My Phenomenal Huntsville
John, a father of two college-aged children, anticipated big changes when he and his wife of 25 years moved to Huntsville after spending 16 years in Miami. See why he thinks the city is a great place to live and why Huntsville felt like home “almost immediately” to him and his family.
John: If I could describe Huntsville in one word, it would be phenomenal. It's just the lifestyle you live here. The activities you have to do. The welcoming aspect of the people. Everything that makes Huntsville what it is - the Rocket City.
My name is John. I work at the Hazardous Devices School on Redstone Arsenal. I'm 52. I am married. I've been married for 25 years and I have two children. One is a college student and one just graduated from the University of Central Florida.
I was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joined the Navy when I left high school and then applied and was hired in 2000 by the FBI. I spent 16 years in the Miami Division. I was lucky enough there to do a lot of stuff. I worked international terrorism and was able to deploy to Afghanistan four different times for a total of two years and also did a number of different TDYs overseas and throughout America.
So in September 2015, I learned that I'd been accepted for a job in Huntsville, Alabama. I had been here a number of times before because this is where the bomb school is located and I was a bomb tech for the FBI but I wasn't really familiar with Huntsville, Alabama in general.
Huntsville felt like home almost immediately to us. My wife who had lived in Miami with me for 15 years was pleasantly surprised in what it offers. Miami was a phenomenal place to live. There was attractions and everything. It's a very international culture. But it also comes with a lot of traffic and a lot of noise. Here is not that way.
The traffic volume is very low. My commute to and from work, which was typically 45 minutes to an hour each way in Miami, could be an hour and fifteen minutes or an hour and a half to get home, was cut down to 20 minutes. I call it more at-home time.
I like the climate here. There's four seasons here, something that I hadn't experienced in quite a while in Miami. This place is surrounded by mountains. This is the Tennessee Valley. It's a beautiful drive everyday to get to work.
When we moved in, we were welcomed with open arms. We have a great relationship with our neighbors here. They're excited about the people that we bring in. We, the FBI, bring in a very high caliber of people.
My favorite thing to do in Huntsville is fish. Huntsville has a very, very popular fishing spot here. It's about 15 minutes for me to get from my driveway to the boat dock where I put my boat in. So I spent a lot of time fishing. And then I still have time to come home and do all the stuff my wife likes to do. We go out to dinner. There are some hiking trails here that we enjoy. There's a lot of opportunity to shop here. There's a number of different malls. As the population grows here, bigger vendors are moving in.
If you were hesitant to move here but also your family is, I would tell you that Huntsville offers a number of different things for family. There's a lot of family activities here. We have a minor league hockey team. They just won the championship for the second year in a row. There's a new minor league baseball team coming in.
The education system here is phenomenal. The high schools here in Madison County and Huntsville are ranked top 700 in the nation. And so seven hundred seems like a very high number, but when you look at the amount of high schools in the nation - across all of American - seven hundred is pretty good.
My wife had never been here before. And if you would ask my wife, she would tell you that we're not leaving here no matter what job was offered to me.
Interviewer: Anything you'd like to add, John?
John: Nope. Let's get on the boat.
I know the stereotypes of Alabama and this place does not represent that at all. I'm looking forward to the FBI family moving here and we start doing the family days like they do at FBI Headquarters will come down here and we'll have family days here.
The workspace that the FBI is building here is going to be top-notch. You're going to have a phenomenal place to work. It’s what you do after work that really counts, in my opinion. It’s your family life and that’s what’s important to most of us.
Find out about Huntsville. Pick up the phone and call some of us. And then if you have an opportunity to come TDY here for a week, spend some time here driving around. I think you’ll be really surprised at what you find here. Huntsville’s a very, very, very nice place to live.
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