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1HomePageMap small se 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia

Five needy families, their circumstances exacerbated by a lack of adequate transportation, received showroom-quality used cars during a blustery ceremony outside Victory Church in Lakeland thanks to area body shops last month.

Amid a sea of tears, hugs and hallelujahs, members of the Auto Angels experienced the joy of giving, promising to help more families next year.

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“I’ve never had a feeling like this, and I’m 60 years old. I’ve had chill bumps all morning,” said Ray Gunder, owner of a Lakeland automotive center who was instrumental in bringing about the car giveaway.

Twenty or more area auto dealers, garages and body shops, comprise the Auto Angels program. Gunder said he patterned the group after Recycled Rides, a nationwide awareness campaign that is aligned with the National Auto Body Council. In the past few months, Gunder and his associates acquired five cars in need of varying amounts of TLC. In some cases entire engines were replaced, he said.

A heavy snow storm passed through northern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia January 5 through 7, originating in Arkansas. The snow storm brought heavy snow, blanketing the region in 4 to 10 inches in some areas.

State Rep. Steve Horne, R-81, has introduced House Bill 151, which repeals the Mississippi annual safety inspection of motor vehicles program.

MS H.B. 151 includes additional language on the tinting of windows.

Mississippi has an annual decentralized safety inspection program. Less than half the states in the United States have safety inspection programs despite studies in Pennsylvania and Missouri that have indicated the value of safety inspection programs in reducing accidents, injuries and deaths. The federal government has not shown interest in promoting state safety inspection programs or in evaluating their value in reducing accidents, injuries and deaths.

If the bill becomes law, it will take effect July 11, 2011. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) opposes MS H.B. 151.
ASA encourages independent repairers to go to the ASA legislative website, www.TakingTheHill.com, to review the Mississippi legislation.

The Executive Board of Directors of the Florida Autobody Collision Alliance announced that it has appointed Cathy Mills its first Executive Director. Mills will assume the responsibilities of the position on January 1, 2011.

Ford Motor Co. is hiring 1,800 workers and spending $600 million to overhaul a factory in Louisville, Kentucky, to build small sport utility vehicles according to reports made by Bloomberg News.

The factory, which now produces the midsize Ford Explorer SUV, will begin building a redesigned version of the Escape compact utility vehicle late next year, Marcey Evans, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an interview. At that time, the plant will begin operating two shifts and employing 2,900 workers, up from one shift and 1,100 workers currently, she said.

Ford is transforming the Louisville plant into its most flexible factory, capable of producing small cars, SUVs and wagons.

Such flexibility is typical of Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. plants. Ford also plans to build a small Lincoln SUV in Louisville starting in 2012.

With the help of The Impact! Group, Sports & Imports Collision, a member of the Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA), delivered an Oldsmobile Intrigue to The Jeremy Burse Family in a ceremony at 3400 McDaniel Rd., Duluth, Ga.