Wallace plan gains stronger support
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A coalition of elected officials consisting of all of Morgan County's mayors and commission members continues to show strong support for the acquisition of the vacated Wallace Center property in Decatur as a first step for a proposed technology village.
A letter to Governor Bob Riley outlining the proposal and seeking his support for the deeding of the property back to Morgan County was signed by all five mayors attending a meeting at the Morgan County Courthouse on Thursday. Signing the letter were Dwight Tankersley, Hartselle; Roy Coley, Falkville; Vaughn Goodwin, Trinity; Melvin Duran, Priceville; and Gary Livingston, Eva.
The only signature space left open was that of Ray Long, mayor of Somerville. He was unable to attend the meeting because of his work schedule. However, he agreed earlier to sign the letter and Bob Francis, coalition coordinator, said he would hand carry the letter to Long for his signature.
Prior to the meeting, Don Kyle, mayor of Decatur, and John Glasscock, chairman of the Morgan County Commission, signed the letter.
Mayor Kyle introduced the idea of converting the 160-acre Wallace Center site into a technology center at a coalition meeting on Feb. 3 and circulated copies of the letter to the governor. He suggested that it could be used to support research and development, think tanks, high tech manufacturing, systems analysts, technical training and off-campus college courses.
Kyle reported the original letter draft has been amended to give the state the option of deeding the property to the Morgan County Commission or another appropriate government entity.
"I learned after the last meeting that if the property is deeded directly to the Morgan County Economic Development Association, it would be subject to property taxes. That would not be the case if the property is deeded to the county, and the commission, in turn, deeds it to MCEDA for the purpose of creating jobs."
Commission Chairman Glasscock responded that he would have no problem with the county accepting title to the property.
Kyle said the original letter was submitted to the governor's office along with a request for a meeting with him.
"We have talked with the governor's appointment secretary but no meeting date has been set," he pointed out. "I'll renew the effort and let you know when we have a date. Any of you who wish to attend is invited."
Kyle said he had a chance meeting recently with the Wallace Center's former maintenance foreman and was able to get some pertinent information about the condition of the property.
He pointed out that the property includes 21 buildings with 330,000 square feet of floor space. About one-half of the 160 acres is undeveloped. The buildings include a gymnasium, a small school building, resident housing and administration building.