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Top News Links: Thursday, Dec. 18

BP recovery money set for infrastructure

The Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council will direct the first round of oil spill penalties under its control toward economic and infrastructure projects, using money from the fines paid by Transocean, a cash amount that will reach $56 million by March 2015.   There's about $44 million in the gulf restoration trust fund to date. – AL.com

Birmingham Council having BBA hissy

Members of the Birmingham City Council this evening didn't pull any punches when it came to their opinions about the region's largest business advocacy agency. Council members said they are outraged by the Birmingham Business Alliance's decision to select UAB President Ray Watts as its chairman elect. – AL.com

Dr. Bonner stepping down at UA

Dr. Judy Bonner, who was named University of Alabama President in late 2012, announced on Wednesday that she will be exiting her current role by the end of Sept. 2015, and plans to return to teaching. – Yellowhammer News

Med device company expanding to Shoals

A Tennessee medical device manufacturer is expanding to the Shoals and creating 44 positions during the next five years, officials confirmed this afternoon. Forrest Wright, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, said Elite-Medical is on track to open a new Florence operation early next year in Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park. – AL.com

Sessions yields to Enzi for chair

Republican Senator Mike Enzi said on Wednesday he will take over as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee next year after the panel's current top Republican, Jeff Sessions, agreed to step aside. – Reuters

Port of Mobile does record container volume

Container volume handled by the Alabama State Port Authority rose 10 percent year-over-year in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, helping the authority post record revenue. The Port of Mobile handled 237,266 twenty-foot-equivalent units during the 12-month period and anticipates further growth. – JOC.com

Nominations open for ethics awards

Nominations are now open for the 2015 River Region Ethics in Business and Public Service Awards. The annual awards honor small, medium and large businesses, as well as nonprofit or public agencies and community leaders for their dedication to high ethical standards in the area. – Montgomery Advertiser

Hawkins honored by Confucius Institute

Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University, was one of nine university chancellors worldwide and the only one in North America to receive the World Confucius Institute's Individual Performance Excellence Award during the World Confucius Institute Conference in Xiamen, China. – News release

Pens from Birmingham a hot gift item

The handcrafted ink pens Joel Lockridge fashions in a small woodworking shop at his Birmingham area home are fueling a mini export boom from Alabama to parts all over the world. “I’ve now shipped to 27 countries and counting — some I’ve even had to Google to figure out exactly where I was shipping,” he said. – Made In Alabama

Business booming at U of Montevallo

The University of Montevallo is experiencing quite a boom under the leadership of its relatively new president, Dr. John Stewart, who arrived on campus in 2010. Since then, the school has seen a dramatic increase in student enrollment, with a 25 percent boost in its freshman class. Overall growth in the total number of undergraduate students is six percent for the same period. – Yellowhammer

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