Google Coming to North Alabama, Coosa River Survey

Jun 25, 2015

Google data center in Iowa

The TVA’s Widows Creek power plant near Stevenson is shutting down soon, and it’s already found a new tenant.

Google plans to build a $600 million data center at the site with construction beginning next year.

The data center will be Google’s seventh in the U.S. and fourteenth worldwide. They expect to add 75 to 100 high-paying jobs to the north Alabama region once the new data center is operational. The facility is expected to support general Internet traffic as well as the many user services that Google offers.

Google's Director of Global Infrastructure Gary Demasi says the company sees "a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal plants."

Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield says this is the first project Alabama recruited under new data center incentives, which were passed in 2012 and the overhauled Alabama Jobs Act passed this year.

Google says positions available at the data center will range from full-time to contractor roles and include computer technicians, engineers and various maintenance and security positions.

An unusual kind of survey is underway along the Coosa River. The goal is to keep fishermen safe from chemicals like mercury.

Justinn Overton is with the group Coosa Riverkeeper. She’s questioning Arthur, a 75 year old Birmingham man who is fishing for catfish out of the Coosa. Alabama has the reputation of having a large population of fishermen who eat what they catch.

Overton says the Coosa Riverkeeper is trying to get hard data with the survey.

“So we’re asking them…yes, they’re catching fish from the Coosa. What kind and how often, and are they eating them and how they’re eating them.”

The concern is over mercury in fish, a neurotoxin, and PCB’s, which are linked to cancer. Currently, there’s a state warning about eating catfish and spotted bass caught in parts of the Coosa River.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley put the Yellowhammer State in the national spotlight yesterday. The Governor ordered the removal of the four Confederate flags from the Capitol Grounds.

Bentley knows the Confederate flag is a part of the state’s history. But, he says it is offensive to people in Alabama and the symbol is often associated with hate.

“Unfortunately it’s like a swastika. Some people have adopted that as part of their hate-filled groups and that’s a shame. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t count all of this as historical and we need to look at it that way.”

Bentley's order and other calls for removal of flags and other Confederate symbols across the South come in the wake of the shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

State health officials say food poisoning is the most likely culprit after 86 children became ill at a Montgomery day care.

State Health Officer Don Williamson says health officials have ordered Sunny Side Child Care Center's two locations to remain closed as they try to determine the exact organism that made the children ill.

Dozens of children at both centers became sick Tuesday afternoon with diarrhea, nausea and lethargy, all symptoms of food poisoning. Most of the children were between the ages of 1 and 4.

Nearly 30 children were briefly hospitalized. One remained in the hospital yesterday.

Williamson says none of the illnesses appear in any way life-threatening and the children are expected to recover. He says foodborne illnesses are not uncommon and the state investigates multiple outbreaks each year.