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Top News Links: Tuesday, May 23

Watco opens national training center in Birmingham

 Thousands of rail workers will come through Birmingham in coming years to train at Watco's new state of the art training system. It’s the first training center of its kind for Watco, a Kansas-based transportation company with 4,800 employees and 175 centers. The company held a ribbon cutting on Monday. The 10,000-square-foot center in Fairfield is the first of its kind, an executive said. – AL.com

A quick roundup of what passed, failed in Legislature

The session is over: What was accomplished? Alabama lawmakers ended the 2017 legislative session on Friday. Here's a look at some of the proposals that passed and failed this year. – WTVY

SmartBank to buy Capstone Bank for $84.8M

Less than two years after acquiring the former Cornerstone Bank in Chattanooga, the Knoxville-based SmartBank agreed Monday to buy one of the biggest community banks in Tuscaloosa to help expand the East Tennessee bank into Alabama. Smart Financial Corp., the parent company of SmartBank, will pay $84.8 million in cash and stock to buy Capstone Bank in Tuscaloosa. – TimesFreePress

Georgia-Pacific Brewton completes $388M energy project

Local and state officials joined Georgia-Pacific Brewton mill employees and their families on Saturday to celebrate the completion of a $388 million energy improvement project after two years of construction. The project modernized and streamlined the mix of equipment in the mill's recovery boiler system and now provides the mill with the ability to generate its own energy using natural gas and biofuel residuals from the paper-making process. – PRNewsWire

Making state revenue off fantasy sports here remains a fantasy

Proponents of legalized fantasy sports in Alabama suffered a setback for the second straight year after members of the Senate killed H354 last Friday. After squeaking past the House, H354 died in the hands of state senators after they failed to put the legislation to a vote. Observers speculate that the Senate’s decision not to tackle the bill has to do with Luther Strange telling lawmakers that DFS is illegal since the game is considered gambling under current state law. – CalvinAyre

Government eyes whether recall happened fast enough

The U.S. government is investigating whether Hyundai and Kia moved quickly enough to recall more than 1.6 million cars and SUVs because the engines can stall, increasing the risk of a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it's looking into three recalls by the Korean brands. The agency also said it's investigating whether the automakers followed safety reporting requirements. – AP

Senate candidate Brinson on trade mission to Africa

Senate candidate Randy Brinson left Alabama May 19th on a 10 day trade mission to Zambia as part of his Alabama Agribusiness Renaissance initiative.  This is Brinson's 7th international trade mission, and his 4th to Africa, in cooperation with Alabama's Agriculture Commissioner, John McMillian. – PRNewsWire

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