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Hartselle to decide on request for helicopter memorial in park

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — It could be another two weeks before the Military Order of the Purple Heart knows if the council will allow a Vietnam-era helicopter in Sparkman Park.

City leaders do not oppose the idea, but Hartselle has to resolve liability concerns, Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

The previous administration allowed the Purple Heart organization to construct a Purple Heart Memorial in Sparkman Park near Hayes and Adams streets.

Since then, the group constructed a pavilion. Now James Shaffran, a Vietnam War veteran and commander of the organization, is making the request for the helicopter.

“We think this is a nice memorial with nearly 300 names of Purple Heart winners from North Alabama,” he said. “The helicopter will attract more visitors to the park.”

The council was prepared to act on Shaffran’s request when city attorney Larry Madison warned them about liability and maintenance issues.

The U.S. Army requires someone to pay for demilitarization of the equipment, which would cost between $225 and $6,000. The government also requires that a commercial carrier move the equipment to Hartselle and that it be maintained.

Shaffran said the Purple Heart organization will bear those costs.

Madison advised the council to get a written agreement before moving forward.

“Sometimes, these kind of things can be a maintenance nightmare,” Madison said. “When CSX stopped pulling cabooses, they got rid of them by giving them away to small towns. Falkville and Priceville got one. I can tell you there have been maintenance issues.”

Madison is the attorney for Falkville, Priceville and Hartselle. The city is checking with its insurance provider to see if the helicopter will create additional liability issues.

Tankersley said they will discuss the matter during Hartselle’s March 26 work session.

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