By Wesley Walter, News Editor
During the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City Address Luncheon, Montevallo Mayor Rusty Nix made a series of announcements regarding the City of Montevallo’s growth in 2022 and plans for 2023.
The luncheon was held at Parnell Memorial Library on Jan. 16. Chamber of Commerce members were provided catering by Southern Sweets and given an opportunity to network and receive updates on the state of the town.
Nix opened the meeting with a series of updates on the Montevallo Police Department. Nix announced that in 2022 the department received two new patrol cars and hired two new officers. Nix said that the city budget has been written to include two new cars per year in the future.
2022 also saw police department body armor being upgraded to Blaze Defense Systems Level 3, a change which Nix says, “was a big upgrade to the safety of our officers. Every officer now has a vest that’s not as heavy as the other ones and it’s top of the line.”
“Any time we have an incident like active shooters somewhere else in the country we try to learn from the mistakes that was made so we always try to upgrade,” said Montevallo Chief of Police, Jeremy Littleton, “We appreciate the mayor and the council supporting this project because it’s really important to the safety of our personnel if we have to respond to something like that.”
Other 2022 improvements within the police department include a new evidence management system and Wi-Fi security cameras being installed in Dailey, Orr and Shoal Creek Parks.
Nix announced that the Montevallo Fire Department recently purchased a new fire engine. The engine, purchased with money provided by the American Rescue Plan cost $658,488. It is expected to take approximately two years to arrive and see use in Montevallo.
Regarding the wait, Nix said, “It’s about a two-year wait because everybody across the nation that received ARPA Money, everybody bought firetrucks.”
In 2022, Montevallo also saw the founding of a dedicated department for Emergency Medical Services after the city hired 3 full-time paramedics. This marks the first time in Montevallo’s history that paid paramedics have been employed.
Nix went on to report the completion of Montevallo’s first public storm shelter in 2022. The shelter located at Stephens Park has a capacity of 96 people and includes a backup generator, emergency lighting and two Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible bathrooms.
Another storm shelter located behind the Montevallo Fire Station has been built and is expected to open once the building’s plumbing has been installed.
Nix announced that the city was in the beginning phases of planning the construction of a community recreational center. Nix said, “The city of Montevallo is creating a comprehensive plan to develop a Montevallo community rec center in the near future. The city began in the fall of last year asking citizens through numerous media outlets to provide input and determine the needs and future direction of this project.”
Nix estimated that the center would cost $5 million to $6 million to build, expressing hope it would fill the public need for community meeting spaces and basketball courts.
Nix highlighted improvements expected to be made to the intersection of Highway 119 and County Road 22 funded by a $1,997,041 Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation Improvement Program II grant awarded to the City of Montevallo.
Nix expressed hopes that the improvements would bring new businesses to Montevallo citizens who would otherwise shop in Alabaster or Calera saying, “That is our gateway to the city so these improvements are huge to the city of Montevallo,” and “I really think and hope that it’s going to encourage commercial or retail growth at the crossroads.”
The city is expected to contribute $125,000 to the projected renovations.
Nix reported the June opening of the Senior Justice Center in Montevallo. The center is run by the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging, a non-profit funded by the Older Americans Act to prevent and respond to elder abuse and mistreatment. Services provided by the center include caregiver support, counseling and education, social activities, health care monitoring and meals throughout the day.
In 2023, two electric vehicle chargers are expected to be installed on Main Street.
Nix recapped a series of improvements made to Montevallo’s parks in 2022 including, renovations made to Orr Park’s four bridges and walking track and the restoration of its creek banks which were eroded by flooding.
As well as improvements to Orr Park, restrooms were installed at Stephens Park and the Parks Department received four new work trucks.
Nix congratulated Montevallo Youth Athletics for the growth it has seen in 2022, reporting that youth basketball, soccer, cheerleading and football had received their highest number of yearly participants.
Parnell Memorial Library received a $10,000 grant from ARPA, to provide two years of service for 15 Wi-Fi hotspots available to be checked out by the public. The library also received a $4,500 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act to help update its children’s and young adult book collections.
In 2022, the library received over 20,000 visits with 43% of Montevallo’s population participating in library programs.
Chamber of Commerce Director Adele Nelson introduced Julie Smitherman, the new Chamber of Commerce Chair and thanked the luncheon’s sponsors, Trustmark National Bank and Trustmark Mortgage Services.