Sandra Smelser holds her candle in remembrance of Hartselle Medical Center on the steps of the hospital, which closed for good on Tuesday. | Brent Maze

Archived Story

Hospital, alcohol vote top news stories

Published 12:15pm Thursday, January 3, 2013

The announcement of the closing of Hartselle Medical Center in early January shocked the Hartselle community and subsequently led to its becoming the top news event in 2012.

The hospital’s owner, Capella Heathcare, cited ongoing financial struggles as the reason for the closing. Officials said only about 23 of the facility’s 150 allotted beds were being used on average per day.

“It’s a sad day for Hartselle,” said Mayor Dwight Tankersley. “My mother worked there. I was born there. The hospital has been an important part of the community for many years. This will hurt our city.”

The hospital officially closed on Jan. 31 and its assets were purchased by Huntsville Hospital in March. No plans were announced at that time for the re-opening of the hospital; however, Huntsville Hospital’s CEO David Spillers said there might be an opportunity to provide some services on an outpatient basis, including lab and imaging services.

Hartselle voters say ‘no’ to the legal sale of alcohol

2. Hartselle voters, casting their ballots in record numbers, rejected the legal sale of alcoholic beverages for the third time in 10 years at a special referendum conducted on Nov. 6.

“No” votes totaled 3,478 while “yes” votes totaled 3,066. The difference was close to what it was in 2010 when “no” voters prevailed 3,159 to 2,699.

The outcome of the election leaves Hartselle as the largest city in the state where the sale of alcoholic beverages within its city limits is prohibited.

Tankersley opts out as mayor, Hall claims seat

3. Mayor Dwight Tankersley opened the door for the election of a new mayor in March when he announced he would not seek a third term.

Subsequently, three candidates – Councilman Don Hall, businessman Johnnie Howell and retired educator Lee Hartsell – stepped forward as candidates.

Hall went on to win the race in a runoff with Howell, councilmen Bill Smelser, K.T. “Kenny” Thompson and Tom Chappell were re-elected and Mike Roberson and Kenneth “Ken” Doss won the other two Council positions.

Hall set as his first priority the continuation of negotiations with Huntsville Hospital to open an emergency care facility in the former Hartselle Medical Center.

Changes push cost of new high school to $44 million

4. Changes during the construction phase of the new Hartselle High School have pushed the original cost estimate of $40 million to $44.28 million. Unanticipated costs include additional parking and the re-design of the athletic field house to accommodate girl’s softball.

Despite the overruns, Superintendent Dr. Mike Reid maintains that the school system has enough money to cover the costs.

When construction began the school project had about $42.5 million in funding: $2.2 million from a 2007 state school construction bond issue, $21.9 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $18.3 million from a local bond issue.

A difference of about 1.8 million will be covered by grants, sales tax savings and capital outlay funds, according to Sarita Tapscott, chief financial officer.

The school project is nearing completion and the target date for occupancy is Feb. 18, 2013.

City opens new aquatic center to record crowds

5. The City of Hartselle opened a new $3 million aquatic center to record crowds of between 800 and 1,000 patrons during the Memorial Day weekend.

The new facility also attracted nearly 900 season pass buyers, a big increase over the prior year.

The mini-water park consists of a 10,000 sq. ft. main building complete with modern concession stand, glass-enclosed, air-conditioned vestibule and 35 restrooms, plus a 26,000 sq. ft deck area equipped with picnic tables.

The pool features a zero entrance, lazy river, splash pad for kids, Olympic size, regulation swimming lanes and walls equipped with water jets.

CES claims Blue Ribbon Lighthouse status

6. Crestline Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School on May 22, completing a two-year push by Hartselle City Schools to have all three of its elementary schools designed as Blue Ribbon Lighthouse Schools.

Barkley Bridge and F.E. Burleson Elementary Schools received the designation in 2010 and 2011, respectively. When Burleson School was notified of its acceptance in the fall of 2011 Crestline was already completing the documentation to submit to Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Inc.

“This is something our community can be proud of,” said Hartselle City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Reid. “It’s not only a statement about the quality of our teachers and administrators but also reflects credit on our parents, students and volunteers.”

152nd MP deploys, armory closes

7. The Alabama National Guard’s 152nd Military Police Company from Hartselle and Scottsboro deployed to Southeast Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on June 26.

A departure ceremony for the 141 National Guardsmen was held at Sparkman Civic Center on June 24, with an estimated 500 family members and friends in attendance. In addition, a number of dependents and friends lined the downtown streets of Hartselle on the morning of their departure to wave goodbye.

The company previously deployed to Iraq in 2006.

When the unit returns it will be based in Decatur, following the closure of armories in Hartselle and Scottsboro.

Indiana firm brings 200 jobs to old Copeland plant

8. Busche, an Indiana-based company specializing in computer numerical production machining, purchased the former CR Compressors plant in October and announced plans to hire up to 200 skilled employees when the facility reaches full production.

The 263,000 square-foot production facility is located on 48 acres at I-65 and Thompson Road and once employed up to 1,000 workers when owned by Copeland Corporation.

Busche officials said value added, long-term machining contract work will be done at the facility.

President/CEO Nick A. Busche said the move is a win-win for his company since there are only a few large machining organizations in the south.

Morgan Center Business Park dedicated on Nov. 1

9. The Morgan Center Business Park in Hartselle celebrated the completion of phase one construction with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and open house on Thurs., Nov.1.

The event was attended by more than 100 elected and appointed officials, business owners and business and industry recruiters. Jeremy Nails, executive director of the Morgan County Economic Development Association presided.

Nails said the 135-acre business park will be a catalyst for job creation for many years to come and attributed its creation to the vision and support of a large group of community leaders.

It’s a great park,” said Frederick L. “Pete” Schaum. Senior project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s going to be a gateway for business growth. I wish we had more like it throughout the state.”

$325,000 FEMA grant targets CBD flood issues

10. Businesses located in Hartselle’s Central Business District could receive some relief from storm water flooding in the near future thanks to a $325,000 FEMA grant, which was approved for Hartselle in August.

The city will receive $244,350 in federal dollars while the city is required to provide a local match of $81,450 in either cash or in-kind services, or a combination of both.

Department of Development Director Jeff Johnson said the city has worked for over two years to obtain the grant.

“It’s good news for the downtown businesses that have been adversely affected by flooding in the past,” he pointed out.

  • nelnan

    I am really pleased to read about the FEMA funds made available to the Hartselle Business District! We hear so much about the “evils” of big government. Perhaps we can see some good that comes from government which helps to rebuild and sustain community.

    Nancy Owen Nelson

Editor's Picks