:32 PM
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Is this how the Census is getting their estimates every year? I had been wondering. Just saw this article in Huntsville's paper today.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

[B]Census Bureau surveys arriving soon for some[B]
About 225 county households will get forms monthly
Friday, June 10, 2005
By KEITH CLINES
Times Staff Writer kclines@htimes.com

Some households in Madison County will be receiving a new questionnaire from the U.S. Census Bureau this year.

The American Community Survey replaces the long form that households received in the 2000 Census. About 2,700 households, or about 225 each month, in Madison County will receive the survey this year, said Shelly Lowe, a Census Bureau spokeswoman. About 4,200 households in the state will receive the survey each month.

Because the American Community Survey is new, many people in Alabama who have received it have had questions about its validity, Lowe said. The Census Bureau is conducting a campaign to let people know that the survey is legitimate.

Lowe said that anyone who receives the survey and has questions about its legitimacy can go to the bureau Web site at www.census.gov/epct/mso or call a Census Bureau regional office at (800) 424-6974.

The bureau began in January mailing the survey - which covers such things as housing, income, education and employment for every person who lives at a residence - to about 3 million households in the United States. A rolling sample will be conducted every year.

The law requires anyone who receives the survey to complete it and return it to the bureau. If they don't, the resident can receive a follow-up telephone call and then a personal visit from a bureau representative. The resident could face federal criminal charges if he or she does not participate in the survey.

The bureau has about a 96 percent response rate to the survey.

"Our goal is to increase the mail response," Lowe said.

Federal law guarantees that a person's survey responses will remain confidential. Any census employee who violates that confidentiality can face federal criminal charges.

The long form, which had about 60 questions, won't be used in the next census in 2010. The American Community Survey will ask the same questions every year that have been asked on the long form once every 10 years.

The Census Bureau made the change so that local leaders would have fresher information each year to help them make decisions, Lowe said.

"Instead of doing this all at once every 10 years, we split it," she said.

The socioeconomic information that the bureau receives from the completed surveys helps the federal government decide how to allocate $200 billion a year in federal grants and spending for such things as public health, education, transportation and neighborhood improvements.

"It will direct federal spending right now," Lowe said.

The Census Bureau will release information collected in the surveys in August for areas with a population of 250,000 or more. Information for areas with more than 65,000 people will be released in summer 2006. The information will be released annually.

It will be three to five years before enough information for an accurate sample to be produced from smaller areas. Rolling three-year averages will be released annually for areas with populations between 20,000 and 65,000. Rolling five-year averages will be released annually for areas as small as census tracts.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2005, 8:13 AM
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Quote:
Anyone know if construction on the northern beltline has begun yet?
How could it be? It hasn't gone through final design...ROW is just now being bought...and construction money hasn't been appropriated yet...
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  #16  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2005, 2:39 PM
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^ Just in March of 2005...
------------------------------------------------------------------

Bachus Secures $60 Million for

Birmingham Metro Area Highway Projects






WASHINGTON- Congressman Spencer Bachus announced today that the House of Representatives voted and passed the Six-Year Transportation Authorization Bill. Included in the Transportation Bill are several highway projects that will have a significant impact on the Birmingham Metropolitan Area and Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.



Included in the Bill are the Following Projects





1. Birmingham Northern Beltline.

PROJECT FUNDING: $10,000,000



2. County Road 52 and Highway 261 Old Town Helena Bypass.

PROJECT FUNDING: $10,000,000


3. I-65 Widening to six lanes in Shelby Co. from Exit 238 (Alabaster) to Exit 228 (Calera)

PROJECT FUNDING: $8,000,000


4. US Hwy. 31 bypass in Calera.

PROJECT FUNDING: $6,800,000



5. Valleydale Road Widening from U.S. 31 to I-65 (Shelby County Road 17).

PROJECT FUNDING: $6,000,000


6. I-20 Widening and Safety Improvements in St. Clair County.

PROJECT FUNDING: $5,000,000



7. Sulphur Springs Road (Hoover) bypass from AL 150 to Shades Crest Road.

PROJECT FUNDING: $5,000,000



8. Highway 216 Safety Improvements in Tuscaloosa County.

PROJECT FUNDING: $3,000,000



9. AL Hwy. 5 improvements in Bibb County.

PROJECT FUNDING: $3,000,000


10. Pedestrian Improvements for the cities of Northport, Pell City, Moody, Center Point, Gardendale, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Leeds, Columbiana, and Morris.

PROJECT FUNDING: $2,900,000



11. American Village (Montevallo) construction of closed loop Access Road, Bus lanes, and parking facility.

PROJECT FUNDING: $300,000
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  #17  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2005, 2:41 PM
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They dont seem to have trouble finding federal funds for it... this is from December of 2004.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

$25 MILLION WILL CONTINUE CORRIDOR X AND NORTHERN BELTLINE CONSTRUCTION





WASHINGTON- Congressman Bachus is pleased to announce that a $25,000,000 appropriation to continue construction on Corridor X and the Birmingham Northern Beltline was included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill which passed the House of Representatives this evening.


“The completion of Corridor X and the creation of the Northern Beltline will keep Alabama at the forefront of industrial and commercial expansion in our region. This funding will be instrumental in creating thousands of new jobs throughout the entire Birmingham Metro Area,” said Congressman Bachus.


The construction of the Birmingham Northern Beltline has been a priority for Congressman Bachus since he was first elected to Congress in 1992. The completion of the Northern Beltline has become increasingly needed in recent years due to the gridlock associated with Malfunction Junction and the need to divert heavy truck traffic around the downtown commercial district. The Birmingham Metro Area’s rapid population growth and the repeated shutdown of I-59 and I-65 due to catastrophic accidents have highlighted the need for a more complete by-pass.


“That’s why we’ve got to continue working on projects like Corridor X and the Northern Beltline to move Birmingham and North Alabama to the next level,” said Bachus.


The $25 million in funding for Corridor X and the Northern Beltline will continue progress in completing the Appalachian Development Highway System. The Appalachian Highway System consists of 2402 miles of completed highway, 116.5 miles of highway under construction, and 506 miles of highway that include those of the Northern Beltline that are in the planning or final design stages.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2005, 2:45 PM
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Just from these three articles alone, youre looking at nearly $40 million... and there's probably more than that that's been secured.
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Last edited by Blazer85; Jun 11, 2005 at 2:52 PM.
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Old Posted Jun 11, 2005, 2:52 PM
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Okay...quick lesson in Congressional funding: the second article is the only one that has gone through, and given the topography around Birmingham, $25 million won't buy you much, especially when it's being split with Corridor X.

The first and third articles you cited are for the transportation reauthorization bill, which *STILL* hasn't fully gone through Congress and to the President yet. That money DOES NOT EXIST at the present. Furthermore, since it's from the same bill, the numbers in the first article supercede the numbers in the third article. You will not get both together.

And if Bush vetoes the bill like he's been threatening to do unless Congress lowers the total dollar amount, all bets are off...

Finally, even if funding is found for the Northern Beltline, you still have the matters of final design and ROW purchase I cited earlier which have not been completed yet.
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Old Posted Jun 11, 2005, 2:54 PM
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ROW is already been mostly purchased... at least between Highways 75 and 79 in Pinson. Construction has been expected to begin sometime soon after.
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Last edited by Blazer85; Jun 11, 2005 at 3:05 PM.
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