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Hartselle will allow Purple Heart group to put helicopter in park

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — City leaders here will allow the Military Order of the Purple Heart to place a vintage Vietnam-era helicopter at Sparkman Park.

But a fence must secure the helicopter and keep it out of reach of children, the council told organization member George Mann.

The city's insurer "will not insure the piece of equipment, but it must be enclosed in a fence because of liability issues," said Mayor Dwight Tankersley.

Mann said the Purple Heart organization wants to pour a concrete pad and elevate the helicopter.

"We'll put it high enough so kids can't get in it," he told the council during Monday's work session. "You'll need an eight-to nine-foot ladder to get to it."

The previous administration allowed the Purple Heart organization to construct a Purple Heart Memorial in the park near Hayes and Adam streets. The memorial has the names of about 300 men from the Tennessee Valley who have received Purple Hearts dating back to the Civil War.

Since then, the group has constructed a pavilion.

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

Mann said the Purple Heart organization will pay those costs.

"I know where it is and it's sat aside for us," Mann said about the helicopter. "We're going to pay for everything. The question is, do you want the helicopter? It's as simple as that."

About the liability issue, Mann said, "You've got slides, tables and sliding bars in the park."

"You're right, but we're listening to our insurance carrier," Tankersley responded.

City Attorney Larry Madison advised the council to get a contract with Purple Heart stating that the organization will be responsible to the cost of moving and maintaining the helicopter.

Madison warned the council two weeks ago that previous gifts to two other municipalities have been "maintenance nightmares."

When CSX stopped puling cabooses, the railroad got rid of them by donating them to small towns. Falkville and Trinity, municipalities that Madison represents, each received one of the cabooses. Madison said there have been "maintenance issues."

The city said it will not be responsible to maintenance on the equipment.

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