The Sweet Sounds of Progress: The Singing River Trail Is On Its Way!

There has been nothing but beautiful music coming from the Singing River Trail project since Dr. John Kvach took over as its first executive director in July.

Unveiled last year by the Land Use Committee of Huntsville’s Launch 2035, the Singing River Trail is the committee’s most ambitious legacy project. It connects the North Alabama region to its rich history and preserving its pristine environment – originally consisting of 70 miles of walking, biking, and hiking trails and greenways.

However, the trail is kicking off 2021 with several significant accomplishments.

Kvach was on hand to announce the opening of four miles of the Hays Farm Greenway that includes an early intersection with the vast Singing River Trail network. The ribbon-cutting highlighted the partnership the trail has with south Huntsville, the city of Huntsville, Hays Farm, and South Huntsville Main Business Association, and stirred the interest of other potential corporate partners.

The Singing River Trail at Hays Farm merges the local greenway into the larger SRT footprint.

“The Singing River Trail is open for business along 2 1/2 miles of Haysland Road just south of the new Grissom High School,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out in 2021 is the new and much expanded trail map.

Originally planned as a 70-mile, three-county project, it has grown into a 150-mile, eight-county project under Kvach’s leadership, connecting North Alabama from Bridgeport/Scottsboro to Sheffield, bringing it within 16 miles of the Natchez Trace.

The Singing River Trail map shows it extending from near South Pittsburg, Tenn., to The Shoals. (Map courtesy The Singing River Trail)

Kvach has met with state legislators, mayors and city officials to increase awareness and possible funding sources. And he is working on a feasibility study for a section of the trail that will run from Scottsboro to Guntersville to Huntsville.

“We are now partnering with the National Park Service as we focus on the Deas-Whiteleay Trail of Tears Overland Route as the western expansion route,” he said. “And we can now call Athens State University a partner after it proactively reached out to to make sure the trail will be part of their campus.”

The National Park Service and Muscle Shoals Heritage Area are also in talks as the trail grows.

The trail has received funding from the state of Alabama, and the Community Foundation awarded a Compass Society grant for $11,000 for a new and more engaging website design promoting their “Get Outside Alabama” campaign. Kvach has also been working on a corporate-giving strategy and development packet that will allow the trail to pursue public and private money.

“We are currently working toward funding two design projects at the Huntsville International Airport, a trail route feasibility study in Athens, website work in collaboration in Decatur/Morgan County Tourism, and funding for a master plan from Bridgeport/Scottsboro to Huntsville and from Decatur to Sheffield/Florence,” Kvach said.

“Because the trail is a nonprofit tasked with raising its own operating expenses and funding, we will begin working with the state Legislature to pass a resolution of support on behalf of the Singing River Trail in 2021, and to find a line on the state budget for recreational, educational, and cultural/historical programing and to help with economic development along the trail.

Kvach said despite COVID-19 numbers rising in North Alabama going into the first of the year, he has seen an increase in interest about the trail.

“Outdoor recreation, hospitality, and engagement are becoming more commonly accepted and desired,” he said. “The trail has been working with two new partners in Huntsville who will rely on the trail as a source of alternative transportation, and as a way to highlight safe and fun outdoor activities and engagement.

“Taking a negative and making it a positive is working well with community partners.”

Don’t Let What Looks Like a Slow Start to 2021 Fool You

Formal announcements and groundbreaking ceremonies can be deceiving.

To recap what was by all economic standards a disastrous year of pandemic across the nation, Huntsville’s smart growth strategy of building a solid infrastructure, offering a high quality of life, providing good paying jobs for the citizenry, and incorporating all points of the city into that strategy, will not let up in 2021.

Despite the COVID-19 hit, Huntsville created 960 jobs in 2020 and put $2.1 billion in new product on the ground.

In September, just prior to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle’s 2020 State of the City Address, the city Inspections Department issued permits totaling $220 million of commercial and residential construction, an all-time record month for Huntsville in capital investment.

Home values increased by 12.57 percent in 2020, nearly two times greater than the national average.

According to the Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Huntsville has a lot of good paying jobs available – especially in the automotive industry – so many they are having a hard time reaching people to let them know about them.

“To sustain this kind of growth,” Battle said at the State of the City in November, “You have to have a plan in place, and we do.”

He laughingly declared the construction crane as the official city bird – all despite the pandemic.

Heading into 2021, an increase in COVID cases and extremely cold temperatures have dampened some of the formalities surrounding Huntsville’s big agenda, but here are just a few projects lying underneath the radar you will be hearing more about in 2021:

New Autograph Hotel by Marriott Downtown

A $40 million Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott will soon rise over Big Spring Park. Construction is underway at the southwest corner of the parking garage between Monroe and Church streets in downtown Huntsville. The hotel has been two years in the making.

Window World Manufacturing Complex

A permit for a Window World manufacturing complex has been approved for the Greenbrier area in unincorporated Limestone County off I-565 and west of Madison. More information will be coming soon.

Holiday Inn Express at I-565 and Bob Wallace

A Holiday Inn Express is on the rise at the Bob Wallace exit off Interstate I-565. Being built by Heritage Hospitality Group in Ridgeland, Miss., construction on the newly franchised Holiday Inn property has been slowed slightly by COVID complications, but a completion date is on the horizon. It will offer easy access to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, Redstone Arsenal, MidCity, and Cummings Research Park.

New Homebuilding Projects

Jeff Benton Homes’ new Sage Creek community, just outside Redstone Arsenal Gate 7 off Zierdt and Martin roads, is just minutes from Town Madison, restaurants, and within walking distance of the new Shoppes at Redstone Square anchored by a new Publix.

They have five 3- and 4-bedroom floorplans available.

Breland Homes’ Estuary at Natures Walk, off the newly widened Martin Road, offers low-maintenance, luxury 3-bedroom townhomes. The community, a few blocks from Gate 7 and within walking distance of the Shoppes at Redstone Square,  is also convenient to Town Madison, Cummings Research Park and the Huntsville International Airport.

Legacy Homes’ new Trailhead Village on the eastern side of Chapman Mountain is offering chalets, bungalows and mountain lofts starting at $300,000. It is surrounded by Monte Sano State Park and offers plenty of untouched nature with biking, hiking, and walking trails.

Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing & Suppliers Expansion

Additional permitting related to Mazda Toyota Manufacturing and its suppliers has been approved and as these facilities expand in 2021, the biggest challenges they face, according to the Huntsville Madison Chamber of Commerce, is a large-scale hiring effort.

Starting wages for production team members is $17 an hour with a top growth of $23 an hour plus shift premium.

Reaching regional residents who are unemployed, underemployed, concerned about losing a current job, or searching for new careers in the automotive manufacturing industry, should contact MazdaToyota.com.

Southpoint Industrial Park Expansion

The new 400,000 square-foot spec warehouse at Southpoint Industrial Park, said to be the largest industrial building built completely on speculation in North Alabama, broke ground last August.

The new facility will provide 404,738 square feet of concrete tilt wall with a 40-foot clear height and 60-feet  by 60-feet column spacing, and more than 50 dock doors.

The 11th facility built by The Hollingsworth Companies in the Southpoint Business is expected to be complete early this year. It will bring the entire industrial park to 1,962,606 square feet of industrial space. The park is along the I-565 corridor and near the Mazda Toyota plant.

$14M Million Runway Distribution Center Takes Flight in the Jetplex

With the “sound of success” in the background and overhead, ground was broken on a $14 million, 208,000 square-foot Runway Distribution Center in the Jetplex Industrial Park at Huntsville International Airport.

L-R: Huntsville International Airport CEO Rick Tucker; Huntsville-Madison County Chamber CEO Chip Cherry; Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong; Bill Fleagle, senior vice president of Shamrock Investments; Dennis O’Brien, founder and president of Shamrock Investments; Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle; and Barbie Peek, director of Business Development for the Port of Huntsville. (Photo/Steve Babin)

As the group of elected, civic and business officials  ceremoniously shoveled dirt, heavy equipment continued plowing the soil in the background, preparing the new spec industrial facility for its first tenant in July. The ceremony marked the official groundbreaking for Shamrock Investments’ fourth multimillion-dollar land investment in the Jetplex since 2017.

And, as if on cue, a cargo jet flew over the “runway” running alongside the development for which it is named, drowning out Shamrock Investments Vice President Bill Fleagle as he spoke about the new project .

“Since our first investment in the Huntsville in 2017, Shamrock Investments has seen Huntsville in general, and specifically the Port of Huntsville/Huntsville International Airport area, as an excellent location for strategic growth,” said Fleagle on an unseasonably warm and sunny February afternoon, . “We are very excited about the addition of Runway Distribution Center to Jetplex Industrial Park … and we appreciate the efforts of the City of Huntsville who helped make this project a reality while we continue to look for future opportunities to … expand our partnership with the greater Huntsville business community.”

He continued over the roar of the plane and laughter from the audience, “And we thank the Airport Authority and the Port Authority in helping us with the FAA, because as you can see, we are slightly close to the runway and were presented with some challenges to work through.”

“That is the sound of a Runway Distribution Center – that is the sound of success!” said Huntsville International Airport CEO Rick Tucker.

“The Huntsville community is on a roll from an economic development standpoint,” said Tucker. “We are pleased with the investments Shamrock Investments have already made and this endeavor represents the future … it is our goal to continue to work with them as partners to ensure success.”

Also on hand were Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle; Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong; and Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce CEO Chip Cherry.

“I think what you see here is a community that believes in partnership,” said Battle. “As partners your success is our success, and we look forward to some great successes here. As you do well, the city of Huntsville does well.

“We see that on a day-to-day basis with our companies coming out and employment being provided. It is really realized when you see the young people working inside a new facility who have moved up in their status to a job where they can … grow a family. And that’s what it’s all about – it’s about providing … something that gives everybody a chance to be productive citizens and make a living. So, thank you for your investment in Huntsville.”

Based in Birmingham, Shamrock Investments has three other properties at the Jetplex. The new facility adds to the company’s Huntsville footprint at the park to more than 470,000 square feet.

“It’s phenomenal the growth we have seen over the last few years,” said Cherry. “It’s just evidence of the faith that people like Shamrock have in this community and what’s going on here – in the growth, the development, and the vision you have. So, thank you for placing some of that investment here in the form of buildings and we look forward to the jobs it’s going to create, and you becoming a part of the fabric of this community.”

Strong agreed it is nothing less than phenomenal what is going on in Huntsville and Madison County.

“There is no better place to be than Huntsville and Madison County to grow this economy,” he said. “Thank you for your commitment. What you are doing here today makes our community stronger.”

 

County Line Road: Proof That If You Build A Road Correctly, They Will Come

MADISON — Nowhere in Madison is the growth more prominent than along the western corridor of the city at County Line Road.

“County Line Road was the first road in which Madison was able to get ahead of the growth,” said Mayor Paul Finley. “Everything else, we have just been playing catch-up or retrofitting in a way that changes traffic problems. The process eases in economic development to meet the challenges of rapid growth. Again – managing the growth.”

Going back to 2011, Finley said they knew County Line was where the growth was happening. He worked with Huntsville, Madison County and then-Gov. Robert Bentley to receive its first ATRIP-II award to get County Line Road funding.

ATRIP-II is an Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II award provides grants to rehabilitate and improve transportation infrastructure projects.

That award covered the rehabilitation of five-laning County Line Road all the way from the south, near the airport entrance, to north through Madison.

“When we put the walking path on it and completed it in 2014, look at the growth,” said Finley. “And it has happened organically with restaurants, retail like Daisy Lane Gifts, and business support like Devaney Brothers Farms.

“Now you are starting to see some doctors’ offices and assisted-living facilities like the new Madison Crossings at James Clemons High School, because it was set up for success.

“Compare that to other developments off Hughes Road, Wall Triana, and even off of Zierdt Road where they built a road, but they didn’t leave any room for expansion.

“County Line Road shows that if you build a road correctly, they will come, and they have, and they will continue to do so. It’s amazing.”

Assisted care facilities, such as Madison Crossings, are part of the growth along County Line Road.

He said County Line does represent growth in unincorporated Limestone County, but he credits the foresight to the days when retired Col. John Hamilton was the garrison commander on Redstone Arsenal between 2010 and 2013.

“County Line Road really came from was an understanding about what we were missing from traffic coming from the west and northwest to Redstone Arsenal and from Cummings Research Park,” said Finley. “Hamilton did his homework and said, ‘this is where all our traffic fits.’ One of the missing components was a north to south route on the western perimeter of Madison, so we used that data to go to the state when they were doing ATRIP-II, and said, this is supporting Redstone Arsenal, but it’s also getting ahead of the game on County Line.”

With support from Huntsville, the city got the money.

“That is how it came about – listening and supporting Redstone Arsenal while also looking at where our primary growth was going to happen, and that was going to happen along County Line and west of County Line,” said Finley. “It had a lot of support from Huntsville and it was the first project (Huntsville) Mayor (Tommy) Battle and I landed, along with Old Madison Pike and Zierdt Road, as far back as 2009.

“That is how long it has taken to get to that point.”

County Line Road was finished around 2015 when I-565 was completed, and Finley said when they got the ATRIP-II funding, it started at County Line and went through to I-565, but it left a problem between it and Wall Triana that needs to be fixed.

“When we do that, it’s going to include looking at the airport intersection to see how we might make that better,” Finley said. “They are looking at all alternatives to find a solution to an eventual bottleneck at the airport.”

Dirt is moving all up and down County Line Road today.

In addition to sprawling new subdivisions, you will find new businesses of all types rising the area’s famous red dirt.

Across from the Waterford subdivision between the new O’Reilly Auto Parts and Dunkin’ Donuts, a 10,000 square-foot medical office building is being developed by AAA Holdings.

The Animal Health Care Center north of Palmer Park near the Somerset at Madison is expanding, and two dental offices are planned.

North of Madison at the Range, an Alabama Credit Union is under construction at the corner of New Bristol Lane. And, north of that, a 17,000 square-foot multi-tenant commercial building has been approved for construction and a self-storage business will soon open.

Indeed – Madison built it and now they are coming.

Dirt Runoff into Lady Ann Lake Raises Concerns; City to Resolve Issue

Recently a lot of attention has been called to dirt flowing into Lady Ann Lake off Zierdt Road. The site is near the entrance to the Edgewater community and less than two miles from Town Madison. 

Residents have raised questions if the long-going construction is contributing to the heavy runoff muddying the small and beloved neighborhood lake.

The runoff from the Zierdt Road construction project the problem was unexpected and “caused by existing pipes in serious disrepair.” (Aerial Photo/Marty Sellers for Breland Cos.)

The source of the problem, according to the city of Huntsville, is a decades-old drainage system.

Joey Ceci, president of the Breland Cos. – the developers of Town Madison and several neighborhoods in the area, said Breland has been questioned about where the dirt is coming from and if any is from Town Madison.

“Dirt is extremely valuable in our business and we need every bit of dirt we have within the development,” Ceci said. “You see trucks going back and forth moving dirt from one site to the other because there is always another spot on the project where more dirt will be needed. 

“It was suggested that if dirt does run off into the big drainage ditch that runs underneath Zierdt Road, it would travel into the surrounding wetlands and come back out down around Redstone Arsenal Gate 7,” he said. “But we have environmental consultants who have doubled back to ensure we have more than adequate silt fencing needed to contain any runoff, and that would be a long way for dirt to travel.

“The good news is the Zierdt Road widening project is coming to a close, but the bad news is there is a lot of dirt washing into Lady Ann Lake.”

The dirt is coming from the Zierdt Road construction at the entrance to the Edgewater community. The Zierdt Road expansion is a state-funded project, managed by the City of Huntsville. Wiregrass Construction Co. is contracted by the City for the work. 

According to Kathy Martin, City of Huntsville Director of Engineering, Wiregrass holds an Alabama Department of Environmental Management permit for storm water discharge for the work, and they are responsible for performing the work required to meet ADEM regulations. 

The problem she said, is the result of a drainage system that has been in place for decades and predates the development in the area. 

“Storm water runoff comes from a large drainage area, into the project site, which then discharges into Lady Ann Lake by three equalization pipes under the existing Zierdt Road,” said Martin. “These pipes function as equalization structures to balance the water elevation on each side of the roadway, therefore they are constantly carrying water.

“Wiregrass is currently working in saturated soil conditions at Lady Ann Lake, which causes disturbance to existing silt and sediment as part of the work activity.”

Martin also said the pipes are a cause of water flowing over Zierdt Road from heavy rains.

“Flooding of the roadway frequently occurred due to the condition of the existing equalization pipes,” she said. “When traffic shifted to the new northbound lanes, Wiregrass began removing and replacing these pipes, as well as constructing new drainage structures to help prevent flooding, and improve safety in the future.”

Martin said since the problem has been identified, gravel bedding and backfill is being used to install the new drainage system to minimize any further silt runoff from the work activity.

According to a spokesperson with Wiregrass Construction, the problem was an unexpected one caused by pipes in serious disrepair. Fixing the pipes and solving the problem was not in Wiregrass’ original contract with the city.

“That work has since been added to the contract to equalize the flooding, which has been an ongoing problem,” said the spokesperson. 

“Wiregrass is currently removing and installing new equalization pipes directly in the drainage flowline, which includes work in Lady Ann Lake,” said Martin. “In an effort to remove and replace the old pipes, they have installed pumps to dewater the work area, discharging water back into Lady Ann Lake, in a process that utilizes best management practices.”

Madison’s Growth Widespread – yet Balanced and Managed

MADISON — Over the years, Madison has been referred to as Huntsville’s bedroom community.

For those who have lived in the area since the beginning of the space program, people were said to live or work, “out in Madison.”

It is a community that has for so long been considered a quaint little rural stop on the way to the Rocket City, that aside from a single event known as the “Affair at Madison Station,” it even missed mention in history books about the Civil War.

Well, Huntsville’s little bedroom community has awakened, and it has been coming for a long time.

In 1990, Madison’s population was approximately 15,000. In 2000, it had doubled to 30,000, and, according to the census, in 2019 it had grown to almost 50,000 people.

Today, Madison is one of the fastest growing cities in the Southeast. It has one of the highest per capita incomes and a school system recognized for scholastic excellence at the local, state, and national level.

Everywhere you look, businesses are throwing open their doors; new buildings are rising out of the distinctive “redstone” clay; residential communities are spreading out; roads are widening; and aging buildings, parks, and residential communities are being revitalized.

“It scares me when I hear people talk about Madison’s explosive growth because the explosive growth is happening throughout the entire area, the multiple communities in Madison County,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “I prefer to say Madison is managing and balancing our growth.

“One of the things I think we’ve done a good job of is rather than taking every subdivision that wants to build, instead, manage the process with a focus primarily on the economic development side of retail and commercial, knowing it’s not going to be that hard to bring housing here if we balance our opportunities.”

While the mayor may be managing and balancing the growth as opportunities arise, the growth is so widespread it is visible along every street and in every neighborhood.

Starting with the skyline-altering Town Madison, the Rocket City could not ask for a more inviting gateway than Madison.

Minutes from a bustling Huntsville International Airport, named the Best Small Airport in the United States by USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice awards, and a line drive out of Toyota Field with its baseball diamond shimmering underneath the stadium lights lies the world-renowned U.S. Space & Rocket Center; Redstone Arsenal; and Cummings Research Park, home to dozens of Fortune 500 companies with their advanced manufacturing and high-tech capabilities.

Fanned out across both sides of a revitalized Madison Boulevard are luxury homes such as the Heights at Town Madison and The Station high-rise apartments at Town Madison.

Just announced and set to start construction soon is a mixed-use project developed by Novare Group out of Atlanta. Across from the Madison Golf Center on Lime Quarry Road within the Town Madison development, a 290-unit apartment complex with eight live and work units, will be built with approximately 5,000 square feet of commercial and co-working space for its residents, and more than 68,000 square feet of open space.

Popular restaurants and coffee shops such as Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse and J. Alexander’s are opening soon. Both have been stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley.

“Many of these restaurant venues are having to go back to the drawing board and redesign their restaurants based on today versus the world a year ago,” said Finley. “They are taking a little extra time to look at more outdoor dining, drive throughs, curbside pick-up and how to do take-out if they have never done it before. The take-out business has expanded dramatically, and they want the right type of store to meet the new demand.”

Boutique hotels Home2 Suites and the Avid will soon be joined by resort-style hotels and entertainment venues such as the Hotel Margaritaville.

Infrastructure, said Finley, is part of managing and balancing growth.

He explains that in 2010 and 2011, Hughes Road at U.S. 72, and Wall-Triana at U.S. 72 were the two highest traffic accident areas in Madison.

“When we put our efforts into redoing those two intersections for safety, adding double turn lanes and more, it became an economic development driver in those areas,” Finley said. “Two old shopping centers were revitalized so that Planet Fitness and several popular restaurants were created out in front.

“Two years ago, those same accident studies showed I-565 at the Wall-Triana exit as the highest accident area. It was also difficult to get to the Ruby Tuesday and Cracker Barrel once you got off at that exit,” Finley said. “We applied a grant and redid the design, but it is only about 30 percent finished.”

There are now three hotels at the Wall-Triana exit – the Clarion Pointe and two new hotels, the Avid and Home 2 Suites, as well as Twice Daily convenience store.

“With that being to first exit coming from the west to Town Madison, that intersection has to change,” said Finley. “We are looking at how improving it for safety, will also create economic development and improve accessibility.”

Across from Town Madison, Madison Boulevard is getting a heavy revitalization.

“There is a big reason for it,” the mayor said. “We have an agreement with businesses along Madison Boulevard that if you tear down a building, improve a building, or build a new building, or if we need to put in a traffic light to make the location safer or more accessible, then we’ll do that, but we want to see better signs from your business.”

One of the new kids in town in that busy area is Terramé Day Spa, Hair Salon & Blow Dry Bar. Terramé started in Huntsville 18 years ago and the Madison location is its third. The 16,660 square-foot building is the largest freestanding hair salon and day spa in Alabama, excluding hotel and resort spas.

Mike and Charla Johnson and Mike’s brothers, Jeff and Charles, are partners in the business and in the 5,000 square-foot commercial space they are building next door for lease.

Resilience and a determination to warrior on despite COVID-19, they plan to open by Feb 1.

“We are very happy they chose our city,” said Finley. “Terramé will draw daytime traffic to Madison and although we have a lot of people who come home to Madison after work, I am focusing on offering quality of life services that bring more people to Madison to shop, dine, and enjoy the day here.”

“That is managing growth,” he said.

Several road projects in addition to the Wall Triana and Madison Boulevard intersection are underway, including restriping Intergraph Way, widening Lime Quarry Road, and improving the intersection between the two.

They are lengthening Short Road in downtown to open a better thoroughfare from the new Avenue Madison project, and the City will begin work on the Balch and Gillespie roads intersections by the second quarter 2021.

Hughes Road and Sullivan Street are undergoing major widening projects expected to be complete at the end of 2021, according to Mary Beth Broeren, Madison City Planner.

“Hughes Plaza, across from City Hall, is undergoing a complete upgrade,” Broeren said. “A couple of existing tenants, Bicycle Cove and Interiors by Consign, will remain, but Absolute Nutrition just opened in November; and Fleet Feet, a physical therapy business, and a coffee shop will be new tenants in 2021.”

The Madison Chamber of Commerce is moving next door into a converted house, providing more space, better visibility, and easier access.

“That is big for us,” said Finley. “Finally getting the opportunity to revitalize that shopping plaza, getting a Fleet Feet and a nutrition store, with the Chamber right next door – all right across the street from City Hall is a big deal to us and making a positive impact.”

To the west of downtown Madison, the Argento at Oakland Springs developed by Sterling Development has been approved at the entrance to the Village at Oakland Springs on the south side of Huntsville-Browns Ferry Road.

“This mixed-use project will contain 262 apartments and approximately 18,000 square feet of commercial space, similar in character and design to the Village of Providence in Huntsville,” said Broeren. “Construction is expected to start this quarter.”

The extension of the Mill Creek Greenway is finished except for some last-minute landscaping; and the City has added parking and a complete park at the Bradford Creek Trailhead. Both Bradford Creek and the Palmer Park expansion will be complete in March.

“We are working on a renovation to Home Place Park to create an outdoor venue for small concerts such as the summer Concert in the Park series,” said Broeren.

Formerly held at the Gazebo on the Village Green on Main Street, the series has outgrown it.

“We will move them to Home Place Park between The Avenue Madison project and the high school football stadium where we will have a small amphitheater,” Broeren said. “Construction has started and should be complete by this summer, in time for the Concert in the Park series.”

“These park projects go toward quality-of-life improvements that are vital to our growth and prosperity,” said Finley.

 

State of Madison County is ‘Strong … on Solid and Steady Ground’

Despite a crippling pandemic, Madison County was able to sustain growth and success in 2020, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale W. Strong said in the annual State of the County Address.

Strong spoke Wednesday to members of the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce in celebrating the accomplishments of 2020 and looking forward to 2021.

The chairman cited more than $100 million in capital investment by businesses along with 700 new jobs last year. Strong also said the county is eagerly awaiting the opening of the soon-to-be completed Madison County Service Center on North Memorial Parkway.

The most recent piece of good news was the announcement by the Air Force in selecting Redstone Arsenal as the new home of the U.S. Space Command.

“I’m proud to report to you, our Chamber members and business leaders, Madison County is strong, vibrant, on solid and steady ground, and we are ready to meet the challenges of 2021,” Strong said.

He also spoke to the collaboration and teamwork throughout 2020 among elected officials, business leaders, and medical personnel in the unified response to COVID-19 in Madison County.

“I know we’ve got another great year in store, where together we’ll build on our accomplishments of growing our economy, strengthening our infrastructure, welcoming new industry along with high-paying jobs to a highly skilled workforce, and expanding the rich quality of life we share right here in Madison County,” he said.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing to Launch Second Phase of Mass Hiring

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, the Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. joint-venture automotive plant, will resume hiring for production team member positions Dec. 7.

Company and state officials will discuss the hiring opportunities during a Facebook Live event at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. It is open to the public.

“When you join the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing team you become a part of something bigger. Our production team member positions are career opportunities on a world-class team of highly-skilled, high-trained coworkers supported by leadership committed to the individual success of each employee on our team,” said Janette Hostettler, vice president of Production. “We looked forward to launching this next phase of hiring and encourage all interested in joining our team to tune into the Facebook Live event to learn more.”

“The partnership between the State of Alabama and Mazda Toyota Manufacturing has been great not only for our state but also our citizens,” said Ed Castile, Deputy Secretary of Commerce. “We’re proud to support their hiring and training needs as they move into the next phase of their process and give more Alabamians an opportunity to jump start their manufacturing careers.”

The positions are direct hire, full-time positions. Starting wage for production team members is $17/hour with a top grow in wage of $23/hour plus shift premium. Production team members are provided benefits on their first day of employment including paid time off, vehicle discount program, and medical/dental/vision.

Eligibility to participate in the company’s 401k with 6 percent employer match begins just 60 days after employment. Interested candidates may submit their application beginning Dec. 7 at MazdaToyota.com.

Facebook Live Details:
Date: Thursday, Dec. 3
Time: 3:30 – 4 p.m.
Link: www.facebook.com/aidtedu

Featured speakers are Hannah Hartline, Communications Specialist II, AIDT; Janette Hostettler, VP of Production, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing; Jena Huskey, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing; and Mitch Hewlett, Production Team Leader in Assembly, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing.

 

City Opens Haysland Road from Grissom High School to Redstone Road

Things are moving along in South Huntsville and they will be moving along a lot easier now.

On Tuesday, “Phase II” of Haysland Road through the Hays Farm development was opened from Grissom High School to Redstone Road.

Mayor Tommy Battle, City Council President Jennie Robinson, and Director of Engineering Kathy Martin cut the ribbon for the two-mile roadway.

The two-mile roadway includes a 12-foot-wide multiuse path through approximately 250 acres of preserved open space. (Photos/Steve Babin)

Haysland Road provides a parallel road in the city’s growing southern corridor to ease congestion on Memorial Parkway as well as provide direct access to Grissom High School and Redstone Arsenal.

The $8 million project includes a 12-foot-wide multiuse path through approximately 250 acres of preserved open space.

The Hays Farm development will include single-family homes, apartments and townhouses to complement retail businesses and a nine-acre city park.

TVA, Origis Energy to Power Google Data Centers with 100% Renewable Energy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Valley Authority confirmed Monday that the new 100-megawatt solar facility in Obion County, Tenn., will supply carbon-free energy to Google’s data centers in Clarksville, Tenn., and Hollywood, Ala., in Jackson County.

Florida-based solar developer Origis Energy is using TVA’s nationally recognized Green Invest program to develop the solar farm.

The Green Invest program helps customers like Google meet their long-term sustainability goals with new renewable energy projects. In the past two years, Green Invest has generated $1.4 billion in economic activity in TVA’s service area.

“TVA’s Green Invest can deliver clean, reliable renewable energy at a competitive price – stimulating growth across our seven-state region and giving our region a competitive advantage through public power,” said Chris Hansen, TVA vice president, Origination and Renewables.

Through a long-term power purchase agreement, Origis Energy will own and operate the plant, using industry leading land stewardship techniques. The project will create more than 300 construction jobs, with additional employment for 8-10 fulltime operations and maintenance staff. Origis plans to have the solar facility operational by the end of 2022, pending environmental reviews.

“This Tennessee solar milestone is another demonstration of the success of TVA’s Green Invest partnership,” said Johan Vanhee, Origis Energy chief commercial officer and chief procurement officer. “Such utility innovations are helping Google reach its aim to be the first major company to operate carbon free by 2030. We are very pleased to add 100 megawatts to this goal while contributing to the economic development of Obion County.”

To power the data centers, Google had already purchased a total of 266 megawatts of power generated by multiple solar farms linked into the TVA electric grid.

“Google is the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy and our goal is to run our business on carbon-free energy everywhere, at all times, by 2030,” said Reid Spolek, with Data Center Energy Strategy at Google. “Working with TVA and Origis through Green Invest will help move us closer to this goal.”

Monday’s announcement comes on the heels of four other major Green Invest deals TVA completed this year: General MotorsVanderbilt UniversityKnoxville Utilities Board and Facebook.

“TVA is a job creator, and we are looking for creative ways to use our solar programs to bring high-paying jobs to the communities we serve,” said Hansen. “By integrating public-private partnerships with clean energy, we can make our region the premier destination for businesses that want to achieve their sustainability goals.”