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Priceville News

Priceville seeks multipurpose civic center

Monday, January 5th, 2015

From The Decatur Daily
by Briana Harris

PRICEVILLE – Priceville wants to build a multipurpose civic center close to the site of the town’s new high school, but doing so would mean a tax increase.

Mayor Melvin Duran said a preliminary rendering of the civic center includes four gymnasiums, a fitness center, racquetball courts, a theatrical stage, conference rooms, concessions and locker rooms in a 56,000-square-foot facility.

Duran said the original idea was to build a sports complex, but the idea grew into something more. He hopes to attract sports tournaments and other events.

“This is a vision that I’ve had for a long time,” he said. “I want our children to have the space to play their home games right here in Priceville. We need a place for them to call home.”

Duran said it will take about six months for planning and engineering, and another month to secure funds.

“We still have a lot to figure out, but I think a 2016 completion date is possible,” Duran said. “There’s a lot to be done on the financing side. We have to determine our debt limit and figure out what it would cost to operate and maintain the facility.”

The price tag is wide — $4 million to $8 million — because officials have not determined operation and maintenance costs. Duran has his eye on a parcel at the corner of River and Bethel roads, near North Park. The proposed site is near Priceville’s new high school, set to open this fall, and would be visible from Interstate 65, Duran said.

Duran said he favors a 1-cent sales tax increase to help pay for the facility. If approved by the Town Council, the extra revenue would go to debt services for the civic center. Duran said the extra penny would bring in $400,000 to $450,000 annually. Last fiscal year, the city received about $500,000 in sales tax dollars.

Priceville is the only municipality in Morgan County with an 8 percent sales tax. All others sit at 9 percent.

Councilman Tommy Perry said he believes the council would support a tax increase.

“Residents wouldn’t have to pay any more in taxes than what they already pay when they shop outside of Priceville,” Perry said.

Duran believes most residents will be supportive also.

“Parks and recreation is probably the No. 1 area where people want to see improvement,” Duran said. “When families are looking for a place to live, I want them to see that we are a growing community with a lot to offer.”

Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said he supports the venture.

“I know that the recreation leagues in that area struggle to find practice space, so I think this would be great, not just for them, but for that entire part of the county,” Long said. “I don’t see any negatives.”

Duran said the town improved its financial standing in August when the city completed debt services for a sewer loan that required an annual payment of about $200,000. The town still owes about $75,000 on another sewer loan, which requires a $25,000 annual payment. The loan will be paid off in three years, freeing up more money to go toward the civic center, Duran said.

New Priceville library opens for business on Monday

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Jonece Dunigan

PRICEVILLE – The Priceville Public Library will open at its new location on 1612 South Bethel Road on Monday, according to librarian Paula Hensley. Operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. The library is closed on Saturday and Sunday. It is also closed for lunch from 1 to 2 p.m.

The new building has been in construction since May. The project nearly tripled the size of the library from 2,000 square feet to 7,500. The facility will feature new computers, a secluded studying area and more room for the summer reading program.

Priceville pulls in $49K in alcohol sales taxes

Monday, August 25th, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Leah Cayson

PRICEVILLE – Priceville has generated $49,375 in alcohol tax revenue since adopting an alcohol ordinance in February 2013.

Mayor Melvin Duran said there have been no complaints, but going wet has not resulted in new businesses for the Morgan County town.

“We didn’t know really what to expect, but I think the $49,000 on alcohol sales is probably not the true picture,” Duran said. “The people go into the grocery store to buy a six-pack, but they end up spending $50 or $60 on groceries, too.”

Foodland, RaceWay, Marathon Oil, Tucker’s Grocery and J.W. Steakhouse are the five businesses that sell alcohol. Foodland owner Jim Gray has had his business since August 1993. He said sales have increased about 15 percent since he started selling beer and alcohol.

“Customers used to would come in and say, ‘Where’s the beer and wine,’ ” Gray said. “I would say, ‘We’re dry,’ and they would tell me they would have to go to Publix to get their beer and wine. When they go there, they will buy their groceries.”

The vote to go wet was 634-606 in 2012.

Duran said residents requested not to allow outside alcohol advertising, and officials listened to that request.

“If it was a bad atmosphere right now, the people who voted against it would be up here knocking on my door, and we have not had the first complaint,” Duran said. “We want to keep this community a family-oriented community.”

Priceville was the last Morgan County city to go wet. Outside of the county, the Lawrence County municipalities of Moulton and Town Creek adopted liquor ordinances in 2010.

Decatur Economic and Community Development Director Wally Terry said Decatur would have gotten maybe half of Priceville’s alcohol tax revenue had the town not gone wet.

“It will have an impact whether they put in a beer store or a gas station,” Terry said. “It will have an impact, but I don’t think it will be one that should impact our services or anything of that nature.”

Decatur collected $1.91 million in alcohol tax revenue in 2012, which decreased to $1.89 million in 2013. Decatur has generated $1.37 million in fiscal 2014, which ends Sept. 30.

“I think one thing that’s possible but speculation: a lot of the restaurants were waiting to see if we stayed wet or if there was a dry election coming up,” Duran said. “In the next two to three years, I think you will see some of those restaurants will go wet.”

Priceville to hold gun event

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Leah Cayson

PRICEVILLE Gun inspections, ammunition disposal and applications for concealed permits will be available Aug. 21 at the old Priceville fire station located at 520 Highway 67.

The Public Safety Firearms Awareness Day will go from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is sponsored by the town of Priceville and Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin.

Residents may bring firearms for visual inspection for:
• Visual defects
• Capability of firing modern ammo
• Use of correct ammo for each weapon
• Suggest type ammo for defense

Free safety gun locks will be given to participants.

Contact Councilman Jerry Welch at 256-355-7604 or Priceville Town Office at 256-355-5476 for questions.

Priceville getting post office

Monday, June 30th, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Leah Cayson

PRICEVILLE Priceville is getting its first post office, an 800-square-foot spot to be located inside Foodland grocery story on U.S. 67.

The new location will be able to certify letters, mail packages and offer all other U.S. postal services other than post office boxes. The nearest post offices for Priceville residents now are in Somerville and Decatur.

Foodland owner James Gray said he hopes to have the location open by Labor Day, but that will depend on construction. Gray said he is responsible for construction costs and does not have an estimated cost of the project.

“We have a $3 million town hall, elementary school and are building a new high school and don’t have our own post office,” Gray said.

Gray said he originally wanted to build a post office building and lease it, but with the closing of post offices nationwide, he said that was not possible. Gray will receive a percentage of revenue from the U.S. Postal Service, but said he was “not at liberty to discuss it.”

Gray said he doesn’t know how many employees he will need, but “the more the better.” He said he hopes the new addition will create more traffic in the store.

Thad Starling, U.S Postal Service postmaster in Decatur, said the Decatur location will be responsible for training the Priceville employees and will pick up the new location’s mail.

Priceville Councilman Jerry Welch said the addition shows the town is growing. The town had 1,631 residents in the 2000 U.S. Census report and 2,658 in 2010.

Welch said the town has at least 3,000 residents now.

“This is a great step even though it’s a contract post office,” Welch said. “It will be more convenient and save money for people. They’ll get the same services as downtown.”

Priceville spruces up exit

Friday, April 4th, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Cody Muzio

PRICEVILLE I-65 beautification project nearly complete; Hartselle next to start

Priceville has added more than 7,000 shrubs, trees and ornamental grasses to the Interstate 65 exit and entrance ramps at Alabama 67 and lacks only final details such as trimming and mulching before the project is complete.

It’s one of two beautification projects underway along I-65 in north Alabama. Hartselle is starting a similar project at two exits, as the flat green of Morgan County’s interstate exits will be transformed into varied hues of whites, reds, browns and blues.

“When you take care of an interstate like this and it’s attractive and well lit, it makes people think more about stopping and maybe spending some time and money,” Priceville councilman Donald Livingston said. Livingston is liaison to the town’s street department.

Hartselle’s project is threefold, city Development Director Jeff Johnson said. It will include landscaping similar to Priceville’s on I-65 at the Thompson Road and Alabama 36 ramps, as well as landscaping in the median of the U.S. 31 and Alabama 36 intersection.

Johnson said the Hartselle projects will put about 4,000 shrubs and trees at I-65 and Thompson Road, more than 1,600 at the Alabama 36 exit and almost 700 in the U.S. 31-Alabama 36 intersection.

Both projects will install a variety of vegetation along the ramps.

Drivers in Priceville will notice Brackens Beauty magnolias, burgundy loropetalum, white oak and green ash, while Hartselle motorists will be greeted by crepe myrtles, Princeton elms and overcup oaks.

Johnson said the work in Hartselle will include clearing existing trees near the interstate exits to create a more open view along the I-65 corridor.

Livingston said the project at Alabama 67 would be finished “within the next few months, but that depends on how fast the state moves.”
He said recent rains have caused some of the dirt to slide down the hills, impeding progress, and Alabama Department of Transportation workers would be responsible for restoration.

Johnson said Hartselle officials and ALDOT personnel held a preconstruction meeting Thursday to finalize the plans, and construction will begin “likely within the next 10 days.”

Both projects are being funded through transportation enhancement funds, a grant from the state that pays 80 percent of total costs. Priceville will pay $48,376 of the $241,884 project, and Hartselle will pay $71,581 of its $357,905 total.

Johnson said there will be no effect on traffic at any of the three sites being landscaped.

Campbell’s Landscape and Irrigation, of Scottsboro, was contracted for the Priceville project, and the work in Hartselle will be done by Crane Hill-based Triple J Construction.

Priceville predicting growth, development

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Cody Muzio

PRICEVILLE — When Mayor Melvin Duran steps out of his office on Marco Drive, he sees a dead-end road with acres of empty land.

But he envisions a bustling, multi-faceted downtown destination, one that is visible from the interstate. It could be five, 10 or 20 years in coming, but town councilmen and community leaders want to create a downtown center. This year, the town will begin an expansion of Marco Drive that connects it to Upper River Road, doubling its length, creating more room to build a commercial downtown, and providing an alternate route to the future Priceville High School.

At the same time, officials are making plans to move the library into a facility almost four times the size. In May, retailers will have sold alcohol in Priceville for a year, keeping more tax revenue in the town and drawing customers from larger cities such as Hartselle.

And just recently, the council approved a payment to GoDaddy.com not just to maintain ownership of its current website, TownOfPriceville.com, but also to purchase CityOfPriceville.com.

Priceville’s population continues to grow. It had 1,631 residents in the 2000 U.S. Census report and 2,658 in 2010.

“We’ll have to wait for the next census to really know,” Duran said. “But we’re definitely over 3,000 by now.”

“Since the 2010 census, we’ve grown by a third of our population,” town clerk Connie Childers said.

Although the legal definition of a city in Alabama only requires a municipality to have 2,000 residents, Duran said Priceville still is considered a town because of its form of government in which the mayor votes as a part of the council.

But, he said, Priceville needs to be prepared for the jump from town to city.

Why not take that step now? Town officials and residents alike said the transition needs to be deliberate.

“We’re trying to grow, but do it in a slow, manageable way,” Councilman Don Livingston said. “We want an attractive town. We want to make it grow, but keep it steady — a controlled growth.”

Jimmy Smith said he has lived in Priceville for 30 years and likes what he sees in the town’s future.

“We’ve got a good group of people running the city, and they’re careful with the direction it’s heading,” he said. “Right now, with the economy as it is, they need to take inventory of what they’ve got and lay the groundwork for what’s to come.”

Councilman Charles Black said leaders are becoming more aggressive.

“We’ve been kind of just letting things develop and transpire as they will,” he said. “But we’re moving toward a more proactive approach.”

He said the council is putting more emphasis on marketing and recruiting of businesses, as well as continuing to expand infrastructure to accommodate future demand.

Duran, who has been mayor since 1986, said Priceville already has seen change.

“The biggest difference is that when I started in Priceville, I knew everyone in the town,” he said. “There was no sewer, one police officer, no red lights, one fire station, no grocery store, and the school only went to the ninth grade.”

He said his vision has been to keep Priceville “family-oriented,” and that’s a challenge moving forward.

“It’s really hard to know how to manage staying that quiet, school-, family-, church-oriented community, but also have those businesses, services and everything else that goes into making a city,” Duran said.

His strategy is to keep attracting the same type of residents.

“We could grow to 15,000 or 20,000 people, and as long as we keep building single-family homes, we’ll stay the same,” he said.

Housing developer Bill Dinsmore said he has lived in Priceville 40 years, but his relationship with the town began before that.

“Starting in the mid-’60s, we built about 100 houses in Priceville,” he said. “When I first started, everybody said, ‘You’re crazy. Nobody wants homes out in the country.’ But we sold them as much as we could build them.

“When the ’70s came along, things slowed down all around, but we just kept moving along out here.”

Dinsmore said he doesn’t want to see the town grow too quickly, but he agreed with Duran that it can retain a small-town feel on the current course.

“Some people might feel like we’re all right the way we are, and we should let it go,” he said. “But as long as there’s slow, good, clean growth, we will be fine. And it’s all been clean growth, and I’m really proud of this town.”

Sam Heflin, a real estate agent and former councilman, said growth is strong despite economic trends, which he attributes to the assets Duran described.

“The people in Priceville want it to stay a bedroom community. It’s bigger than Mayberry, but it has that atmosphere,” he said.

Although Priceville doesn’t earn the “crime-free” reputation Andy Griffith’s Mayberry did, it isn’t far off.

According to state records, Priceville averaged 50.75 violent and property crimes per year between 2009 and 2012, and had no homicides. Decatur’s average was 2,971.5, with nine homicides.

Heflin said the biggest factor contributing to Priceville’s low crime rate and high quality of life is the abnormally high income of its residents.

Census bureau data from 2012 lists the country’s median household income at $53,046. The same figure was $43,160 in Alabama, $45,852 in Morgan County, $42,374 in Decatur and $78,693 in Priceville. The only Valley city with a higher average income is Madison.

Morgan County Schools superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. said Priceville’s school system is one of the elements that makes it attractive for middle- and upper-middle class families, but the location and affordable residential subdivisions were what sold him on the town.

“I love being able to get on the interstate and be in Huntsville, Nashville or Birmingham in a short time,” he said.
Councilmen said 100,000 vehicles pass through Priceville daily.

“With our location,” Livingston said, “we could be another Madison. There is tremendous potential in Priceville.”

Marco Drive, which is elevated and runs parallel to the interstate, is the most visible location in town, he said, which makes it the ideal spot for the future epicenter.

Livingston said he wants to see development on both sides of the road and attractions such as a movie theater, department stores, a Sam’s Club, specialty shopping, dining options and a sportsplex that can be used to host regional tournaments. But even with so much development, he said the priority is maintaining the town’s community values.

“If you’re traveling down the interstate, we want you to see nice hotels and restaurants and shopping,” Livingston said, “but we don’t want any nightclubs or anything like whatever ‘bungalow’ you see signs for on the way to Tennessee.”

Hopkins expects new developments to continue Priceville’s rapid growth and vice versa.

“I think it’s twofold,” he said. “I think the new high school, for example, will attract new growth, but we’re only building the high school because the growth has already been there.”

“One of the visions I have is development of the land around the high school,” he said. “I would love to see that turn into kind of a neighborhood high school that students can walk to. We really don’t have that anywhere else right now.”

Dinsmore said as the town grows, conflict could arise between big- and small-town mentalities, but he believes the residents and officials will keep it on the right track.

“I think it has what it needs to keep its values,” he said. “I think it’s pretty well under control, and as long as they keep good subdivisions and good schools, the people will stay the same.”

Priceville to open TSA Pre-Check site

Friday, January 24th, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Leah Cayson

PRICEVILLE — The Transportation Security Administration has opened an application site in Priceville for its Pre-Check program.

The application process allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to enroll in the expedited screening program. The program allows travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on, in select screening lanes.

The application site is at 1436 Shoal Creek Road, near Celebration Arena.

Travelers in north Alabama will now be able to go through a pre-enrollment process online at TSA.gov, make an appointment and complete their enrollment at the application center in Priceville. Previously, passengers had to travel out of state to complete enrollment for the program.

Priceville library moving

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

From The Decatur Daily
by Cody Muzio

PRICEVILLE — A new home for the Priceville Public Library will pave the way for “all kinds” of new programs and services for residents, librarian Paula Hensley said.

Priceville Mayor Melvin Duran said the Town Council approved a $925,000 purchase of the Western Express trucking company building and surrounding land on South Bethel Road in November and “didn’t have a clue what to use it for.”

Then it hit him.

“We looked at it and realized it would be perfect for the library,” he said. “The library has really outgrown where it is.”

Duran said the new building is 7,500 square feet, more than triple the size of the current 2,000-square-foot library. Hensley said every inch will be utilized.

“We need more space,” she said. “Last year, in our summer reading program, we had to turn kids away because we just didn’t have room. I don’t want to do that.”

She estimated the library has 1,500 to 2,000 “active” cardholders who check out a book “at least every two weeks.”

Duran said the new building has a large open room in the center with smaller ones along the outside that can be used for kids’ rooms, offices or computer rooms.

He said state library system officials will tour the building Wednesday and make recommendations on remodeling, but he expects little will need to be done.

“I’d think we can do all the remodeling for around $20,000,” he said. He said the council plans to have the library completed and open by April.

Hensley said she’s already thinking of new community programs for the more spacious building.

“We will be able to expand our technology and have more computers or have classes there,” she said. “We could use some of those rooms for private tutoring sessions. And we’ve had several people call asking if we could do a job fair. I don’t have room for that, but I will in the new building.”
Duran said the town is serious about maintaining its library, even in a time when others are falling by the wayside, because it is a service of the town to its residents.

“The library is really an extension of education, which is always a priority.”

Gun safety class set in Priceville for Dec. 19

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

From The Decatur Daily
by Seth Burkett

PRICEVILLE — The Priceville Town Council Public Safety Program will hold a free course on home gun safety Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

Speakers will discuss the responsibility of gun ownership and use of weapons inside the home, said Town Councilman and firearms instructor Jerry Welch.

Priceville police officer Herman Davis will speak about 911 response, Sheriff Ana Franklin will address legal questions and Welch will talk about weapon use, ammunition and securing guns.

Reservations are not necessary. Do not bring weapons to the class. The class is for Morgan County residents only.

For more information, call Welch at 355-7604.

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