News in 2007: February

FROM STAFF REPORTS

February 2007 was a memorable month in Shelby County.

A gas leak forced an evacuation at Hilltop Montessori. The Gold Side dominated the purples during the University of Montevallo’s College Night. The town of Wilsonville opened its renovated town hall.

With this Year in Review, the Shelby County Reporter looks back month-by-month on the news stories and images that defined the year.

Join us as we recall the triumphs and tragedies, successes and failures that were 2007.

Editor’s note: This is part two of a 12-part series that will run online through Jan. 1

Wilsonville opens town hall

The town of Wilsonville celebrated the ribbon cutting of its new town hall Feb. 4. Renovations on the building began earlier in the year, but Liveoak said talks of sprucing up the building have been in the works for years. The renovations included much more than just a fresh coat of paint. Contractors completely redesigned the building and added a Sheriff’s substation, library and council chamber.

Gas leak causes Montessori school evacuation

Construction workers were digging along the highway in Mt Laurel before lunch Tuesday, Jan. 30 when they broke a natural gas line sending school children and residents out of their classes and homes. The break caused dangerous fumes to be released into the air. One hundred and sixty Hilltop Montessori students were moved out of the school and to the Cahaba Valley Fire Station, which was far enough for the gas to not be breathed in.

Money set aside for Veterans’ cemetery

Congressman Spencer Bachus announced that $18.5 million in federal dollars had been set aside to build a National Cemetery in Montevallo. The allocation was included in President Bush’s proposed 2008 budget, and Bachus (R-Vestavia Hills) vowed to keep the money there. The funding was expected to allow construction to begin on the cemetery, which is scheduled to open in 2009.

Gold Side saves the day

Saturday, Feb. 17 was “a dream come true” for dozens of University of Montevallo students. Members of the Gold Side won the 89th annual College Night, beating their rivals, the Purples, by 37.5 points. Unique to Montevallo, the homecoming event pits the two sides against one another in an unlikely sport – musical theater. This year, the Gold Side won a decisive victory with their heartfelt comedy, The Amazing Adventures of Power Guy and Gary Valor. The spoof tells the story of an arrogant superhero and his loyal sidekick.

U.S. Marshals capture fugitive

A Louisiana man wanted since April in the rapes of two St. Tammany Parish girls was arrested Feb. 18 in Shelby County. U.S. Marshals arrested Francis Eugene Reed, 40, at a residence in Chelsea, where he was working as an electrician on a construction site. Reed is accused of repeatedly raping two girls for two years, beginning when the girls were 9 and 13. A task force of Louisiana law enforcement agencies was tipped off in January that Reed was living in Shelby County.

Shelby Baptist expansion approved

Shelby Baptist Medical Center won unanimous approval for a $100 million expansion to make all of the hospital’s rooms private. The hospital’s plan faced no opposition from competitors and was granted approval Wednesday from the State Certificate of Need review board. The expansion centers on a new 168,000-square foot tower, which will be built atop Shelby Baptist’s emergency department. When finished in July 2009, the new tower will allow the hospital to eliminate around 50 semi-private rooms.

Ground broken for new Helena Middle School

Several future Helena Middle School students and their mothers were on hand Thursday, Feb. 22 to help break ground for the new school. Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller announced the board and city of Helena anticipate opening the school by the fall of 2008