Hanceville annexes Hopewell Church, cemetery; fire department issues addressed


Hanceville Fire Chief Rodger Green explains the need for a new fire engine to the council at its Thursday night meeting. / W.C. Mann

HANCEVILLE – It was a busy evening during a protracted meeting of the Hanceville City Council Thursday with topics on the table from Hanceville’s northern city limits all the way to Blount County, and issues related to the city’s fire department as prominent subjects.

Financial audit

During its work session, the council received a report on the audit of the City’s fiscal year 2016 financial records.  Auditors found an issue with retirement fund contributions that is not an immediate concern but could lead to large deficits down the road, so council members discussed ways to protect retirement funds.  Overall, the audit was declared clean.


The council unanimously approved the annexation of Hopewell Baptist Church (zoned I-D: Intensive Development) and the Hopewell Cemetery (zoned A-1: Agricultural) into Hanceville’s city limits.  The move will add 39.91 acres to the city, and will open access to residential areas to the north of the church to seek annexation as well.

Telephone and internet

The council recently put out a request for bids to update the city’s telephone systems and internet access.  The only bid received came from Smartfox IT Solutions, the company currently providing Hanceville with computer hardware and software maintenance services.  As council members had several questions and the bid proposal was not clear to some, the matter was tabled for a later meeting when a Smartfox representative can come.

Fire department

The meeting shifted to a tight focus on issues related to Hanceville’s emergency services, beginning with a request from Fire Chief Rodger Green that the council approve the use of JMCM Consulting to help the Fire Department get a grant of up to $750,000 to purchase a new engine to replace a 20-year-old truck that is requiring increasing amounts of maintenance and repair.  Previously used grant writers have not been successful for several years, and, according to Green, JMCM Consulting has a good track record in landing fire department grants.  The grant being sought would require a five percent City match, plus five percent for the grant writers; meaning that the $750,000 purchase would cost the City $75,000.  Should the consultants be unsuccessful in getting the grant, there would be no charge to Hanceville.  The council approved Green’s request.

Assistant Chief Bart Absher gave a report on the fire department’s 2017 activities, including 1,155 total calls:

  •     914 medical calls
  •     114 fire calls
  •     80 motor vehicle accidents
  •     41 special duty calls – lockouts, assisting disabled, installing 911 signs, etc.
  •     6 hazmat calls
  •     5 mutual aid calls
  •     27 instances in which the fire department assisted other departments

As talk came to aid to other departments, Mayor Kenneth Nail took time to address a remaining issue with the Blountsville fire that devastated J.B. Pennington High School last March.  The fire burned into the attic of one building, making normal access unfeasible due to the danger of collapsing ceilings.  Instead, firefighters had to gain access by cutting through the building’s roof.  When no ladder trucks were available in Blount County to get firefighters to the top of the building, Blount County 911 contacted Cullman County 911, which dispatched Hanceville’s ladder truck, along with other vehicles and crews.

Over the course of the three-day incident, Hanceville’s fire department claimed around $11,500 dollars of costs associated with their services during the out-of-county event.  The department submitted a bill to the Blount County Board of Education, as did other responding departments.  According to Nail, more than nine months later, even after Hanceville offered to lower the amount to $10,000 and the Blount County superintendent agreed to present the reduced figure to his board, that bill remains unpaid.

After council discussion about options, the mayor asked City Attorney Dan Willingham to make contact with the Blount County Board of Education by means of a “cordial but firm” letter, to attempt an amicable resolution.

The Hanceville City Council meets on the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month, in the Hanceville City Hall auditorium at 6:30, with work session at 6.  The public is invited to attend.

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