Five area residents will be inducted into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame in April.
Billy Conn Madison, chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee, released the names of this year’s inductees: William America, Earl Etheridge, Dr. William T. Hall, Howard Shell, and Eddie Staff.
The induction ceremony will be held Saturday, April 29, 6 p.m., at The Club. Tickets for the ceremony and the meal are $25 each. Tickets are available at Carl’s / The Tot Shop. Please note: Everyone attending must have a ticket.
Atmore News is featuring an inductee each week. (Information from the Hall of Fame Committee)
For 24 years, Howard Shell served as mayor of Atmore. In 2012, he decided not to run for re-election.
Mayor Shell served in the Navy during the Korean War. When he returned home, he worked at Monsanto and retired from there. His “second career” was in politics.
He is a member of First United Methodist Church, where he has served as a trustee; the VFW; the American Legion; Lions Club; Scottish Rite; and Masonic Lodge.
He served on the Board of Directors of the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission and the Executive Board of the League of Municipalities. He also served as Chairman of the League of Municipalities Environmental and Energy Committee.
In 2005, he was named the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year for 2004.
A city devastated
One of the things Mayor Shell’s administration will be remembered for is his leadership after Hurricane Ivan brought the city to its knees in 2004.
Thousands of trees were down all over the city. Power was out. Two days after the storm, the city still had no help.
A television crew came to Atmore to do a story. Mr. Shell’s comments about the condition of the town and lack of assistance made national news. As a result, people came from Tennessee, Oregon, Washington, California, Maine, New Hampshire and other states to help Atmore.
Shell immediately put together a disaster team, meeting in the city hall lobby with car lights shining into the building because there was no power. Congressman Jo Bonner met with the group by car light. Senator Jeff Sessions came in. Shortly after Mr. Shell was on TV, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley called and told him help was on the way.
To this day, the former mayor tears up when he talks about calling the administrator at Atmore Community Hospital the morning after Ivan and asking simply, “How many?” His question was how many hurt, and worse, how many killed. The answer was, “None, Mayor.”
Mayor Shell had a vision for the property at I65 and Highway 21 – a vision that has become Rivercane, a commercial, retail and industrial development. Working with other community leaders and the Atmore Industrial Development Board, he has seen the development grow from a barren property to an area with hotels and restaurants – ensuring the city tax revenue for the future.
In December 2012, Dr. Ullysses McBride, who was also in the early Rivercane meetings, asked the Atmore City Council to name Rivercane’s main street Howard Shell Boulevard. The council voted unanimously to do so.
* Helped get two spec buildings operational that are now occupied by Alto Products and Sunbelt Chemicals.
* Revitalized downtown with new sidewalks and flowers and trees which have enhanced the downtown area.
* Sought and received numerous grants for Atmore Municipal Airport and access roads.
* Worked with local volunteers to start a recycling effort in Atmore.
* Sought and received numerous grants to improve the city’s infrastructure.
Friend to governors and congressmen
Howard Shell is well known in Montgomery and Washington. He is a friend to governors, state and U.S. senators and representatives. He was and remains widely respected among fellow mayors in this area and the state.
On a personal note
Howard and Nannette Shell are planning to move to Westminster Village in Spanish Fort Tuesday, March 28.