2011 Year in review part 1
In a year full of change, progress and disaster, Madison has still held on strong.
A massive snowstorm covered the area at the beginning of the year. Ground broke on a new shopping center in March. Tornadoes swept the area in April. School officials began to retire in May and the mayor announced he wasn’t running for re-election in October.
Here’s a look back at the stories that made 2011.
Up to snow good
On Jan. 8, Madison came to a standstill because of the weather.
The snow that came into town Sunday night still lies frozen on the ground. Citizens took to their yards to sled down hills and build snowmen.
All Madison City Schools and Madison County Schools were closed, Monday, Jan. 10 due to a significant amount of snow and possible ice.
Students in Madison were out of school from Jan.10 to Jan. 14.
Two of the five make-up days came from two weather days that were already built into the school calendar. The other three make-up days were Feb. 18, Professional Development Day; Feb. 21, President’s Day; and May 27, which will now be students’ last day, instead of May 26.
Senior Center expands
Madison Senior Center no longer have to crowd in the women’s restroom when a storm threatens the city.
The center received a $350,000 addition, which includes a multi-purpose room, which will double as a tornado shelter, a card and game room, an art room and patio were added to the center, located off Hughes Road, next to Discovery Middle School.
“We’re exciting for our seniors, we’re excited for the community of Madison. It’s growing city and we want to grow along with it,” said Vickie Parker, activities coordinator.
The expansion was funded by the city council under the capital improvement plan.
Police department gets red corvette
Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey unveiled the department’s new 2010 red Corvette Grand Sport, which was donated by city residents Jeff and Nilmini Thompson.
The Thompson’s company, Systems Products and Solutions, also outfitted the car with lights, sirens and a police radio.
When Muncey and Mayor Paul Finley first met with Jeff about the idea, Muncey said he was skeptical about the idea coming to fruition.
“I thought it was done (when we left the meeting). You hear a lot of things, but how often do they come true?” Muncey said.
The car is used in the department’s community policing division, helping the police build a relationship with area children.
Coaches of the year
Two Bob Jones coaches were named by the National Federation of State High School Associations 2010 Coach of the Year for the southern region.
Bob Jones swim coach Mike Gunner and basketball coach Danny Petty were both recognized.
Council moves forward with The Shoppes of Madison.
The Madison City Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the issuance, sale and delivery of $7,525,000 principal amount of the general obligation taxable warrants to begin funding for The Shoppes of Madison.
The 266,000-square foot shopping center, which is being built by GBT Realty, is expected to be built near the site of the new Madison Hospital off Balch Road.
In addition to the major retailer, which is expected to be a Super Target, the Shoppes are also expected to include various sit-down restaurants, a major home décor store and other retailers.
Resident visits Antarctica
Sunita Puri, a doctor at the MedCare clinic on Madison Boulevard, visited the Earth’s southern most continent in December 2010.
Puri took a 12-day cruise to Antarctica that departed from Ushuaia, Argentina.
Congressman delivers cookies to Bob Jones
Congressman Mo Brooks visited Bob Jones High School and Whitesburg Middle School on Feb. 3 to collect the baked goods and personally delivered them to the sailors this weekend.
The cookies were individually packaged with a note reading: “We thank you for your bravery and dedication to our great nation. You and your families continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. Sweet home Alabama.”
City Council approves $6.5 million for purchase of The Shoppes of Madison
The Madison City Council approved $6.5 million to purchase a parcel of land, which would be given to GBT Realty Incorporated, to start construction on The Shoppes of Madison development.
Bob Jones boys win area title
The Bob Jones boys’ basketball team outscored Florence 18-4 in the third quarter to earn the come-from-behind victory, 59-45, and the Class 6A Area 15 area title.
Madison Police Department receives two new vehicles
The Madison Police Department’s fleet of vehicles expanded by two thanks to a donation made by County Commissioner Dale Strong.
Strong presented the keys for two 2011 Crown Victoria’s during a city council meeting.
Mayor Paul Finley said he is especially appreciative of the donation during these tough economic times.
“In a tough budget time, that’s fantastic,” Finely said.
With several of the city’s police vehicles eclipsing 200,000 miles, Police Chief Larry Muncey said the donation would drastically help out the department.
Madison man arrested for stealing seized drug money
A Madison man was arrested Wednesday, March 2 on theft charges after police say he stole more than $13,000 in seized drug money.
Wesley Eugene Pyle, a contract technician, was performing service work in the Strategic Counterdrug Team offices Feb. 15, when police say he stole $13,610 that had been seized in a drug case and waiting to be deposited.
Pyle, 27, was arrested and charged with theft of property first degree and is being held in the Metro Jail on a $5,000 bond.
Madison Academy wins state crown
After giving up a double-digit second-half lead in 2010’s Class 3A state title game, Madison Academy head coach Brian Privett challenged his team to finish this season.
The girls did just that, making easy work of Danville in the 3A state finals, 63-31, at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex to secure the school’s first girls’ basketball state championship.
“To God be the glory for bringing these girls together,” said Privett.
Privett credited his team’s defensive effort, which limited Danville to just five points in the first period, 10 in the second, seven in the third and nine in the fourth.
Wife donates kidney to husband
Templena Stanley donated her kidney to her husband, Larry.
Seven possible donors had been tested for a possible kidney transplant for Stanley and all of them not a match.
“While I was on dialysis, I spoke to friends and neighbors, co-workers and family and I had potential donors who offered,” he said. Every last one of them was rejected. Six of them I had known less than a year.”
Stanley had suffered renal failure due to hypertension.
City painted purple for Relay for Life
Madison was painted purple for Relay for Life.
The Madison City Council proclaimed April 1 “Paint the Town Purple Day” in honor of the Madison’s Relay Life For Life event.
Several Madison businesses and organizations “went purple” in an effort to show support for the American Cancer Society.
Tree removal leaves residents puzzled
Many residents have been wondering what happened to the trees in Historic Downtown Madison. The topic has become somewhat controversial and has some residents asking why they had to be removed.
Phil Bergstresser is one of those residents.
“It is a big disappointment to many of us who have lived here in Madison a long time to see such apparent vandalism of mature trees,” Bergstresser said. “Some local official probably has a good excuse, but we would have liked to have been informed before it happened in time to object. It may even have been discussed at a city council meeting, but we were unaware of it until it happened.”
Sherri Blair, historic district planner and zoning administrator, said notices were not sent individually to property owners, but an announcement of the Main Street Renovation project was made using “typical notification medium.”
Decatur man arrested for theft, burglary in Madison
Madison police responded to a report of a burglary at a residence on Whisperwood Lane, Sunday, April 10.
Detectives received information from a witness describing the suspect and vehicle seen leaving the residence.
Police said the suspect, 28-year-old Jonathan Lee Stover of Decatur, was seen driving in a silver 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV.
Further investigation revealed that the suspect had been to another residence in this area knocking on the door asking for scrap metal and attempting to get inside the residence.
City Council passes radio system upgrade
The Madison City Council on April 11 approved an agreement for the E-911 radio system.
The council unanimously passed the resolution after 30 minutes of discussion at the Madison Municipal Complex.
The telephone and radio services agreement is among Madison, the Madison County Communication District, Huntsville, Madison County and Huntsville Emergency Medical Services.
The council had been considering the agreement since December.
The current proposal by E-911 includes raising residential monthly fees nearly 150 percent, up $1.18 from 82 cents to $2 and businesses 50 cents from $2.25 to $2.75 to cover a digital upgrade to equipment and to unify county and city systems.
Tornadoes devastate North Alabama
What started as a quiet, gray morning Wednesday, April 27, ended with hundreds of deaths in the state.
Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency for all Alabama counties as a result of severe weather.
“Our Emergency Management Agency will continue to monitor this severe weather and will be prepared for any potential impact on our communities,” Bentley said. “I urge Alabamians to do the same and heed weather warnings to protect their families, homes and businesses.”
The slew of tornadoes that were formed from the storm that swept North Alabama was one of the worst the state has seen in years.
Tens of thousands of customers have been without power because TVA’s electricity feed was broken and power lines down. Officials said it could take up to five days before power could be restored.
Educator wins Teacher of the Year
And the winner is Dr. Gay F. Barnes, a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), who teaches first grade at Horizon Elementary School in the Madison City School System.
Near the end of the live broadcast event of the 2011 Alabama Stars in Education Awards, State Superintendent of Education Joseph B. Morton announced the coveted title of Alabama Teacher of the Year. With the title, Barnes assumes the role of official spokesperson and representative for teachers in Alabama for the next year.
Toney says so long to school system
Clara Toney has served the Madison city school district for 19 years. She retired July 31.
Toney finished her job as the administrator of federal programs, student assessment and pupil services for the Madison city school system.
Sue Helms retires
After 18 years serving in education, Sue Helms’ time has come to an end.
She was one of the original five members on the first Madison Board of Education 13 years ago. During her tenure with Madison City Schools, five new schools were built.
“It was charting new grounds because there was no checklist,” Helms said. “We had to do it all ourselves. I was the only with school background because I had been with the county. Everybody else were the business people, which was a great mix, but we were winging it for the most part.”
Police department expansion opens
A month after the originally planned date, the official grand opening of the expansion to the police department’s Public Safety building has finally happened.
The $1.3 million expansion includes a police officer training facility and state-of-the-art Emergency Operation Center (EOC).
Long career comes to a close
After 35 years working in education, Mary Long, director of elementary instruction, is retiring.
A retirement ceremony was held for Long Thursday in the board room at Central Office during a Board of Education meeting.
Local restaurateur holds world record
Joe Carlucci of Famous Joe’s Pizzeria & Ristorante in Madison competed against pizzaiulos, or pizza makers, from Italy and around the globe in Naples, Italy, the birthplace of pizza.
This title is Carlucci’s fourth world title. Carlucci also holds the Guinness world record for the highest pizza toss at 21.5 feet. Some of his other titles and accomplishments include the following:
Grandmother runs across state for education
Lori Tippets, 56, is on a quest to run a 10K in 30 cities across the state in protest of statewide education cuts.
Tippets made a stop in Madison during the Madison City Schools Administrators’ Workshop at HudsonAlpha.
Parking lot to free more space at city hall
Police now have a new place to park. A new parking lot was built by City Hall on Hughes Road.
Lt. Steve Wilkerson of the Madison Police Department said the parking lot would be used for authorized and emergency vehicles. This freed up space in front of city hall for public use.
Board awards city’s best properties
The Madison Beautification Board held its annual awards luncheon June 30 and had an unprecedented 11 winners of the Excellence Award.