Cooperation pays off for Hartselle
HARTSELLE — A process that split the City Council over alcohol language ended with Hartselle gaining “Alabama Community of Excellence” standing.
The distinction gives Hartselle another feather to dangle in front of potential retail and industrial clients, City Planner Jeremy Griffith said.
Hartselle had to prove to ACE officials that it had infrastructure in place — such as gas, water and sewer lines — and that elected and civic leaders were working from the same long-range plan.
The process hit a snag in September when some council members and civic leaders expressed opposition to the strategic plan because it had a reference to promoting alcohol sales.
After a two-month delay, a divided council approved the plan.
“Having a strategic plan is part of the process to get this distinction,” Griffith said.
Hartselle was one of seven municipalities to receive the Alabama Community of Excellence designation this week during the Alabama League of Municipalities’ annual convention in Birmingham.
Alabama Communities of Excellence is a nonprofit organization that partners with groups such as the state Association of Regional Councils, Historical Commission and Development Office to help cities prepare and implement comprehensive plans.
ACE primarily helps cities with populations between 2,000 and 18,000. Hartselle is the second-largest municipality in Morgan County, with a population of 14,225.
Local commitment and the community’s support for the program are the two main criteria to qualify for ACE, President Arturo Menefee said.
“Hartselle had both,” he said.
A group of about 30 volunteers started meeting in November 2009 when Hartselle entered the three-phase program.
The first phase included a community assessment by team members. The report identified Hartselle’s assets and challenges, and recommended strategies.
The second phase, which divided the council, dealt with leadership development and strategic planning.
Hartselle’s final phase included developing the city’s 30-year comprehensive plan, which the council approved Tuesday night.
One of 25
Hartselle is one of 25 Alabama municipalities with “Alabama Community of Excellence” status. The others are Arab, Childersburg, Eufaula, Foley, Livingston, Montevallo, Atmore, Brewton, Demopolis, Evergreen, Fayette, Graysville, Guin, Gulf Shores, Guntersville, Haleyville, Headland, Heflin, Jackson, Jacksonville, Millbrook, Monroeville, Thomasville and Valley.