PROFILE: Niven reflects on 20 years as Chelsea’s first, only mayor
Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016
After the judge declared the election valid on March 1, 1996, the first council was formed.
“We had a meeting of those who wanted to run for office,” Earl said. “We discussed who wanted to run for what. A majority of the people wanted me to run for mayor. A good many people knew me and knew my leadership roles I had had, and I think they felt comfortable with me being the first mayor.”
Council members included Ritchie, Glen Autry, Bob Combs, Shelby Blackerby and Earline Isbell.
All were elected to a term from March to August with no opposition.
In August 1996, Earl and the council were elected a second time to serve four-year terms.
“Our first budget was for $32,000 in 1997,” Earl said. “The budget for 2015 is $7.3 million.”
The city council met in what is now the Chelsea Middle School lunchroom. The mayor’s office was in Earl’s house.
After nearly three years, First National Bank of Columbiana, now Renasant Bank, allowed Chelsea to use the upstairs level of the bank as its city hall until the new city hall was built in 2004.
Chelsea started out with fewer than 1,000 acres of land to its name. The first series of annexations included land where Chelsea High School is located on Shelby County 11 to prevent the school from being in another municipality.