Integration trailblazers on hand for Black History Month proclamation

HOOVER – A proclamation recognizing Black History Month and a senior living development were among the items addressed by the Hoover City Council on Monday, Feb. 5.

Councilman Derrick Murphy read the proclamation declaring February as Black History Month.

“I’m proud that the city of Hoover consistently uses a phrase…that says I enjoy being here because we’re such a diverse community,” Murphy said. “We have so many different cultures and so many different mindsets and overall just a fantastic place to live.”

Marilyn Jones and Charles Whatley, who were part of the integration of Berry High School in 1969-70, were on hand for the presentation.

Jones taught science and biology at Berry from 1970-2001 and was recognized as a teacher of the year—an honor that was chosen by students—shortly after starting at a predominantly white school, Murphy said.

“The city of Hoover has been a big part of my work life,” said Jones, who also had two children graduate from Hoover City Schools. “During my tenure here, there was always great camaraderie between the community and me and among my coworkers. It’s just been enriching, and I continue to be astounded at the evolution and the continuous progress of this school system and the fact that you have to keep building schools attests to what a fine job you are doing here in education.”

Whatley taught science at Berry from 1970-1995 and said he did not experience problems with integration, or related to his race.

Whatley said he often encounters former students—including one who was about to perform a root canal on Whatley and joked that, “What goes around comes around.”

“My daughters don’t like being with me because I talk to too many people,” Whatley said. “They remember me, and I remember them.”

The Council also granted conditional use approval for the Crossings of Hoover, a senior living facility to be located at 2171 Parkway Lake Drive at the corner of Montgomery Highway.

The property is owned by S&K Investments and is zoned Planned Light Industrial.

The request was made by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Inc. and came forward with a positive recommendation from the city’s planning and zoning commission.

A representative of the developer said the proposed use is less impactful than others the zoning would allow because seniors at the facility would not have children to attend local schools and would not drive personal vehicles, and the development would create about 100 local jobs.

The senior living facility, estimated to cost about $35 million, would offer independent living (90 beds), dependent living (66) and memory care (38) space under one roof.

Amenities would include three dining areas with a central kitchen, a chapel, theater room, bistro, pub, numerous activity and therapy rooms, garden areas and trails.

The only comment from the public during a public hearing was about the need to ensure a plan is in place to transport a high concentration of seniors in the event of an emergency.

The proposal was approved unanimously.