Tag Archives: Huntsville

2014 Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll

Don’t miss the pilgrimage to this year’s
Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll

On Sunday, October 12th, from 2 to 4:30 pm, you too can take the journey back in time to this sacred place. The Stroll is a North Alabama tradition, and for 18 years it has been bringing history alive in the oldest and largest municipal cemetery in continuous operation in the South.

Once again, there will be over 70 costumed actors depicting historic characters, as well as special exhibits and traditional music. Most of your favorite characters are returning, while others will be making their first appearance. Many of the exhibits will enhance some of the living history presentations, while others will highlight some of our recent restoration projects, including the beautiful wrought and cast iron fencing surrounding many of the burial plots. Again, old time melodies will fill the air as you stroll …

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Huntsville school district breaks ground on new $60 million Grissom High School

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Grissom High School students – past, current and future – were part of the crowd Tuesday morning as the Huntsville school district broke ground on the school’s long-awaited new $60 million campus.

The Grissom marching band played for the crowd of parents, city leaders and school district officials, who gathered under a tent erected on the edge of the 61-acre site, located off South Memorial Parkway behind Sam’s Club. The school’s mascot, the Grissom tiger, danced as he and Tiger cheerleaders welcomed attendees to the groundbreaking, which Grissom principal June Kalange called “the start of a new era”.

Students also took part in the ceremony, including three members of Grissom’s Class of 2021 – the first class anticipated to graduate from the new school. The students are currently sixth-graders at Challenger Middle School, Mountain Gap P-8 and Whitesburg P-8.

One of those future Grissom graduates, 11-year-old Priya Morgan, said she was excited about the new campus, which she said will have state-of-the-art classrooms and labs to help ready her for college.

“I want to be a chemist,” Morgan said with a huge smile. “I like chemistry, and science is my favorite subject.”

Morgan’s mother, Preeti Francis, said she, too, is happy to see the new school on the horizon.

“Just knowing we will have the facilities to support the programs that we will need is very exciting,” Francis said. “I’ve not spent a lot of time in the current building, but I know that there are things we cannot do because the school does not have the physical capabilities.”

Huntsville Superintendent Casey Wardynski said Tuesday was a great day.

“Grissom has been an important element of the city and the school system since it was built in 1969 and first opened its doors in 1970. It’s had a long and honorable tradition of excellence and it’s been one of our key incubators for new programs,” Wardynski said.

Wardynski pointed to programs like Project Lead the Way, which started out at Grissom but this year has expanded into every school in the district. He said Grissom, along with the upcoming Jemison High School in north Huntsville, will also set the city schools on a new path of advanced manufacturing education.

“They, and our high school in the north, Jemison, will have probably two facilities that are without compare in the United States,” Wardynski said. “As well as probably the only two high schools that will have racetracks.”

Grissom and Jemison will both have racetracks as part of Huntsville’s designation as the home of Greenpower USA, the American branch of a British organization that teaches STEM education through electric car races.

Mayor Tommy Battle congratulated the district, the Grissom students and the Huntsville community.

“This is an investment that we’re making,” Battle said. “This community is investing in a school. But more than investing in a school and the education process that comes out of a school, we’re investing in a band, we’re investing in young students who will be here and will be educated here, and we’re investing in what we value as a community.

“Education is the foundation block of everything good that happens in this community, from economic development to quality of life,” Battle said.

School board president David Blair pointed out that, four years ago, the school district was struggling under massive debt and had hundreds of millions in capital needs. He credited taxpayers with seeing the need in 2012 to renew a 6.5 mill ad valorem tax that brings about $14 million per year into the school district for upgrades and new facilities.

“That was huge. That allows us to build this school, as well as others,” Blair said. “It’s a huge investment in students; it’s a huge investment in our community. And really, really, thank you for everything you have done to help this community.”

Blair and Jennie Robinson, who has represented Grissom on the school board since 2002, both praised the district’s partnerships with the city and the Madison County Commission, which they said allow projects like the new Grissom campus to move forward.

“Today we’re marking a new beginning not only for Grissom families and faculty, but for our south Huntsville community,” said Robinson, who is seeking the District 3 seat on the Huntsville City Council. “A new Grissom High School in this new location will be a magnet for growth in this area. It will revitalize an area that was depressed.”

Robinson said the new high school also marks a new beginning for the current campus, which will be turned into a municipal complex that will include a police substation, a new public library branch, a recreation center and a community theatre. Madison County Commissioner Phil Riddick and other supporters of the plan hope to raise $4 million privately to help pay for the new library.

The new Grissom, initially slated to open in August 2016, is now anticipated to open to students in January 2017.

Excitement pervades crowd as Huntsville school district breaks ground on new $60 million Grissom High School | AL.com.

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Groundbreaking on new Grissom High School to be held next week

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A new Grissom High School will be one step closer to reality next week when school officials break ground on the new $60 million campus.

The groundbreaking will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the site of the new school, located behind Sam’s Club on National Boulevard. National is just off of Memorial Parkway below Weatherly Road.

The event will be broadcast live on ETV, located on Comcast Channel 17, WOW Channel 3 or on the web at HuntsvilleCitySchools.org.

The school board last week approved a $2.3 million construction contract with Decatur-based Baggette Construction to perform the site work prior to the school’s construction. Chapman Sisson Architects of Huntsville is designing the school.

Other work to prepare for the new school is already underway, with Weatherly Road being extended west of Memorial Parkway to new 61-acre campus. School board member Jennie Robinson confirmed last week, however, that work on the new school had been delayed, putting its August 2016 opening in jeopardy.

School officials are looking at the possibility of a mid-year opening, with students moving into the facility in early January 2017.

The current Grissom campus on Bailey Cove Road will be turned into a public library, police substation, recreation center and community theater.

via Groundbreaking on new Grissom High School to be held next week | AL.com.

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Heritage Brook by Legacy Homes

Located on Old Railroad Bed Road just a mile north of Hwy 72 (University Drive) in Madison, Heritage Brook provides the best of both worlds. The private wooded lots, raised foundations and gently rolling topography provide an established neighborhood feel with brand new homes. This unique combination combined with the convenient proximity to Redstone Arsenal, Madison Hospital and The Shops of Madison; make Heritage Brook a natural choice for your new home.

Looking for a new home? I work with every builder in every new community and school district in Madison county.

Buy your new home with me and I’ll sell your current home for FREE!

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Huntsville ranks among top last-minute summer getaways

Food Trucks

Thousands come out for food trucks on Church Street by Big Spring International Park in Huntsville, AL on Thursday July 17, 2014. (Bob Gathany/bgathany@AL.com)

A new list of last-minute vacation hotspots by Florida-based Global Vacation Ventures might make you consider taking a “staycation” in the Rocket City.

Huntsville was among four cities included in GVV’s best U.S. summer getaway destination list released Friday afternoon. The country club concierge travel agency in West Palm Beach touted Huntsville’s craft beer scene and “quality family entertainment.”

“Those who are intrigued by the nation’s space program will find Huntsville to be the perfect vacation spot,” GVV said. “That’s not all this southern town has to offer, though. There are festivals, shopping spots and unique dining experiences to enjoy.”

Here is the full list from GVV:

  1. Asheville, N.C.
  2. Deadwood, S.D.
  3. Huntsville
  4. Portland, Ore.

Click here to check out the ranking.

Considering a ‘staycation’? Huntsville ranks among top last-minute summer getaways | AL.com.

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Officials expect economic boom with Stone Middle project featuring 2 breweries, outdoor venue near downtown Huntsville

Since the late 1980’s when Sharp Communication moved from Jordan Lane to Governors Drive, the two-way radio company has watched downtown revitalization pick up momentum “like an airplane running down the runway.”

With the announcement that the nearby Stone Middle School will soon be home to two well-known Huntsville breweries and an outdoor concert amphitheater, Sharp CEO Trey Sharp believes downtown growth has taken off.

“Between this and the rumors surrounding the Coca-Cola bottling property, it’s becoming much more clear how cool the whole downtown area could soon become,” he said. “I would just say ‘great job’ to the area leaders behind this move.”

Officials gathered this afternoon in the old Stone Middle gymnasium to officially announce the redevelopment project, which includes a 40,000-square-foot brewery and taproom for Straight to Ale, a new 6,000-square-foot facility, bier garten and tasting room for Yellowhammer and a large amphitheater for concerts and outdoor events.

[Related: With Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer expanding, Huntsville poised to become 'the Napa Valley of craft beer]

Chad Emerson, CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc., said the development will be a game-changer for downtown and the state of Alabama when it opens in 12 to 18 months. He believes it will bring young, creative professionals from competing cities and provide a major tourism boost to North Alabama.

“This will cement us – the city of Huntsville and Madison County – as the largest destination for breweries in the state of Alabama – the absolute largest – and one of the largest per capita in the entire Southeast, so it is a significant manufacturing and economic development project,” he said.

Straight to Ale, which operates in a 10,000-square-foot brewhouse on Leeman Ferry Road, made the jump into the Atlanta market in May after doubling its fermentation capacity last year.

“This will cement us – the city and Madison County – as the largest destination for breweries in the state of Alabama.”

Founder Dan Perry said the Stone Middle property will allow him to grow his workforce from 14 employees to 40 or 50 in the next 1 ½ years.

“This area needed some life put into it, and I think this project is the start of that happening,” Perry said. “We’re big fans of old buildings and revitalizing stuff. We tried to do it when we first started at Lincoln Mill. It didn’t work out over there so now we’re really excited to be able to get back to what we wanted to do when we first started up.”

[Related: Market crash, longterm vacancy caused Stone Middle School property value to plummet from $5.8 million to $1.1 million]

Yellowhammer will double its workforce and increase its output significantly at the larger space on the Stone Middle campus, which was originally home to Butler High School. Head brewer Keith Yager also hopes to reach craft beer markets in Tennessee and Georgia once Yellowhammer is operating on the corner of Governors Drive and Clinton Avenue.

By beautifying the area and making it attractive for visitors, Yager believes more restaurants will move into west Huntsville because of the breweries and the public draw.

“I think Huntsville is doing something really special here,” he said. “It’s going to be a big draw to people all over the state and Southeast. I think you’ll get people to come here to Huntsville just because of the craft beer scene we have.”

Lucia Cape, director of workforce development for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, said the project does nothing but “magnetize” the city. Flucy Lucy Antique Market employee Kathy Clark, who works across the street from the campus, agrees.

The customers and surrounding businesses near Flucy Lucy and Bandito Burrito have also expressed excitement about the development since the news came to light late last week after a Huntsville school board meeting.

“I think it will really do good for the area and maybe for Flucy Lucy’s,” she said. “I think it will really help our business and maybe everyone else’s around here, too.”

Officials expect economic boom with Stone Middle project featuring 2 breweries, outdoor venue near downtown Huntsville | AL.com.

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Huntsville ready to roll with $383M in road upgrades over next 5 years

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Orange construction cones may replace the Saturn V as Huntsville’s unofficial mascot over the next five years.

Mayor Tommy Battle called a Wednesday news conference to update drivers on 27 road construction projects around the city that are recently under way or expected to break ground in the coming months.

The $383 million in planned road work is touching almost every major street in town, including Memorial Parkway, U.S. 72 East and West, Martin Road, Research Park Boulevard, Old Madison Pike and Zierdt Road.

Improving traffic flow is vital to Huntsville maintaining its status as an employment hub for all of North Alabama, said Battle. Currently, an estimated 110,000 workers commute into the city from surrounding areas.

“It is inconvenient having to divert traffic and move people around through construction zones,” said Battle. “But we’re a regional employment center. Our workforce comes from a 14-county area. We have to have the capabilities of getting those people … into the city of Huntsville to work each day.”

The road upgrades are a mix of 15 locally-funded projects and 12 being done in concert with the Alabama Department of Transportation. Huntsville and the state are splitting the estimated $221.5 million cost of new Parkway overpasses at Mastin Lake, Lily Flagg and Byrd Spring roads, widening U.S. 72 East and West, and building the next leg of the Northern Bypass.

Last December, the Huntsville City Council voted to raise sales taxes from 8 percent to 9 percent to finance the city’s share of the road construction partnership.

Here’s an update from Battle and City Engineer Kathy Martin on some key road projects:

New Memorial Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring and Lily Flagg roads:Design is 90 percent finished; state expected to seek construction bids in March 2015; work on access roads should start mid-2015. Huntsville wants the contractor to move quickly, said Martin, and may offer cash incentives for finishing ahead of schedule. Part of the work will be done at night to try to minimize impact on businesses in that stretch, she said.

New Memorial Parkway overpass at Mastin Lake Road: Design is 30 percent finished; construction scheduled to start late 2016.

Third westbound lane over Chapman Mountain on U.S. 72 East: Reed Contracting has been hired and should start work in October; the job is expected to be finished in April 2016.

Six-laning U.S. 72 West from Providence Main Street to Limestone County line: Concept drawings being reviewed; public involvement meeting planned for later this month; on track for mid-2016 start.

Build Northern Bypass between Pulaski Pike and Memorial Parkway: Design 60 percent finished; next step is acquiring needed right-of-way; on track for mid-2017 start.

Holmes Avenue bridge replacement: Construction is 70 percent complete and should wrap up in January.

Four-laning Zierdt Road between Madison Boulevard and Martin Road:Clearing and Redstone Arsenal fence relocation complete; construction of new northbound lanes on track to start late this year and finish in mid-2016.

Five-laning Martin Road from Zierdt Road to near Huntsville International Airport: First phase from Zierdt to Old Jim Williams Road expected to start early 2016.

Five-laning Winchester Road between Dominion Circle and Naugher Road:Design is 90 percent complete; next step is purchasing needed right-of-way; on track for early 2016 construction start.

Widening Old Madison Pike west of Cummings Research Park: Construction is 70 percent complete and should wrap up in April 2015.

Weatherly Road extension to future Grissom High School site: Construction is 20 percent complete and should be finished by July 2015.

New five-lane section of Church Street between Oakwood and Pratt avenues: Construction is 80 percent complete and on track to wrap up in October.

Huntsville ready to roll with $383M in road upgrades over next 5 years, including 3 new Parkway overpasses | AL.com.

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