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Top News Links: Thursday, Oct. 1

State parks, armories, driver’s license offices closing

Hours before the 2016 General Fund went into effect, state agencies Wednesday announced cuts to services. The cuts announced would chiefly affect parks and driver’s license offices, with rural areas being particularly hard hit. Layoffs of state employees are also likely. – Montgomery Advertiser

Attempt to trademark Birmingham phrase draws ire

A company's plan to trademark the slogan "It's nice to have you in Birmingham" isn't sitting well with some people. Yellowhammer Creative sells shirts with the slogan for $20 each. Now, the company has filed a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the phrase. – AL.com

Phil Williams to challenge Hubbard for top post

Representative Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) will challenge Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) for the legislature’s top post, according to a letter Williams sent to his colleagues Wednesday evening. “I think that I share a sentiment with many members that we can no longer operate effectively with our current leadership,” Williams said in the letter. – Yellowhammer  

Developers sued over apartment accessibility

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court, against the owners and developers of 71 multifamily housing complexes in four states for failing to design and construct housing units and related facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities.  The lawsuit states the 71 complexes contain more than 2,500 ground-floor units that are required by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to have accessible features. – WHNT

Orvis, Pursell Farms open new shooting ground

Orvis and Pursell Farms are opening shooting ground on a 3,200-acre farm in east Alabama. The grounds will open on Saturday and include a shooting course, a store, and bird-hunting and fly-fishing schools. The course has 12 stations and is at the base of Chalybeate Mountain. – AL.com

Protective Life buying some Genworth policies

Alabama-based insurer Protective Life Corp. has agreed to buy blocks of term-life policies from Genworth Financial Corp for around $661 million according to a Bloomberg report. The deal, which will be through a reinsurance transaction, is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2016 and is part of Protective’s aim to grow the U.S. business of its new owner, Japanese insurance firm Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Co. Genworth will continue to service the blocks of policies. – IBA

NASA gives Boeing $1.18B space station contract

NASA has awarded a key contract to Boeing, the International Space Station’s prime contractor, to continue providing key engineering support services, resources and personnel to the program through Sept. 30, 2020. The contract, valued at $1.18 billion, extends for five-years. NASA and its 16 international partners are analyzing the ability to sustain station operations through 2020. – News release

Signal International apologizes to guest workers

Signal International, a marine services company that reached a $20 million settlement agreement earlier this year to resolve labor trafficking lawsuits brought on behalf of hundreds of former Indian guest workers, has issued an unprecedented apology as part of the agreement. – SPLCenter.org

Private equity firm invests in TBEI Inc.

GenNx360 Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm investing in middle market companies, today announced its investment in Truck Bodies and Equipment International Inc. TBEI is a manufacturer of dump truck bodies, dump trailers and accessories with four manufacturing and installation facilities in Minnesota, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Dakota. – PRNewswire

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