Let’s celebrate some good news!
by Jack McNeely
Sep 29, 2013 | 977 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack McNeely
Jack McNeely
I would like to comment on two positive stories that shed beams of good light on Jasper and Walker County this past week.

Jasper was in the national spotlight Monday when local hair stylist Shelbie Z. James Panter successfully auditioned for NBC’s Emmy award-winning singing competition “The Voice.”

The 21-year-old gave us all something to cheer about when she sang her own version of Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party.”

I had no clue that Shelbie Z, that’s her stage name, was going to be featured on the premiere episode, launching Season 5 of “The Voice.” I quickly noticed that a contestant background video was recorded in downtown Jasper because it featured one of the many beautiful flower decorations that hang from the downtown street poles.

Then my wife, Nora, exclaimed, “That’s the lady who does Brandi’s hair.” Brandi is our 17-year-old daughter.

Shelbie Z, a full-time hair stylist who also coaches pageant hopefuls, proceeded to wow the judges with her stage presence and vocal ability. She brought down the house, so to speak.

I like “The Voice” because most auditions are good. I rank the auditions by how many times I rewind and listen again to the song. Shelbie Z earned three replays.

Country superstar Blake Shelton wasted little time in wooing Shelbie Z to his team on “The Voice.”

NBC keeps results of the taped auditions and upcoming battle rounds close to its vest. While she faces some stiff competition, I’m sure all of Walker County will be rooting for her as she moves forward. Good luck, Shelbie Z.


Even though Friday’s grand opening celebration of the new 145,000-square-foot HTNA plant in the Bevill Industrial Park may not make national news, it most certainly is some of the best business news for our neck of the woods.

HTNA manufactures automotive carpeting for the new and wildly popular 2014 Toyota Corolla and trimming for the industry leading Honda Pilot. The company is the world’s top supplier for automotive carpet.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley attended Friday’s ceremony and credited the local workforce for the nearly $27 million expansion project.

“One of the reasons they expand anywhere is because of the people in the blue shirts,” Gov. Bentley said of the HTNA team members sitting in the back of the makeshift assembly hall surrounded by state-of-the-art manufacturing stations.

The expansion project will ultimately bring 100 more jobs to Jasper and Walker County. “Creating jobs for the people of this state should be our number one priority,” Gov. Bentley added.

Norio Takami, president and CEO of HTNA North America, applauded Walker County and its hospitality. “The people of Walker County have openly welcomed HTNA,” he said. “You have been warm and kind.”

Now that’s the message we need to promote!

Jack McNeely is the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at jack.mcneely@mountaineagle.com.