U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville was on the field June 14 when a shooter opened fire at a practice for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Va., seriously injuring Congressman Steve Scalise. Brooks wasn’t hurt, but his name was later revealed to be on the shooter’s assassination list.
Al.com file photo
Mayor Tommy Battle announces for governor
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle announced in the spring that he would run for governor of Alabama in the 2018 election. A longtime Republican in a non-partisan city office, Battle is running as a Republican who can help bring Huntsville’s economic success to the rest of the state.
Chamber of Commerce photo
Airport seeks FAA spaceplane landing license
The picture is a rendering prepared by the Chamber of Commerce, but it could be real if the FAA grants Huntsville the license to land Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spaceship that the city applied for this year. The spaceship, which resembles a mini-space shuttle, launches on top of a rocket and lands like a plane. The city wants to build on the existing space science support sector of its economy.
17-year-old missionary Sarah Harmening killed in bus crash
Sarah Lauren Harmening, a 17-year-old girl from Madison County, died in a June bus crash in Atlanta at the beginning of a mission trip to Africa. Harmening wrote in her final journal entry of the great things she hoped God would do through her youth group when they arrived. More than 1,000 people came to her funeral.
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State Sen. Jim Patterson dies suddenly
State Rep. Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville, died suddenly from a heart attack in October.His district included parts of north Madison County and Huntsville, and he was known for his big, outgoing personality. Patterson shepherded legislation through the Legislature that mandated insurance companies provide coverage for full coverage for children with autism of medically necessary applied behavioral analysis therapy by health insurance.
(AL.com file photo)
Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison passes away
Madison County lost another veteran leader in 2017 when longtime Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison died in October. Harrison represented north Huntsville and was described by the county commission chairman as a man who “spent his life seeking shelter for the homeless, clothes for the unclothed and food for the hungry. Bob Harrison always had Madison County and the people of his respective district first and he will be truly be remembered for his faithful service.”
Aerojet Rocketdyne to bring 700 jobs to Huntsville
Aerojet Rocketdyne, the California rocket engine company broke ground this year for a new Huntsville plant to produce engines for future American rockets. This was the last in a series of big rocket engine developments that preserves Huntsville and north Alabama as America’s rocket propulsion center.
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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company also picks Huntsville
Blue Origin, the aerospace company set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, also picked Huntsville for a new rocket engine plant in 2017. The company will make up to 30 engines per year for a nearby ULA plant in Decatur and for Blue’s New Glenn rocket. It will employ up to 350 with an average salary of $75,000 a year, company President Rob Myerson said.
Dynetics makes a big move in rocketry
Huntsville science and technology company Dynetics completed the city’s big year in space with a fall announcement that it would build a three-building complex in nearby Decatur to test and develop next-generation large rocket components. “Developing and testing these large structures are significant for Dynetics and the future of space exploration,” Dynetics CEO David King said in a statement. “This facility will add another capacity to Alabama’s aerospace industry.” The photo above shows the project’s status late this year.
Trump visits Huntsville to stump for Strange
President Trump came to Huntsville in September to campaign for Sen. Luther Strange’s election. Trump was unsuccessful carrying Strange to victory, but he filed the Von Braun Center arena with 8,000 supporters and kicked off a national controversy by attacking NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem.
Von Braun Center set for $42 M expansion
Huntsville’s Von Braun Center downtown announced a $42 million expansion in 2017 and won a critical City Council vote in July to raise lodging taxes to help pay for it. The expansion will include a large new meeting and banquet hall and a music hall to host bands and singers for crowds of around 1,000.
AL.com file photo
Madison takes steps to bring back pro baseball
The city of Madison confirmed in November what had been one of North Alabama’s worst-kept secrets. It’s interested in attracting a minor league baseball team, considering building a stadium and in talks with an ownership group about relocating a team in the Huntsville suburb. Meanwhile, new owners acquired the Mobile BayBears and began making steps to bring that team to Town Madison, a new commercial development on I-565.
Top Golf opened its Huntsville center in December capping a year of commercial growth. The golf center is part of a $350 million live/work/play center called MidCity now under way at the intersection of Research Park Boulevard and University Drive. The city also saw a new hotel begin rising in across from Big Spring Park, a new commercial development break ground on South Memorial Parkway at Bob Wallace Avenue and the opening of the Avenue, a collection of downtown shops and restaurants.
MSNBC election map
Madison County turns blue for Doug Jones
Maps after Alabama’s Dec. 12 special Senate election – like this one featuring MSNBC analyst Steve Kornacki showed how Doug Jones won the race, and one standout section of each map was a blue Madison County. The county didn’t end the year Democratic, by any means, but it helped push Jones over the finish line with a strong turnout from black voters, Millenials, and educated high-tech workers.
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Gov. Kay Ivey funds new Cyber Camp, Redstone gate
Gov. Kay Ivey, center, gave the U.S. Space & Rocket Center a $10 million state grant in August to help fund a new building to house the center’s new Cyber Camp and link its two existing structures. “Expanding cyber camp in Alabama’s No. 1 tourist attraction was a logical investment for the state…,” the governor said. “In order to have a workforce that is prepared for the 21st century and can fill jobs in the 21st century, we must train our students and young people in technology, and the efforts of the U.S. Cyber Camp do just that.”
The Huntsville city council voted in June to close decades-old Becky Peirce Municipal Golf Course permanently and re-develop the site as a multi-use park that would include mountain bike trails and an elite-level cross country course. The long-debated changeover was a victory for the city’s mountain bike and cross-country community.