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Priceville News

Priceville could pay for road extension with leftovers from $7M rec center

Friday, August 25th, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger

PRICEVILLE — After approving a $9 million bond issue last week, town officials plan to build and open by next fall a 66,000-square-foot recreation center at North Park.

They’re also planning to use a portion of the bond proceeds to extend Marco Drive to East Upper River Road in a bid to open more property for commercial development and alleviate traffic congestion on Bethel Road.

Mayor Melvin Duran said this week that town officials expect to have $8.3 million to $8.5 million available for the projects after capitalized expenses are deducted from the bond.

“Hopefully, we’ll be anywhere from $6.5 million to a little over $7 million on the sportsplex, and what’s left we’ll spend on Marco Drive,” he said.

No groundbreaking date has been set for the recreation center, but Duran said officials hope to finalize plans Sept. 6 and plan to have it open by the fall of 2018.

Preliminary plans call for the center to include four basketball courts that can be converted into eight volleyball courts, a walking track, one or two batting cages, a fitness center, and a rehab center.

The center will be located on 8.4 acres in Morgan County’s North Park, at North Bethel Road and East Upper River Road. The park already has soccer fields, baseball fields and softball fields. Morgan County donated the land for the recreation center.

For now, town officials are calling the planned facility the Priceville Event Center. Duran said they are hopeful it will host travel ball and high school athletic tournaments, but they refrained from calling it the Priceville Sports Plex, because it could also host other events.

“You could have a wedding there, you could have a gun show there, you could have a boat show there, you could possibly have a camper show there, or a home and garden show. It’s an event center,” he said.

Noting the town’s proximity to Interstate 65, Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long predicted visitors attracted by the center would help stimulate the local economy, but said the project is not without risk for the town of roughly 3,300 people.

“It’s a big gamble for Priceville to spend that kind of money, but I think it’s going to work out for them,” Long said.

Longtime Priceville police chief to retire

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger

PRICEVILLE — Longtime Priceville Police Chief Billy Peebles will retire next week after more than 31 years on the force and more than 41 years in law enforcement.

Peebles, 63, will step down from the town’s top law enforcement job effective Wednesday.

“There comes a time in a person’s life when it’s time to move on,” he said, adding he will most miss the opportunity to serve the public as well as the camaraderie of the force.

Mayor Melvin Duran said no decisions have been made about who will replace Peebles either on an interim or permanent basis.

“All options are on the table,” he said, adding, “I’ve enjoyed working with Billy these last 31 years.”

Including Peebles, Priceville has five police officers and six reserve officers.

Peebles’ retirement comes during a period of rapid growth for the small town east of Decatur. From 2000 to 2016, its population grew by 97 percent — from 1,674 to 3,297.

Peebles, a Priceville native, started his law enforcement career as a reserve deputy for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. He served as a patrol officer in Trinity before joining the Priceville Police Department, where he was promoted to chief in 2001.

In an interview Friday, he said he always will carry with him memories of some of the more grisly experiences of law enforcement, but he hoped his years of work positively impacted the close-knit community.

“Maybe something you said during the day affected someone’s life for the good,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what matters to you.”

Peebles said he has no plans to leave his home in Priceville and that he will be available to assist the police force if called upon. He said his immediate plans are to spend time catching up on chores around the house and visiting family.

A small retirement party for Peebles is planned early next month. He said he prefers a small, private sendoff with friends and family as opposed to a large public event.

“My job was a gift that God gave me. It’s something I wanted to do since I was a young man, and God opened that door for me,” he said. “It’s certainly not something to flaunt, because all good things come from Him.”

Priceville seeking OK to borrow $9 million

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Deangelo McDaniel

PRICEVILLE — The town of Priceville is seeking authorization from a Morgan County circuit judge to borrow $9 million to construct a 66,000-square-foot recreation center near North Bethel Road and East Upper River Road.

A hearing on the matter will be held June 9 at 10 a.m. in the Morgan County Courthouse for any Priceville resident who wants to “show cause” why the town shouldn’t be allowed to borrow the money.

Mayor Melvin Duran and Birmingham attorneys handling the legal proceedings did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Priceville officials started talking about the center in 2015, but on March 13 the council adopted a resolution announcing its plan to go to the bond market, according to court documents.

Town officials said in court filings that they determined the town’s economic base and “prosperity and welfare of its citizens will be advanced” with the project. They also expect retail, commercial and employment opportunities and “an increase of the town’s tax base and revenues.”

Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said he was familiar with the project because the county donated 8.4 acres where construction is slated to take place.

“I think this is great for the area and would be a major tourist attraction for the county,” he said. “I don’t see any minuses to this plan.”

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling talked about a project like this for the River City during his campaign. He proposed locating it in the annexed part of Limestone County near Interstate 565 and Alabama 20 because of the amount of traffic.

Bowling said Priceville’s plans have not changed his thoughts about what Decatur should do.

“We’re still talking about the feasibility of moving forward,” he said.

Court documents did not include specific plans for Priceville’s facility, but in February Duran said it would include four basketball courts that can be converted into eight volleyball courts, a walking track, one or two batting cages, a fitness center and a rehab center.

Priceville plans to sign a management agreement with Encore Rehab to operate a portion of the facility, according to legal filings.

Duran and council members Tommy Perry, Charles Black, Donald Livingston, Joe Lubisco and Jerry Welch also outlined plans to pay the debt. The town has about $34 million in taxable property, which means the council can legally borrow as much as $16.9 million, according to court documents. The new bonds will increase Priceville’s debt to about $11.9 million, court records show.

The center’s proposed site is near the new Priceville High where the Morgan County Board of Education invested almost $24 million. Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. supports the project and is looking at it as a possible home for the Morgan County basketball tournament.

“Any place that is centrally located in the county is a benefit for the school system,” he said. “This is right off Interstate 65 and should attract a lot of people to the county.”

The proceeding has been assigned to Circuit Judge Steven Haddock.

MAPCO planned for Priceville, Bojangles’ possible

Monday, February 13th, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger

PRICEVILLE — In addition to significant residential growth, commercial development is on the rise in this once-sleepy town that has nearly doubled its population in 14 years.

A new MAPCO Mart convenience store is in the works for the southeast corner of Mountain Valley Road and Point Mallard Parkway, said real estate developer Jeff Parker, who brokered the sale of the property. He predicted work could begin sometime this year.

A heavy-equipment rental company is planned behind the McDonald’s restaurant on Alabama 67 near Interstate 65, said Mayor Melvin Duran.

Other new businesses opening in Priceville in recent months include Encore Rehabilitation, Hay Chihuahua Mexican Restaurant, One Charming Chic fashion boutique and Wynn Hydraulics, which moved from Decatur.

“As mayor, I’d like to have more because that’s what keeps the town going in terms of tax revenue,” Duran said. “But I would say it’s probably the most we’ve had in a four-month period since we’ve been here.”

At Wynn Hydraulics on Shoal Creek Road, owner Brian Wynn said he moved his shop from Lenwood Road Southeast in Decatur in order to expand the business. He purchased an existing office building and built a shop for the heavy-equipment repair company. Wynn already had moved his residence to Priceville from Decatur a decade earlier.

Since opening the shop in Priceville a month ago, the business has seen an increase in customers, he said.

“We were trying to add on, and it was honestly going to be too expensive to build in Decatur at my existing location, so I bought out here closer to where I live, and it’s just easier,” he said.

The increased commercial activity comes during a period of significant residential growth for the town. From 2000 to 2014, Priceville’s population grew 83 percent, from 1,674 to 3,063, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Since 2011, the town has issued 328 building permits for new home construction, not including permits for additions or remodeling, according to Duran.

In January, Decatur-based Davidson Homes announced a planned community near the new Priceville High School. It could bring as many as 200 homes to the market when completed.

Additionally, Parker said he has sold all 24 lots of his Arrowpointe Subdivision in Priceville, and he is planning a second phase with an additional 24 lots.

“It’s pretty much on fire right now,” Wynn said. “Property has skyrocketed, which is good for everyone I suppose.”

Just across the Priceville line in Decatur, a Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits is a distant possibility for the site of the former 67 Trailer Washout, which was recently demolished, on Point Mallard Parkway.

Property owner Justin Haddock said he bought the property as an investment and could one day build a Bojangles’ there, but he has no immediate plans to do so and does not expect to do anything with the property this year.

Haddock owns a Bojangles’ 4 miles away on Sixth Avenue in Decatur.

$8 million rec center planned for Priceville

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger

PRICEVILLE — Town officials hope to break ground as early as August on a roughly 66,000-square-foot recreation center, the first to be built in the fast-growing community.

Mayor Melvin Duran confirmed this week town officials are preparing to go to the bond market to pay for the estimated $8 million center.

“We have a pretty young group of people living out here with kids who play sports and are involved in youth leagues, and that’s something we’ve tried to keep up with,” he said.

Plans for the center were not complete, but Duran said it will include four basketball courts that can be converted into eight volleyball courts, a walking track, one or two batting cages, a fitness center and a rehab center.

The new facilities will be built on 8.4 acres at North Bethel Road and East Upper River Road near the new Priceville High School, which opened last year.

Morgan County donated the land to the town in December. The property was part of the county’s North Park, which has five baseball and softball fields, two soccer fields, a playground, restrooms and pavilions.

County Commission Chairman Ray Long said it made sense to donate the land, because the recreation center would be available to residents across the community.

The planned fitness and rehab centers in the new recreation facility will be operated under contract by Encore Rehabilitation, which opened its first location in Priceville about three months ago in the old Dollar General building on Alabama 67.

Encore Clinic Director Justin Hargett said Encore will relocate its new Priceville operation into the recreation center once it is completed.

“We wanted to get established in Priceville before then,” he said of Encore’s new Priceville location, noting it serves customers from Priceville and Somerville who once had to deal with traffic on Beltline Road to get to Encore’s clinic in Decatur.

The fitness center will be open to the public, but Encore will charge membership fees, Duran said.

Plans for the new recreation center come during a period of significant residential and commercial growth for the town. From 2000 to 2014, its population grew by 83 percent from 1,674 to 3,063.

Duran said the growth is a challenge for the town’s infrastructure, particularly street improvements and recreation facilities, but town officials are working to keep pace.

“It’s a good problem to have. It’s a lot better than worrying about making cuts,” he said.

Plans for the new recreation center come as officials in Athens plan for a new recreation center at the Athens Sportplex, complementing the existing center on Pryor Street.

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said he hopes to present plans for that project to the City Council later this year. A $2.7 million project to construct additional baseball and softball fields at the Sportsplex is also in the works, Marks said.

In Decatur, officials are working to increase availability for existing recreation facilities.

District 1 Councilman Billy Jackson said operational hours were cut years ago for budgetary reasons and that Mayor Tab Bowling has reinstated some since taking office.

“I think it’s so vital for our community to have recreation facilities simply for the fact that it’s a stress reliever for residents,” he said. “Even if there is a cost associated with it for the city, I think it’s worth it.”

Decatur Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Dunlap said they moved classes around to create 11 extra hours of open gym time per week at Fort Decatur, but they did not increase operational hours.

Jackson said more public availability is still needed.

Read the 2017 Town of Priceville newsletter

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Read highlights of the past quarter in the January 2017 newsletter.

Planned community: Housing boom in Priceville

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger

PRICEVILLE – Local officials say new schools and easy interstate access are contributing to a housing boom here as a local developer kicks off a new planned community that could bring as many as 200 homes to the market.

Decatur-based Davidson Homes officially opened this month its Bakers Farm subdivision off East Upper River Road on land adjacent to Priceville High School, which opened last fall.

Davidson Homes Realtor Aimee Dial said the first phase of the subdivision will bring 67 homes to market, with another 18 in the second phase and an estimated 111 in the third phase.

With prices ranging from $158,000 to $300,000, up to 200 homes are possible in the subdivision, she said, depending on whether larger or smaller lots prove more popular with buyers.

The planned community, which will feature walking trails, fishing ponds, a clubhouse and swimming pool, is the latest in a series of new subdivisions in the area.

Mayor Melvin Duran said homes are still going up in the nearby Churchill Downs and Cove Creek subdivisions, and Dial said Davidson’s 107-lot Olde River Crossing subdivision, started three years ago, has just one lot remaining.

“It’s been a really good seller, so that’s why we’re doing Bakers Farm,” she said of Olde River, estimating Davidson Homes sells two to three homes a month in Priceville, with average time on the market usually 30 days or less.

In Olde River, resident Elvin Jones, a professional film editor who works on Amazon Original movies, said he was attracted to the community from Decatur more than a year ago for its schools, ease of access to the interstate and rural setting.

“I have nothing but good things to say about it,” he said. “You get the rural feeling and the convenience of the interstate being right here.”

Jones’ youngest child is a freshman at Priceville High.

The new home construction shows in Priceville’s population growth. From 2000 to 2014, the town’s population grew 83 percent, from 1,674 to 3,063, according to census data.

Duran said the new high school and a new elementary school, which opened in 2000, were significant players in the influx of new residents. Other factors, he said, included the affordability of homes in Morgan County compared to homes in Madison and Huntsville, access to the interstate and the availability of sewer and other utilities.

“Before you had sewer, if you developed a subdivision, it had to be at least an acre per lot,” he said. “Now, you can put three to four houses on an acre.”

Residential growth in Priceville comes as Decatur development officials scrounge for new home construction, hoping two new high schools and streamlined building approval processes will encourage homebuilders.

Decatur Development Director Wally Terry said new homes and residential growth in Priceville is a positive for the River City, because those residents shop in Decatur, generating tax revenue. But residential growth is still a priority for Decatur development officials, he said.

“We want to grow our community. We want to provide homes to support the schools, so that’s not negating what we want as a community,” he said. “But if they’re around us and coming in, there is a benefit to them shopping here.”

From 2010 to 2015, Decatur’s population fell by 267 residents, contributing to Morgan County’s flat population growth of 0.5 percent over the same time period, an increase of just 79 total residents countywide.

Despite the flat population growth, home sales countywide were up 27 percent over the same time period, with 1,370 sales in 2015, according to the Alabama Center for Real Estate. Home sales increased another 8 percent last year, to 1,482, as housing supply fell 11 percent, which could signal new residential growth.

Dial said homebuyers from outside Priceville are about an even mix, with roughly half moving from Decatur and roughly half moving from the Madison-Huntsville area, where home prices are higher.

“We’ve had a lot of folks coming from the Madison area, because it’s just a little crowded over there,” she said.

After purchasing police vests, Priceville mulling cost of body cameras

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

From The Decatur Daily
by Ashley Remkus

PRICEVILLE – New bulletproof vests for two officers are the most recent purchases among more than $11,000 worth of equipment the Priceville Town Council is buying for the Police Department.

The council on Monday approved spending $945 to cover about half the cost of the two vests, which also are being partially funded by a federal grant.

The expenditure comes as the Police Department is researching the cost of new body cameras to equip its reserve officers. About two months ago, the town spent $10,145 on seven plate-armor vests, along with a drone and its camera equipment.

Priceville officers are required to wear bulletproof vests anytime they are in uniform or on duty, while the plate-armor vests are for use during high-threat situations, said Police Chief Billy Peebles.

“The plate-armor vests are for your biggest emergency calls and the type of situations where the threat level is higher than usual,” Peebles said. “They’re too thick for you to wear every day like the regular vests, and they weigh a ton.”

Cpl. Herman Davis told the council the department received $987 in federal grant money to help pay for the two replacement vests, which are for Assistant Chief Ron DeWeese and Cpl. Jason Wilbanks.

At the urging of Mayor Melvin Duran, the Police Department is researching the cost of purchasing body cameras for its reserve officers.

“I think if they’re out there, they ought to be wearing the cameras just like the other officers,” Duran said. “We need to be able to see what’s happening when they’re out there working — for their safety and the public’s.”

Davis said the department had been looking at six cameras that are $900 each for the reserve officers. But, after finding a different camera model for $400, the department is considering asking the council also to replace the cameras worn by the five full-time officers, he said.

Because the cost would remain somewhere around the $4,000-$5,000 mark, it would be sensible to keep all of the officers wearing the same camera model, he said.

Peebles said he wants to make sure the officers are getting equipment that’s “the best fit for what we are doing.”

“Some cameras don’t do well in rain if you are out working a wreck for hours,” he said. “We always want to update and get better equipment that will help us be effective.”

Davis said the cameras will not automatically record, so the officers will have to turn them on when they respond to a call.

The video footage cannot be edited, he said.

“When the officers download it, the only option they have is to make a copy,” he said.

Duran said the council likely will approve the purchase of the cameras if it’s presented during its Oct. 3 meeting.

Priceville offering ‘Refuse to be a Victim’ class

Monday, July 18th, 2016

From The Decatur Daily
by Ashley Remkus

PRICEVILLE – To share tips with the public on how to safeguard yourself, family and personal property from crime, Priceville is hosting a Refuse to be a Victim class.

Registration is free, but space is limited for the class, which will be Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. at Fredrick’s Outdoor, 1312 South Bethel Road.

“The class is designed to teach you personal safety — when you’re at home, work, school or while you’re traveling,” said Priceville police Cpl. Herman Davis. “We’ll cover the little things like what type of security cameras or alarm systems are good for you and things like dead bolts. The main thing it teaches you, though, is to be aware of your surroundings.”

Refuse to Be a Victim is a nationwide program localized by police departments and other agencies to best serve the safety needs of their communities.

The course covers vehicle safety, travel security and personal protection devices such as firearms, pepper sprays and stun guns.

“We want you to know how to protect yourself with your weapon,” said Councilman Jerry Welch, a firearms safety trainer. “To defend yourself against somebody, you have to be prepared. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with carrying a weapon, specifically a gun.”

Sheriff Ana Franklin will teach a brief session on Alabama’s firearm carry laws, Davis said.

Davis said the class is primarily geared toward adults, but teens also will benefit from the course material.

The class also covers online safety, including making secure credit- and debit-card transactions and avoiding inappropriate chat-rooms or sites.

Of the 50 available spaces, 26 were filled as of Friday afternoon, Davis said.

2016 Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Join the Town of Priceville and the Morgan County Schools Foundation the tax-free weekend and help “Stuff the Bus” for students in the Morgan Co. School System presented by Dollar General & Traditions Bank! 



Bring your tax-deductible donation of new school supplies, backpacks, tennis shoes, etc. by our drop off location at Priceville Dollar General on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. You may also make monetary donations in honor or memory of your favorite teacher. 



Supplies will be divided out among all schools in the district and grade-level supply lists will be on hand for easy shopping. Stop by and enjoy FREE hotdogs & Pepsi products!

Date: Saturday, August 6
Time: 10 A.M - 2 P.M.
Where: Dollar General Priceville

Thanks to these event sponsors: Dollar General, Traditions Bank, Town of Priceville, and Morgan County Schools Foundation.

Meetings

  • Town Council:
  • 2nd & 4th Mondays
    6:00 P.M.
  • Town Council Work Sessions:
  • 2nd & 4th Mondays
    5:00 P.M.
  • Park & Recreation Board:
  • 4th Monday
    6:30 P.M.
  • Planning Commission:
  • 3rd Monday
    7:00 P.M.
  • Library Board:
  • quarterly
  • Zoning Board of Adjustments:
  • per application request