Alabaster Housing Market Continues Surge

Alabaster Alabama New Home Construction

Alabaster continued to see higher hew home building permits through August than it did during the same time period in 2013, and is still seeing its highest number of new home permits since 2008.

New Home Construction

Through August, Alabaster had issued a total of 51 new home building permits, compared to 39 new home permits during the same time period in 2013, Ward 7 City Councilman Tommy Ryals said during a Sept. 15 meeting.

From Jan. 1, 2013-Dec. 31, 2013, the city issued a total of 61 hew home building permits.

Ryals previously said this year’s new home permits likely will be at their highest since the nationwide economic downturn hit in 2008, but said the numbers are still a far cry from what the city saw in the early and mid-2000s.

The city issued a total of 59 new home permits in 2012, 30 permits in 2011 and 29 in 2010. Alabaster’s number of residential housing permits took a nosedive after the nationwide economic downturn hit in 2008. Alabaster went from a high of 354 new housing permits in 2004 before ending the year with 100 in 2008 and 48 in 2009. Read more…

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Alabaster Schools Get $120 Million Bond Deal

The Alabaster Board of Education tonight approved the sale of bonds that will raise roughly $120 million for construction projects including a new high school and payment of debt associated with the separation from Shelby County’s system. Alabaster City Schools The board approved the issuance of $101.8 million in tax-exempt bonds that will translate to $107.4 million in revenue for the district, Superintendent Wayne Vickers said after tonight’s board meeting. Wayne Vickers The district is planning to use the tax-exempt bonds to fund various projects including construction of the new high school on part of 301 acres surrounded by neighborhoods north of Kent Dairy Road and east of Highway 17. Additionally, the board tonight approved the deal concerning the issuance of $12.8 million in taxable bonds for repaying the Shelby County Board of Education for debts incurred during the separation of the two school systems in 2013.   The actions tonight followed a special meeting by the board on Aug. 20 when it voted to allow investment bankers to raise roughly $120 million through the sale of bonds. Much of the funding will go toward construction projects, including the new high school that’s expected to reach completion in 2017. Other plans include renovations of existing buildings, including converting the current high school for use by sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Fourth- and fifth-graders at the intermediate school will move to the middle school as part of the renovation plan. The intermediate school and sixth-grade center will undergo other renovations and find new uses. The funding will also provide new technology for students and teachers throughout the system. “The funds we will have for technology are really exciting,” Vickers said during tonight’s meeting. “This is going to be a tremendous leap forward for our system and our students,” board President Adam Moseley added. After tonight’s approval of the budget for the new fiscal year, Vickers said about $1 million will be spent in the coming months on upgrading infrastructure to handle new computers and other equipment that will come later. “My goal is to get as much as we can for our students, and the technology is something they embrace,” Vickers said. The funding plans arrived after the Alabaster City Council in June approved a 30-year pledge of the municipality’s 1 percent sales tax earmarked for education. The pledge means the 1 percent sales tax will remain in place for the life of repaying the school district’s bonds that is expected to take 30 years. The taxable bonds are scheduled for the final principal payment on 2024. The tax-exempt bonds will get their first principal payment in 2025 with the final principal payment in 2044. Read more…

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Alabaster Welcomes New THS Principal

THS Principal

“We finished up registration today, and it went very smoothly,” Tangle said. “I think it went a lot faster this year with the online registration than it did last year.”

About 100 ACS teachers and staff members, city leaders, friends and family members gathered at the Alabaster Senior Center on July 29 to welcome Tangle and his family to the city.

Tangle, who was hired as the new THS principal in June and most recently served as the principal of Saraland Elementary School, said he has been welcomed with open arms since arriving at THS.

“I’ve never had anything quite like this before,” Tangle, who was joined by his wife, Michelle, daughter, Kelsey, and son, Hunter, said of the reception. “Everyone has been so helpful and cooperative.”

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers praised Tangle for bringing a wide range of experience to the school system.

“He has been an administrator at the elementary, high and middle school levels, so he brings a large amount of leadership with him,” Vickers said. “He knows the importance of academic leadership and athletic leadership.”

During the reception, dozens lined up to greet Tangle and his family while a live band performed and refreshments were served.

“We are grateful for the chance to having you with us, and we look forward to the potential you bring,” City Councilman Bob Hicks told Tangle.

Tangle said the school has undergone a summer cleaning and floor waxing, and said he is looking forward to Aug. 7.

“We will be ready to welcome the students back next Thursday,” Tangle said.

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Alabaster Ranks Seventh In State

Six Shelby County cities are among the best in Alabama for homeowners, according to a list compiled by a national consumer advocacy website.

On its list of the best places for home ownership in Alabama, website named Chelsea first, Calera second, Helena third, Pelham fifth and Alabaster seventh. Leeds, which is partially in Shelby County, ranked 10th on the list.

The list ranked Alabama cities with more than 10,000 residents based on three criteria: Available homes, home affordability and growth in the area.

Nerdwallet touted Chelsea’s growth over the past several years, and said the city’s 2012 population of 10,161 was more than double what it was in 2000.

“Chelsea is in Shelby County, about 20 miles southeast of Birmingham, the largest city in the state,” read the city’s entry on the list. “Residents who live near Birmingham have access to job opportunities all over the region.”

The website also praised Calera’s growth of 11.6 percent from 2010-2012 as the highest on its list.

“Calera High School was recently named the 15th best high school in Alabama by U.S. News and World Report,” read Calera’s entry. “Calera is also home to the Shelby County Airport and features weekly summer farmers markets.”

Nerdwallet said 91.7 percent of homes in Helena are occupied by owners rather than renters.

“Vulcan Materials Co. is one of the city’s largest employers and the company describes itself as the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates — crushed stone, sand and gravel,” read Helena’s entry.

Pelham’s population increased by about 4.8 percent from 2010-2012, and is central to a plethora of offerings, according to the website.

“Pelham is nestled in the foothills of Oak Mountain and is close to Oak Mountain State Park,” read Pelham’s entry. “The Pelham Civic Complex features an ice-skating rink, banquet hall and arena.”

At just 23.4 percent, Alabaster boasts a low percentage of household income spent on monthly mortgage and utility costs, according to the list.

“Alabaster is home to the (Propst) Promenade Alabaster, the largest retail center in Shelby County,” read the list.

Leeds homeowners pay an average of $1,121 per month on home ownership costs, which is the second lowest on Nerdwallet’s Alabama list, according to the site.

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Single mom? Hoover ranks #16 best in nation.

Hoover Alabama Ranks #16

on list of best city for single moms.

Hoover AL single mom

For most single mothers, it would seem that the bigger the city, the better the opportunity—more jobs, better public transportation systems and a larger community for support.

But a NerdWallet survey based largely on U.S. Census Bureau data has found places outside America’s largest cities seem to offer more for single moms to thrive: social stability, economic opportunity and affordable child care.

The growth of single-parent families in the U.S. is well documented and deeply debated. Less discussed is what kind of communities are best at supporting the nearly 25 million children being raised primarily by one parent. To find out, NerdWallet analyzed U.S. communities with populations of more than 50,000 residents against several key factors that affect single mothers the most.

Our analysis sets out to answer three main questions:

  • Can a single parent make enough to cover rent (or mortgage) and child care? As every working parent knows child care costs are astronomical. So we considered each community’s median income, median housing costs and average day care costs for an infant and a 4 year old. We found wide variations in average day care costs from state-to-state using a 2013 study by Child Care Aware of America and the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R).

  • Is the community stable? Poverty is a major issue for single-parent families. The census estimates that nearly half of all families living with single mothers (who make up nearly 85% of single parents) are living in poverty. We gave more weight to communities such as Towson, Maryland, which had the lowest number of single mothers below the poverty line—just 4%. The city with the highest number of single mothers below the poverty line was Delano, California, near Bakersfield. There, 68.2% of all single mothers are raising their children below the poverty line.

  • Can single parents have a decent quality of life? We also looked at other key quality-of-life indicators for single moms: commuting times (knowing that longer commutes can raise child care costs and hurt quality family time,) the overall strength of schools—based on data from Greatschools and whether you would be likely to find other families with similar structures for support.

And what about dads? NerdWallet took the same methodology and swapped in data points relevant to single fathers. There were some limitations, since census data doesn’t count the percentage of single fathers living below the poverty line, but our analysis still offered some insight into the lives of single fathers. Check out our list for single fathers.

Trends and takeaways:

  • Single families represent a major demographic shift for communities everywhere. The number of families with children under 18 headed by single parents in 1960 was 8.2%. By 2012, 28% of all U.S. children lived in a home headed by single parents, according to census data.
  • Income opportunity and stability are major concerns for single parents: Nearly half of all the 20 million children living with one parent live below the poverty line, according to 2013 census data.
  • The city with the highest percentage of single fathers versus the entire population in our data set was Hanford, California at 2.1% of total population.
  • The city with the highest percentage of single mothers versus the entire population was Camden, New Jersey at 7.9% of total population.

For more information on the full ranking click here.

Shelby Medical Center Pilots High Tech Program

Shelby Baptist Medical Center is the first hospital in Alabama to join the Virtual Alabama network, a high-tech mapping system that helps first responders during emergencies.

Shelby Baptist Medical Center

A press conference was held May 5 at Shelby Baptist Physician Center, where Gov. Robert Bentley lauded Virtual Alabama’s implementation. Shelby Baptist was Bentley’s second stop in Shelby County May 5. Earlier in the day, Bentley spoke with residents at McAlister’s Deli in Pelham as part of his Road to Economic Recovery Tour.

“It’s a privilege to be at Shelby Baptist in my home county of Shelby County,” Bentley said before an audience of local and state legislative delegates, as well as community and business leaders. “It’s good to be No. 1 and to be the first at some good things. This is something we can all be proud of.”

Virtual Alabama was created in 2005 in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The network allows K-12 schools, universities and now hospitals to share detailed infrastructure data with first responders in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

David Wilson, president of Shelby Baptist, said the hospital began exploring Virtual Alabama in 2012 and requested funding from the Shelby County Community Health Foundation to initiate work.

“We’re very proud to be the first hospital pilot facility for Virtual Alabama,” Wilson said.

A 10-minute video explaining how Virtual Alabama was played at the press conference. Through the network, Shelby Baptist personnel and first responders will be able to access safety plans, floor plans, emergency equipment and video surveillance cameras that aid in planning, responding and recovering from an incident.

Keith Parrott, president and CEO of Baptist Health System, said Virtual Alabama is a valuable tool to “protect and safeguard the lives of citizens.” Bentley agreed.

“Some of the most vulnerable buildings aren’t necessarily schools. Hospitals may be more vulnerable because there are so many people in and out,” Bentley said.

Virtual Alabama looks to continue its growth by safeguarding courthouses and government buildings.

Read more…


Stadium Upgrades For The Thompson Warriors

Alabaster Football Field

On April 14 the Alabaster School Board voted unanimously to begin site improvements to the stadium which serves as Alabaster schools’ primary athletic facility for football, soccer and track and field.

“It is something that is very much needed in our city and in our school system,” Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said during the meeting.

The project will:

  • add a synthetic turf field in place of the natural grass field currently at the stadium
  • call for removal of the current press box on the visitors’ side and the construction of a new five-room press box above the home stands, which is the side closest to Thompson Road
  • include seal coating and restriping the asphalt track, reconstructing track accessories such as the long jump pad
  • improve the stadium’s drainage
  • repaint the current field house
  • add bricks around the steel columns on the outside of the field house
  • add a dedicated sports medicine training room
  • add a new scoreboard and a 25-second play clock
  • install new goal posts on the football field

Vickers previously said the project’s final cost will be determined by bid amounts, but said it likely will not top $1 million. Read more…