Russellville receives gifts to fund splash pad, new library

Gift for Russellville splashpad and library

RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Gifts from a local family and the county’s largest employer will help Russellville get its first splash pad and a location for a new library.

Our news partners at the Times Daily were in attendance when Mayor David Grissom made the announcements Monday during a special called council meeting.

Grissom said the Norris family donated about one-half acre behind City Hall that will be used for a new library/media center.

"We've been talking to the Norris family for some time," Grissom said of the project.

Lanny Norris, who ran a State Farm Insurance office in Russellville for 42 years, said he and his siblings agreed to donate the property to the city since each of them had gradually moved out of town.

The property included the family home, and a printing and office supply business. The family also owned King Frosty, the first drive-in eatery in Russellville, Norris said. He said those buildings will be torn down to make way for the new library.

"Both of my parents believed in higher education," Norris said. "They emphasized education to us. We felt they needed a nice facility."

The family donated the property with the stipulation that the library be built within 10 years.

Grissom said he also met with U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Russellville, about some possible federal library funds. He said Aderholt attended Monday’s called meeting.

"I think it's the first time we've had a sitting U.S. congressman at a City Council meeting," Grissom said.

He said the existing library is old and needs upgrades and additional space.

While city officials were anticipating the Norris family's donation, Grissom said they only recently found out about the gift from Pilgrim's Pride through its Hometown Strong Program.

Grissom said the company asked if the city had a project it needed assistance with, and the splash pad was one of three mentioned. The original estimate was $150,000, but the company official Grissom spoke to said the city needed a "Texas-sized" splash pad.

The company is covering the entire cost of the $309,000 project.

He said the council has discussed adding other features, such as a pool with slides or a lazy river style component. Grissom said the city would pay for any additions to the project.

Grissom said the splash pad may be located by the ball fields at Sloss Lake.

Pilgrim's Pride is the county's largest employer.

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