USA Archaeology Museum to hold grand reopening – Yellowhammer News

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USA Archaeology Museum to hold grand reopening

After more than one year of closure due to COVID-19, the University of South Alabama Archaeology Museum on the main campus in the Alfred and Lucile Delchamps Archaeology Building will reopen its doors to the general public starting Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

The regular museum hours will be scheduled from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and there will be guided tours when available included with free admission. There will also be a sale in the gift shop to celebrate the grand reopening.

“We are excited beyond words to reopen and invite the campus community and the public to campus to tour the USA Archaeology Museum” said Jen Knutson, the new education curator. “This is not only an academic resource for students, faculty and staff but we aim to inspire awe and generate curiosity about archaeology and to make history meaningful today.”

The two-story facility features space for archaeology research and teaching along with the museum and gift shop. The museum includes prehistory and history exhibits, as well as a temporary exhibit space. The grounds also include plants historically significant and native to Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

The USA Archaeology Museum will also feature an in-person community day from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on July 24. The University Campus Appreciation Day will be held later this month for students, faculty and staff.

(Courtesy of the University of South Alabama)

A catalyst for community development: Selma’s Arsenal Place

A renovated building is helping change lives in Selma and Alabama’s Black Belt.

Since its creation in 2014 as Selma’s first business incubator, the nonprofit Arsenal Place has worked to help startup businesses get off the ground and running.

Now, the organization has expanded its presence and impact in a newly renovated, historic building, thanks to support from multiple partners, including United Way of Selma & Dallas County and the Alabama Power Foundation.

The restored building, at 22 Church St., is overflowing with potential and opportunity after extensive renovations that include new plumbing and electrical systems, new windows, and rollup doors. Most of the work and supplies were provided by local businesses and contractors.

The new home for Arsenal Place is also serving as a clearinghouse for other community organizations and initiatives – many linked to the Children’s Policy Council of Dallas County (CPCDC), which recently updated its name to Dallas County Children’s System of Services.

Among the programs that have moved in and are using the space: CPCDC’s Fatherhood Initiative, which aims to promote responsible and present fathers; an adult workforce development program; the Compass juvenile diversion program; and a teen pregnancy prevention program.

Bob Armstrong has been a Dallas County District Court judge since 2005 and is CPCDC chairman. He said CPCDC programs have made a positive impact in the county, helping significantly reduce juvenile crime as well as the number of young people being sent directly to prison. But even with all the programs’ achievements, Armstrong saw a need to bring them physically closer together to reduce obstacles for the people they serve, such as finding transportation to multiple locations. That’s how the idea of partnering with Arsenal Place developed. And it has worked seamlessly, he said.

Under the partnership agreement, CPCDC makes modest rent payments to Arsenal Place, which helps cover Arsenal Place’s maintenance and other expenses for the building.

The result: Arsenal Place has become a hub for positive change. Since the building opened, the community has seen tangible benefits from “CPC at Arsenal Place” programs. With a core value of “focusing on solutions, not problems,” the initiative, to date, has chalked up some impressive numbers, with 224 people from Dallas County and the Black Belt region directly benefiting. That number is projected to double in the upcoming fall season.

Here’s a breakdown of the support provided those 224 individuals:

  • 141 people, ages 16 and up, participated in workforce development programs. As a result, 66 of those found employment through programs at Arsenal Place.
  • 94 people completed soft-skills training that included job readiness and parenting programs.
  • 32 families, consisting of 64 individuals, were served through the African American Families Program. Each family received evidence-based programming to improve family dynamics, communication skills and school attendance.
  • 25 people received work certificates that show they’ve completed training to work in construction, food service and other fields.
  • 19 youths, age 18 and younger, were able to avoid juvenile prison by completing the “Risks and Decisions” counseling program and contributing more than 1,000 hours toward community cleanups through the Serve Selma community service program.
  • 12 people were awarded their high school diplomas, with 11 more in the process.
  • Nine people have completed, or are in the process of completing, their credentials as CDL drivers.

Plans have been announced to further expand Arsenal Place, with a fully operating second floor. The expansion would allow the facility to accommodate more programs that are cohesive with the current tenants.

“It’s really incredible to witness faith become sight,” Armstrong said. “This is a place where people can find hope, and hope is a powerful thing.”

To learn more about Arsenal Place, visit

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

House Majority Ldr Ledbetter: Perry County facility, new women’s prison in play for revamped Alabama corrections plan

Last week, discussions in Montgomery continued about how to handle Alabama’s prison crisis but with a few additional wrinkles.

With members of the House of Representatives now involved, a new facility to replace Wetumpka’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women built in the 1940s, and the possible use of the under-utilized Perry County Correctional Facility that opened in 2006 could be part of the plan.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Friday, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter discussed those possibilities and the use of pandemic relief money from the federal government as well.

“Nothing’s in concrete,” he said. “There could be deviation from that. You know, one thing is we’re looking at rehabbing a couple of prisons and maybe looking at a women’s prison. You know, the thing with the bond issue is the premium of the bond could be enough to build a women’s prison. I think that would be my hope, and I certainly think that’s a possibility. The other thing is, there is a possibility — we’ve been working with our finance folks — but there is a possibility that this new round of CARES Act — Alabama has been blessed. We’ve done extremely well during difficult times with the budgeting process. But the federal government allowed so much money in loss of revenues that was created by the pandemic. And those so there is a possibility that we could use that money to rehab some prisons. So, I think that’s very positive.”

“Of course, the Perry County facility is in play, too,” Ledbetter continued. “I think we can work to use it however we figure out to do. There’s some talk about a lease on it, some talk about buying it. I think with all those put together, I think we show good intent. I think we show the Department of Justice you ought to give us a little bit of leeway because it’s a complicated issue. I think it is difficult. It didn’t happen overnight. We’ve been working on it for some time. But we’re not going to fix it overnight. I feel good about the direction it is going. Can we get it done this quadrennium? I can’t answer that. So, we’ll see. We’ll continue working the process and see how it all pans out.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

Trump weighs in on Alabama’s U.S. Senate race

Saturday, former President Donald Trump took aim at Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Katie Britt, former head of the Business Council of Alabama, by questioning her qualifications for the job.

In a statement, Trump said she was not qualified, nor was she “what our Country needs or not what Alabama wants.”

Earlier this year, Trump endorsed one of Britt’s opponents, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), in the race.

(Screenshot/Email statement from Donald J Trump)

“I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his ‘assistant’ fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat,” Trump wrote in a statement sent to the media. “She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our Country needs or not what Alabama wants. For Mitch McConnell to be wasting money on her campaign is absolutely outrageous. Vote for Mo Brooks! He stands for America First, and everything Alabama wants. He also has my Complete and Total Endorsement.”

Shortly after issuing the statement, the Britt campaign sent the following response to Yellowhammer News, which noted Brooks’ 2006 lieutenant gubernatorial and 2017 U.S. Senate campaign losses:

“I don’t need anyone else to fight my battles, and as Alabama’s next U.S. Senator, I won’t be a rubber stamp for anyone. I am proud that over 90% of the $2.24 million we raised in June came from Alabamians, because that’s who I’ll be going to work for and representing every single day,” said Katie Britt. “What we’re seeing now is a reaction to the incredible momentum that continues to build for our campaign. My opponent is obviously panicked; he’s been in elected office for 40 years, but the people of Alabama are eager for a real conservative choice and someone who’s going to bring change to D.C. My opponent lost statewide in 2006. He lost again statewide in 2017. And he’s going to lose in 2022, because our Alabama First team is on the road to victory.”

What we’re seeing today is a reaction to the incredible momentum that continues to build for our campaign.

Some more thoughts from the trail:#alpolitics #BrittForAlabama #AlabamaFirst

— Katie Britt for AL (@KatieBrittforAL) July 11, 2021

Alabama Republican voters head to the polls on May 24, 2022 to vote for their preference on the November 8, 2022 ballot from a field that includes Britt, Brooks, Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor, and former U.S. ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

How Pursell Farms became one of the leading resort destinations in the Southeast

When you think of a weekend getaway in Alabama, what’s the first destination that comes to mind?

Maybe Gulf Shores for a weekend soaking up the sand and sea? Or some time relaxing on one of our state’s many beautiful lakes? You may even think of a bustling city like BirminghamHuntsville, or Mobile for a staycation of sorts.

But if you’ve never considered Pursell Farms in Sylacauga for a weekend away, you’ll want to add this 3,200-acre outdoor leisure resort—complete with an award-winning golf course, Orvis shooting grounds, gourmet dining options, spa, luxury accommodations, and much more—to the top of your list.


Pursell Farms is steeped in history. Even its location in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is part of the story. Pursell Farms is located on the east side of Sulphur Mountain. On the west is Talladega Springs, a former resort town that hit its peak in the early 1900s when visitors flocked to its luxury 100-room hotel for a stay while enjoying the supposed healing powers of the area’s many sulfur springs. Today, Pursell Farms carries on the resort town tradition with its 40-room boutique inn, cottages, and cabins.

Though Pursell has evolved greatly over the years to become the upscale hospitality giant it is, its roots are a bit closer to the earth. In fact, the Pursells (who still own the business today) started in the fertilizer business in 1904. In 2002, third generation family leader David Pursell created FarmLinks, the world’s only research and demonstration golf course, that was meant to draw customers in to see the remarkable work of the family’s fertilizer firsthand. In 2006, the Pursells sold their fertilizer business and set their sights on creating a premier family farm resort based around the golf course.

What to Do

The Pursells wasted no time building upon their golf course’s reputation for excellence in outdoor sports. The farm partnered with renowned outdoor brand Orvis to create a shooting grounds for sporting clays and wingshooting, as well as a fly-fishing school. For those looking for another type of thrill, the resort offers a mountaintop UTV experience, where guests take a guided tour around the massive property and to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Families can explore the property on regular or e-bikes or on foot via almost three miles of scenic walking trails.

For those who prefer a slower-paced getaway, Spring House Spa is the ultimate destination for a relaxing massage or other specialty treatment. Once you’ve gotten out all the knots, stretch it out at Yoga on the Mountain, a complimentary yoga class held at Secret Place on Chalybeate Mountain with pastoral views overlooking the farm, the Appalachian foothills, and Lay Lake.

After a day of activity, Pursell offers several options for gourmet dining. The Clubhouse Grille, located on the golf course’s 9th hole, offers casual eats for breakfast and lunch. Arrington provides a menu of upscale farm-fresh fare with a Southern spin from Chef Joe Truex, a native of Mansura, Louisiana. In addition to a curated breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, Chef Truex also hosts regular cooking events and classes where guests can learn from his expertise. For a nightcap or after-hours, Old Tom’s Pub is your spot. The Scottish-themed lounge and pool room offers signature cocktails and traditional drinks alongside a menu of small plates, pizzas, flatbreads, and other pub classics.

Where to Stay

The Pursell’s family land is speckled with plenty of places to call home for the weekend. From cozy cottages and rustic chic cabins perfect for friend groups and larger families, to the massive Parker Lodge ideal for reunions or retreats, and the historic Hamilton House ideal for wedding parties, there’s something for everyone.

In 2018, the resort rewrote the rules for visitors with its luxury three-story inn. Each of the Inn’s 40 rooms is full of dreamy décor and understated elegance with luxurious touches like standalone soaking tubs and plush king beds. Several of the rooms feature oversized balconies that look out onto the 18th fairway. On the bottom floor, you’ll find a resort-style pool, bocce ball courts, fire pits, and plenty of comfortable chairs ideal for sitting back and taking in the views.

The farm regularly runs “Get Out of Town” specials, so it’s even easier to plan your weekend escape.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

Sweet Grown initiative connects Alabama farmers to local groceries

Sweet Grown Alabama has launched a new effort to help the state’s farmers sell more of their produce in local grocery stores.

The nonprofit foundation, which promotes Alabama’s farming industry, is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and five local grocers and distributors across the state.

Sweet Grown Alabama was awarded a $75,000 USDA specialty crop block grant to provide incentives to the stores and distributors to purchase more local products. In exchange, the stores and distributors are providing sales data that is being shared with farmers, who can use it to help make planting decisions and explore potential new markets.

“We are tracking data of what products are already being sold, and we also hope to capture what grocery stores are looking to purchase that our farmers aren’t growing right now,” said Ellie Watson, director of Sweet Grown Alabama.

Watson said many grocery stores throughout the state already are big supporters of local farmers, so this effort is aimed at strengthening current ties and building new ones.

“Through this grant program, we hope to make buying local products even easier for our grocery members,” she said. “We know buying local takes a bit more money and effort, but the economic benefit it brings to our state outweighs the challenges.”

Partners in the program include Greer’s Markets in South Alabama, the Piggly Wiggly Birmingham Group, Renfroe’s Markets in Central Alabama, WM Grocery in East Alabama and Mitchell Grocery Corp. in North Alabama. Combined, the companies represent 70 stores and nearly 200 distribution partners.

The data collection began in December, and Sweet Grown Alabama is getting monthly reports to share with its members.


Farmers face several challenges in getting their produce on grocery store shelves, said Trav Foster, who runs Ballard Creek Farms in Lowndes and Butler counties.

Building relationships with store managers is a big one, especially for farmers who are just starting out, as is navigating complex federal food safety regulations, he said.

“It’s intimidating going into a grocery store and saying, ‘Hey, do you want to buy our produce?’” Foster said. “And if someone isn’t already established, knowing what products to grow can be difficult, too.”

Ballard Creek Farms has row crops, cattle, hay and sod. Its main produce is watermelon, and over the years it has also grown sweet corn, tomatoes and cantaloupe, selling to grocery stores in Montgomery, Crenshaw, Butler, Wilcox and Autauga counties.

The watermelons are a big hit at gas stations in the region and have buyers from across the country.

Foster said Sweet Grown Alabama helped connect Ballard Creek Farms to a USDA farm to school program, which purchased a semi-truck load of fresh corn and 3,000 watermelons last year.

“Sweet Grown Alabama not only connects us to the outlet for our product, but also does a good job of advertising to get consumers to purchase local produce,” he said.


Andy Virciglio, who owns and operates Piggly Wiggly stores in the Birmingham area, said participating in the USDA grant program, and other efforts of Sweet Grown Alabama, are a natural fit for his family business.

“Sourcing product from around us matters a ton to us and our associates,” he said. “For years, we have tried hard to support local farmers, growers and makers, and Sweet Grown Alabama made 100 percent sense to our store’s mission and what our customers expect from us.”

The most popular locally grown products in the Piggly Wiggly stores include Alabama Gulf seafood, local sausages and seasonal produce, such as tomatoes, melons, collards, turnip greens, berries, peaches, figs and more.

Additionally, the stores offer a large selection of locally-made products including ice cream, baked goods, pimento cheese, chicken salad, fresh roasted coffee and local craft beers.

Virciglio said his stores are ready for increased availability and access to local products and average a couple of new opportunities each week.

“I guess growing up around Alabama brands like Golden Flake, Ziegler’s, Barber’s and more keeps Alabamians seeking more locally made products. They appreciate that, and we do as well,” he said. “We know that if it can be made, grown or brewed locally, we want to have it available for our customers.”


Sweet Grown Alabama was founded nearly two years ago and currently has more than 220 members in its network, including farmers, makers, retailers and restaurants. The group has its own logo, branding effort, marketing programs and other promotional activities to encourage consumers to buy local products.

One of the biggest challenges that produce farmers specifically face is finicky growing conditions, Watson said.

“One bad cold snap, a hurricane or a tornado can destroy your crop in minutes, and it can’t be replaced easily,” she said.

Another challenge is the risk of not having a guaranteed market for the products when they do grow plentifully. So, starting new crops or expanding existing ones can be a tricky proposition.

Watson said Sweet Grown Alabama strives to help farmers make valuable supply chain connections.

“That’s our commitment. If farmers call and say ‘we have extra products,’ we’re going to do what it takes to help get that product sold, whether through grocery stores or farmers markets,” she said.

Another benefit of the USDA grant program is that the participating stores joined the Sweet Grown Alabama branding program. That means they can use the organization’s logo in their ads and aisles, and they are listed in a searchable database of where consumers can find local products.

“Not only are grocery stores reaping the benefits of this grant, but Sweet Grown Alabama farmers are as well, because we have so many new sales opportunities and connections,” Watson said.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)