“It is an exciting time to be in North Alabama, and it’s an awesome time to be in Albertville,” Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea said to open the State of the City Address.

Honea took the stage Thursday, Feb. 6, to deliver the State of the City Address at the Albertville Parks & Recreation Department, which is located in the old National Guard Armory. While attendees had a breakfast catered by Boaz’s Spices Smokehouse, Honea thanked everyone from state legislators to the city’s employees.

Borrowing words from Albertville Chamber President Stan Witherow, Honea said “come grow with us” could be a theme for Albertville. But, he said “thankful” was what kept coming to his mind when he thought of the city.

“We should be thankful for so much that is going on within our city and within our community,” Honea said. “The chamber’s doing an awesome job. There’s so many people that I’m thankful for within this community. There’s countless things that people do that [they] don’t get accolades for, and I really appreciate those [people].”

Honea listed what he was thankful for, beginning with God, then his wife for her support, his parents and siblings for their love and his three “wonderful and outstanding” children, which he said, “were a blessing to raise.”

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve the city I was born and raised in, its citizens and my fellow team members,” Honea said. “I’m so grateful to be a part of Albertville, and its bright future. For the blessing for being able to work with a council and administration that have a common goal to achieve the very best and leave our city and community better than we found it.”

In effort to positively impact the quality of life in Albertville, Honea said developing a sports and recreation park “worthy of what the people of the city deserve” was a plan in the making even before he took office.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this council, administration and entire team responsible for bringing Sand Mountain Park & Amphitheater to Albertville,” Honea said.

He said 77 miles of streets — close to 45% of all the roads in Albertville — were improved by paving or treatment. It was a total of 118 streets, and he said, “more was to come.” Also, he said there were improvements with the downtown streetscape and traffic signalization. These included adding underground utilities and traffic signalization on McKinney, Scott, Sand Mountain Drive (north and south) and Main Street. Improvements were made to sidewalks, irrigation and landscaping along Broad Street. He said Albertville was awarded $766,000 for improvements to the U.S. Highway 431 and Edmondson Road intersection from the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II.

“Many thanks to MUB for your assistance and constant support,” Honea said.

As for the Albertville Regional Airport, he said it is “a staple of the industrial and economic development.” He said the airport improvement funds contributed by FAA & State Aeronautics Bureau was $651,900. He said there is a new 22,000 square-feet corporate hangar under construction with C-130 house capability. Also, he said the Snead State Aviation College is at the airport with a full 2-year technical airframe and powerplant training course.

“This is the only FAA certified aircraft maintenance training facility in North Alabama,” Honea said.

In 2019, Honea said the Albertville Police Department purchased five new Chevrolet Tahoes. Each was fully loaded and outfitted with communications and patrol equipment.

The Albertville Fire Department hosted the State College school and EMT school. The schools hosted people from Marshall, Morgan, Cullman, DeKalb and St. Clair counties, as well as Arkansas, California, Mississippi and Florida.

For the first time in history, he said the Albertville Public Library was “weeded,” and the books were sent to local churches and schools, smaller libraries and the city’s senior center. He said there is a new teen lounge. Also, he said the children’s and nonfiction sections were relocated to better serve the city’s students and the public.

The city had 100% participation for the United Way of Marshall County donation campaign. He said the city raised more than $10,000 in 2019, which went directly back to local non-profit and “impactful” organizations in the city and county.

Currently, the city is under a consulting contract with Jacksonville State University’s Center for Economic Development & Business Research for an employee pay study. He said he expects results in the coming months.

“We’re doing all we can to continue to implement pay increases and potential additional steps to the current grade-and-step pay scale as possible,” Honea said.

Honea recognized the many developments to the city, including the Hampton Inn and Marriott hotel developments. He thanked Don Spurlin for his companies’ work in the Firehouse Subs, Dunkin’/Baskin Robbins development. He said there would be more coming to that location in the near future.

To close the event, Honea asked David Langham, of INTL FCStone Financial Inc., who he said is a “big partner” with the city that “goes above and beyond,” to say a few words.

From when he first started working with the City of Albertville, Langham said the city is now in “wonderful” financial position and saw three credit ratings upgrades.

“In 2012, when we began this work, the city credit score was below 600 … today, they now have the equivalent of a 750 credit score,” Langham said. “Just an absolutely wonderful march forward in the last few years.”

Since 2012, he said the city has seen 540,000 square feet of new retail and restaurants. He said this is surprising, because with the growth of online shopping there are not many other cities in the nation seeing that type of growth.

“That breakdown is 460,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment venues and 80,000 square feet of the two new hotels, which are going to be wonderful additions” Langham said. “You would not be able to accomplish what you want to accomplish at SMPA without the addition of those two hotels. We want to thank those developers that are bringing those [to the city].

“Those numbers do not include 130-acre SMPA and what that’s going to mean [for the city],” he added. “I cannot say enough thank yous to the team of people that has worked tirelessly to put that together.”

As a “non-Albertville” resident, Langham said he believes Albertville is a special place with a special community.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of different places, and I’m telling you that communities don’t look like this,” he said. “You are blessed. You are fortunate.

“One of my favorite things to do is to look at The Sand Mountain Reporter Facebook page when something gets announced — there’s genuine excitement here,” he added. “And that does not happen everywhere … here, it’s ‘that’s fantastic, now what’s next?’ So, I love that mindset that we’re not satisfied, we’re not done, we’re going to continue to grow.”

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