We will soon wrap up FY13. What insights can you share about the state of the City at this time?
The state of the City is good. We are financially strong. We feel like we’ve had a strong recovery from the dips we experienced in 2008 and 2009. In particular, our commercial base is doing exceedingly well. We want to do everything possible to keep the Hoover climate very receptive and friendly to commercial growth.
How is the City doing in making its promise to boost utilization of the Hoover Met?
Utilization is always a problem at any stadium. What do you do when your baseball team is out of town, and what do you do when your season is over? We’re focused on driving as much utilization as we can.
The Freedom Fest we held this past summer was a tremendous success with the crowd at capacity. This is an event we plan to continue. We’ve also hosted the 7-on-7 football event, which was a success. Attendance for that event filled up a lot of hotels in the area. And of course this fall, the Bucs are playing their home games there.
We’re also finding success booking corporate events at the venue. Protective Life is among those who have already booked the space.
One area for potential growth is to pick up groups that want display space. We’d love to attract trade shows, especially now that the Pelham Civic Center will have limited display area given the extension of their ice-related activities. I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t an expansion for meeting and event space at the Met in the future. There have been drawings done and talk of making it more into a mini-convention center. There is a lot of roof space out there, and it wouldn’t take much for there to be quite a bit more.
There are a lot of people who want specialty presentation shows, but they want to invite more like a crowd of 500 people out to the Met for lunch and demonstrate their products.
What are you most looking forward to within the City of Hoover this autumn?
There are so many wonderful developments and events happening right now in our city. From a roadwork standpoint, I know other residents will share my joy to see the extension open at Chapel Lane.
That should happen in early September, which will be of great benefit in reducing traffic on 31 and gaining easier access to the Patton Creek/Galleria corner of Highway 150.
I’m also looking forward to welcoming Governor Bentley as the keynote speaker at this month’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon, and I hope many of our residents will make plans to attend.
Speaking of economic development, the Lorna Road corridor is seeing improvement. While it’s a work in progress, there is some nice revitalization already taking place. The addition of Bargain Hunt is exciting. It’s a good fit for this old space that could not be used by a grocery store. And of course the recent opening of the Walmart Neighborhood Market as a lead tenant in that area is outstanding. It should lead to further commercialization.
Look at the YMCA on Shades Crest. It is just booming – it’s one of the most successful in the country. What a beautiful utilization of an old grocery store. I say that because that has been one of the problems we’ve had during the last five-year period: “What do you do with a closed grocery store?” Hoover Tactical is another excellent example of where a grocery store (Bruno’s) formerly stood.
And I would be remiss not to mention our Veterans Week festivities, coming up later this fall. That committee has a lot of people who are actively involved, and the preparation that goes into these events is just exceptional. It’s front of mind for me right now as I prepare to welcome home my son, who is returning from his service as an Army Captain stationed in Korea.
What might readers by surprised to learn about you?
My roots in Hoover run deep. When I was a sophomore in college, Tommy Hoover and I were fraternity brothers at Samford. In 1967, I became eligible to sell insurance and worked in that capacity for Mr. Hoover.
At that time, the area’s population was less than 400. We voted to form the City, and the biggest problem at that time was what we would call it. Half wanted to call it Green Valley and half wanted to call it Hoover. We hired the City’s first full-time fireman, Mr. Wally Peek, who kept a fire station behind Green Valley and Employer’s Insurance. We also hired the City’s first policeman, Mr. Oscar Davis.
I am also a huge football fan, but instead of claiming Auburn or Alabama, I’m a fan of Army football. My son, a former team captain (’02) for the Hoover Bucs, went on to play nose tackle and defensive end for the Army. He is one of five. My wife and I are blessed with each of them, and the 15 grandchildren they have given us.