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Top News Links: Thursday, Sept. 3

REHAU opens engineering center in Cullman

European auto parts maker REHAU formally opened its first North American technical center at the company’s manufacturing facility in Cullman, creating a U.S. site to handle research and development functions that had been conducted primarily in Germany. REHAU said the ultra-modern technical center, staffed with 45 engineers, combines production, engineering and development together in one location. The company invested $3 million to set up the 12,000-square-foot facility, which was on display Tuesday at a grand opening ceremony. – Made In Alabama

McMillan warns budget cuts would stall agriculture

Alabama’s economy will suffer and the state’s food safety will be jeopardized if there are significant cuts in the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries general fund appropriation. This is the assessment of Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, who listed essential services performed by Ag Department inspectors and the specific areas of the state’s economy that will be impacted if the department’s budget is reduced by $1.2 million or more. – WTVY

Bentley gives first speech since divorce revelations

Gov. Robert Bentley says his divorce is a private matter and thanked people for their prayers in what he described as a "difficult time." The governor made his first public appearance Wednesday since first lady Dianne Bentley filed papers last week to end their 50-year marriage. Bentley declined to comment further about the couple's split after speaking to reporters following his speech to an economic development group. Dianne Bentley filed for divorce Friday, saying their 50-year marriage had suffered an irretrievable breakdown. – AP/ABC3340

State lawmaker wants a Bentley investigation

A state lawmaker is calling for an investigation into Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s spending on state trooper overtime and use of state aircraft in connection to the governor’s pending divorce case. Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla, told television stations WSFA and WIAT Tuesday that he was calling for an investigation. “I’m just concerned with any state funds that were improperly used in the midst of all these allegations of alleged improper conduct,” Farley told WIAT. – Anniston Star

What does Birmingham get from its lobbyists?

Birmingham tax dollars are used to hire lobbyists to advocate for the city’s best interest in Montgomery and Washington D.C. Is there a return on that investment? The city council voted Tuesday to renew its contract with lobbyist Daryl Perkins for $125,000. He’s the same man who lobbies for the Birmingham Business Alliance, which would not disclose its contract amount. Last week, the Birmingham- Jefferson County Transit Authority also renewed a $125,000 contract with Perkins for government relations work. ABC3340

Whole Foods opens in Mobile Sept. 22

Whole Foods this week announced it will open its newest Alabama location at the Pinebrook Shopping Center in Mobile on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The new location will offer sneak peak tours of the 35,000 square-foot store Sept. 18-19, according to a release from the company. The company has now opened two stores in Alabama, adding to its first location at Cahaba Village in Mountain Brook. – BizJournals.com

Decatur’s Dean Jones dies at age 84

Dean Jones, a prolific character actor best known for leading roles in several Disney films of the 1960s and ’70s including “That Darn Cat!” and “The Love Bug,” died Wednesday from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 84. Born Dean Carroll Jones in Decatur in 1931, Jones’ entertainment career started earlier with a radio program he hosted while still in high school. – Deadline.com

Decatur-built Atlas V rocket launches

An Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Wednesday at 5:18 a.m. CDT. The 20-story spacecraft, assembled at the United Launch Alliance plant in Decatur, is carrying a Navy communications satellite into orbit. – Decatur Daily

B&G breaks ground on luxury hotel in Texas

Ground was broken Tuesday for the start of construction on a new Renaissance hotel in Plano, Texas. Part of the new 250-acre Legacy West master development, the 15-story, 304-guestroom hotel will feature a modern, upscale design. Serving as general contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie is teaming with architect HKS Hospitality Group on this project for developer Sam Moon Group. – News release

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