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Sears Closing Mobile Store

Sears has announced that they will be closing their Bel Air Mall location later this year. The store will begin a liquidation sale on July 17th. The Auto Center will also be closing. Sears is expected to remain open until August or September.

The store and Auto Center have around 100 employees. Some will be given severance or offered positions at other Sears or K-Mart locations.

Sears has been struggling for some time. The company was founded in 1886 as a mail order catalog. The first retail location opened in 1925. It was the largest retailer in the US until it was surpassed by Walmart in 1989. Sears was bought out by K-Mart in 2005.

Sears, like its parent company K-Mart, has struggled with competition. Walmart led the first wave of fatal blows, followed quickly by online retailers.

mobile votes on mayor today

Mobile Votes On Mayor Today

Its election day in Mobile. The city will choose between incumbent Sam Jones and challenger Sandy Stimpson for mayor. Districts 2,3, and 4 will also vote on their city council representatives. Voters couldnt ask for a more beautiful day to vote, as the skies will be clear and the humidity will be relatively low. Voting will last until 7:00 PM.

The race between Jones and Stimpson has been contentious at times. The race is expected to be relatively close, with Jones seen as a slight favorite due to being the incumbent. Mayor Jones has also picked up key endorsements such as former Mayor Mike Dow and several unions. Stimpson has the backing of business related groups in Mobile.

Before getting into politics, Sam Jones spent 9 years in the US Navy. He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal under the command of John McCain. Jones later was elected to four terms as Mobile County Commissioner. He was first elected Mayor in 2005, succeeding Mike Dow.

Sandy Stimpson was born and raised in Mobile, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. He worked for 37 years at Gulf Coast Lumber Company and its successor, Scotch Gulf Lumber LLC. He has served as chairman of several organizations, such as the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Alliance of Business and Industry, the Business Council of Alabama, and the Alabama Policy Institute.

The race for Mayor is very important to Mobiles future. The city could be on the verge of unprecedented growth. Airbus will soon be building jets in the port city, and Austal already builds warships down at the docks. The port itself is being expanded as well. Mobile could soon be a manufacturing powerhouse. Whoever leads the city over the next few years will be spearheading that growth.

alabama unemployment

Alabama Unemployment Rate Down To 6%

Alabama’s unemployment rate has once again fell, and now stands at 6%. This figure is down from 6.3% in October. The state is still slightly above the national average of 5.8%. Roughly 126,000 people remain unemployed in Alabama.

Overall, the national economy continues to grow, and unemployment continues to fall. While divided government in Washington could provide some roadblocks next year, a big budget battle was avoided this month as Congress passed a bipartisan bill to fund the government. Most economic metrics point to continued growth in 2015.

Mobile got a potential dose of good news with the White House’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba. If Congress takes the next step and kills the embargo, Mobile stands to profit handsomely due to its close proximity to the island nation. The city has one of the closest ports to Cuba. Trade, cruise ships, and much more could be coming if ties continue to deepen.

Britney Woods Disappearance

Twist In Britney Woods Disappearance

The mystery surrounding Brittney Woods disappearance continues to deepen. She was last seen heading towards an uncles house who later committed suicide. Now, two other family members have been arrested for sex crimes. Officers said the crimes were horrific, and involved a female juvenile, according to Fox 10 News. Authorities are not yet sure these crimes have anything to do with Brittneys disappearance.

On Tuesday, deputies arrested Randall Scott Wood, another uncle of Brittneys. He is charged with sex abuse, sodomy, and incest. Dustin Alton Kent was the other relative arrested. More arrests are expected.

Brittneys cell phone was last detected in the Grand Bay area. Search crews began going door to door on Thursday passing out fliers in an attempt to locate the missing teen.

Authorities are looking into the possibility that the arrests could be connected with Brittneys disappearance. Her brother mentioned her possibly being scared and in hiding when he was interviewed earlier this month. If the charges against her family members turn out to be true, this could be the motivation she has to be in hiding.

In 2010, nearly 700,000 missing person reports were filed with the NCIC (National Crime Information Center). That was a decrease from the nearly 720,000 reports filed in 2009. Children and teenagers make up roughly half of all people reported missing.

budget pie

More Budget Woes For Alabama

Governor Robert Bentley is seeking to cut the Alabama budget by 25%. The Legislative Fiscal Office projects a $170 million shortfall in the Fiscal Year 2012 general fund and a $23 million deficit in the education fund. The two largest line items in the general fund are Corrections and Medicaid. Governor Bentley has promised not to cut any money from Corrections. Local school administrators have been warned to expect 3-5% cuts for Fiscal Year 2012.

Cuts in education and social programs are not going to help the budget long term. Cutting education spending is perhaps the worst way to handle long term budget problems. Alabama is perennially in the bottom ten states in the nation when it comes to graduation rate. Governor Bentley’s solution is to give more control on the local level. While this has worked well in our area, this is not the solution to the entire state’s problem.

The best way to fix the state budget is through a stronger economy. More jobs and more businesses mean more tax revenue for the state. Alabama’s unemployment rate has been dropping like the rest of the nation’s lately, but a nearly $200 million budget deficit means there is still some work to be done on the revenue side. Local governments could be of use here as we need more business friendly city councils spurring on entrepreneurs and not getting in the way. Local governments are far more likely to get in the way of small business than the federal government.

As reported in an earlier story, the Alabama Sentencing Commission is consider rule changes that would mean longer sentences and thus more prisoners. At a time when we are cutting our education budget we should not be growing our Corrections budget. Education may be the best crime fighting tool we have as multiple studies show the more education a person receives the less likely they are to commit a crime. By cutting education spending and upping Corrections spending it is as if the state is giving up on its own people.

It is important to be fiscally responsible, but we must not lose sight of our long term goals. We can not sacrifice the down payment on our future that is the education of our children. A better society is being built everyday across the country, and it is being built in the classroom.