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By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The 2018 red snapper seasons for private recreational anglers and the charter fleet are finally set. Well, maybe.

The recreational for-hire (federally permitted charter boats) sector season is definitely set. It will start on June 1 and run through July 21.

The private recreational season (private-vessel anglers and anglers on state-licensed guide boats) is currently scheduled for 47 days, also starting on June 1. The private recreational season will be on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) through and including Labor Day. The full 4th of July week is included as well.

However, a caveat is included in the private angler season, according to Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) Director Scott Bannon. The harvest of red snapper will be closely monitored through the Red Snapper Reporting System, better known as Snapper Check, and the rate of harvest will actually determine how many days the private angler season will be open.

NOAA Fisheries granted the Gulf of Mexico states exempted fishing permits (EFPs) for private recreational anglers for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. A request from NOAA Fisheries for approval of the EFPs was that the federal charter boats not be included. Louisiana and Texas originally planned to include charters in their EFPs but relented and removed them to get the EFPs finalized.  

“Now the EFPs are for private anglers only,” Bannon said. “That means for Alabama, there is a potential 47-day season. We have to keep the word potential in there. We have about 985,000 pounds of red snapper in Alabama’s EFP quota. We get to pick how we fish that amount. Based on our average daily harvest level last year, when we had 42 days, we should get through the 47-day season. If the weather is good and the effort is high, it may end a little early. If there are bad weather days and anomalies and the daily harvest rate is lower than last year, we could extend the season.”

The reason Alabama’s private angler season is flexible is because of Snapper Check, which allows Marine Resources to closely monitor the effort and catch rate during the season. The MRD biological staff will compile the data from Snapper Check to keep tabs on the season.

“With Snapper Check, we will be monitoring the harvest weekly,” Bannon said. “Our staff will pull that Snapper Check data, and we’ll meet mid-week to review the estimate of each weekend’s harvest. We will have a good idea of how it’s progressing through the season. If the weather is windy or stormy and the effort drops, we won’t necessarily lose those days or lose those snapper.

“That was the challenge before. If you had a weather system sitting on an area and anglers didn’t get to fish, that was a lost opportunity. Now we don’t lose that opportunity. Under the EFP, we are able to add days to the season if there are enough pounds remaining in the quota.”

The new Outdoor Alabama app, which includes Snapper Check, will be unveiled after wild turkey season ends on April 30. The new version, which replaces the current Snapper Check app, will require a download from the appropriate app store. New features are included in the new app. Red snapper, which has a mandatory reporting requirement, was the only harvest report available in the old version of Snapper Check.  In the new app, anglers have the option to voluntarily report the harvest of gray triggerfish and greater amberjack. The charter community asked Marine Resources to add those two species to Snapper Check to improve harvest monitoring for those species.

Also new for the latest Snapper Check app is the ability for vessel owners to log into Snapper Check and view the reports they have submitted during the calendar year.  The landings report will also include the information submitted for triggerfish and amberjack.

Another nice red snapper is headed for the cooler

To access this feature, vessel owners must call the Marine Resources Division at (251) 968-9702 and leave a message with specific identifying information.  Owners of private vessels must provide their name as it appears on the vessel registration, vessel registration number (USCG documentation number or state registration number), and the Conservation ID number found on their Alabama saltwater fishing license.

Charter boat captains must leave a phone message containing their name as it appears on their vessel’s registration, their vessel identification number (USCG documentation number or state registration number), Vessel Seafood ID number located in the bottom section of their Alabama commercial party boat license paperwork, and their captain identification number (Merchant Mariner Credential Reference Number).

A few days after providing the account information, the vessel owner can go to the menu on the Snapper Check app and select the Vessel Landings Report tab and enter the required account login information.  If the search is online, the vessel owner will click on the Vessel Landings Report tab located at the top of the page.

“Snapper Check is a critical tool in this,” Bannon said. “It keeps us from going over the amount we requested. Now that red snapper is no longer considered overfished, there is no payback in the following year’s quota, but we still need to show we are responsible to stay within the allocation. If the private anglers exceed their allowable catch, it will eventually affect the charter for-hire people. The charters have been underfishing their allocation slightly, so we don’t want one side adversely affecting another.”

Bannon said one part of the EFP is that state-licensed charter boats are only allowed to catch red snapper within the 9-mile state jurisdiction. Those boats are not allowed to harvest any fish in federal waters when they are on a charter.

Bannon said the public feedback on the proposed private angler season has been very positive.

“Most people like the three-day format,” he said. “We do realize that part of the population, and the state-licensed guides, would like to have one more weekday because of the turnover when people are visiting the coast. Most of the condos turn over on Saturday, which makes it difficult for them to accommodate this group.

“Once we look at the effort this year through the season, we may make some changes for 2019, based on feedback from the public.”

Speaking of triggerfish and greater amberjack, the triggerfish season is currently open. Amberjack season will reopen May 1. Both triggerfish and amberjack will be closed June 1 through July 31. Keep in mind that both species are managed under quotas and may close at any time during the open season if the quotas are met or are projected to be met.

MRD Chief Biologist Kevin Anson said a proposal to change the amberjack bag limit was discussed during last week’s Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in Biloxi, Miss.

“The council will be looking at potentially updating the bag limit on amberjack,” Anson said. “That’s an option the council will be looking at in the not-too-distant future. The bag limit would be a fractional bag limit with one fish per two anglers. There will also be some talk about refining the seasons, potentially setting hard quotas for the new fall and spring seasons.

“With amberjack not recovering, based on the best available science we have, we’re trying to look at ways to keep access to the fishery open as long as possible.”

Another fish of concern for the Gulf states is cobia, also known as ling or lemonfish.

“We will be looking at cobia,” Anson said. “We’ll be looking at catch rates and landings. There is a lot of concern that cobia numbers have plummeted, particularly in the Florida Panhandle during the spring run. One charter captain said during public testimony that only 18 fish have been landed in Destin (Fla.) cobia tournaments this year. That’s not many fish.”

As for the 2018 snapper season, Bannon said he is excited about the prospects.

“I think the EFP shows a potential new path forward for the Gulf states in the goal for state management of reef fish,” Bannon said. “We’re working on a red snapper state management plan through the Gulf Council process. First, we have to decide on allocation across the Gulf. The EFPs were at least a representation of how we can allocate the fish. We want a little more, but so does every other state.”


Red snapper fill the cart after a day of fishing off Alabama's coast


I am privileged to have conversations with teenagers almost every day. We talk about everything from pop culture to relationships. Oftentimes, the relationship conversation goes far beyond their crushes, boyfriends, and girlfriends, and extends to family. Sometimes, things are great at home, and students are eager to talk.  Other times, they would much rather talk about anything but their families. Either way, in my attempt to get to know them better, family will eventually be mentioned, because I believe that there are very few aspects of life that influence us like family. 

Now that we’re finally swinging into spring, I thought it might be the perfect time for a couple of light, refreshing recipes everyone can enjoy. This chicken shawarma with cucumber yogurt is mouth wateringly delicious – and it’s got some wonderful spices for extra flavor. And for the pasta fans (really, who isn’t?), this cacio e pepe is simple, but it’s truly delightful. Cacio e pepe means “cheese and pepper” – so if you like both, you’ll love this. 

Alabama Women’s Golf Begins SEC Championships Play on Wednesday




TUSCALOOSA Ala. – The No. 1-ranked Alabama women’s golf team will begin postseason play this weekend at the 2018 Southeastern Conference Women’s Golf Championships,April 18-22, at Greystone Golf & Country Club’s Par 72, 6,253 Legacy Course in Birmingham, Ala.


The Crimson Tide will tee off at 9:40 a.m. CT on Wednesday and will be paired with Arkansas and South Carolina in the first round. Admission is free for this year’s tournament.


Tournament Format

This year’s SEC tournament will feature three rounds of stroke play April 18-20, with the individual champion being crowned following the third round on Friday. The top eight teams in the standings following stroke play will advance to match play with the quarterfinals and semifinals set for Saturday, April 21 and the championship match scheduled for Sunday, April 22.


Alabama at the SEC Championships

Alabama has captured three SEC team titles – 2010, 2013 and 2016. The Tide won its first conference championship with a four-stroke victory at the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa in 2010 before capturing the 2013 and 2016 crowns at the tournament’s current site, Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham. Along with the 2010, 2013 and 2016 victories, Alabama has finished runner-up in the SEC Championship on five occasions, including 1991, 1994, 2009, 2011 and 2017.


National Rankings

Alabama enters the weekend at No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin team rankings released April 17 with a 69.88 rating. The Crimson Tide is also ranked No. 2 by Golfstat and leads the nation in scoring average at 71.00. Alabama boasts two of the nation’s top seven golfers and four of the top 32 heading into SEC play. Lauren Stephenson (third), Kristen Gillman (seventh), Lakareber Abe (30th) and Cheyenne Knight (32nd) are ranked in most recent Golfstat NCAA Player Rankings, released April 10. Stephenson and Gillman are ranked No. 2 and No. 11, respectively in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index released April 17, with Knight (25th), Abe (53rd) and Angelica Moresco (86th) also appearing in the ratings.


Alabama Sweeps SEC Weekly Awards Following Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic

Alabama juniors Cheyenne Knight and Lauren Stephenson were named Co-Southeastern Conference Women’s Golfers of the Week and freshman Angelica Moresco was named SEC Women’s Freshman Golfer of the Week the league office announced April 16.

Stephenson and Knight were co-medalists at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic over the weekend. Knight opened the tournament with a first-round 65, equaling her career-low round. Stephenson fired back-to-back 69s in the second and third rounds to tie Knight for first place. The two rounds of 69 give Stephenson 15 rounds in the 60s in 23 rounds played this season. The Lexington, S.C., native has now been below par in 19 of 23 rounds in 2017-18.


The medalist honor is the second of the season and UA career for Stephenson. Knight’s win is her first for 2017-18 and fourth of her career, which ranks No. 2 all-time at Alabama. This also marks the first time in UA women’s golf history that two Tide golfers have tied for individual medalist honors in a tournament.


Moresco was the low freshman at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic with a 2-over par 218 (70-75-73) to finish in a tie for 14th. The Caldogno, Italy, native’s opening round 70 equaled her career-low round.


Get all the latest information on the team by following @AlabamaWGolf, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. General athletic news can also be found at UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and AlabamaAthletics on Facebook.


- UA-



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Calhoun Community College Awarded $1.5 Million Grant for Automotive Technology Program Facility

April 11, 2018

Decatur, AL – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.5 million grant to Calhoun Community College of Tanner, Alabama, to help build an Automotive Technology Program Facility on Calhoun’s Decatur campus. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to create 219 jobs, and generate $32 million in private investment.

“The American labor force is the engine that drives our national economy,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The President and the Department of Commerce are committed to ensuring that American communities have tools available to meet the demand for a skilled workforce.”

The Automotive Technology Program Facility will provide entry-level skills necessary to enter into and excel in the automotive service and repair industry. It will expand and strengthen the automotive cluster in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee, enhancing the region’s economic resilience. This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments. EDA funds the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Government to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

"Words truly can not appropriately express our excitement and gratitude in finding out this morning that the College has been awarded this $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce," commented Calhoun President Dr. Jim Klauber. "The funding provided through this grant will go towards the construction of our new Automotive Technology center, which when complete, will allow Calhoun to offer a program that will help to meet the growing shortage of skilled workers in the automotive industry," Klauber added.

The College conducted a groundbreaking event last fall at its Decatur campus for the 23,400 square-foot, approximately $7 million facility. Construction is expected to begin later this year.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov) The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Automotive Tech Center Rendering 1

Pre-Shop Spring Plant Sale April 4 with our first 2018 Lunch & Learn
Bring your lunch to The Gardens on Wednesday, April 4 from 11:30-12:30 p.m. and get a preview of what our plant groups will have to offer at this year's Spring Plant Sale. You'll get an inside scoop on what to add to your shopping list, and you may even be able to make an early purchase! This Lunch & Learn event is completely FREE and no registration is required.
Spring Plant Sale returns to Brookwood Village April 13-15, with the Preview Party and Members-Only Sale kicking things off on the evening of April 12. Don't miss the biggest plant sale fundraiser of the year! Proceeds from Spring Plant Sale hosted by Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens benefit educational programming at The Gardens, including Discovery Field Trips, our conservation programs and Plant Adventures.
Thomas Rainer brings 'Planting in a Post Wild World' to the Garden Center tonight!
In partnership with Birmingham Audubon, the Alabama Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Mountain Brook Board of Landscape Design and Friends of Jemison Park, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens welcomes author and landscape architect Thomas Rainer to share his talk, 'Planting in a Post Wild World,' tonight. A reception will be held at 5 p.m., while the lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. 
This event is free, and no registration is required. Copies of Rainer's book will be available for purchase at Leaf & Petal at The Gardens, and Rainer will be available for signing.
Bamboo Grove closed until May
In order to preserve our bamboo, the Bamboo Grove beyond the Bamboo Boardwalk will close temporarily to allow shoots to emerge and gain strength. Bamboo only shoots once a year and any shoots that are damaged will not regrow. This will obviously cause a decline in the Bamboo Grove over time. The closure will only last about a month and a half, with reopening dependent on the growth of the shoots. The Boardwalk is still open and visitors are asked to enjoy the Bamboo Grove from there. Thanks for your cooperation in maintaining The Gardens!
Mickey Lollar leads 'African Gardens: The Cradle of Life' talk on Saturday
The Dutch East India Company settled at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa in 1652. One of the first institutions established was a garden to provide fresh vegetables and fruits to visiting ships. Very quickly however, ornamental plants were added by visitors, and thus began a network of conservation and contribution. Family Focus: Begonia, Gentian, Pinks, and Daisy.
Mickey Lollar presents 'African Gardens: The Cradle of Life' on Saturday from 2-3:30 p.m. It's just $12 for Members and $15 for Non-Members. Join us!
Discover 'Spring Flowering Native Plants' with John Manion on April 7
One of the most exciting events in the southeast each year is the flowering of our numerous native wildflowers, many of which are ephemeral and go dormant in summer. The Kaul Wildlower Garden is home to hundreds of trilliums, bluebells, rue anemones and numerous other species. Our class will begin in the classroom, where we will discuss the characteristics that make some of these plants so distinctive. Ample time will be spent touring The Gardens to experience the beauty of these plants. As with all Certificate in Native Plant Studies sessions, this elective can be taken in order to accrue hours toward completion of the program or with no further commitment.
It takes place from 1-5 p.m. Join us!
Seed Exchange at The Library at The Gardens
The Library at The Gardens has a Seed Exchange! We took our old card catalog and filled it with open pollinated vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seeds. 

The Seed Exchange is a free program that was set up to encourage and educate the public on the benefits and importance of seed saving and how important it is to our natural biodiversity. Through the time-honored tradition of seed saving we celebrate biodiversity, nurture locally adapted plant varieties and foster community resilience, self-reliance and a culture of sharing.

If you are unable to save your own seed, please consider donating a packet or two of fresh, commercially grown, open-pollinated (non-hybrid, non-GMO) seed to keep our library stocked. Returned seed will allow us to keep the library well stocked.

If you already have seed you would like to share with us, we will gladly accept any open pollinated seed (No GMO or hybrid seed, please).
This week's seed of the week is lime basil!

If you have additional questions please email Director of Library Services Hope Long at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 
Volunteer at The Gardens
Interested in volunteering at The Gardens? We have ways that you can pitch in indoors and out! 
We're looking for Spring Plant Sale volunteers and we also have regular weekend library positions open. Come pitch in!

To sign up to volunteer, follow the link:
Have questions? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Alice Moore at 205.414.3962 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. more information.

April 4-7
April 12-15
April 21
May 1-2
May 3-5
May 16

April 18


Just in time for tax season, DCL interviewed local tax accountant, Ray Dyer Jr., CPA and Managing Member of Covenant Consulting Group, about tax changes that will impact 2018. Mr. Dyer explains three important changes he will address this year in his practice.


Changes in the Estate Tax Exemption

It might make sense to give to grandmother rather than the kids.

The Estate Tax exemption amount has effectively doubled from approximately $12.5 million per married couple to approximately $25 million per married couple. Over the years plans have been put in place to move assets from the “parents” to the “children” to minimize future estate tax on growth assets.

Now there may be an opportunity to transfer assets to parents – who may likely be the first to die – to get a tax free “stepped up basis”. The tax impact will be noticed when the beneficiaries dispose of the the appreciated assets - any gain is potentially reduced by the stepped up amount. Taking into account future growth, this strategy would likely be most effective for joint estates in the $8 million to $18 million estate range.


Expensing Changes

Like-Kind exchanges are limited to Qualifying Real Property. Personal property no longer qualifies for like-kind exchange treatment. 

Under pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law, depreciable tangible personal property could have been exchanged for like-kind property if the relinquished property and replacement property were of a like class if the properties were either within the same general asset class or within the same product class. In light of the increased and expanded expensing under the cost recovery system (ie, depreciation expense) and Section 179 expense for tangible personal property and certain building improvements, Congress believed that the like-kind exchange rules under Code Section 1031 should be limited to exchanges of qualifying real property. Thus, exchanges of machinery, equipment, vehicles, patents and other intellectual property, artwork, collectibles, and other intangible business assets do not qualify for nonrecognition of gain or loss as like-kind exchange.


Interest Expense Changes

New rules may change the best method for structuring business debt

Every business, regardless of its form, is generally subject to a disallowance of a deduction for net interest expense in excess of 30% of the business's adjusted taxable income. Any interest expense limited under this rule can be carried forward and used at a later date. This may cause certain businesses to evaluate how such business debts are structured.


Ray Dyer Jr., CPA, writes, speaks and teaches on various subjects in addition to his private practice. He is a native of Tuscaloosa and attended the University of Alabama where her received his BS in Accounting and Master of Tax Accounting degrees. His first 10 years of college were spent in Dallas, TX with international accounting firms and as a Controller/Treasurer a national real estate syndication firm.

His emphasis is working with businesses that are going through changes such as entity selection, partnership formation or dissolution, syndication or equity raising.


Covenant Consulting Group provides Accounting, Assurance, Auditing, Valuation, Business Advisory, and Litigation Support services to businesses and families. For more information, please go to www.covenantcpa.com

Crimson Tide fans once again have the opportunity to upgrade their experience at the Golden Flake A-Day Game, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. CT kick on April 21 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Gates open at 10 a.m. CT and admission continues to be free to the public.

This week biologists from the Forest Service (NFs Alabama), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ft. Benning Dept. of Defense successfully moved 3 pairs of red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW) from Ft. Benning military base to the Talladega National Forest – Shoal Creek District.  

Tickets are now on sale for The Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show pilot’s reception.

This past Saturday, March 17, 2018 the Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail hit the waters of The Tennessee River (Wheeler Lake) in Decatur, Alabama. In the event over 120 anglers from 15 states were competing not only for the $15,000 in cash and prizes, but the opportunity to qualify for the 2018 Cabela’s King Kat Classic. This year's Classic Championship will be held September 14 & 15, 2018 on the Ohio River at Jeffersonville, Indiana and will have a guaranteed payout of $110,000 in cash and prizes. Be sure to check out our website at: www.kingkatusa.com and like our Cabela's King Kat Facebook Page. Both sites contain new and exciting information on our events along with special information for catfish anglers everywhere.

The bobwhite quail opportunities in the Alabama Black Belt were put under intense scrutiny recently. As expected, the Black Belt quail experience received nothing but praise.

Alabama Black Belt Adventures and sponsors hosted representatives of Quail Forever and the outdoors media for a grand tour of the quail hunting in the Alabama area famous for its rich, dark topsoil and abundant wildlife.

(Birmingham, AL)  The ASO’s SuperPOPS! series presented by Red Diamond® begins in October of 2018 and features performances including holiday favorites, Broadway hits, movie music, and more! The ASO will perform the second installment of the Harry Potter™ Film Concert Series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™ in Concert.  

Jordan Plaster will serve as the United Way of West Alabama’s (UWWA) 2018 Campaign Chairman. In this influential volunteer role, Plaster will lead fundraising efforts, oversee the campaign cabinet and a broad network of United Way champions, and incite fellow community leaders to provide crucial financial support for UWWA’s 26 partner agencies across West Alabama.

The greatest wealth is Health. – Greek philosopher Virgil

Health challenges come to almost all of us at some point in life. Supporting health related causes and charities is one of the most impactful areas of giving. From working to raise the money for research through walks, or providing hands on services, this is a community need that can always benefit from the giving nature of Tuscaloosans.

This debonair-looking dog is Dale, and he’s this week’s Humane Society of West Alabama’s Pet of the Week.

The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra is once again partnering with the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers for the annual Family Discovery Concert – set for Monday, March 5.

The Junior League of Tuscaloosa (JLT) will host Dinner at Your Door this Thursday, March 8. This signature fundraiser allows community members to support their local Junior League through the purchase of a dinner for four donated by local restaurants and businesses.

Some people are not fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on your point of view) to ever get to visit the happiest place on earth. Significantly fewer people get to experience it twice. Me and the missus made a pact when we returned from the first trip that one excursion to Fairytale Land was absolutely enough

The Tuscaloosa Track Club and  Hospice of West Alabama are hosting the 9th annual 5K Grand Prix event.  The event will include live music and local vendors.  Runners may choose to participate in memory of a loved one.  

When: Saturday, March 3rd starting at 8am

Where: Hospice of West Alabama, 3851 Loop Road, Tuscaloosa

For more info, go to: www.hospiceofwestal.com

Hospice of West Alabama (HOWA) has provided care to terminally ill patients and their families since May of 1982. It is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) private non-profit organization and is governed by a 25 member Board of Directors.
The agency is the oldest provider of hospice services in the West Alabama area and is a member of the United Way of West Alabama. HOWA is certified to provide services under the Medicare and Medicaid programs and is an approved provider for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.
In 1998, HOWA became the first community based hospice in Alabama to attain accreditation by The Joint Commission.Hospice of West Alabama is the only agency serving West Alabama with its own free-standing inpatient facility, which has served more than 4,000 patients since it opened on November 1, 2004.The agency staff of more than 80 individuals serves hundreds of patients annually in Tuscaloosa, Pickens, Greene, Hale, Bibb, Fayette, and Lamar counties.




Rocket City Journal is Huntsville, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

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