Helena recognizes athletes, discusses financing sports and leisure complex

Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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HELENA – At a regularly scheduled council meeting, the city of Helena recognized recent commendable performances from multiple high school athletes and arranged for a special session to be held to discuss the financing of the upcoming sports and leisure complex on Wednesday, March 6 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the new Helena City Hall project, the construction of the sports and leisure complex marks the most ambitious project in Helena City Council history. Due to its magnitude, the large investment has drawn lots of questions from the community about where the funds will come from. 

In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, the City Council agreed to host a special work session to discuss the four year finance plan for the project with the public and address concerns. 

In the meantime, Helena Mayor Brian Puckett answered the three most frequently asked questions regarding the budget: The project will be funded without additional taxes, without reducing services and without reducing funds towards Helena’s schools. 

“We made sure, based off the trends, that we would not see any negative impact on what we do today versus what we will do tomorrow,” Puckett said. “Tag grants will still have the same amount of funding. We’ll continue to do (donations to the schools). The schools are not going to see any loss in funding.” 

The projected four year budget was designed to supply the project with enough funds to create a luxury park experience for the citizens of Helena, without creating room for unnecessary expenses. 

“It’s a balance between austerity and grandiosity,” Councilmember Laura Joseph said.

At the same council meeting, the city honored three Helena High School student athletes that placed in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s 6A Indoor Track and Field meet. The students included Abigail Parsons for fifth place in pole vault, Brooklyn Kelley for third place in shot put and Michael Sestili for first place pole vault. 

In front of their peers and parents, Puckett presented each student with a certificate commending their achievements and a special lapel pin from the city of Helena. Parsons was the first to receive her certificate which commended her for “enduring demanding practices and relentless drills to develop and execute solid fundamentals throughout the season, which resulted in the winning of the fifth place for girls pole vault in the championship.” 

When Kelley came forward to accept her award for third place in shot put, Puckett joked that she was such a prolific victor she probably already had a lapel pin in every color. Kelley informed him that this pin was actually different from the others in her collection, earning a few chuckles from those gathered.  

The final student recognized was Sestili for first place in pole vault. Before presenting the award to Sestili, Puckett took the time to emphasize how monumental this accomplishment is.  

“So let’s talk for a second. What does first place mean when you win (first) at a state championship,” Puckett asked. “(It means) you’re the state champion.” 

In addition to his certificate and pin, Sestili will also receive a championship ring paid for by the city. 

In his comments for the council session, Puckett expressed his pride in Helena student athletes. 

“So again, another state champion for Helena High School,” Puckett said. “We see it all the time, and we are so honored to have so many great athletes here in Helena.”  

In other news, the Helena City Council approved the following items on the agenda during the meeting:

-Award of Low Bid for New City Hall to Wyatt General Contractor, LLC dba Wyatt Builds

-ABC License-KenAm Partners LLC- The Steakhouse of Helena-4079 and 4085 Helena Road-On Premises Beer, Wine and Spirits

-Ordinance 967-2024A-Robert D & Susan B Cox-243050000010.000

-Ordinance 968-2024A-Martha O Flores-400 Aviation Road SE-4200122000006.002

-Ordinance 969-2024A-Eugene & Mary Lou Vonderau-300 South Court Cove-129320000005.021

-Ordinance 970-2024A-Eugene & Mary Lou Vonderau-300 South Court Cove Lot 8-129320000005.022

-Ordinance 971-2024A-Michael & Amber Cowles-4471 Eaglewood Dr-4200293000004000

-Ordinance 972-2024A-Denise Leigh Jordan Parker-65 Southern Lane-243080000004.002

-Ordinance 973-2024A-JC & Arleen Gilliland-7929 Hwy 13-127250000007.000

-Ordinance 974-2024A-David Brian Kelley-1681 Hwy 93-126230000004.000

-Ordinance 975-2024A-Jordan Lee Price-Jordan Family Sub (GAP ROAD)-243080000004.000

-Ordinance 976-2024A-Daniel & Holly Ritchey-137 Chestnut Lane-126230000001.047

-Ordinance 977-2024A-Edward & Patricia Thornton-152 Chestnut Lane-126230000001.037