The year in review: Looking back at the top stories of 2019

Published 3:04 pm Friday, December 27, 2019


Below is a look back at the top news stories of the second half of 2019 in the U.S. 280 area. The review of the first half of 2019 can be found here.


7-year-old boy found safe after extensive search

A 7-year-old boy missing from the Sterrett area was found safe after an extensive search conducted by numerous public safety agencies.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received a call about the missing boy at about 2:30 p.m. on Monday, July 1. He was last seen near his residence off Shelby County 43 in Sterrett.

Deputies responded to the area and conducted a search but could not immediately locate the child, according to information provided by SCSO.

An extensive search then ensued with the help of other agencies, and the boy was found at about 6:30 p.m. on July 1.

Burrus sentenced to life for murder

The man convicted of a December 2016 murder in the Highland Lakes neighborhood was sentenced to life in prison.

Adam Michael Burrus, 39, of Birmingham was sentenced on June 27 to life in the Alabama Department of Corrections by Circuit Judge William H. Bostick III.

Burrus was found guilty at the conclusion of a jury trial on May 14 of the murder of 37-year-old Constance Leigh Woolweaver at her Highland Lakes home.

Hoover adopts first-ever comprehensive plan

Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato announced on July 9 that the city of Hoover has adopted its first ever Comprehensive Plan.

After a nearly two-year process, the nine-member Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved the 178-page document at its monthly meeting on Monday, June 8.

“The plan outlines goals and provides guidance for smart, sustainable development and redevelopment city wide,” read a news release from the city. “It also places a high priority on quality of life and management of continued growth.

Rushing Farms property zoning reverts after developer abandons plans

A 63-acre parcel of property that was targeted for development has been returned to its original zoning after residents in the area balked at plans for the subdivision.

The Shelby County Planning Commission in February approved a rezoning request for the proposed Rushing Farms that would have allowed for smaller lot sizes, but the Planning Review Board voted in March for the Commission to reconsider its initial decision.

The Commission reheard the case on Monday, July 15, and decided to rezone the property back to E-1, Single Family Estate, which requires lot sizes of at least 1 acre.

The property is located near the intersection of Caldwell Mill Road and Indian Crest Drive in North Shelby County.

OMHS grants 8-year-old’s wish, raises most money in state

Noah, a Birmingham area 8-year-old boy with a progressive muscle disease, is enjoying his new pool thanks to the efforts of students at Oak Mountain High School.

The students raised $12,000 during the 2018-19 school year, which was the most of any Alabama school, which earned the National Honor Society leadership team a pizza party and special Make-A-Wish pins for graduation.

Cyclists to travel 1,500 miles in fourth Ride4Gabe

Three ultra-distance cyclists departed from Good People Brewing in Birmingham on Saturday, July 27 at 10 p.m. The ride, called Ride4Gabe “Summit Duchenne,” will take the trio up the second highest paved road in North America.

Demetrious White (56 years old), Brian Toone (42) and Michael Staley (38) will pedal about 220 miles a day, crossing eight states and covering 1,500 miles to get to Colorado. The destination is 14,115 feet above sea level, high above Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the summit of Pikes Peak.

It is the mission of these cyclists and the Hope4Gabe Foundation to raise awareness about and promote research to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Fourteen-year-old Gabe Griffin from Shelby County is cute, red-headed, and freckle faced. The Hope for Gabe Foundation, started by his parents when he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at age 3, works nationally to raise Duchenne awareness and support promising research.


Ribbon cuttings held at Riverchase Career Connection Center

A large crowd of stakeholders attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Riverchase Career Connection Center on Thursday, Aug. 1.

The 92,000-square-foot facility is located at the former Riverchase/Pelham Middle School, off Willow Oak Drive, with five academies focused on college and career readiness.

RC3 will open to students on the first day of the new school year on Aug. 8, with an expected enrollment of 735, almost double the initial goal of 400.

Hoover to allow earlier alcohol sales on Sundays

The Hoover City Council at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 5, approved an ordinance that will allow for earlier sales of alcoholic beverages in the city.

The ordinance replaces sections of the existing Municipal Code of the City of Hoover with new language. Upon implementation, it will be unlawful for anyone licensed to sell liquors, wines, malt or brewed beverages from 2-4 a.m. on any day except Sunday and between the hours of 2-10 a.m. on Sundays.

Chelsea approves 1-cent sales tax increase for schools

Chelsea officials approved a 1-cent sales tax increase on Tuesday, Aug. 6, that will generate funds for projects at the city’s five schools.

The Chelsea City Council and Mayor Tony Picklesimer unanimously approved the increase at a Council meeting following a public hearing during which no one spoke for or against the measure.

Many residents did voice opinions at a previous public hearing on July 16. Most of those in attendance at that meeting indicated they were in favor of the increase, and that is how the mayor and Council ultimately voted, as Picklesimer said he did not think the other two courses of action—a property tax increase or the status quo—were viable options.

The tax increase will net an estimated $1.5 million per year that will be managed by the Council but earmarked for education.

Once the new ordinance goes into effect on Oct. 1, residents and visitors to the city will pay a total of 10 cents sales tax on every dollar spent in Chelsea, with half of that amount collected by the city.

Wilsonville man struck, killed by vehicle on 280

A 34-year-old from Wilsonville was killed after being struck by a vehicle on U.S. 280 the night of Thursday, Aug. 15.

Hoover police and firefighters responded to the 4900 Block of U.S. 280 at about 8:44 p.m. on Aug. 15 on a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle, according to information provided by Hoover Police Department.

Officers and paramedics arrived and found an adult male lying on the side of the roadway.

He was transported to UAB Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased at 9:26 p.m.

Oak Mountain High School celebrates 20th anniversary

Oak Mountain High School’s 20th anniversary was celebrated with a special reception on Thursday, Aug. 22.

While welcoming the more than 50 people in attendance that included educators who were involved with the school’s opening 20 years ago, Principal Kristi Sayers called OMHS a “special place.”

“It’s a sense of community,” she said. “It’s a sense of family. Everyone brings everything they have, and that’s because of the tradition that has been set.”

WestRover Water Sports hosts canine dock diving competition

Saturday, Aug. 24, marked the opening of the college football season and also the latest dock diving competition at WestRover Water Sports.

Organizers, canine competitors and their owners wore their team colors and set up tailgates Aug. 23-25 for the event that served as a qualifier for the North America Diving Dogs organization.

“It’s a ball,” said Jay Crisman of 280 Animal Medical Center, sister business of WestRover Water Sports. “People have a great time, and the dogs really have fun.”

The Tailgates & Touchdowns NADD Qualifier included eight total distance splashes and three total air retrieve splashes, and was the third event of the year hosted at WestRover.


Asbury starts ministry for people with memory loss

Asbury United Methodist Church is starting a new ministry for people who have memory loss due to dementia or stroke.

The first session for the new Anchor Community Respite Ministry will be Oct. 1, and sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday.

In addition to benefits for participants, the ministry offers caregivers an opportunity to run errands, visit with friends or simply rest.


McLeod Software reaches employment milestone

McLeod Software announced that the company has grown to more than 500 employees.

Tom McLeod, president and CEO, started the Hoover-based company in 1985 to provide transportation management and trucking software solutions to the trucking industry. Today, with an established base of more than 950 active customers throughout North America, McLeod Software also operates regional offices with training facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah and Chicago, Illinois.

Located in Meadow Brook Corporate Park, the new McLeod Software headquarters has allowed the company to consolidate its Alabama employees to a single campus, and provides ample room for even more growth.


Senator takes questions from Chelsea High School students

Chelsea High School students experienced a tele-town hall with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Jones spoke to about 160 10th and 11th graders in AP U.S. history and AP government classes through a video streaming service.

Instructor Ryan Adams said he was one four participants in the United States Institute of Peace Teachers Program and during the closing program met Jones and a representative of his office, who discussed Jones doing outreach to high schools through such arrangements.

“You try to inform them that this is an opportunity that doesn’t happen very often,” Adams said. “When you have this kind of a chance, you want to make sure you take it.”

Two dead in North Shelby County murder-suicide

A shooting on Sunday, Nov. 17, at a residence off Brook Highland Parkway in North Shelby County that left two people dead has been deemed a murder-suicide.

Investigators with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said determined that the shooting was the culmination of a domestic incident, according to a press release.


Sixth arrest made in North Shelby County homicide

Two more arrests have been made in connection with a shooting death on Oct. 20 at a hotel off U.S. 280 in North Shelby County, bringing to six the total number of suspects charged in the crime.

The most recent arrests in the alleged murder of 17-year-old Stanley M. Turner II, which were announced Nov. 30, included a 20-year-old and a 17-year-old, both males from Pleasant Grove, according to information released by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

OMMS donates more than 1,800 toys to Toys for Tots

Oak Mountain Middle School students donated more than 1,800 toys to Toys for Tots at a special assembly on Monday, Dec. 9, that has become an annual tradition.

The school collected $2,500 for the effort, surpassing the goal of $20,000, and National Junior Honor Society officers shopped for toys at the Walmart store off U.S. 280 in the Inverness/Brook Highland area the morning of Dec. 9, before the afternoon assembly, which was begun by Principal Larry Haynes and NJHS Officer Anna-Scott Gingras.