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Priceville News

Priceville: New school will draw families to city

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Deangelo McDaniel

PRICEVILLE — Fields that once grew row crops along Upper River and Bethel roads are now sprouting single-family homes, businesses and churches in Priceville.

According to city officials, this is just the beginning.

The growth that started in this hamlet in 2004 when Priceville High School reopened is expected to go on the “fast track” as school leaders move closer to construction of a new high school, Councilman Tommy Perry said.

“We already have great schools and a growing community,” Perry said at Tuesday’s high school groundbreaking ceremony. “But we expect this to draw more people to the community.”

The $24.7 million school, 119,000 square feet in size, is expected to open in August 2015, Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. said.

“It’s going to be a game changer for this area and the entire county,” he said.

Priceville Mayor Melvin Duran was not at the groundbreaking, but he said last week the city has issued about 100 building permits in the past year.

“Some of them are because of the new school,” he said.

When board members voted in July 2012 to construct the school, they cited overcrowding as the leading reason. Priceville’s population grew 76 percent from 2000-10 and now is 2,885, according to 2010 census figures.

Priceville Elementary, a K-5 school on Cave Spring Road, added 100 students during the growth period and is above capacity with about 700 enrolled. The school opened in 2000 and was expanded in 2007.

The junior high and high school share a campus on Alabama 67, but have been near or at capacity since 2004.

Hopkins said the plan is to make the Alabama 67 campus a middle school for grades 5-8, which would give the elementary school more room.

The new high school is designed to house 600 students, but infrastructure will be in place to expand it for 900.

In addition to 25 to 30 classrooms, the school will have laboratories, a 1,500-seat gymnasium and athletic field house estimated to cost about $2 million.

Parents Kelly Dean and Kim Law expect the school, which is the talk of the community, to change Priceville for the better.

“I think this is a statement about what education means in this community,” Law said.

Her son, Hugh Law, 11, participated in Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I’ve been asking my mom where the school was going to be” the fifth-grader said. “I’m excited because this is where I will graduate.”

If construction goes as planned, Law said, her daughter will be part of the first graduating class.

Birmingham-based Volkert Construction is supervising the project.

Shane Bagwell, of Volkert, said the school is on schedule for bid in mid-December. He said the company held its pre-construction conference with the State Building Commission in August and submitted construction documents to the state in early October.

Hopkins said Priceville is perfect for residents who work in Huntsville because the school is about two miles from Interstate 65.

“We hope this becomes a neighborhood school so students can walk to class,” the superintendent said.

Valley honors sacrifice, duty

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Cody Muzio

PRICEVILLE — Somerville resident Wayne Stevens thinks of Veterans Day not only as a time to acknowledge those who have served in the military, but also the end of the wars they fought.

Armistice Day, as it was observed before being renamed Veterans Day in 1954, celebrated the cease-fire that led to the end of World War I. After American deployment in World War II surpassed that of the previous conflict, Congress opted for a broader day of remembrance.

Stephens, 89, is a WWII Navy veteran who grew up in Eva.

“It is a special day because it was supposed to be the war that ended wars,” Stephens said of WWI. “But it didn’t. I reckon people will be fighting until the end of time.”

Hundreds gathered Monday for the Morgan County Veterans Day parade and ceremony.

The parade, down North Bethel Road and Faye Drive, featured junior ROTC groups, martial arts students, firetrucks from departments across the county and floats from patriotic organizations.

Leading was grand marshal Bill Dukes, former state representative and Decatur mayor and a WWII Army veteran. Dukes spoke at a ceremony that followed the parade at Veterans Memorial Park in Priceville.

Before leaving the podium, Dukes thanked veterans for their selflessness.
“That’s what it’s all about: giving to help others,” he said.

As the Priceville High School band played each military branch’s song, audience members were asked to stand if they or a family member served in that branch.
Shiela Nelson stood for every song.

“My dad was in the Air Force, my husband was a Marine, my son is in the Army, my daughter is in the Coast Guard, and my uncle and nephew are Navy,” she said.
Nelson, 48, of Decatur, is president of Blue Star Mothers of Morgan County — mothers of military men and women supporting deployed troops with care packages and prayer, as well as offering encouragement to one another. She said Veterans Day is about honoring those who have served.

“I don’t think they get enough recognition,” she said. “I think it’s right to honor our veterans, and the way they were honored today was very appropriate.”
Carl Flemons, 58, of Somerville, served eight years in the Air Force as a radio and radar repairman. His father was deployed in World War II and his father-in-law in the Korean War.

The family connection and a “sense of duty” inspired him to join the service, he said, but also the practicality of the GI Bill and the promise of a college education. When he looks back, it’s a source of pride.

“It was an absolute privilege,” he said.

Stevens said he hopes people don’t forget the sacrifices of veterans or the importance of ending conflicts.

“You know, I didn’t go through the roughest part (of WWII),” he said, “but I wouldn’t want anybody to go through what I went through.”

He said he was touched by the ceremony and the support the community showed to veterans.

“It’s hard for me to explain the feeling I have when I get together with people with one thought in mind,” he said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Priceville school gets new turn lane

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Cody Muzio

PRICEVILLE — Morgan County District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark said his crews were adding two new gravel turn lanes to Cave Spring Road in front of Priceville Elementary on Wednesday.

The turn lanes are needed to help prevent traffic congestion.

“The problem was traffic was backing up out of the parking lot and into the road,” he said. “Hopefully that will take care of it.”

He said the elementary school is growing and he thinks the problem would have been worse this school year if the lanes were not added.

Clark said the project will cost no more than $5,000.

He also said he plans to pave and stripe the lanes before school starts, if weather permits. If not, he said he’ll have it done over one weekend in the fall.

Priceville prepares for annual car show

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

From The Decatur Daily

PRICEVILLE — Jerry Berryman has been bringing his classic cars to Priceville’s annual car show since it began in 1997, and this year’s event Aug. 17 will be no different.

“I have some Corvettes, a ’55 Buick convertible, and this year I have a ’59 Studebaker I’m going to bring,” he said.

Berryman, of Priceville, said he has watched the event grow from a few dozen cars to the 482 on display last year. Fellow enthusiast Lonnie Williams, also of Priceville, said he expects this year to be even bigger.

“There will probably be 500 to 600 cars there and 2,000 to 3,000 people,” he said.
Kelly Dean, Priceville’s town clerk, said the show will have a lot more to offer than just cars. The event is open to new and antique cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and “pretty much anything you can drive,” she said.

The event also includes dozens of vendors. Dean said there will be a raffle specifically for car show participants with a chance to win a 350 Chevy engine or one of 10 $100 cash prizes.

“It’s just really neat, good family entertainment,” she said.

Williams said the show is a relaxed social event that brings the town together.

“It’s not just cars. With all the local churches and clubs that have booths set up, it kind of makes it like a bazaar,” he said.

The show is a “cruise-in,” which means car owners don’t have to preregister, but there is a $10 fee for participants.

The car show will be held from 6 to 10 p.m., but cars exhibitors are encouraged to arrive early. Admission is free.

Sheriff Franklin to discuss new gun laws

Monday, July 29th, 2013

August 27, 2013, at 7:00 P.M. Sheriff Anna Franklin will be holding a town hall-style meeting at Priceville Municipal Building to speak on the substantial changes to the laws affecting who own and carry weapons.

Priceville OKs 8% lodging tax

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Ben Montgomery

PRICEVILLE — A new 8 percent lodging tax in Priceville could take advantage of Decatur’s lack of hotel rooms and will provide funds for branding and promoting the city, officials said.

The Priceville Town Council voted Monday to approve the tax. It will go into effect Oct. 1.

Councilman Charles Black said the tax is intended to be “competitive” with Decatur’s 7 percent lodging tax.

“It’s a revenue stream we’re just not capturing,” Black said.

Mayor Melvin Duran said Priceville’s four hotels benefit from Decatur’s lack of hotel rooms. Out-of-town participants in large events at Decatur’s Point Mallard Park or the Jack Allen Soccer Complex often must find accommodations outside Decatur. Morgan County has 1,679 hotel rooms, 1,366 of which are in Decatur.

Celebration Arena Manager Craig Stiles pitched the idea of a lodging tax to the council in February. He asked the council to appropriate part of the revenue to the arena so it can afford expansions, justifying his request by saying tourism dollars the arena generates benefit Priceville more than any other Morgan County municipality.

Duran said the council wasn’t committing revenue to any one entity at this point. He said it will be spent on promoting the city, including paying for tourism brochures Duran wants to print.

“We’ll determine where the money goes,” Duran said. “In reality, the arena does get the money because we’ll use it to buy advertisements for their events.”

Town of Priceville Newsletter – July 2013

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Read about upcoming activities in Priceville in this month’s newsletter.

Priceville alcohol brings in $2,469

Monday, July 15th, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Cody Muzio

PRICEVILLE — Priceville collected $2,469.28 in alcohol tax revenue for May, its first full month of sales.

The ordinance allowing for alcohol sales in the town passed in February and the first sales took place in May. Since the town became wet, it has issued nine alcohol licenses. License holders sell only beer and wine. They include three wholesale licenses, one special event license, one restaurant license and one off-premise consumption license.

Priceville Mayor Melvin Duran said the money is going into the town’s capital outlay fund, which is used for special projects.

“It really hasn’t been very long,” Duran said. “I don’t think this is a true indicator of what revenues will be.”

Duran said council members couldn’t estimate what the impact of alcohol sales would be, so the increased revenue was not included in the 2012-13 fiscal year budget.

Priceville license holders said the ability to sell alcohol has improved business.
“We didn’t know how people would take it, but we’ve had no problems so far,” JW Steakhouse restaurant manager Abby Vest said. “It’s brought in a different crowd, and we have more people coming out to have beer or wine with dinner. And none of our regulars have had any complaints.”

The steakhouse installed a bar in one of its dining rooms after receiving its license. Vest said the bar and daily drink specials have also boosted sales, and she expects the upward trend to continue as more people learn what the restaurant offers.

Tucker’s Grocery owner Chris Tucker said his store’s location near the Priceville-Somerville line has contributed to an influx of new business.

“People from the surrounding areas in the county that would never stop here because they’re on their way to get beer in Decatur are stopping here now and often getting other things, too,” he said.

Tucker said he’s taken full advantage of his license and has about 50 varieties of beer and malt beverages in stock.

Foodland owner Josh Gray said he was a little surprised at how effective alcohol sales have been. He said alcohol sales made it the most successful Fourth of July in the store’s history.

“We were thinking it was just going to be a convenience thing and people would just pick up some beer or wine while they were here getting groceries,” he said. “But we do have a lot of people who come in just to buy beer.

“We even have a lot of customers drive in from Decatur and even Moulton and Somerville and buy beer from us because they say they like the store and our people.”

Gray said Priceville’s sales tax — 8 percent, as opposed to Decatur’s 9 — also contributes to outside traffic.

Just across the city border, Chevron manager Tara Farrer is less excited. Her store is in Decatur, but only feet from the Priceville line.

“I’ve been at this store for nine years, and I can tell a big difference in our sales,” she said. “We had a lot of people drive in from Priceville and Somerville who don’t come here to get beer anymore.”

Farrer said the convenience store lowered its prices on alcohol, but the difference is still noticeable.

“I hope it comes up for a vote again and they go back to being dry,” she said.
Decatur’s District 5 City Councilman Chuck Ard said cases like Farrer’s are inevitable, but he doesn’t think the city as a whole will feel an impact. Ard is the liaison to the Finance Department.

“I think that Priceville will do their thing, and I think we’ll do our thing,” he said. “But I don’t see it as a significant loss of revenue for the city.”

Decatur finance supervisor Linda McKinney said the city’s beer revenue for May of 2013 was $94,398, only $1,280 less than in 2012. McKinney said the difference could be attributed to many factors, not just Priceville sales.

Priceville gives $50K for new school sewer

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Deangelo McDaniel

PRICEVILLE — Morgan County’s budget to construct the new Priceville High School on Bethel Road got a boost from city officials.

Mayor Melvin Duran said the city of Priceville will give the school system $50,000 to cover the cost of running sewer lines to the property.

“We’re going to continue to help the schools in any way we can,” the mayor said.

In December, the Morgan County Board of Education paid $789,250 for the 55-acre site near North Park where the high school will be.
The closest sewer line to the property is about 1,500 feet away, Superintendent of Education Bill Hopkins Jr. said.

The city’s appropriation will cover the cost of running lines and installing manholes, Duran said.

He said the council decided to allocate the money because schools are the primary reason Priceville is one of the fastest-growing areas in Morgan County. During a six-month period in 2012, Duran said, the city issued 62 building permits, mostly to families with children. He said plans are for 260 new housing units in the city.

Priceville’s population grew 76 percent from 2000 to 2010 and is now about 3,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Priceville Elementary on Cave Spring Road, which is a K-5 school, added 100 students over the decade. The school was expanded in 2007 to accommodate the growth. The junior high and high school share a campus on Alabama 67, but have been near or at capacity since the site reopened as a high school in 2004.

Hopkins said the plan is to make the Alabama 67 campus a middle school for grades 5-8, which would give the elementary school more room.

The new high school is being constructed for 600 students, but infrastructure will be in place to expand the school to accommodate 900 students.
School officials are using $16 million to $20 million of a $26.5 million bond to pay for the school. Remaining funds will be used to renovate the high school so that it can accommodate middle school students.

GBW Architects of Decatur is designing the school, and Mobile-based Colkert Co. is managing construction.

Firearms safety class returning to Priceville

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Ronnie Thomas

PRICEVILLE — Two classes during the winter on gun safety were so successful that Priceville is hosting another one Thursday in a larger venue.

The class, which will last about two hours, starts at 6:30 p.m. in the town council chamber of the Priceville Municipal Building on Marco Drive.

The class is free to participants who are at least 18 and live in Morgan County. The public will not be permitted to bring firearms into the building.

Jerry Welch, an expert on weapons and self-protection who leads the classes, said about 30 people came to the first session in February at Veterans Park and Recreation Center. He said about 40 people showed up for the second one.

“The room is too small, and I think everyone in town recognized that,” he said. “(Mayor) Melvin (Duran) made the suggestion to move this one to town hall, where we can accommodate more than 100 people at once.”

Welch, a Priceville town councilman, said the overall topic of the class remains the same: “Being a Responsible Gun Owner.” He will take a technical look at weapons, ammunition, security and maintenance.

Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin will speak on gun laws and personal protection, and Priceville officer Herman Davis will talk about officer assistance.

Ryan Welty, director of the Morgan County 911 Communications Center, also will speak.

“I will discuss how a 911 operator handles a call from a citizen who is armed,” he said. “We take a number of prowler calls and calls about a burglar in progress. It is not uncommon for a citizen to be armed, and I’ll discuss how we handle that situation. I expect to get a lot of questions, and I’ll be happy to address them.”

For more information, call Welch at 256-355-7604.

Meetings

  • Town Council:
  • 2nd & 4th Mondays
    6:00 P.M.
  • Town Council Work Sessions:
  • 2nd Monday
    4:00 P.M.
  • 4th Monday
    5:00 P.M.
  • Sewer Board:
  • 2nd Monday
    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