April 1, 2016
Southern Torch (3238 articles)
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Fort Payne, Rainsville announce city merger

FortPayneRainsvilleAnnounceCityMerger

Officials from Fort Payne and Rainsville announced today that the cities will merge to form one single community. The seal above represents a local artist’s rendering of one of several proposed city names—Willstown


SOUTHERN TORCH EXCLUSIVE:

City officials finalize largest municipal merger in Alabama history

By Joseph M. Morgan

joseph@southerntorch.com

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala.— The cities of Fort Payne and Rainsville will soon combine to become the largest city in DeKalb County and the 26th largest city in the state of Alabama.

Officials from Fort Payne and Rainsville announced today that the cities will move forward with plans to execute the largest municipal merger in Alabama history, effectively combining the two communities into one DeKalb County “mega city” that will span from Lookout Mountain to Sand Mountain covering more than 70 square miles and boasting a population of more than 20,000 residents.

Officials from Rainsville and Fort Payne say the merger represents more than 6 months of hard work, countless hours of complex legal maneuvering and intense negotiations to ensure that both municipalities benefit from the landmark merger.

“When I ran for mayor in 2012, I promised voters that Rainsville would see unprecedented growth and economic prosperity,” Rainsville Mayor Nick Jones said. “Today I am proud to announce that I have delivered on both of those promises. With this merger, our population will more than quadruple from 5,000 residents to a population of more than 20,000, and our budget will go from $5 million to $25 million—all of this accomplished in less than four years. This is without doubt the most historic day in either of our fine cities’ histories and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Jones said there are still a number of details to be worked out, but that the Alabama Legislature approved the merger earlier this week and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed off on the measure to merge the cities on Tuesday.

“We’re still ironing out the details but the merger of Fort Payne and Rainsville is a done deal,” Jones said. “City attorneys are already hammering out a new city charter and we will post our notice of incorporation just before our big announcement on Monday.”

A name for the new city has not yet been decided, but some of the early ideas floated have been DeKalb City, Fortsville, Valley View, Fort Mountain, Rain Payne and an early favorite among local historians, Willstown.

Plainview will merge with Fort Payne City Schools to form a new city school separate from the DeKalb County School system. The name of the new school has not yet been determined, but an educational subcommittee made up of representatives from both city councils has agreed that the new school’s mascot will be the “Bearcats.” News of the merger already has local coaches excited about opportunities to excel in athletics.

It is unclear who will serve as the high school’s new football coach, but the education committee has already named Plainview Coach Robi Coker as the new head basketball coach, citing the recent resignation of Fort Payne Coach Danny Anderson who took a job with Hazel Green earlier this month as the reason for the early decision.

“I couldn’t be more excited about combining Fort Payne High School with Plainview,” Coker said. “This is one of the wildest things I’ve heard in a long time. Our new school will be a 7-A Powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with that will be able to dominate the competition and play ball with any school in the state. I say bring it on.”

The cities of Fort Payne and Rainsville have already pooled resources to roll out an aggressive marketing and PR campaign to create community awareness and promote the christening of the new city at a ceremony on Monday.

The efforts will employ a number of celebrity spokesmen, including Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry from the band Alabama, Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey from the nationally-syndicated radio program, The Rick and Bubba Show and Fort Payne High School alumnus and Alabama Crimson Tide football standout Marcus Carter.

Burgess, who has been named the official spokesman during the rollout of the new city, said he and Bussey have already begun recording promotional radio spots that will begin airing across the state later this week during the broadcast of their daily morning radio show.

Burgess said the band Alabama is also hard at work wrapping up the recording of a country music video for a new city anthem, “From Mountaintop to Mountaintop,” that will debut on Country Music Television (CMT) and national radio next Monday night.

“We’ve been working with Randy (Owen) and the boys (band Alabama) to make sure we get the word out about the historic merger of Fort Payne and Rainsville,” Burgess said. “Bubba and I are working closely with Mayor Chesser and Mayor Jones and we’re really bringing in some heavy hitters—no pun intended—to help spread the word and share the exciting news with the entire state, and even nation.

“The Alabama Band’s new city anthem is really good stuff.. We got an early listen and I’m telling you, the song, ‘From Mountaintop to Mountaintop,’ is guaranteed to go full platinum and #1 on all the charts—country, rock, pop, you name it, it’s going #1.

“We’re also working with Fort Payne native Marcus Carter and some other big-time former Crimson Tide players and I’m proud to announce that we even have Nick Saban lined up to speak at the big announcement on Monday. I figure, in Alabama, if you’ve got Randy Owen on board, you’ve got Nick Saban on board, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be successful no matter what you’re doing. The city is definitely getting a lot of bang for their buck.”

As of press time, all of the details regarding the merger are not yet available, but some of the highlights were released yesterday in an exclusive report to Southern Torch and include:

• The new City Hall will be located on property that currently lies within the city limits of the former city of Fort Payne.

• The DeKalb County Courthouse will be relocated along with other essential county government buildings and services to a new DeKalb County Governmental Services Park yet to be constructed on Sand Mountain on property that lies geographically on land that is currently within the city limits of the former town of Rainsville.

• Registered voters will be given the opportunity in a special election on Monday, May 23, 2016 to choose a name for the new city, as well as elect or re-elect a 10-member city council and mayor consisting of five representatives from the former city of Rainsville and five representatives from the former city of Fort Payne, and a mayor selected from either former city.

• Fort Payne High School will absorb the current Plainview school into the Fort Payne City School system and be located in the former city of Fort Payne. The name of the school will be based on the name of the new city and the mascot will be the “Bearcats.” The new school colors will be blue and gold.

• Before city finances are merged, Fort Payne will pay off the outstanding $3.5 million debt owed to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pay off the original loan for the construction of the Northeast Alabama Agribusiness Center.

• The Rainsville City Council has agreed to host workshops to assist the Fort Payne City Council in improving relationships between the mayor and council. Members of the Fort Payne city council promise to bring civility and a good faith effort at governance to the table, despite past inability to get along.

• Both mayors and each of the 10 members of the city council have been promised keys to the new city hall and all city-owned facilities.

• For the remainder of this term, the new 10-member city council will be made up of the combined existing city councils from Fort Payne and Rainsville.

• However, the title of mayor is up for grabs. Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser and Rainsville Mayor Nick Jones will compete in an armwrestling contest hosted at Body Vision fitness center in Rainsville. The winner of said contest will be appointed acting mayor, with the loser earning the title of mayor pro tem. Happy April Fools Day from Southern Torch.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

Comments

  1. Myra Bearden
    Myra Bearden April 01, 10:20
    I love the name "Willstown".
  2. Dr. Bill Weems
    Dr. Bill Weems April 01, 11:36
    Had my attention all.the way till the end. Good one!
  3. kidding me
    kidding me April 01, 12:54
    So glad it's April 1st!!!!!
  4. Kathie Wiegert
    Kathie Wiegert April 01, 19:58
    That was not funny! However, it was done so well that I bought it, right up to the wrestling match.
  5. Sonya Spears
    Sonya Spears April 02, 03:08
    Made me sick at my stomach at 3:00 am. Until the arm wrestling event!! Then I smiled and said to myself this was written by a genius!! Alabama, Saban and COACH COKER!!! Now that's priceless!!!!
  6. Steve dutton
    Steve dutton April 02, 14:48
    Ugh ugh ugh! !!!! Lol, hook, line and sinker
  7. Scott gentry
    Scott gentry April 03, 14:33
    How about Ft Rain !!

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