By Terry Schrimscher, For the Tribune
SPRINGVILLE – The Springville Council met Wednesday morning, Sept.6, for the first regular meeting of the month. The meeting was moved to 8 a.m. on Wednesday, instead of the usual first Monday time slot, due the Labor Day holiday.
Police Chief Wayne Walton and Rick Hopkins, director of Springville Parks and Recreation, started the meeting with a discussion on a proposed monument in Big Springs Park. Walton began by saying a monument for fallen officers has been his goal for several years.
“This is the only memorial in this county, there’s not another one like it,” Walton said as he noted the monument would include fallen officers from all of St. Clair County. “Moody has a memorial for their two officers. Pell City has a memorial for their two officers. Nobody has a memorial for everybody.”
Hopkins added the design is similar to the firefighter monument located outside of Springville Fire Station #1 near City Hall in Springville. The firefighter monument is a memorial to Springville Firefighter-Paramedic Jared Wayne Echols who died in the line of duty on June 17, 2019.
Walton said the law enforcement monument will feature a bench, blue lighting, a rock wall and the names of fallen officers from St. Clair County, and will be built on an existing concrete slab. He said much of the funding and work has been donated already and he hopes to cover the $9,000 cost of the monument with donations.
“I’m steadily getting donations. I’ve got a bunch of people who have said, ‘Let me know when you want the checks,’” Walton said. “I’m looking at it not costing the city of Springville a dime. That’s what I am hoping.”
Chris Dunston returned to the Council to propose a city flag. He previously spoke on the idea at the January 9 meeting. Dunston presented one design as an example and said the Council can view some of his designs on his Facebook page.
The Council has not made a decision to create a flag for the city.
Don Smith, Executive Director of the St. Clair County Economic Development Council, presented an update to the Council on some of the EDC’s accomplishments. Smith said the EDC has evolved in the 25 years since it was created but remains focused on its primary objective to serve the entire county by recruiting new business.
“Fast forward 24 years, almost $2 billion in capital investment, I think it’s about 8,000 new jobs that we’ve announced and we’ve continued to evolve over the last 25 years,” Smith said. “It wasn’t just industrial recruitment but then retail recruitment including the Walmart that’s here,” he added. “Five years ago, it became apparent from the citizens that tourism was something that was missing in this county and a way of connecting the different chambers of commerce. The lodging tax is up 88% since 2019 and that’s whenever we kicked off that tourism initiative.”
Smith added the EDC’s next five-year strategic plan includes working with the education sector to focus on workforce development.
“The cornerstone of everything is going to be education,” he said. “It is almost impossible for us to recruit a company into our community who may need to employ 200-250 employees if they talk to the other employers who can’t find workers.
“We have to reestablish the workforce development pipeline that was completely decimated during COVID. That’s not just with K through 12 but it’s also with post-secondary education.”
Smith also noted the EDC is focused on infrastructure and public safety grants and hopes to house a grant writer to serve St. Clair municipalities to assist with funding for critical development opportunities.
The Council approved a parade permit for the annual homecoming parade on Sept. 22. The parade will be the same weekend as Homestead Hollow. Chief Walton and members of the Council expressed concern about potential traffic delays caused by the parade during the annual tourist event.
The next meeting of the Springville City Council will be held at 6 p.m. on Sept. 18, with a work session at 5:30 p.m. prior to the meeting.