Hanceville ‘breaks ground’ on new senior center

A ceremonial “groundbreaking” ceremony for a new senior center was held in Hanceville Friday. The event took place inside due to muddy conditions at the site of the new center. Holding shovels, left to right, are Hanceville Councilwoman Kim Brown, Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Kenneth Boswell and Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – The City of Hanceville celebrated the groundbreaking for the city’s new senior center Friday morning. The ceremony was held at the Hanceville Civic Center rather than the future site of the center at CW Day Park due to muddy conditions. City and County leaders were joined by members of Cullman County’s state legislative delegation and representatives from Montgomery and Governor Kay Ivey’s office.

Ivey announced in November that Hanceville had been selected to receive a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to build the 2,500-square-foot senior center. The CDBG program is administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) utilizing funds from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Mayor Kenneth Nail welcomed Kenneth Boswell, director of ADECA, who said to the Hanceville seniors in attendance, “Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Ivey sends her regrets, but she is here in spirit and she wanted me to make sure that all of you knew that she certainly appreciates what you do individually as well as what you do collectively.”

Boswell also spoke about Nail, comparing the mayor to a bulldog.

“You could not have, and I mean this with all my heart, you could not have a better mayor and more of an advocate for you as citizens than this man right here,” he said, before also complimenting leadership in Cullman County.

Members of the Hanceville Senior Center, known as “the Rowdy Bunch,” were praised by Adam Thompson, assistant commissioner of the Alabama Department of Senior Services. He stressed the importance of supporting the senior citizens in every community

“Things like the senior center are so much more than a building,” he said. “What makes senior centers throughout the state so important are the activities. the food program, the fellowship, the connections, the classes and all types of activities that go into making that senior center a part of the community. You can have countless buildings, but if you don’t have the community to go with it, it doesn’t do any good.”

Senator Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman and Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview both thanked the leaders of ADECA, the City of Hanceville, the Cullman County Commission and others in the state delegation for working so well together to secure funding for the new senior center. Cullman County Associate Commissioners Kerry Watson and Garry Marchman presented a check for $25,000 to provide additional help on the project. The City of Hanceville will contribute $50,000 toward the center.

Director of the Cullman County Commission on Aging Dusty Baker recognized Hanceville Senior Center Director Evon Fowler, smiling, “She keeps the Rowdy Bunch busy and let me tell you, that Rowdy Bunch, they come by that name honestly. The name is well-deserved.”

Barbara Bailey, president of the Hanceville Senior Center, concluded the program saying, “We are so thrilled about having this new building and the location. Where we are at now, a lot of people don’t know where we’re at and they can’t find it. We are looking forward to seeing a lot of new faces to come to the new building and enjoy the fellowship and the food that we have. I think they will really enjoy themselves when they do come and just get a feel of being out of the house for four hours in the morning. It makes a big difference. You’d be surprised how many of our seniors said that they look forward to coming every day just to get out of the house for a couple of hours.”

Bailey informed everyone the seniors are planning a big grand opening.

The new building was designed by local architect Tim Burney, and he explained some of the features. The new building will include a covered pick-up and drop-off area, a gas fireplace and sitting area, an exercise room, new stainless kitchen, a classroom area and a large dining and activity area. The building will also open into the park, which will allow the incorporation of outdoor activities.

Burney said, “I think that’s one of the best aspects of this new center. They will be able to enjoy both the new indoor facilities and outdoor activities.”

Burney estimated it will take six months to complete construction of the senior center.

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Christy Perry