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Dickinson calls in sick; Athens lands Salty Cod; and more in this week’s Off The Record


Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama

Dickinson in sick call

In addition to Space Command’s glaring absence at SMD this week with an empty booth, the commander of U.S. Space Command also failed to make his scheduled appearance. Gen. James Dickinson was the confirmed speaker of a Space Command update session at Huntsville’s 26th annual Space & Missile Defense Symposium. However, he cancelled at the last minute because he was reportedly sick.  

Something fishy in Athens 

Come get a bite, a pint, a scoop or a brew at the Salty Cod. The newest concept by the same owners who brought the Poppy and Parliament to downtown Huntsville are set to open on the historic downtown square in Athens in September. Aiming to be the newest community spot, the Salty Cod will be open seven days a week, with 50 employees serving everything from gelato to fish and chips.  

Welcome to Madison 

There’s a new face in Madison City Hall. Traci Gillespie has joined Mayor Paul Finley’s staff as the Economic and External Affairs Officer. Gillespie has a diverse background according to her LinkedIn profile serving in the Bush White House in 2001 and several other governmental relations positions in the Washington, D.C., area. Gillespie made the move to Alabama when she married former Madison County Commission Chairman Mike Gillespie and for the last 12 years has worked in guest relations for Crestwood Medical Center. 

 Go west, young man, er, uh, Huntsville

The city of Huntsville continues to grow west of I-65. At Thursday’s City Council meeting, the Council voted to annex 697 acres known as the Sanderson Farm along the west side of I-65. This annexation is adjacent to the Haney property, a 1,220-acre parcel annexed by the city last December. The two properties are just across I-65 from the new Buc-ees and is adjacent to the fast-developing Huntsville Brownsferry Road interchange. This represents a major development opportunity for the city for both industrial projects and regional mixed-use opportunities. 

Worrisome weeds

Weeds on Guntersville Lake are causing major problems for boats, jet skis and homeowners in Jackson and Marshall counties. The lake has long been home to Milfoil and Hydrilla – two non-native aquatic weeds. But this summer has seen an explosion of Eel Grass. Eel Grass is a native weed but still causes the same problems for boats and residents as the non-native weeds. The management of these weeds has been a center of controversy for years with fishermen favoring keeping the weeds that provide habitat for the trophy bass Guntersville Lake is known for. However, other users have found themselves stranded in the middle of the lake on boats or jet skis whose engines have been choked by the weeds. As part of the TVA reservoir, managing the weeds has fallen to them over the last few years. Their efforts have received mixed reviews from community leaders and dissatisfaction with their efforts has grown this summer with the weeds. Residents are pushing for a much more aggressive effort by the utility to control these weeds – stay tuned. 


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