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A FAITHFUL COMPANION WITH YOU THROUGH LIFE’S JOURNEY

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Enjoying the independence that we have as Americans is a privilege we’ve earned, together. It took the sacrifice of millions of entrepreneurs and Service men and women, nurses and caregivers. You’ve done your job in making this nation what it is today: proud, strong, and secure.

For more than 80 years, Social Security has been doing the same. We’re with you through life’s journey, from birth to retirement and beyond. And one of the best tools we provide every American is my Social Security, our secure online resource customized for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked one year or forty, checking your personalized account atwww.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount gives you control over your future.

We understand that you might lose things from time to time. In some states, you can even request a replacement Social Security card online using my Social Security. It’s an easy, convenient, and secure way to request a replacement card. We are working to add more states to this service, so we encourage you to check www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber to see where it is available.

In addition to using my Social Security, there are many other things you can do online with Social Security. For example, you can use the Retirement Estimator to plug in different numbers, retirement dates, and scenarios to help you decide the best time for you to retire. It’s available atwww.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

We’ve been with you and your loved ones for a long time — more than 80 years. The journey you’re making to financial independence isn’t one you have to make alone. Join the millions of people who are strengthening their future at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

US COAST GUARD AUXILIARY CELEBRATES 77TH ANNIVERSARY

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard’s all-volunteer service, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, celebrates 77 years of service to the United States Thursday.

“For the last 77 years, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has answered the call to support our Coast Guard and our great nation on the water, in the air and ashore,” said Mark Simoni, national commodore of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The auxiliary is made up of more than 28,000 uniformed civilian volunteers and provides trained crews and facilities to augment the U.S. Coast Guard and enhance the safety and security of our nation’s ports, waterways and coastal regions.

“With our unwavering support of our primary mission of promoting and improving recreational boating safety, we have seen historic lows in the number of boating fatalities and a new record low in the number of injuries to recreational boaters,” said Simoni.

Over the last five years alone auxiliarists have performed 583,500 vessel safety checks, taught 320,000 hours of boating safety courses, conducted 809,000 hours of public outreach, gave 2 million hours of administrative support, rescued $157 million in property, and saved 785 lives, while assisting 11,000 others.

Auxiliary members also provide skill sets not often found in the Coast Guard.  For example, the Auxiliary Interpreter Corps has 450 trained volunteers with expertise in 48 languages.  The Interpreter Corps fills roles in support of international training exercises, forums and partner nation programs.

“Our auxiliarists bring their valuable skills, across 64 competencies, to all our Coast Guard missions,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft. “Our missions are far too many and far too complex to accomplish with so few people. Today, we sustain mission excellence with our entire force of active, reserve, civilian and volunteer auxiliarists.”

“Auxiliarists are accountants, lawyers, doctors, chefs, carpenters, welders, public relations specialists, teachers, musicians and even a nuclear engineer or two,” said Zukunft. “They bring master-level proficiency to our service.”

Auxiliarists operate in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, America Samoa and Guam.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary was authorized by an act of Congress in 1939, when the Coast Guard was given a legislative mandate to use civilians to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation’s navigable waters.

For more information on the auxiliary, please visit the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary website, or follow their official social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Blue Angels Resume Schedule

SAN DIEGO (NNS) — The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will return to its 2016 demonstration schedule July 2-4 in Traverse City, Michigan, Commander, Naval Air Forces announced.

The Blue Angels temporarily stood down, canceling three weekend shows following a crash on June 2 during a practice in Smyrna, Tennessee, in which Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was killed.

The Team will fly a modified five jet demonstration in Traverse City, along with Fat Albert, the Blue Angels C-130.

“The Team is proud to resume the Blue Angels mission, representing the pride and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps, and inspiring a culture of excellence,” said Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi, commanding officer and flight leader. “The Blue Angels are looking forward to flying in Traverse City, Michigan, Fourth of July weekend, and are also honored to have the opportunity to perform in celebration of our great nation’s Independence Day. Our fans and the entire air show industry have been extremely patient as we have navigated through this very difficult loss of our teammate, and for that, we will always be grateful.”

The Blue Angels will pick up with their schedule with Traverse City, Gary, Indiana, and Pensacola, Florida.

Montgomery year-to-date home sales through May up 7 percent over same period last year

Montgomery year-to-date home sales through May up 7 percent over same period last yearMontgomery home sales so far this year are running ahead of 2015 numbers, and sales prices are up. (iStock)

 

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Sales: According to the Montgomery Area Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service, Montgomery-area residential sales totaled 360 units during May, a decrease in sales of 15.5 percent from the same period last year. Another resource to review is the Annual Report.

For all Montgomery-area real estate data, click here. 

Montgomery May home sales increased 3.2 percent from the month of April to 360 sales.

Montgomery May home sales increased 3.2 percent from April to 360 sales.

Forecast: Closed transactions during May were 52 units or 12.6 percent below the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s monthly forecast. ACRE’s year-to-date sales forecast through May projected 1,713 closed transactions, while the actual sales were 1,754 units, a favorable difference of 2 percent.

Supply: The Montgomery area housing inventory in May was 2,613 units, a decrease of 12.6 percent from May 2015, and 26 percent below the month of May peak in 2008 (3,537 units).

There was 7.3 months of housing supply during May, an increase of 3.4 percent from the same time last year (7 months). About 6 months of supply is considered a balanced market during May, with buyer and seller having equal bargaining power.

May inventory in the Montgomery area increased 2.8 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with historical data indicating May inventory on average (2011-2015) increases from April by 0.6 percent.

Demand: May residential sales increased 3.2 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with seasonal patterns and historical data indicating that May sales, on average (2010-2014), increase from April by 6.7 percent.

Existing single-family home sales accounted for 87 percent of total sales, while 12 percent was new construction sales. Both percentages were unchanged from May 2015.

Pricing: The Montgomery-area median sales price in May was $154,500, up 10.4 percent from last May ($139,900). The median sales price increased 15.3 percent from the prior month. Historical data (2011-2015) indicate the May median sales price typically increases from April by 3.9 percent. Pricing can fluctuate from month to month as the sample size of data (closed transactions) is subject to seasonal buying patterns. ACRE recommends contacting a local real estate professional for additional market pricing information.

Industry perspective: “Continued home price appreciation has been squeezing housing affordability, driving a two-year downward trend in the share of consumers who think it’s a good time to buy a home,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The current low mortgage rate environment has helped ease this pressure, and fewer than half of consumers expect rates to go up in the next year. While the May increase in income growth perceptions could provide further support to prospective home buyers as the spring/summer home-buying season gains momentum, the effect may be muted by May’s discouraging jobs report.” For the full report on home purchase sentiment, click here.

Hal Mooty Elected Alabama Defense Lawyers Association Young Lawyers President

Alabama Power to limit water releases from dams in response to dry conditions

Alabama Power to limit water releases from dams in response to dry conditionsAlabama Power monitors lake levels at all of its lakes and dams, including this one at Thurlow. (Bernard Troncale/Alabama NewsCenter)

 

Despite an extremely wet winter season, the dry conditions that developed this spring have reduced the flows in rivers and streams that feed Alabama Power’s reservoirs. Summer heat and evaporation are also contributing to the reduced flows.

In response to these conditions, Alabama Power has minimized water releases from its hydroelectric dams. In addition, recreational releases from Jordan Dam on the Coosa River will be suspended, starting the July 4 holiday weekend.

As these dry conditions persist, Alabama Power expects the levels on Weiss, Neely Henry, and Logan Martin lakes on the Coosa River, Harris and Martin lakes on the Tallapoosa River, and Smith Lake on the Black Warrior River to continue to decline. The company is working with government agencies, municipalities, businesses and industry, and community groups to communicate about its efforts to conserve water.

Alabama Power will continue to closely monitor conditions on the lakes and manage the limited water resources carefully. Individuals with boats and other water-related equipment and facilities should always be alert to changing conditions on Alabama Power reservoirs and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their property.

For details about Alabama Power lakes, visit Shorlines or add the free Alabama Power Shorelines app to your mobile device. To view specific lake advisories, click on the lake name and then click the circular information icon. Individuals can also call Alabama Power’s automated Reservoir Information Line at 1-800-LAKES11.

RIMPAC exercise to bring 26 nations together in Pacific

Social Security Board of Trustees: Long-Range Projection Unchanged for Trust Fund Reserve Depletion

Disability Fund Improves in Near Term

The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as projected last year, with 79 percent of benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2023, extended from last year’s estimate of 2016, with 89 percent of benefits still payable.

In the 2016 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

  • The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $23 billion in 2015 to a total of $2.81 trillion.
  • The combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2019. Beginning in 2020, the total cost of the program is projected to exceed income.
  • The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2034 – the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 79 percent of scheduled benefits.

“I am pleased that Congress passed legislation, signed into law by President Obama last November, to avert a projected shortfall in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. With the small, temporary reallocation of the Social Security contribution rate, the DI fund will now be able to pay full disability benefits until 2023, and the retirement fund alone will still be adequate into 2035, the same as before the reallocation,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “Now is the time for people to engage in the important national conversation about how to keep Social Security strong. The public understands the value of their earned benefits and the importance of keeping Social Security strong for the future.”

Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

  • Total income, including interest, to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $920 billion in 2015. ($795 billion in net contributions, $32 billion from taxation of benefits, and $93 billion in interest)
  • Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $897 billion in 2015.
  • Social Security paid benefits of $886 billion in calendar year 2015. There were about 60 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
  • Non-interest income fell below program costs in 2010 for the first time since 1983. Program costs are projected to exceed non-interest income throughout the remainder of the 75-year period.
  • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.66 percent of taxable payroll – 0.02 percentage point smaller than in last year’s report.
  • During 2015, an estimated 169 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
  • The cost of $6.2 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2015 was a very low 0.7 percent of total expenditures.
  • The combined Trust Fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 3.4 percent in 2015.

The Board of Trustees usually comprises six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustee positions are currently vacant.

Gulf Coast condo sales rose 13 percent in May over last year

Gulf Coast condo sales rose 13 percent in May over last yearBaldwin County condo sales in May were up from a year earlier as well as from April. (iStock)

 

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Sales: According to the Baldwin County Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, Baldwin County condo sales, which include condos along the Gulf Coast, totaled 173 units during May. Year-to-date sales are six units or 0.9 percent below the same period during 2015.

For all of Baldwin County’s condo sales data, click here. 

Condo sales in Baldwin County rose 6.8 percent from the month of April.
Condo sales in Baldwin County rose 6.8 percent from April.

Forecast: May sales were 14 units or 9 percent above the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s (ACRE) monthly forecast. ACRE’s year-to-date sales forecast through May projected 641 closed transactions. Year-to-date actual sales are 668 units, a 4 percent favorable difference.

Supply: Baldwin County condo inventory totaled 896 units, a decrease of 14.7 percent, or 154 units, from May 2015. The inventory was down 2.2 percent from the prior month. Historical patterns indicate that May inventory on average (2011-15) decreases 1.4 percent from April. Condo inventory during May peaked in 2011 at 1,300 units. The inventory is now down 31.1 percent from the peak. During May, the condo supply stood at 5.1 months, down from 6.9 months during May 2015.

Demand: Condo sales rose 6.8 percent from April. Seasonal buying patterns and historical data trends reflect May condo sales on average (2011-15) increase from April by 6.3 percent.

Pricing: The Baldwin County condo median sales price in May was $239,000, down 8.4 percent from last May. The median sales price decreased 12.9 percent from the prior month. This direction is consistent with historical data trends (2011-15) that reflect the May median condo sales price on average decreases from April by 9.6 percent.

I-22 finally connects Birmingham to Memphis

Interstate 22, formerly known as Corridor X, made its official connection to Interstate 65 in Birmingham today. (Jamie Martin/Gov. Robert Bentley's office)

Interstate 22, formerly known as Corridor X, made its official connection to Interstate 65 in Birmingham today. (Jamie Martin/Gov. Robert Bentley’s office)

 

Hidden among all the recent great news affecting Birmingham’s amazing rebirth is the story of the long-awaited opening of I-22, or Corridor X. That’s a shame, because no single success in our recent past may prove to be more important and have greater long-term favorable impact on this region than today’s ribbon cutting.

Since the days of the Roman Empire and the famous Appian Way, roads (and particularly crossroads) have always played a critically important role in the economic growth and prosperity of cities. In the earliest days of our country, waterway intersections were the places where communities grew into towns and cities.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley joins state legislators and other state and local dignitaries after a ribbon cutting for the I-22 Interchange at I-65. The Alabama Department of Transportation has worked on the final phase of the connector since 1984, building through some of the roughest terrain in the state. It will provide access for rural Marion, Walker and Jefferson counties, and should be a boost to economic development in these areas. (Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley joins state legislators and other state and local dignitaries after a ribbon cutting for the I-22 Interchange at I-65. The Alabama Department of Transportation has worked on the final phase of the connector since 1984, building through some of the roughest terrain in the state. It will provide access for rural Marion, Walker and Jefferson counties, and should be a boost to economic development in these areas. (Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

Birmingham itself grew “like magic” from the intersection of two railway lines. In the second half of the 20th century, major cities developed around air connections. Simply put, commerce depends on intersections of roadways, waterways, rail lines and air travel as key elements to transport workers, deliver our food supplies, our raw and finished materials and ship our products.

The opening of the I-22 interchange opens provides us with an interstate link to Memphis. Birmingham now joins the elite ranks of top Southern cities with what’s considered a near-perfect interstate infrastructure. Counting Birmingham, only three cities in the South will now be favored with six interstate spokes emanating from their city center.

Joining us in this exclusive club are Atlanta and Nashville. And here’s the key: no one city has more than six spokes. This bodes extremely well for future business growth and the long-term commercial vitality of the Magic City.

Work on Corridor X began in the 1970s under the leadership of the late Alabama Congressman Tom Bevill. He had done most of the heavy lifting on the Tennessee Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway project and started appropriating funds for a new Appalachian Highway Corridor – Corridor “X” – that would eventually connect Birmingham to Memphis. Unfortunately, after years of routine, but modest, appropriations, that work essentially ground to a halt following his retirement in 1995.

At the same time, rapidly-growing Huntsville was flexing its collective political muscle and was making a big play for a new corridor – Corridor Y – to be routed near their city along US Highway 72, thus connecting Memphis to Atlanta on a North Alabama track.

In the mid-1990s, a strongly-worded letter arrived at the offices of the former Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (today’s Birmingham Business Alliance) from the late Adamsville mayor, Leland Adams. Adamsville straddled the highly dangerous Highway 78 and he pleaded, “without your Chamber getting hot on this subject and providing the necessary leadership … we will continue to wander in the Corridor X (I-22) wilderness.”  He made a compelling case that old Highway 78 was carrying interstate levels of traffic between Memphis and Birmingham and that the road had become a deathtrap.