Somerville courthouse work gets boost
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Efforts to restore the old courthouse at Somerville received an unexpected boost Monday when the project received the endorsement and a pledge of support from George Wallace Jr., a member of the Alabama Public Service Commission and a likely candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006.
Wallace met with Mayor Ray Long, town council members and about 40 other residents for about an hour.
He toured the historic building and praised townspeople for working to preserve what he termed "a treasure of the state."
"I understand there's a lot of work yet to be done and you're looking for ways to raise the money needed to complete the project," Wallace said. "I'm impressed with what your mayor is doing to move the project forward and I'm committed to help you in any way that I can.
"I have already thought of a couple of ways that I may be able to help."
Wallace also took the opportunity to talk some politics. He said he intends to be a candidate for the Republican nomination for the state's second highest elected office in 2006.
"I think it's an office where I can be innovative and proactive in serving the interests of the people of Alabama," he pointed out.
Among those on hand to greet Wallace were J.D. and Sally Williams, the town's mayor and town clerk for 42 and 45 years, respectively, before their retirement in 2004. Margaret Goree, a lifelong resident, shared a letter she and her husband received from Gov. George Wallace in 1986. Several others shared memories from meetings they had with the late Gov. George and Lurleen Wallace.
Mayor Long thanked Wallace for his visit and stressed that the restoration of the courthouse will be done step by step with continued support from state and federal officials and the people of the community.
"We have had two fundraisers and raised $8,500," Long noted.
"We have a $90,000 American Treasure Grant which Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) helped us get. "We can begin drawing against it when we have $45,000 in local funds. This would make it possible for us to replace the exterior brick.
"We are also pursuing a $250,000 community enhancement grant through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs," Long stated.
A Somerville Courthouse Restoration Fund has been established at People's Bank in Somerville. Contributions from the public are invited.