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Top News Links: Wednesday, Dec. 23

Governor asked to reconsider refugee stance

Church leaders from across the state are asking Governor Bentley to reconsider his stance on allowing Syrian refugees into the state. This comes after the governor announced in November that he was not allowing refugees into the state because he perceived their presence as a threat after the attacks in Paris. Judith Comer is an Episcopal priest who has lived all over the country, but says she has always considered Alabama her home. – AlabamaNews.net

Birmingham hires a European consultant

Birmingham is making a new hire to help bring in business from Europe. For the first time, Birmingham City Council voted to hire a European consultant. Part of the consultant's job will be to make contacts and set up meetings overseas for city leaders. "The mayor and myself in particular have spent a considerable amount of time in Europe, in Paris, London, Germany, Switzerland, but just in Europe period going after companies," said Council President Johnathan Austin. – ABC3340

Designer turns gentlemen’s club into his castle

David Hurlbut is a 52-year-old who studied architecture and industrial design at Georgia Tech and refers to himself as a "neo-Victorian" or "steampunk" designer. "It's kind of a fine line between looking historic and looking futuristic," he said. In 1999, Hurlbut moved from Atlanta and bought what he calls his castle – the Harmony Club, a three-story, 1909 Jewish gentlemen's club on Selma's historic Water Avenue overlooking the Alabama River. Since then, he's been preserving the property and turning it into living-slash-studio-slash-retail space. – AL.com

Jasper gets state help for Mar-Jac expansion

Walker County will welcome dozens of new jobs to the community after receiving a large grant this month from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs said the $200,000 award will help the city of Jasper update the Town Creek wastewater treatment system to assist Mar-Jac Poultry's facility expansion. The company plans to create 50 jobs when the expansion is complete. – AL.com

Prediction: Half of U.S. energy industry may go away

The last time oil was this cheap, the world was in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. As the price of oil falls below $36 for the first time since the end of 2008, the problem now isn't fear of economic catastrophe, but simply that there's just too much oil. Years of $100-a-barrel prices have spurred greater production in places like the U.S. shale fields, where high drilling costs used to mean that it didn't make sense to look for fuel there. – Huffington Post

Final phase of Wind Creek Montgomery renovation complete

After more than a year of construction, the renovations to Wind Creek Montgomery are complete. Monday saw the opening of two of the casino’s latest additions — a 123-room hotel and the Itta Bena restaurant — after a tour from proud officials. “You can now expect a whole venue of entertainment and great food,” said Jake Carlton, property general manager. – Montgomery Advertiser

Alabamians spend big on pets, survey says

A new survey by the makers of Milk Bone dog biscuits shows that residents in only 15 other states spend more money on their dogs at Christmas than do Alabamians. Big Heart Pet Brands – the makers of Milk-Bone, Milo’s Kitchen, Pup-Peroni, and Canine Carry Outs — asked 3,000 Americans about their dog-related holiday habits, including whether their dog is involved in gift-giving, stocking-stuffing, Christmas sweater-wearing, and other holiday traditions. – Alex City Outlook

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