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Top News Links: Thursday, July 23

Moulton native named NASA planning chief

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has named a new strategic planning chief.  Moulton native Johnny Stephenson will head the Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications. Stephenson has worked at NASA for nearly three decades – a span that saw the agency establish the International Space Station as a manned research laboratory in orbit, sent sophisticated spacecraft on missions to Mars and the far reaches of our solar system, and developed the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory to look far into the universe. – WHNT

Flats on Fourth planned next to Regions Field

Flats on Fourth, an 86-unit apartment project, will open next year near Regions Field. Watts Realty Company is developing the project at 1520 Fourth Ave. S and it's been about four years in the making, President Chip Watts said. Watts had originally planned L&N Parkside, a 129-unit development with retail on the same space. – AL.com

Company claims it can end AC wars

Sure, the misery of a hot summer day can't be completely eliminated, but what if office temperature wasn't an additional concern? What if your eight hours working inside were perfectly temperate, neither an over-air-conditioned tundra nor a sweaty reminder of the hellscape that awaits outside? That's the utopic reality for the 700 people who work in AppNexus's New York City offices. The startup uses Comfy, an app that lets the people, rather than the maintenance crew, dictate office climate. – Bloomberg

Blue Bell restarts its Alabama machinery

Blue Bell officially "cranked up" the machines at its facility in Sylacauga Wednesday to begin test production, the company announced on Twitter. "Exciting news from our Sylacauga, Ala., facility! Today our machines cranked up and we began evaluating our enhanced production processes," read a tweet from the company's account. – 11Alive.com

Two Decatur men lose jobs over flag display

Two men in Decatur claim that their refusal to remove the Confederate battle flag from their vehicles has cost them their jobs. One of the men declined to speak to AL.com news partner WHNT News 19, but Phillip Sims, who worked at Turner Industries, said he and his coworker lost their jobs this week. Sims told the news station that the plant superintendent told him that the company liked his work, but that he had to remove his flag from the back of his truck. – AL.com

ASF opens up New Orleans terminal

ASF Intermodal has opened a new terminal in New Orleans, the company's 12th  U.S. terminal. The Mobile-based full service intermodal drayage carrier and transportation broker's new facility currently has two employees and ten drivers. ASF Intermodal expects to hire additional support employees and have 30 trucks operating from the new terminal within the next year. – AmericanShipper.com

RSA maximizing value of Signal International

The Retirement Systems of Alabama’s bid for a Mobile-based company that recently filed for bankruptcy after it allegedly mistreated guest workers is for the benefit of the pension system, an RSA official said this week. RSA already is a partial owner in Signal International, an oil rig repair company. – Decatur Daily

Judge sets hearing on VictoryLand reopening

A judge has scheduled a hearing for next month on the future of the shuttered VictoryLand casino in Macon County. Circuit Judge William Shashy issued an order Monday saying he'll consider the owner's bid to reopen VictoryLand on Aug. 4. Shashy ruled last month that the state wrongly seized more than 1,000 gambling machines and cash from VictoryLand during a raid in 2013. Owner Milton McGregor is in in court trying to get everything returned. – Montgomery Advertiser

Mabus announces name of LCS at ballgame

For the second time in less than a week, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced the name of a new littoral combat ship to be built in Austal USA's Mobile shipyard. LCS 22 will be named the USS Kansas City, Mabus told the crowd at Monday night's Kansas City Royals' game, also marking the second time in a week he used a Major League Baseball venue to promote the LCS program. He announced during Sunday's Cincinnati Reds game the Austal-built LCS 20 will be named the USS Cincinnati. – AL.com

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