2013 in Review: The year's top stories from The North Jefferson News
From staff reports North Jefferson News
The year 2013 was an eventful one in northern Jefferson and southwest Blount counties. Here are some of the highlights from the North Jefferson News from last year:
Jan. 2: The new park at New Castle opens. Residents there had waited at least 20 years for the park.
Jan. 23: The North Jefferson Women’s Center relocates from Gardendale to Fultondale, in the former Palmer Norris building next to IberiaBank.
Jan. 30 Paul Finebaum, syndicated sports-talk radio show host, is the guest speaker at the Gardendale Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.
March 6: Fultondale firefighters deliver a baby in the parking lot of Fire Station No. 1 when George and Gina Mendiola made an emergency stop there on their way to UAB Hospital. Mom and baby are both fine.
March 13: The Military Warriors Support Foundation donated a house in Hayden to a war veteran and his wife, Jonathon and Robin Davis. Jonathon Davis had been wounded in Iraq in 2010.
May 1: The American Legion Post 255 cut a ribbon on its new building on New Castle Road. The former post was destroyed in the April 2011 tornado.
June 12: A delegation of Russians visit the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Brookside through the Open World program Friendship Force International.
July 24: William Burkett, former Jefferson County Schools superintendent and namesake of the Burkett Center for the Multi-Handicapped in Morris, dies.
Aug. 14: Mark Cornelius is working on tearing down the former Dock Fields store at Fieldstown Road and Phillips Drive because the city of Gardendale purchased the site. He will relocate the building on his own property.
Aug. 21: Dr. Stan Cooke, pastor of Kimberly Church of God, announces his candidacy for the Republican candidacy for lieutenant governor.
Oct. 2: Gov. Robert Bentley announces in Gardendale that the Northern Beltline is a go. The first segment will connect Alabama Highways 79 and 75 between Palmerdale and a point between Pinson and Locust Fork.
Nov. 27: The Warrior Fire Department gives smoke detectors to students at Warrior Elementary School to make their homes safer.
December: The Mt. Olive Fire and Rescue Board announces it will not take a stand for or against annexation of Mt. Olive into Gardendale since Gardendale will start its own school system.
Jan. 9: Dr. Robert “Bob” May speaks to students and guests at Mortimer Jordan High School about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
May 22: Expert determines it is financially feasible for Gardendale to support its own school system.
June 19: The Jefferson County Board of Education approves a plan to move sixth-graders from Fultondale Elementary to Fultondale High School, in order to make room at the overcrowded elementary school.
July 10: The Gardendale City Council announces its intention to separate from the Jefferson County School system.
Dec. 4: Applications are available for Gardendale residents to apply for the future Gardendale city school board.
Dec. 11: The Jefferson County Board of Education seeks to fill a vacancy after Ronald Rhodes of Corner steps down.
Dec. 18: Eighteen people apply for Rhodes’ seat; the BOE will start considering the applications in January.
Jan. 9: Joel Kent Hodges, 31, of Fultondale, was arrested on charges of electronic solicitation of a child and traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act. Hodges is the contemporary worship leader at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church.
Jan. 16: Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist church pastor Dr. Terry Greer is accused of killing his wife and attempting to kill his daughter after a shooting incident at the church parsonage. Greer also reportedly stabbed himself repeatedly with a knife before being restrained by officers.
Feb. 20: In Fultondale, a mother stops a kidnapping attempt after police said a Georgia man tried to snatch a little girl from the Winn-Dixie parking lot.
April 10: Gardendale police arrest two people on charges of attempted murder in separate incidents. Officers arrested Jeffrey Lee Morgan, 47, of Gardendale following a domestic violence incident, and Melissa Lauren Bryant, 28, of Altoona, who is accused of poisoning a co-worker at a business in Gardendale.
April 10: Yvonne Foreman, 59, of Fultondale, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of theft or embezzlement from employment training funds. She and Darlene Cockrell of Midfield were charged with fraudulently obtaining federal funds through the Workforce Investment Act, a jobs program.
May 1: Kelly Fuchs, 26, of Fultondale, is indicted on eight counts of bank larceny. An automated teller machine technician, she is charged with stealing at least $47,000 from ATMs throughout the metro Birmingham area.
June 5: Gardendale police arrest Curtis Lee Pritchett, 24, on three charges of robbery first degree following an armed robbery at Little Caesar’s Pizza in Gardendale.
June 12: Peoples Bank in Morris is robbed for the second time in less than 11 months.
June 19: Curtis Thornton, 28, of Warrior, a former Birmingham police officer, is found guilty of four counts of second-degree arson and two lesser charges. He had been charged with setting fire to several structures in Warrior and Ensley.
June 26: John Lynwood Taylor is sentenced to seven months in prison plus seven months of home confinement in the federal gambling and public corruption probe in Kimberly. He is one of six defendants in the case.
July 17: Frances Duckworth of Hayden is sentenced to 27 months in prison for embezzling from what was originally Superior Bank and is now Cadence Bank in Warrior. She admitted to embezzling nearly $95,000.
July 31: Robert Taylor, the central figure in the Kimberly gambling probe, receives a sentence of six months in prison followed by six months of home confinement. He will also be on probation for two years.
Aug. 28: Police are still searching for a suspect in a shooting this weekend in the Glendale neighborhood of Fultondale. The victim is in critical but stable condition after sustaining gunshot wounds to his chest.
Sept. 4: The victim of the Glendale shooting is out of the hospital; the shooter is still at large.
Sept. 18: A Jefferson Circuit Judge scheduled a trial date of April 14, 2014, for former minister Dr. Terry Greer, who is charged with killing his wife and trying to kill his daughter.
Sept. 25: Former Brookside Police Chief Dennis R. McCoy is arrested on charges of one count of breaking and entering a vehicle, two counts of theft, one count of unauthorized use of a vehicle and three counts of ethics violations, all stemming from his time as chief.
Jan. 9: Church of the Highlands, the largest church in metro Birmingham, is expanding to north Jefferson. The church will hold services at Fultondale Elementary School.
Jan. 23: Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church gets an interim pastor, Dr. Bill Bostick, after former pastor Dr. Terry Greer is accused of killing his wife and shooting his daughter.
March 13: Almost two years after a tornado devastated parts of Fultondale, Fultondale First Baptist Church is rebuilt and has a new pastor, Mika Marcum, and new staff.
April 17: The Rev. Mike Pope is assigned as head pastor at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church; Pope said the church will “press on” following the criminal events in January.
May 1: Fultondale United Methodist Church, which had served as a “crisis center” following the April 2011 tornado, has undergone its own repairs and is now growing quickly.
June 5: Churches in the area are undecided about whether to continue sponsoring Boy Scout units after the national organization voted to allow openly homosexual members to join the scouts.
July 17: Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church is celebrating 150 years with the theme “Looking Back and Looking Forward.”
Dec. 11: Gardendale First Baptist Church opens its children’s wing at the new campus. Parents no longer have to drop off their children at the south campus before attending services at the north campus.
Jan. 30: The town of Kimberly reinstates full-time hours for its employees. The town cut back workers to 32 hours a week nine months earlier because of declining city tax revenues.
Feb. 6: Warrior raises sales tax in the city to 4 percent, making overall sales tax rate 10 percent in the city.
Feb. 13: Gardendale to get $2.6 million in state grants for road improvement projects.
Feb. 27: The city of Fultondale donates $59,000 to Fultondale High, Fultondale Elementary and the Fultondale High School athletic department.
March 6: Gardendale hires Jack Fields of Gardendale to represent the city in talks with Century Retail, the company planning to build Public and T.J. Maxx at the Northgate Shopping Center.
March 20: The former Mary Buckelew Parkway in Gardendale is to be renamed Barber Boulevard. Buckelew, a former county commissioner, pleaded guilty in 2008 to obstruction of justice in a case involving the county’s sewer scandal.
July 10: Morris cuts the hours of nine full-time employees in order to save funds. The move will save the city more than $4,000 a month.
July 17: The city of Gardendale purchases a piece of property on Bell Street for $450,000, with plans to build a new city hall building there.
Sept. 4: The Morris Town Council now requires paving bonds after having trouble for several years getting developer Clint Singletary to pave streets in a subdivision in the town.
Oct. 16: Trafford Mayor Clint Daniels resigns, declining to state the reason. Mayor Pro Tempore Lee Motes takes over as acting council until the council can take further action.
Oct. 10: The town of Morris has contracted with the city of Warrior to pay Warrior $1,500 a month to house its jail inmates and handling dispatching for Morris police.
Nov. 13: Gardendale voters approve a 5-mill increase in property taxes in order to support a city school system. The vote was 2,035-1,493.
Nov. 20: Mt. Olive residents meet formally to discuss annexation possibilities to keep Mt. Olive students in Gardendale schools.
Nov. 27: The Pinson City Council opts to use a public sewer system for a new park rather than a private system, in order to save money.
Dec. 4: The city of Fultondale wins another round in its legal battle with John Douglas, owner of the tornado-damaged Home Field Sports Grill, after a Jefferson Circuit Judge denies a motion to reconsider his previous summary-judgement ruling against Douglas and CNL Properties.
Dec. 18: Kimberly Mayor Bob Ellerbrock announces that a manufacturer is interested in purchasing the former IGA grocery store building; the move could bring jobs to the area.
April 10: Officials break ground in Fultondale for an Aldi grocery store on Walker Chapel Road.
April 18: Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips announces that Panera Bread and Dunkin’ Donuts are scheduled to open in upcoming months.
June 26: The National Eye Institute releases results of a study that show Macular Health LLC has had the “ideal formulated product” to combat age-related macular degeneration since 2003.
July 3: Grabows and Arrows is relocating to a new spot in Fultondale and expanding considerably. The new name of the business will be Grabows Outdoors.
July 10: Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips announces that Publix is really coming. After a five-year delay, the city has scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony for July 30.
July 24: The North Jefferson Women’s Center in Morris opens in Fultondale. The center moved from Gardendale to its new location in order to have more space and be able to provide additional services.
July 31: Dewey Barber Chevrolet opens in Gardendale, moving from Warrior after receiving incentives from Gardendale to relocate.
Sept. 4: Peoples Bank in Morris is closing. A spokeswoman declined to state the reason for the closing.
Sept. 4: Jeff Dennis Jewelers beats the odds again; customers will get refunds after the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport received more than an inch of rain on Labor Day.
Sept. 11: The city of Gardendale will charge a 5-mill property tax in order to help fund a city school system. It is the first time the city has levied a property tax. The city will hold a referendum on Nov. 12 to ask voters to approve another 5 mills.
Sept. 11: State agents raid and shut down S.W.A.T.S., filing more than 260 charges of deceptive trade practices. The business is at the Gardendale and Fultondale city limits.
Sept. 25: A Jefferson Circuit Court judge orders S.W.A.T.S. to remain closed.
Oct. 2: Gardendale Jewelers will close around the first of the year. Owner Bob Boffa cites health problems. He bought the business in 1992; it opened in 1967.