County population estimates released, disputed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Shelby County is home to two of the five fastest growing cities in Alabama. Since 2000, populations in Pelham and Helena have increased 36 and 29 percent, respectively.

The increases make the two cities Alabama&8217;s second and fifth top gainers. The figures are based on the U.S. Census Bureau&8217;s estimates.

Pelham&8217;s population has grown by 5,000 people, while Helena has grown by more than 2,900 residents during the last five years.

When considering towns under 10,000 people, several other Shelby County communities have boomed.

Calera&8217;s growth of 112 percent in five years is most noticeable, but Wilsonville was up 12 percent and Columbiana and Chelsea both increased by 11 percent.

However, everyone does not agree with the numbers. Several mayors from across the state, including Chelsea&8217;s Earl Niven dispute the estimates.

Niven believes his city&8217;s estimated population of 3,635 is actually almost double that amount.

&8220;We&8217;re in the 7,000 range. We have more than doubled since 2000,&8221; said Niven, who says Chelsea&8217;s low number is due to updated city limit maps that the U.S. Census Bureau did not have. His office is currently correcting the oversight.

Overall, Shelby County&8217;s estimated population increase was 20 percent