2022: A year in review
With the new year just beginning, reflect with us on the local stories that made 2022. It was a busy year in Hartselle and Morgan County, and the editorial staff of the Hartselle Enquirer covered feel-good feature stories, local events in the community, crime, civic news and more.
From city growth and progress to new leaders in the school system, keep reading to take a look back at the biggest stories of the year.
1. Rape-for-hire plot leads to one arrest
A Hartselle man was arrested in January after authorities said he attempted to hire an undercover detective to abduct and rape a Wisconsin woman. Matthias Jacob Edward Mann, 22, was arrested at his family’s home in Hartselle and charged with attempted coercion and enticement and attempted kidnapping, as well as soliciting someone to cross state lines to commit a sex act. Mann entered a plea deal June 22; he has yet to be sentenced. According to the plea agreement, Mann faces up to 40 years in prison.
2. Hartselle Health Park officially opens with ribbon-cutting ceremony
Cullman Regional celebrated the official opening of Hartselle Health Park in March with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by friends and supporters of the health system. The facility fully opened its services in November 2021; however, the official ceremony was postponed because of high rates of COVID-19 in the community. The health park was built by Eidson and Associates and is almost 18,000 square feet. It houses a state-of-the-art imaging center that offers CT, MRI, ultrasound, 3D mammography and X-ray capabilities.
3. Falkville man gets prison sentence for Capitol-related weapons crimes
In April, the Falkville man who was arrested Jan. 6 after pleading guilty to federal and state weapons charges was sentenced to 47 months in prison. According to court documents, Lonnie Leroy Coffman, 72, of Falkville traveled from Alabama to the District of Columbia several days prior to Jan. 6, 2021. He parked his red GMC Sierra pickup truck in the 300 block of First Street SE, on the morning of Jan. 6. Inside the pickup truck were several loaded firearms within arm’s reach of the driver’s seat; hundreds of rounds of ammunition; large-capacity ammunition feeding devices; a crossbow with bolts; machetes; camouflage smoke devices; a stun gun; and a cooler containing 11 canning jars filled with ignitable ingredients for Molotov cocktail incendiary weapons. A search of Coffman’s residence later that month led to the discovery of 12 additional jars containing ignitable substances, each constituting the component parts of Molotov cocktails. Coffman did not have a license to carry a pistol in the District of Columbia and had not registered any firearms or destructive devices in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, as required by law. Coffman will be placed on three years of supervised release following his prison term.
4. Cerrowire breaks ground on $100m plant at Morgan Center
The Morgan Business Park saw its first future tenant break ground May 4 when Cerrowire welcomed city, county and state leaders along with members of the community, employees and shareholders to celebrate what will become a $100-million, 270,000-square-foot facility. Cerrowire, which already has a plant in Hartselle, announced plans for the expansion in Nov. 2020. The new plant will eventually bring 131 jobs to Hartselle, doubling its Morgan County workforce. The new plant will produce metal clad cable, Cerrowire President Stewart Smallwood said, which will be marketed to commercial construction contractors.
5. Tigers win ninth state championship
The Hartselle Tigers won their ninth state championship in May. The championship is Hartselle’s first in Class 6A. The Tigers last brought home a blue map in 2013 when they were in Class 5A. Ironically, the Tigers’ first two runs in the championship clinching win came on the same controversial play in last season’s final game when the team lost the title to Mobile’s Faith Academy.
6. Davidson Homes holds ribbon cutting for 500-rooftop community in Hartselle
In August, representatives from Davidson Homes, the City of Hartselle and its stakeholders, along with the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated a ribbon cutting of Cain Park – a new community that will see 500 rooftops added to Hartselle.
7. Hartselle man arrested for attempted murder of wife
In September, a Hartselle man accused of the attempted murder of his wife was arrested and booked in the Morgan County Jail. Brian Mann is accused of intentionally poisoning his wife according to the Morgan County District Attorney’s office. Mann posted a $500,000 bond as required by Circuit Judge Charles Elliott and was released from jail Sept. 7, five days after his arrest. Among the conditions that Elliott imposed for his release was that he be supervised by Morgan County Community Corrections (MCCC), that he wear a GPS monitor, and that he surrender his firearms and passport to the Hartselle Police Department. Ashlee Barton of MCCC recommended that “a warrant be issued for the defendant’s arrest and held without bond until hearing.” He was rearrested Sept. 15 and remains in custody.
8. Officials, district leaders break ground on new Crestline Elementary
Hartselle City Schools broke ground on the new Crestline Elementary School in October. The highly anticipated project will see a 105,000 square-foot building – which packs a roughly $36 million price tag – replace the oldest school in the district. It is slated to open in Aug. 2024.
9. Old Hartselle post office to become event center, new home for chamber
Plans to purchase and transform Hartselle’s old downtown post office into an event center, chamber headquarters and business incubator were announced in November. Officials hope renovations will be complete sometime in 2024.
10. School board approves superintendent contract despite petition, lawsuit
A split vote Dec. 13, with three members of the Hartselle City School Board of Education voting yes and two abstaining, approved Brian Clayton’s contract as the next superintendent despite the board facing litigation over the hiring process and community concern surrounding its choice for the job. Board president James Joy, vice president Monty Vest and Randy Sparkman voted to approve the contract at the meeting held at Barkley Bridge Elementary School. Clayton’s contract will be valid from Jan. 4, 2023 through June 30, 2025. His annual salary begins at $185,000.