NORTH JEFFERSON —
North Jefferson County has had a busy year, with elections, hometown heroes, economic growth and even heartbreak.
The following are a few highlights from 2012:
• Jan. 18: Oscar Mann, of Gardendale, qualifies to run for a seat on the Jefferson County Board of Education. Mann is the only person to run for the position, which is held by Karen Smith Nix of Gardendale. He takes office in November.
• June 20: After Dr. Phil Hammonds announces that he will retire when his contract expires in February 2013, the search is on for his replacement. A public meeting is held in Garden?dale and other communities so the search committee can gather input from citizens.
• Oct. 3: The William Burkett Center for the Multi-Handicapped hosts an open house at its new location at the former Mortimer Jordan High School campus in Morris. There are about 165 students at the school.
• Oct. 17: The Jefferson County School Board selects Dr. Steven Nowlin, head of the Lee County School System, as the new Jefferson County Schools superintendent. Dr. Phil Hammonds will retire in February when his contract ends.
• Feb. 15: The Shell gas station being built in Morris is scheduled to open this summer. The store, off of U.S. Highway 31, is expected to be a boost to the town.
• March 28: Construction begins on a new Dollar General store at 4809 Phillips Drive in Gardendale.
• April 18: The Gardendale City Council approved the business plan of developer Kerry McAdam to build a retail center on Fieldstown Road between Waffle House and The Plaza.
• May 23: Dewey Barber Chevrolet considers a move to Gardendale from its long-time location in Warrior. In preparation, Barber & Barber Properties LLC purchases 47 acres off of Mary Buckelew Parkway, which Gardendale annexes into city limits.
• May 30: The Gardendale Farmers Market moves from the K-Mart parking lot to the corner of Main Street and Mt. Olive Road across from Gardendale High School. Later this year, it will move across the street to the Gardendale Civic Center for the remainder of the season.
• June 20: The city of Fultondale gets its own farmers market, the Fultondale Fresh Market, set up in the Ashley Furniture parking lot.
• Nov. 21: DQ Grill and Chill is opening soon in Gardendale on Fieldstown Road, and will employ 50 people full-time.
• Nov. 28: Jeff Dennis Jewelers of Gardendale is to refund about $50,000 to customers who bought items from his store from Nov. 16 to Nov. 23. In an Iron Bowl promotion, Dennis said he would refund money to customers who shopped during that week if either team shut out the other; Alabama skunked Auburn 49-0. Lloyd’s of London insured the promotion.
• Dec. 5: Gardendale offers incentives for Dewey Barber, including spending up to $500,000 to build roads and infrastructure, and tax incentives.
• March 21: An FBI probe into illegal gambling activities and bribery of elected officials in Kimberly results in a plea agreement for Daniel “Boone” Stone of Morris, thanks in large part to a wire worn by Kimberly Mayor Craig Harris. Evidence reportedly showed that up to nine people were a part of a scheme to offer bribes to Harris to keep city police away from several locations where illegal slot and electronic bingo machines would be housed.
• March 21: The Gardendale Police Department is searching for two suspects following the burglary of Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church.
• March 28: Armed gunmen are arrested by deputies after a robbery attempt near Morris, where the homeowners fought back by firing a pistol at the men.
• April 25: Gardendale Police Chief Mike Walker graduates from the FBI Academy.
• May 9: Robert Taylor Jr. is charged with one count each of conspiracy, federal programs bribery and operation of an illegal gambling business. His indictment is the first of several expected in an ongoing investigation of illegal activities in Kimberly.
• May 16: Three more people reach plea bargains with federal prosecutors in the Kimberly illegal gambling and bribery investigation: Christopher Adam McGraw, Carl Scoggins and John L. Taylor.
• May 30: In the above case, four people are arraigned in U.S. District Court: Adam McGraw, Carl E. Scoggins, Kyle Sloan and John Lynwood Taylor.
• June 27: Birmingham Police Officer Curtis Thornton is charged with arson involving fires hear his home in Warrior.
• July 25: Two masked, armed men were caught on camera robbing Peoples Bank of Alabama in Morris. Police are searching for the suspects, who escaped in a silver or gray car.
• Aug. 8: Mark Butler of Gardendale turned himself in at a Georgia sheriff’s office. He is charged with transmitting sexually explicit images via the Internet.
• Aug. 15: Crystal Ann Taylor, 28 of Kimberly, pleads guilty to one count of first degree theft of property in a case involving the Gardendale Flea Mall.
• Sept. 26: Heroin deaths are on a sharp rise. In the past year, five people in north Jefferson have died after using the drug.
• Dec. 12: Timothy Stewart, 31, of Brookside, is found dead inside a car outside of Brookside Town Hall. He had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest during an incident at a convenience store in Pratt City, according to police, who would release no further details because the incident is still under investigation.