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Top News Links: Thursday, May 21

Valvoline makes Big its agency of record

Valvoline has tapped Birmingham's Big Communications as agency of record for advertising, public relations, media and digital marketing in Valvoline's Do-It-Yourself business. The Kentucky-based motor oil giant said Big bested four other agencies in final pitches that ended this month. – AL.com

REHAU, Wallace State to offer apprenticeships

This week, REHAU, Wallace State Community College, and Cullman County Schools announced a new REHAU Academy that will offer paid apprenticeship opportunities to Fast Track for Industry dual enrollment students beginning this fall. REHAU officials from Cullman and Germany have been in intensive meetings with representatives from Wallace State and Cullman County Schools for several days to work out the details of the new partnership to ensure the curriculum achieves desired learning outcomes and also aligns with the German apprenticeship model. – WallaceState.edu

Ten oil spill restoration projects announced

State and federal trustees announced 10 new proposed projects Wednesday to restore damage stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, worth a total estimated cost of $133.6 million. If approved, the projects would be funded by BP, which has agreed to provide up to $1 billion for early restoration projects in the Gulf before the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process is complete. Four of the 10 proposed projects would be located in Alabama. – AL.com

Senate passes cost-saving Medicaid reforms

The Alabama Senate has unanimously passed major reforms to the state’s Medicaid program that are estimated to save the state $1.5 billion over the next 10 years. The savings, calculated by a national actuarial consulting company, assume a 3 percent growth every year in the program, and will come from new Integrated Care Networks (ICNs) contracting with Medicaid to provide long-term care under a capitated system. – Yellowhammer

Austal launches USNS Brunswick

Austal has launched the recently christened USNS Brunswick, the Australian shipbuilder's sixth joint high-speed vessel in a $1.6 billion, 10-ship contract. The milestone also marked the second U.S. Navy ship launched at Austal USA's Mobile shipyard in less than three months. The 338-foot Brunswick will now undergo final outfitting and testing before sea trials and delivery. – AL.com

Siegelman bid for new trial denied

A federal appeals court Wednesday denied former Gov. Don Siegelman's bid for a new trial, saying he relied on arguments that judges rejected in an appeal from his co-defendant in their 2006 trial on bribery and corruption charges. – Montgomery Advertiser

Title loan bill crawling through House

An effort to limit interest on title loans is moving at a snail's pace through the Alabama House of Representatives, despite support from a majority of House members. Sixty-seven House members — nearly two-thirds of the entire body — have signed on as co-sponsors to a bill that would limit interest on title loans to 36 percent per year, but with the legislative session in its final weeks, the bill has yet to reach a committee vote. – Anniston Star

Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen partners with Ingles

Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, the 34-year leader in specialty coffee, Thursday announced that it has a new customer in the grocery channel, Ingles Markets. The chain will carry a range of products including a line of ground coffee and a line of premium single serve coffees called CupUP. Ingles Markets has stores in Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. – BusinessWire

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