A Publication of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce
2021 - 2022
welcome The Cherokee Chamber of Commerce
Works for You
It is our job to unite business and professionals in a voluntary partnership for the sole purpose of building and improving the quality of life for our community. We are partners who come together to share ideas, explore new opportunities, and encourage growth. We don’t just talk. We are doers! From lakeside to curbside, we are on your side. We roll up our sleeves to support small business and industry, professionals, and healthcare organizations and we are ready to empower each with every resource and assistance available in our toolbox. The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is comprised of people who share a common interest and enthusiasm for our community, cultivating relationships and friendships that last a lifetime. If you are thinking about relocating or acquiring a vacation home, you have chosen the right place. We also believe you’ll like our pleasant climate, the fabulous Weiss Lake, and its enviable surroundings—not to mention the accommodating and gracious people working together to build a truly remarkable lifestyle.
Thereasa Hulgan Executive Director, TMP
Why Be a Member of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce?
Ask a Chamber Member!
What better way to build relationships, develop friendships, and network with other experienced and successful business owners. • Chamber members stay informed through active social media. They know the happenings, events, and the people behind the ribbon cuttings. • The chamber collaborates with local and state governments to improve and nurture business initiatives. Our chamber members make things happen in our community.
Joy Perry Director of Membership and Social Media Coordinator
• The chamber receives hundreds of requests each year for information and referrals, and we are always pleased to recommend our members.
Business Networking. Information. Advertising.
Your Chamber is Working for YOU.
Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce 801 Cedar Bluff Rd., Bldg. A Centre, AL 35960 256.927.8455 1
Creating Opportunity & Economic Prosperity
36 Getting Back to Nature - Birdwatching
40 Event Venues in Cherokee County
Brett Bobo - Grateful for His Start
Cherokee County Industrial Development Authority
Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport
10 The Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center Independent Living, Specialty Assisted
Living, Long-Term Care
44 Weiss Internet - The Back Story 46 Eating on Lake Weiss 48 Outdoor Attractions 52 Gone Fishin’ with Lee Pitts 54 Jerry Culberson
Cherokee County’s Ambassador
12 Chesnut Bay Resort Your Home Away From Home
56 Chad Steed From TheatreCentre to Dollywood
New Vision magazine is created, written, and published by Advertising Dynamics, Inc. in collaboration with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce. New Vision reserves the right to edit all material for clarity or space availability, and to determine the suitability of all materials submitted for publication. No reproduction of printed materials is permitted without the written consent of the Publisher.
14 Cathy Griffeth
58 Dixie Green - A Family Tradition
©Copyright 2021 by ADI Georgia. All rights reserved.
22 Camping & Glamping
Contact Advertising Dynamics, Inc. for information and advertising.
26 Indian Mountain ATV Park
706.290.0202 or goodideas@ adigeorgia.com
30 The Alabama Scenic River Trail
A Passion for Real Estate
16 The Alabama Bass Trail 18 411 Twin Drive-In Theatre & Grill 20 Finding Easy Street
34 Terrapin Creek 2
62 Rising Stars of Cherokee County 64 Community Profiles 70 Newcomer Information 74 The History of Weiss Dam 74 Commissioners Welcome 76 Chairman’s Circle Stakeholder Listing Advertising Listing
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Creating Opportunity and Economic Prosperity When hydroelectric plants began to spring up on rivers in Alabama, so did the reservoirs. Water released from the reservoir is washed through a turbine, activating a generator directed toward rural areas. It meant there could be electricity throughout the region, and homes and industries would change forever, and so would the landscape. There are 14 dams along the Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Black Warrior rivers, with 3,500 miles of shoreline. Weiss Lake and its dam was built as part of an Alabama Power Company construction program that further developed the Coosa River in the late 1950s to 1960s. 4
Weiss would go on to encompass 30,200 acres with a vast shoreline of 447 miles with a length of 52 miles. The story of Weiss Lake began as a story of energy, but today it speaks of flood control, economic opportunity, irrigation, and drinking water. In addition to bringing power to light up homes and businesses, the beautiful landscape would take a new form with breathtaking views reflecting mountain ranges on the water’s surface to fish and wildlife habitats. Blending nature’s beauty with resources of the lake has been a success for 60 years. cherokee-chamber.org
The latest project, The Preserves, has opened new thinking and additional opportunity for those who enjoy being outdoors and participating in shoreline activities. Alabama Power has created designated areas as ‘day use’ parks for people who love biking, hiking, birding, and just lounging outside in a natural setting. The Preserves nature trails are unique sites with interpretive signage that allow people to gain a better understanding of ecology and nature. Each year, Alabama Power welcomes thousands of visitors to its six day-use parks and more than 65 public access sites on 12 reservoirs on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Black Warrior rivers. These lakes, built to provide clean, renewable hydropower for customers, also offer all types of water and land recreation. Some are simple boat launches, while others feature a full set of amenities. The most recent addition is Slackland Beach, near Leesburg, Alabama, on County Road 20. Since almost as early as the lake’s construction, Slackland Beach has long been noted as
a perfect spot for a day-use park. The rough-hewn gazebo is center to the park grounds. Plenty of picnic tables are nestled under cool shade trees with one of those being ADA accessible. Areas for swimming and fishing are available, as well as a nature trail and ADA accessible restrooms. The level, well-kept area, is ready for games, comfortable walking, or just sitting to watch activities. The western mountain ranges spring up in the distance, while lazy waterfowl circle overhead, searching for an easy fish dinner. Slackland Beach is open from dawn to dusk and monitored regularly. There is no entrance charge. The work of Alabama Power is to create opportunity and economic prosperity for the state’s lake regions and remains intent on preserving and protecting Alabama’s natural resources and beauty. Visit Slackland Beach and enjoy nature at its best. For more information visit apcshorelines.com/recreation/parks/
“Alabama Power Company provides unique recreational opportunities for all that will remain for generations to come. They feature hiking trails, picnic areas, fishing piers, playgrounds, boat launches, and resting spots. Our goal is to make the lakes open and inclusive, and by creating The Preserves, we are making the water and activities around the water available to everyone.” Conrad Reed, Team Leader Weiss Shoreline Management Operations, Alabama Power cherokee-chamber.org
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Grateful for His Start At Gadsden State Brett Bobo was a senior at Plainview High School in Rainsville when contemplating his future with his father, William. “We were talking about what type of career I wanted to pursue when I saw an advertisement for a program at Gadsden State,” he said. “It was the clarity I needed.” The advertisement was for the 2+2 Poultry Science Program at the Cherokee County Campus of Gadsden State Community College. The program gives students the opportunity to complete their freshman and sophomore years at Gadsden State Cherokee and their junior and senior years at Auburn University. In the end, students earn a bachelor’s degree in Poultry Science. 6
“The 2+2 Poultry Science Program was a perfect fit for me because poultry is about all I know,” he said. Since 2006, Bobo’s family has raised chickens in four boiler houses located at the family’s Rainsville farm. “I was 11 years old when we started in the poultry business,” he said. “It’s an industry we know, an industry we enjoy.” Poultry is Alabama’s most profitable agricultural industry generating more than $3.1 billion each year and accounting for more than 65 percent of the state’s annual farming revenues. It is also an industry that has a wide variety of job opportunities. There are opportunities available in cherokee-chamber.org
genetics, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, production, processing, engineering, biochemistry, and agribusiness. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the poultry science industry are projected to grow by 6 percent before 2029. “Jobs are always available,” Bobo said. “If you work hard, you’ll always have a job.” Bobo enrolled in Gadsden State Cherokee’s 2+2 Poultry Science Program in 2015. He flourished as a Gadsden State student, having served as a Gadsden State Ambassador, was named to the President’s List, and was a Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society member. In 2017, he was the recipient of the coveted President’s Cup for the Academic Division, a designated award for the student demonstrating exceptional success in all college life phases. “I was fortunate to have gotten my foundation at Gadsden State,” he said. “I value my experiences and opportunities at the college. The poultry science course gave me a good insight into what to expect when I transferred to Auburn and prepared me with the information I needed to understand how the industry works.” After graduating with an associate degree, Bobo received multiple scholarships from the AU Poultry Science Department and the Alabama Egg and Poultry Association, as well as the transfer scholarship awarded to community college transfer students. During his tenure at Auburn, he had scholarships for every semester, which he credits for much of his success in the program. During the second half of his 2+2 program experience, Bobo worked on the Auburn University Poultry Research Farm Unit. He also completed two paid summer internships with Wayne Farms – at the hatchery in 2018 and the processing plant in 2019, both located in Albertville. The experiences solidified his career direction. With the completion of the second internship, he was guaranteed a job after graduation. Bobo was accepted in the supervisor trainee program at Wayne Farms; the seventh largest vertically integrated poultry producer in the U.S. He started his job after his December 2019 graduation from Auburn. Through the program, he is learning every aspect of the company, from human resources and quality assurance to live production and processing. After the year-long program, Bobo will be assigned a permanent position for Wayne Farms, the same company his father produces chickens for. “I’ve been given this opportunity to learn so much,” he said. “Once I complete the program, I will have a full overview of the company. I will know almost everything there is to know about working at Wayne Farms.” Looking back, Bobo is proud that he chose poultry science and that he started on his career path at Gadsden State. “The 2+2 program is the way to go if you have an interest in pursuing a career in an agricultural industry,” he said. “Gadsden State Cherokee and Auburn will prepare you to be successful in the end. They give you the tools and knowledge you need to be a good, valued employee in the poultry industry. Just stay on top of your work. It isn’t easy. And, be open-minded about learning more. Don’t focus on one area. Keep learning.” cherokee-chamber.org
The 2+2 Poultry Science Program is a partnership between Gadsden State Cherokee and Auburn University. Students enrolled in the program will complete their core curriculum at Gadsden State Cherokee as well as an introductory agriculture class taught by Auburn University faculty. Scholarship awards in the amount of 13 credit hours are available. Scholarship evaluation criteria include: • Admission to Gadsden State • Intention to transfer to Auburn University and major in Poultry Science • Completion of the Gadsden State General Scholarship Application • Completion of the Poultry Science Scholarship Application • Description of educational and career goals (no more than 250 words) • GPA of 2.5 or greater For more information, go to www.gadsenstate.edu/ programs-of-study/poultryscience.cms or contact Amanda Martin, enrollment specialist, at 256-439-6863 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 7
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Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport
Skies, Runways Remain Full
The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport is open for business-and thriving! And according to Donnie Free, general manager, the airport adds to its full agenda over the coming year a parallel taxiway and eight new hangars. Free said the additions were made possible through a 100-percent funded $5.5 million grant through the Federal Aviation Administration. The taxiway project should start in the spring, and the hangars should be completed in early 2021. Free noted that the airport had ten hangars constructed in 2016, and the additional eight will bring the total to 18. “We 8
have them all leased,” said Free. “We have a lot of renters from Georgia, including the Cave Springs, Cedartown areas, and also local renters as well.” In 2000 when representatives from Centre, Piedmont, and Cherokee County formed the airport authority, pooled their efforts, and carried the Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport project to completion in 2006. Complete with a 5,500-foot runway, it was the first federally funded Alabama airport since 1992. The airport is located on some 300 acres of property off Highway 9 south of Centre. cherokee-chamber.org
Free is pleased that the Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport has lived up to its mission and then some as he listed some of the services provided. “We are getting more and more business,” said Free. “We have a full-time flight instructor here that gives flight lessons. We have a mechanic who works on planes. He certifies our airworthiness and does minor repairs.” The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport is host these days to Georgia Tech Research. It has a certificate of authorization with the FFA to fly their drones and experimental aircraft. With Georgia Tech Research Institute, Mark Pettey said Georgia Tech has had the arrangement with the Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport for about a year. “We absolutely love it,” said Pettey. “You have lots of space, it is clear and open, and you have a great eye line to watch the traffic. It is about an hour and a half from where we live and is not too long a drive when we need to make the day trip, and everyone here has been more than accommodating.”
County Regional Airport a success. “With 22 based aircraft here, that is good for an airport this size,” said Free. “We have a facility with a good runway, fuel, flight training, and a maintenance shop. Those are your basics.”
Above, Top: Pictured are eight new hangars now under construction at the Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport. Above, Lower: Pictured is one of the T hangars at Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport.
Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport also has a fuel service open 24 hours a day, which is thriving, he said. The airport has a lounge with snacks, showers, and restrooms to accommodate incoming pilots.
Opposite, Top: Pictured is a full shop of planes awaiting repair at the Centre-PiedmontCherokee County Regional Airport.
Gene Littlefield, who has been doing maintenance work on the planes for approximately two years. Littlefield said he started working with planes in 1986. “I always loved to fly,” said Littlefield. “I started taking flying lessons, went to Cedartown Airport, and the guy said, ‘I need help.’ From that point on, I started my learning career. And I am still learning. You can never know it all.”
Opposite, Center: Gene Littlefield performs maintenance work on planes at the CentrePiedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport and has as much work as he can handle. Pictured is Littlefield with a 2006 Cessna 182 owned by a resident of Summerville, Georgia who completed her flight training at the C-P-CC Regional Airport.
Flight Instructor Jeff Creel came to the Centre-PiedmontCherokee County Regional Airport from Fort Payne. He has been with the C-P-CC Airport for almost a year and a half, having taught students from 12 to 72 years of age. While he has had many students, Instructor Creel estimated he has had 12 to 15 complete the course and earn their pilot license. “Many of them take about five lessons, and you never see them again, just like everything else.” Creel has two planes of his own based at the airport. “I was ten years old when I got my first airplane ride,” said Creel. “I have been stepping in holes ever since looking at airplanes fly over. I was 26 or 27 before I could afford to take lessons and learned to fly. I am 60 now, so that is quite a while. I am here every day. I can’t stay away. I can’t think of anything I would rather do,” said Creel. Manager Free expresses his appreciation to all those who have pulled together to make the Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee cherokee-chamber.org
Opposite, Far Left: The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport is also in the fuel business and is doing well. Pictured is the fuel station at the airport which has many local visitors and those from other areas.
Opposite, Far Right: The Centre-Piedmont-Regional Airport is current host to Georgia Tech Research Institute which has made arrangements to test fly its drones and experimental aircraft at the airport. Pictured is Mark Petty with Georgia Tech with the Osprey.
Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport Authority Lee Hubbard, Chairman Centre Representatives Bobby Allred and Jay Jordan Piedmont Representatives Brent Morrison and Terry Conway, Co-chairman Cherokee County Representatives Andy Ellis, Treasurer and Grant Ratliff Manager, Secretary Donnie Free Sponsors Bill Baker, Mayor, City of Piedmont Tim Burgess, Chairman, Cherokee County Commission Mark Powell Mansfield, Mayor, City of Centre For more information on industrial development in Cherokee County visit cherokeecountyida.org
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Long-Term Care Facility
THE CHEROKEE COUNTY HEALTH AND REHABILITATION CENTER
Independent Living · Specialty Care Assisted Living · Long-Term Care The Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center (CCHRC) has served the people of Cherokee County and the surrounding area for over 60 years. During these decades, we have continued to broaden our capabilities and expand our facilities with the continuing goal of meeting the physical, medical and social requirements of every resident in our care. Within the beautiful countryside and nearby Weiss Lake, CCHRC sits on a spacious 20-acre site in the county’s heart. Since its beginning, the center’s mission has been to create an environment by which those in need of special care could easily acquire the finest assistance close to home. One of our most important and impressive assets is our skilled nursing staff. Each team member is well-trained, ready to provide and care for those residents who need long-term care or rehabilitative and restorative care programs—essential in preserving a person’s optimum level of functioning and independence.
Skilled Nursimg Care
Professional health care in a long-term care facility may be the only reasonable choice for some illnesses. CCHRC has long provided for those who require 24-hour nursing 10
attention because of ongoing physical or mental conditions that require constant care and supervision. The Alzheimer’s Care Unit was designed to provide the ideal environment for those affected by the disease. Our mission is to find ways to introduce everyday activities and an abundance of care in a safe and stimulating environment.
Specialty Care Assisted Living Facility
Cherokee Village Specialty Care Assisted Living has also been an option for people who need some daily assistance. Services include meals, help with medications, housekeeping, and on-site security. Social and recreational activities are popular at the Village, which provides accommodations for 36 specialty-care assisted-living rooms. It is especially attractive for seniors who want to remain as independent as possible. At Cherokee Village Specialty Care Assisted Living, the setting is more social, giving seniors the opportunity to enjoy an active and independent lifestyle. Through planned activities in a pleasant environment, seniors can enjoy a more active experience, with social and communal areas for interaction with others. It is the main focus of Cherokee Village and its staff to ensure that each cherokee-chamber.org
IND E PE ND E N T L IV IN G A PA R T M EN T S
Independent Living Entrance
One Room Efficiency Apartment
resident remains as independent as possible while receiving the assistance they need. The Rehab Center offers spacious rooms with a private bath, phone, cable television, and other home comforts to give every patient a comforting and supported experience. With the main objective to have each patient well and back home as soon as possible, the rehab center offers a welldesigned rehabilitation gym. The experts and therapists work diligently, providing patients the pace and patience they need to recover as quickly as possible. They work in various rehabilitation areas, including stroke, accidents, hip or knee replacement, amputations, cardiac and pulmonary disease, balance disorders, Parkinson’s disease, pneumonia, and weight loss, to name some examples of expertise. The staff understands that each individual has his or her own particular needs and circumstances. Generally, CCHRC offers three levels of service for residents. A 185- bed nursing home, including an 17-bed short-term rehab unit The latest addition to the campus is our Independent Living Apartments. These quarters were added in recent years to accommodate retired and independent seniors. The 9-unit apartment wing is adjacent to Cherokee Village Assisted Living and allows seniors to enjoy an unencumbered, safe and comfortable lifestyle. Newly renovated, each efficiency apartment includes a microwave, coffee maker, and small refrigerator. Each unit is designed to be simple and easy to maintain and features a TV, a cozy kitchen nook, bedroom area, and space for some favorite cherokee-chamber.org
furniture pieces. Apartment dwellers can meet neighbors in the community & game room. They find tables for activities and a setting to welcome socializing with friends and family in a well-lighted friendly environment. Security guards make regular rounds on campus, while parking areas provide well-lighted access as residents come and go. Amenities include a laundry room, vending, and snack area. Residents are encouraged to purchase a meal plan option to use Cherokee Village’s dining room services next door. The resident controls heat and air conditioning. Residents may also use the Cherokee County Rural Transportation Program Monday through Friday. Apartment rates and requirements are very reasonable, with one and two-room suites currently available.
The Cherokee County Health Care Authority owns Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation, a non-profit operated by the Cherokee County government since 1955.
Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center 877 Cedar Bluff Road · Centre, AL 35960 256.927.5778 Cherokee Village Specialty Care Facility 199 Dean Buttram Ave. Centre, AL 35960 256.438.8733 Contact: Penny Cochran For more information visit www.cchrc.net 11
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Your Home Away From Home Everyone knows you have to know where you are going to be able to reach your destination. For Tim Bell and George Fox, that has not been a problem. The founders of Chesnut Bay began construction in 2007 on the first houses that would become Chesnut Bay Resort. Today, Tim Bell and George Fox, are proud of the community they have built. Their vision and dedication continue to impact the landscape of Leesburg and Cherokee County. Located along the shoreline of Weiss Lake, Chesnut Bay has grown into a destination where families and friends reconnect 12
and relax. The resort now includes Chesnut Bay Resort, Chesnut Bay RV Resort, and Pirates Bay Water Park. In this celebrated home away from home, you will find numerous amenities that help create memories that last a lifetime. The Chesnut Bay Resort community’s cornerstone is the original resort that consists of 64 homes. Twenty-two houses are lakeside, with the remaining homes with beautiful views of the lake. Most are available for vacation rentals. The two to six-bedroom fully appointed homes are individually owned and vary in size and occupancy levels to fit every need. cherokee-chamber.org
Owners George Fox and Tim Bell
If you are among the half-million Americans that own recreational vehicles, Chesnut Bay RV Resort is the place for you! The resort has 100 RV slips designed for rigs up to 40-feet. Sites are available with 50 or 30 amp electrical service and have full hook-ups with cable and wireless Internet connections. During the stay at either resort, your days can be as full and active as you choose. Soak up the sun by relaxing at one of the three on-site pools. There are two playgrounds for children to enjoy and make new friends. There is also an arcade and jumping pillow. When you take a break, stop in for a treat at the Blue Bell ice cream shop. Visitors can gather to enjoy a pick-up game at one of the basketball or volleyball courts. There are also 2-miles of walking and jogging trails. For an additional charge, you can enjoy putt-putt and the water park. During the summer season, there are special events, including family movie nights at the outdoor amphitheater, street parties, face painting, glitter tattoos, and the famed pirate hay rides, where children and parents battle each other. At the center of the recreation opportunities at Chesnut Bay is Weiss Lake. You can enjoy fishing or the sandy beach area. The resort has private boat ramp access and community docks. In addition to fishing and swimming, you can rent boats, paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, water bikes, and big wheel water trikes. The newest attraction, Pirates Bay Water Park, is open to the public and the resort guests. Fun for the entire family! The water park features tube slides, body slides, two water houses, a pool, and a splash pad. Fun away from the water can include a visit to the putt-putt golf course. For more information about any aspect of Chesnut Bay, call 256-526-7778 or visit chesnutbayresort.com. cherokee-chamber.org
“When we first broke ground for Chesnut Bay, we knew it would be a success. We wanted to create a place where families could come together. It was always about the kids, and it still is. This is what we had envisioned.” Tim Bell and George Fox, Founders of Chesnut Bay 13
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A Passion for Real Estate Born in California, Cathy would spend her formative years moving during her childhood. Her father supported the family by selling door to door for Fuller Brush, which necessitated the family’s occasional relocation to other significant markets. He worked his way up to District Manager of half of the United States. In 1969, the family moved south. Georgia would be where she would finish school, explore career opportunities, and marry Roger Griffeth in 1973. Cathy taught special education under the state merit system for a time, but the family became the priority as the children grew older. As the years went on, Cathy was ready to get back to work and owned and managed a gift shop in the Holiday Inn in Decatur, Georgia. It was a new idea, but a popular one. Atlanta would be hosting the Olympic Games in 1996, and tourism and visitors were expected in excess. Cathy’s gift shop caught the attention of the Atlanta Olympic Committee, and she was asked to work in the organization of the Olympic Game Merchandise Processing Center, which she did. Now, empty nesters, Cathy took a sales position with Rich’s Department Store, incorporated into Macy’s. It was there she discovered she enjoyed the challenge of sales and merchandising and how it aligned with her passion for helping people. Cathy worked hard to earn the recognition as the third top salesperson for the well-known cosmetic brand, Lancôme, finishing only behind counter managers from California and New York. During this time, Roger recalled his love for a little known spot along his route as an engineer for Norfolk Southern and purchased a lake property with a friend on Weiss Lake. He liked it so much, he asked Cathy if she would be willing to move to Cedar Bluff. Her question was, what would she do there? Cathy first opened a merchandising outlet in 2004, and later another in Centre along with a furniture store. Then, in 2007, she obtained her real estate license, and she’s been putting people and property together ever since. “If you enjoy what you are 14
doing and take care of people first, your business will come together—if you believe in what you are doing, your business will grow,” she says. Growing her business also involved opening a second office in Centre under Jill Griffin, as the Broker of this great addition. Cathy is very proud of her and the successful team of agents for LakeWeissAlabama.com Real Estate Services. From the beginning, it has been a busy and profitable decision. With sales of 1 million in her first year, Cathy has substantially increased each year since. She has been recognized as the top producer in sales for ten years straight by the Cherokee Realtors Association. This past year, she totaled 19.5 Million in sales. Cathy was awarded the 2020 Cherokee County Hall of Fame Award. Cathy is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and a recipient of the organization’s Spirit Award. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Etowah-Cherokee Board of Realtors, where she also received the 2011 Spirit award. Giving back to the community is very important to Cathy. She joined the Civitan’s upon her move to Cherokee County and later the Rotary Club of Centre, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors. She is active in The Women’s Club of Weiss Lake (past Vice President), Board of Directors of The Children’s Advocacy Center, the 20th Century Club, and the Board of Directors of the Historical Museum. “For a variety of reasons, most property shoppers are looking to relocate or buy a second home. At LakeWeissAlabama.com Real Estate Services, we get inquiries from surrounding towns and all over the country. Their reasons differ, some simply want a slower pace, and others look for their own little “slice of heaven” on our beautiful lake. If you listen to potential buyers and take time to inform them, you can guide them to excellent choices,” Cathy explains. Cathy went on to share, “When our family chose to live on Weiss Lake, it was the best move we have ever made. Every day I live where other people choose to spend vacation time. Remembering the fun of hot summer days, boating, swimming, hiking, biking, birdwatching, and suddenly the weight of the world rolls off your shoulders. It is invaluable, and when people realize that experience can be theirs, too, it’s our job to help them realize their dream for the future.” Cathy’s passion for her sellers and buyers shines through to anyone to whom she speaks. “Real Estate is not just my job. It is my passion. It is rewarding to meet people who are interested in living in Cherokee County. I love knowing that we have what it takes to provide them the opportunity to build their special memories— whether they live here full time or part-time. What a blessing to help people have those happy memories we carry in our hearts.” Visit LakeWeissAlabama.com to view property listings. cherokee-chamber.org
ON THE TRAIL...
The Alabama Bass Trail Weiss Lake has been known as the “Crappie Capital of the World” almost since the lake was first created and the dam first started to produce hydroelectric power in 1961. The bass fishery is pretty impressive as well. Kay Donaldson, director of the Alabama Bass Trail, a tournament fishing company, said that during the 2020 season, more tournament competitors caught their limit of bass than any other tournament on the Northern Division of the Trail. The Weiss Lake stop on the trail is held in May each year, so as not to compete with the growing number of crappie events held earlier in the year. Since the Leesburg Landing Park was upgraded almost five years ago, Donaldson said the Weiss event has turned the corner in terms of attracting a large crowd to Cherokee County. “It’s one of the best facilities we attend,” Donaldson said. The size allows virtually all of the teams to start from the same location, allowing the organizers to spread out. In 2016, the first phase of the upgrade was completed, creating parking spaces for more than 260 trucks and trailers. The following year work started on a four-space boat launch and additional improvements to the parking lot. A third phase of the project will include a huge pier with slots that 16
can handle some three-dozen boats. The May 16, 2020 tournament was the second tournament back after the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased. The event drew 218 teams (two anglers per team). Due to the travel ban at that time, seven teams that had pre-registered were unable to attend. The Weiss stop was won in 2020 by Mark McCaig, from Oxford, Alabama, and Tim Hurst from Anniston. They weighed in five fish at 22.6 pounds, easily outdistancing the second-place team of Stephen McAvoy and John Butts from Springville, who weighed in five fish at 16.12 pounds. With several tournaments going on that same day, including a kayak tournament, the fishing was a bit challenging. “I can’t say enough about the folks there,” Donaldson said. “People from Leesburg and the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce and all their volunteers who came out were just great. The mammoth Leesburg Landing parking area meant that some of the teams had to park a bit away from the launch area, but the volunteers with golf carts helped ferry anglers from their parking spaces to the launch. Their help was invaluable. The Alabama Bass Trail has included Weiss Lake for several years. After the initial first year, the next year was passed due cherokee-chamber.org
Photos by Chris Brown, Anglerschannel.com
to construction of the new ramp at Leesburg. The trail as since included Weiss for the past two years. Donaldson also praised Weiss for the number of public access launches. “When the tournament fishermen arrive, they don’t all have to see that one primary launch to investigate the best fishing spots for the competition day. As far as an overall experience, I think Weiss Lake delivers as good as anywhere we go. The vision of the city of Leesburg joining with the state of Alabama and Alabama Power to create that mega complex for bass fishing, has truly made a difference that will continue for a lot of years to come.” Jacksonville State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research released impact studies for the Alabama Bass Trail for 2019 revealed the Alabama Bass Tournament at Weiss was $387,828. “For a town the size of Leesburg or a community the size of Cherokee County, that’s a significant impact for a one-day fishing tournament,” Donaldson said. “With more lodging options available, the impact could be major.” Hotels that were available were full for the weekend and for several days prior to the tournament because anglers generally came in a couple of days early to scout the lake. Campgrounds around the lake were also full. cherokee-chamber.org
Cherokee County Probate Judge and Commission Chairman Tim Burgess said Weiss has been home to a lot of fishing tournaments throughout the years, but having the Alabama Bass Trail at Weiss takes everything up a notch. “We’re so thankful that they can be involved in our community,” Burgess said. “It helps our local businesses, sure, but it gives a lot of exposure to Cherokee County. Maybe, as a result, people will find out what a great lake we have here. We want to share it with everybody.” The bass fishery at Weiss has also been noticeably improving, too. Donaldson compared the Weiss tourney this year to the event at Lake Guntersville, which has historically been more widely considered a bass lake. Guntersville hosted the first event of the year in February with 225 teams. Only 51 of those teams weighed in their limit of fish. “That’s not a great number. You’d hope for something along the line of 150 or so,” Donaldson said. “Weiss had 218 teams fish with 145 limits for bass caught. The numbers are there. Weiss is full of bass and shows great promise. Those bass are only going to get even larger year to year.” The Alabama Bass Trail will bring anglers back to Weiss May 15, 2021.
411 TWIN DRIVE-IN THEATRE & GRILL
67 Years of Making Memories Initially opened in 1953 by Emory Johnson, the 411 Twin Drive-in Theatre and Grill continues to be a mainstay for entertainment in Cherokee County. Located at 300 County Road 265, just off Highway 411 between Centre and Leesburg, is still owned and operated by the Johnson family. Featuring new release movies, you can catch a show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the year. They are also open seven nights a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the summer season on weekends, guests can choose from two double features. While some might think heading to the drive-in movie is a nostalgic trip down memory lane, 411 Twin Drive-In has kept up with the times. The films are shown in high-quality digital, ensuring a dynamic look and excellent sound quality. There is no need to worry about what’s for dinner on your movie night. In addition to the traditional movie snacks, the Grill serves everything from burgers and wings to pizza. There is something for everyone in the family.
The Johnson family has been instrumental when it comes to movie watching in Cherokee County. Rex, who currently runs the drive-in, is a third-generation movie exhibitor. The first walk-in theater in Cherokee County, the Cherokee Theatre, was owned and operated by his grandfather, Glover Johnson. His father, Emory, and the elder Johnson built the Emory Theatre, another walk-in theater in Centre. In 1953, Emory created the 411 Drive-in to meet the changing demands for entertainment. As entertainment again changed, the drive-in closed in the mid1980s. Emory, along with his sons Rex and Carl, reopened the venue in 2001. Although the past generations are gone, their dreams and legacy live on today.
For more information about 411 Twin Drive-in, visit 411drivein.com. 18
YOU can be a part of Alabama’s most proﬁtable agricultural industry after earning your Poultry Science degree!
Gadsden State Cherokee has partnered with Auburn University to deliver an innovative program that leads to a bachelor’s degree in Poultry Science. Through the 2+2 program, students complete their freshman and sophomore years at Gadsden State Cherokee and their junior and senior years at Auburn.
TODAY’S POULTRY SCIENCE INDUSTRY IS MORE THAN CHICKENS AND EGGS! There are numerous job opportunities in
GENETICS, PHARMACEUTICALS, NUTRITION, PRODUCTION, PROCESSING, ENGINEERING, BIOCHEMISTRY and AGRIBUSINESS. In fact, most jobs in the Poultry Science industry are projected to grow by 6% before 2029.*
Animal Biochemist / $94,490 Pharmaceutical Researcher / $88,790 Agricultural Engineer / $80,720 Poultry Producer / $71,160 Food Safety Specialist / $70,480 Agricultural and Food Scientist / $65,160 Nutritionist / $61,270
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (2019 median pay)
STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS Detail-oriented Open-minded Persistent
Critical thinker Strong in Math & Science Problem Solver
Students who enroll in the Gadsden State 2+2 Poultry Science Program are eligible for a scholarship in the amount of 13 credit hours during the fall semester. Students must register for the Poultry Production course (AGP13) and have a 2.5 GPA or better to be consideredfor the scholarship.
To learn more, visit
gadsdenstate.edu or call 256-927-1800
2 years at GADSDEN STATE + 2 years at AUBURN = Bachelor’s Degree in
FINDING EASY STREET When some creative, talented, and music-loving friends got together, it was an explosion of enthusiasm, instincts, and solutions. From that detonation, the ideas flowed like lava, paving the way to a place called Easy Street. The group comprises three members, Shane Givens, Donald Sullivan, and Josh Langley. They are the originators of Easy Street Centre, LLC. Along with Katy Givens and Debbie Sullivan, each with their own responsibilities to help Easy Street thrive. The idea of Easy Street began to buzz a few years ago when discussion concerning county growth included having the need for more fun and entertaining things to do in the area. From that conversation came a new concept for entertainment that is best described as a performance hall. The design for the structure was soon drafted, and finetuning patron comforts actualized. Equal partners, all three owners stay busy with a range of projects and responsibilities, trying to second guess and stay a step ahead of any hitches. Shane has had a 30year experience as a performing musician, appearing with his current band for about eight years. Shane is also a practicing attorney. He assists not only with legalities but shares structural insight. 20
Although Donald oversees internet and security, he also subs with audiovisual. Easy Street was built “stage out,” accommodating a quality sound system and staging for every customer to see and hear effortlessly. A 40-inch disco ball enhances the dance floor. The in-house light show and full concert sound system is a perfect backdrop for the house band, karaoke night (as well as live-band Karaoke night), Ladies night (featuring Debbie’s own band), or dinner theatre. Start-up bands and singers also appreciate a chance to debut at Easy Street and receive the night’s recording of their performance to over 250 occupants. The group has programmed something for everyone, including an in-person, real crime pod-cast—a crime and mystery show complete with commentator and guests, simulcast on Facebook, live. Katy and Debbie oversee the huge task of food service and menu items, hiring, and managing employees. Josh Langley, the builder, handles all construction, maintaining the 6,000 square foot facility and the other additions that are jumping off the drawing board. If you find great food, lots of fun, and across the board entertainment appealing, you may have found your niche at Easy Street. Centre, Alabama. cherokee-chamber.org
Camping & Glamping IN CHEROKEE COUNTY
Pictured are some of the RVs parked at Leesburg Landing.
By tradition, many people think of camping as a way to get away from it all, including the emails, the cell phones, television and video games. But today’s campers have the option of bringing those things right along with them if they so desire. And as far as camping spots, Cherokee County offers choices in the mountains, lakes and in between.
Leesburg Landing, located at 100 Riverside St., Leesburg, has great camping areas with a lake view and nature walking trails throughout. The RV Park includes full power, water and sewer hook-ups. According to reports, one can enjoy nature while walking through a two-mile nature trail or walking along a one mile paved walking track beginning at the red light and ending at the docks. Cherokee Rock Village, Terrapin Creek, and Chesnut Bay Resort offer unique camping opportunities as well. Bubba Crabtree, a local Boy Scout troop leader, said he has learned what he knows about camping in his work with the scouts. One of their favorite locations is Cherokee Rock Village. Crabtree shared one of their most memorable moments, “Last summer we were camping over on the lake off County Road 44,” said Crabtree, “They caught a 62- pound catfish. It took four of them to get it up on the dock that was pretty interesting to watch.” (Continued on page 24)
Making subtle changes in your diet can make a difference in how you look and how you feel! Try these tips to help you improve your nutrition. • Get your salad dressing on the side. • Read nutrition labels before you buy. • Swap a favorite sweet fruit for dessert. • Drink a glass of water before each meal. • Check the calorie count of your favorite fast food.
400 Northwood Dr. Centre, AL 35960 floyd.org
(Continued from page 22)
In addition to his time with the Boy Scouts, Crabtree and his family go on monthly campouts, mostly at Cherokee Rock Village. “I have seen people from Washington, Florida, all over the U.S.,” said Crabtree. “They are from everywhere. They tell me how beautiful it is here and that there are a lot of things to do in this area. Most everybody I have ran across in our county and visitors are super nice, very cordial to deal with.”
Pictured is one of the more modern RV hookups at Chesnut Bay Resort.
Crabtree offered some advice for a successful camping trip. “Look at the weather, know the area you are going to and make sure you bring extra clothes,” said Crabtree. “Those are the three key things I think could make or break a camping trip. And try to go somewhere with a bathhouse for your starter camper. Getting used to not having a shower house is a process.” Shannon Mackey, manager, Cherokee Rock Village Park, said their peak season is spring and fall and was at 90 percent capacity this past Labor Day Weekend. Mackey said the Cherokee Rock Village has visitors from around the world.
Leader Bubba Crabtree and local Boy Scouts enjoy a weekend of camping at Cherokee Rock Village.
“There were a couple of visitors from Switzerland who spent several days in our park and mentioned quite often how impressed they were with the natural beauty of our area,” said Mackey. “Also, since all of our camping is primitive, we can’t reserve sites. A phrase I often hear in regard to camping at our park is ‘if your favorite spot is taken, there is one right next to it just as good.” Mackey said Cherokee Rock Village has an exciting future ahead with the addition of picnic tables, grills and more. George Fox with Chesnut Bay Resort attests to how “camping” has evolved into “glamping” over the years. “It has gone from just the basics on the interiors of campers to 45 foot fifth wheel with two full bathrooms, king beds, granite counter tops, heated marble floors,” said Fox. “So yes, some folks are definitely glamping.”
Clint and Stephanie Vernon of Glencoe enjoy a camping weekend at Cherokee Rock Village.
Fox said they average around 100 RVs per weekend at Chesnut Bay Resort and noted what he feels is unique about this area. “Well we are close to Little River Canyon, Noccalula Falls, Pirates Bay Water Park, and Terrapin Creek for kayaking but the number one draw is still Weiss Lake,” said Fox. Fox said visitors from around the world tell him “Your area has everything, mountains, lake, things to do for every age group in the area and nature at its best! Ourselves, the chamber and lots of others in the county are committed to seeing Cherokee County at the forefront of peoples’ minds when they consider a day trip or a family vacation!”
Chesnut Bay Resort is now a popular destination for RV camping and “glamping.”
Book your stay today!
256-927-3618 Country Inn 21-Room Inn, Gathering Place for Events and Receptions
Marina Boat Trailer Parking, Covered Floating Boat Slips 100% Gasoline on the Water Boat Detail and Repair
Camp Ground & RV Park Live Bait and Tackle, Freezer for Your Catch Ice, Soft Drinks and Snacks
Stay for a night, the weekend, or the entire week the peaceful surroundings and family-friendly atmosphere will make you want to return to Bay Springs time and time again!
Bay Springs Country Inn and Marina 130 County Road 112 Centre, Al 35960
ADVENTURE AWAITS INDIAN MOUNTAIN ATV PARK
If you are an adventure seeker, you will want to visit Indian Mountain ATV Park. The park is one of the largest off-road parks in North East Alabama, encompassing over 4,700 acres. (Continued on page 28)
(Continued from page 26)
Currently, the Indian Mountain has over 130 miles of two-way trails. The trails are cleared for safety while maintaining the natural characteristics of the land. On the journey, riders will encounter natural water hazards, rock outcroppings, and near-vertical climbs. Running through the Appalachian Mountain range, you will find the variations terrain that will fit with your venturous spirit. Owned and operated by Kirk and LaBreeska Ponder, they have taken the land they love and combined it with an activity they have enjoyed for many years. One of the things they appreciate most is how the park allows friends and family to spend time together. LaBreeska says, “A visit to the park allows people to get away from the encumbrances of day to day life and reconnect with each other and nature.” The response to the park has been staggering. Since opening in February 2020, they have hosted nearly 30,000 visitors, with riders coming as far away as India and Uruguay. The location has been recognized as one of the favorite places for rider groups and clubs, so there are many returning guests leading the way on a typical day. In addition to Off-Highway Vehicle trail riding, Indian Mountain Park offers camping, fishing, and hiking. For more information about, visit indianmtnatvpark.com and follow them on Facebook. 28
Photo by Evan Lanier
Determination That Paid Off THE ALABAMA SCENIC RIVER TRAIL
It all started some 15 years ago with a man who refused to take no for an answer. And today, the Alabama Scenic River Trail, which runs through Cherokee County, has grown from 650 miles to more than 6,000.
Jay Grantland, executive director of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, recalled that Fred Couch of Anniston had a vision for the trail and the initiative to make it happen. The idea was to develop the Coosa River, where it enters the Alabama River and then through the Delta to Mobile Bay. Through his connections, Couch was able to get the ball rolling to establish the first 650 miles. After a year or more, the Alabama Scenic River Trail had become a reality. Shortly after that, working with the state department, the trail was established as a national river trail for the United States. An avid paddler, Grantland once owned a business, Alabama Eco Adventures, which helped travelers get their kayaking and camping gear to their adventures around the state. This experience eventually led to his applying for the job as executive director. “It is quite a job,” said Grantland. “It is a challenge to keep up with 6,000 plus miles of (Continued on page 32)
(Continued from page 30)
waterways that make up the Alabama Scenic River Trail to keep everything open and safe. It was just a natural fit for me. I have enjoyed it.” The diversity of the area keeps Scenic River Trail paddlers from being bored. “They love the mountains, trees, the bluffs, different things you see along the way,” said Grantland. “They see black bears, alligators, bald eagles, as they go through. They enjoy the different scenery so much they are returning and bringing their families because it is so beautiful. They want to come back and take the time to enjoy the different things we have to offer in the state along the Alabama Scenic River Trail.” Remarkably, Alabama has more navigable waterways than any other state in the nation except for Alaska. “We have such a large river basin,” said Grantland. “We have the Appalachian Mountain foothills, a lot of really great waterways in the Black Belt area, the Delta and Mobile. People come from all over the world to Little River Canyon, the Black Warrior, Locust Fork. On the trail, there is a great variation in the types of water. There is everything from black water to extreme white water. White water paddlers will find Class Four and Class Five destinations. We have something for everybody that likes to paddle.” The Alabama Scenic River Trail promotes the state’s assets worldwide. “Canadians overwhelmingly knew where Cracker Barrels, other restaurants were, things like that,” 32
said Grantland. “They didn’t know much about what was outside of the big exits.” The organization’s goal is to change that and get visitors back to nature and explore the area. “Of course, it is right here in our backyard, 6,000 plus miles of waterways,” said Grantland. “You can pick any section of the state. There are campsites. All of that stuff is easy to do. There are now over 60 outfitters across the state. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. It is a great way to take a staycation.” cherokee-chamber.org
EXPERIENCE LIFE with Natural Gas
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For more than 65 years, DC Gas has been committed to providing the residents and businesses of DeKalb and Cherokee Counties with clean, safe and reliable natural gas.
Centre (256) 927-5925
Fort Payne (256) 845-3731
PADDLE SPORTS OASIS TERRAPIN CREEK
No one in southern Cherokee County will confuse the Warren and Nelson families’ rivalry for a Hatfield vs. McCoy scenario. Located off Alabama Highway 9, Terrapin Outdoor Center and Redneck Yacht Club are owned by Warren and Nelson, respectively. “We’re competitors, but we’re also great friends,” Nelson said. They are more than happy to draw people from all over Alabama. The entire southeast, for that matter, to paddle the pristine waters of Terrapin Creek.
on the television program Absolutely Alabama put Terrapin Creek on the map for good. “It just seems like Terrapin Creek caught on fire,” Hank said. “It’s one of the prettiest creeks. If we don’t get any rain, it’s crystal clear.”
Terrapin Outdoor Center was started in 1995 by Warren and his father, who was selling canoes back in 1969, long before canoeing and kayaking were cool. The family had visited the creek throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Eventually, they moved here and started the business.
Tucked away in the suburbs of Rock Run and Spring Garden, a stretch of Terrapin Creek has become a mecca for paddle sport enthusiasts. It wasn’t too many years ago that we would have said “hidden away between Piedmont and Centre,” but Terrapin Creek is no longer hidden. It has become a premier destination for paddling aficionados and beginners alike. Mike Warren at Terrapin Outdoor Center estimates that in 2020 upwards of 20,000 paddlers made a run on the crystal clear, spring-fed creek.
Hank Nelson and his wife Teresa opened the Redneck Yacht Club as a summer gig when they saw interest in paddle sports takeoff. Consistent promotional work coupled with a feature
The stream has its headwaters in the Talladega National Forest. It empties into the Coosa River with as many as two dozen or more watersheds that contribute to the flow cherokee-chamber.org
of Terrapin Creek. That keeps the creek flowing throughout the summer and open to paddlers, whereas some other streams may be nearly dried up in the late summer and fall. Float trips on the creek can be divided into two sections. They both begin at the Frank Stewart Bridge, and one finishes up near the Terrapin Outdoor Center and Redneck Yacht Club. The other float continues down to the Ellisville Bridge. The creek’s upper section is usually a little more popular in the early spring when there is a bit more water. The lower run from the Outdoor Center and Yacht Club is big during the summer months. It is an excellent lazy float that can be enjoyed by all ages. Halfway down the creek, there is a 20-foot deep swimming hole where visitors like to park their vessels and swim for a while. On a busy day, there may be as many as 300 boats parked there. Further down, around the Ellisville Bridge, Nelson and some friends cut a chute through an old dam. This part of the creek is very popular since Terrapin doesn’t really have any white water. “Kayaking, in general, has taken off in the last five years,” Hank said. “Kayaks easily outsell canoes nowadays at the Outdoor Center. Warren agreed the improvements made in the engineering and manufacturing of “sit-on-top” kayaks have helped fuel the sport’s growth. People like that they’re easier to get in and out of since you don’t have to put your feet and body down into the kayak. Today’s kayaks are self-baling, which makes it tough to swamp.” Kayak fishing has also become a prominent sport. Warren says that fishing kayaks may be the most popular item in his store right now. “Around here, people are fishing for spotted bass and redeye bass. Or, you can swim, picnic, and just have a clean, wholesome day on Terrapin Creek.” In addition to renting canoes and kayaks, Nelson’s Redneck Yacht Club offers three campgrounds at each of the primary take-outs on the creek and offers paddlers a restaurant, near the Hippie Hole, about halfway down the float. They also have cabin rentals, RV hook-ups, and a primitive campsite. cherokee-chamber.org
Photos by Joe Watts of Alabama Birding Trails
Getting Back to Nature THE LOVE OF BIRD WATCHING
According to a 2016 report by the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and WildlifeAssociated Recreation, more than 45 million people watch birds both at their homes and away from home. In Alabama, the opportunity for bird watching is remarkable.
Alabama Birding Trails encompasses 280 sites throughout the state. Dedicated to providing a roadmap to the public lands to observe birds is a fantastic resource as you begin your adventure. Part of the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail, Cherokee County, has five recognized locations. There is a wide diversity of habitats from boulders and forested mountains, to our fertile farmlands, to our rivers and Weiss Lake. The sites are easily accessible and guarantee to make a bird-watching enthusiast of the most casual beginner. The species present varies by location and season. Several species stop in the area during migration and do not reside in the area. (Continued on page 38)
Discover the reason for living all seasons… beyond the lake lies world class rapids, impressive waterfalls, alluring caves, cool mountain streams, breathtaking vistas and the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi. Expect, explore, experience the lifestyle you’ve always imagined but more affordable than ever believed! It’s a pleasure to represent select homes and outstanding PROPERTIES throughout Cherokee County.
Mountain LAKE Town & Country
Brenda Broome Terry Tucker REALTOR®
Browse our area information or search all local Real Estate listings at
3545 Cedar Bluff Road in Centre, AL 35960
. 256 927-3707 office
(Continued from page 36)
Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport, 8850 Highway 9, Centre The airport provides an excellent opportunity to view open short-grass fields, scrubby fencerows, and a few wet grass habitats. The site is open and level, providing a perfect sightline. It is also possible to observe from your car. The species you might see include several varieties of sparrows and swallows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Short-eared Owls, Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, and American Kestrels. In the seasonal wetlands, you might spot plovers and sandpipers on their migration. Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, and Summer
Cherokee Rock Village, 2000 County Road 70, Leesburg The boulder-fields provide spectacular vistas that are perfect to view soaring birds of prey. At CRV, you can also enjoy the mixed pine-oak-hickory woods, which offer an entirely different group of species. One unique of the finds in the area is the Eastern Phoebes, which next in the rock clefts. Many of the raptors you see nest in the area, so they could possibly be seen year-round. Other species include Scarlet Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Pileated Woodpeckers. Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, and Winter
Little River Canyon Center, 4322 Little River Canyon Rim Pkwy, Fort Payne The Center is recognized as the Gateway to the Appalachian Highland Birding Trail and adjoins the Little River National Preserve. It is the ideal resource to discover bird activity in the Preserve. Visitors can hike several small trails at the Canyon Center in addition to the full Preserve. Any time of year, you might see Red-tailed Hawks, Black and Turkey Vultures. The area is frequented by migratory birds of prey, including Broad-winged Hawks. On the lower trails, you will find many species of typical suburban birds. Best Seasons: Fall and Spring
Little River Canyon Mouth Park, County Road 275, Cedar Bluff The park is located at the lowest point of Little River Canyon Preserve that is accessible by cars. The area features a classic river and forested habitat. Visitors may observe various species both by the riverside and nearby trees. They include Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parulas, Louisiana Waterthrushes, Belted Kingfishers, Winter Wrens, White-eyed Vireos, Common Yellowthroats, Indigo Buntings, and even some Wood Thrushes, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Hooded and Prairie Warblers. Best Seasons: Fall and Spring
Weiss Lake Overlook, Highway 68, Cedar Bluff This location offers views from an observation deck and has a boat launch for further exploration of the lake. Here you can view a magnitude of species including gull, wading birds, waterfowl, and birds of prey. They include but are not limited to gulls including Ring-billed, Bonaparte’s, and Herring. Bay ducks such as Buffleheads, Canvasbacks, Common Goldeneyes, Redheads. You might see marsh ducks, such as American Black Ducks, American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and Gadwalls. Easily identified, Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are permanent residents, while other herons and egrets are migratory. Large Raptors, Bald Eagles and Osprey can be spotted in the skies and hunting in the lake. Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, and Winter
For more information about birdwatching in Cherokee County, visit alabamabirdingtrails.com 38
IN CHEROKEE COUNTY Angel Farm Venue & Rocky Hollow Pumpkin Patch 336 Rocky Hollow Road Cave Spring, GA 30124 (256) 475-3030 Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Kaye and Kent Dyer have transformed land that has been in the family for four generations into the perfect venue for celebrations and enjoying nature. The property encompasses 92-acres and features a creek with a covered bridge, a country store with covered porches, cornfields, fields of flowers, and beautiful pine and hardwood forests. The jewel of the venue is a large multipurpose pavilion barn. The barn is a 26-foot vaulted timber structure with wagon wheel chandeliers created by a local blacksmith. The venue is available for weddings, corporate events, reunions, proms, and more! In the fall, you will want to visit the Pumpkin Patch! It features pumpkin picking, an animal barn, a corn maze, and hayrides, and many other attractions to make memories with your family and friends! For more information, visit angelfarmvenue.com or rockyhollowpumpkinpatch.com.
Chattokee Lodge, LLC 1877 Alabama Highway 35 Gaylesville, AL 35973 (706) 512-0436
Cherokee Rock Village 2000 County Road 70 Sand Rock, AL 35983 (256) 523-3799
Cornwall Furnace 1200 County Road 251 Cedar Bluff, AL 35959 (256) 927-7275 (Continued on page 42)
Angel Farm Venue & Rocky Hollow Pumpkin Patch cherokee-chamber.org
(Continued from page 40)
Dry Creek Chapel, LLC 74 Blue Pond Road · Leesburg, AL 35983 (256) 557-0648 The perfect site to host the wedding of your dreams. The venue is a beautiful mix of fields and wooded timber on the 15acre property. There is an open-air chapel that accommodates 200-250 guests. The chapel is built from hand-sawed lumber harvested from the site providing a welcoming rustic feel. There is a beautiful reception barn that is a perfect blend of farmhouse and industrial designs. The venue also features a bridal suite and groom’s loft. There are other locations throughout the property to provide your ideal wedding backdrop for your service. For more information, visit drycreekchapel.com.
Little River Canyon Center 4322 Little River Trail NE · Fort Payne, AL 35967 (256) 845-7213
Little River Lodge & Cherokee Cabins
1975 County Road 275 · Fort Payne, AL 35967 (205) 338-1954
The Gathering Place @ Bay Springs Country Inn
Dry Creek Chapel
130 County Road 112 · Centre, AL 35960 (256) 927-3618
The Magnolia House on Weiss Lake 1120 County Road 165 · Cedar Bluff, AL 35959 (770) 778-1547 A beautiful vacation home and wedding venue. The original house, circa. 1870, has been completely remodeled and is fully furnished. The complex features several locations available for the ceremony, most with stunning lake views. Your guests can dance the night away at either the indoor or outdoor reception areas. This facility is an ideal location to celebrate anniversaries, corporate functions, proms, family, and class reunions. As of late 2020, renovations and construction continue the property to add cabins and camping. For more information, follow them on Facebook.
The Secret Bed & Breakfast 2356 Ala. Highway 68 West · Leesburg, AL 35983 (256) 523-3825
The Magnolia House On Lake Weiss
For More Information on Cherokee County Event Venues, Visit our website www.cherokee-chamber.org or call 256-927-8455 42
The Back Story education had been in network engineering, primarily he was self-taught, revealing a natural talent for software and Internet problem-solving. The pair moved to Cherokee County in 2011, and in 2014, they were happily beginning to build their new home on Weiss when they discovered they had serious Internet connectivity problems. It was practically non-existent. Donald and Debbie were faced with a career choice: sell their new property or build their own Internet service. They chose the latter. Donald had actually toyed with the idea of building wireless Internet in the past, so the concept was not wholly foreign. They erected one pole in their front yard—a sight, Debbie says, that was not esthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, it was all they could do at the time, but it worked, delivering a startup of three megabits. As news of their project circulated to a few close neighbors, people asked if they too could join on, and the Sullivans were happy to oblige, but it was minimal. With only enough bandwidth for those few, the plans to build an upgrade began, and the idea for Weiss Internet was born. They wanted to create a network to reach rural areas that had previously been neglected. Their challenge was in knowing the level of interest and finding a way to deliver internet to those customers. Equally excited and nervous, they began to work.
When Donald and Debbie Sullivan moved to Cherokee County, they had no idea where that would lead them. Both grew up in Rockmart, Georgia, and were high school sweethearts. They were married in 1999 and had always wanted to move to Weiss Lake, where Donald spent much of his childhood. Debbie had appreciated her job opportunities, working for a call center for several years and in the medical field, where she obtained her degree. Donald had worked as a transmission specialist but switched gears in 2008, working from home writing code for software programs. His extended 44
As word of a possible new Internet service circulated, all who had been suffering under the same strains began to call and request service. That was six years ago. Their customer base that began with just a few homes is today now approaching 2,000 and growing. They began with a single pole. Today, a large hybrid network of towers, poles, and fiber optic cable allow customers to access data anywhere in the world they choose, effectively and efficiently. Weiss Internet offers a 24/7 call center specifically and expertly designed for wireless Internet. Six technicians and office personnel handle customer needs and inquiries with smooth and easy service. Along with a thriving company, the Sullivans are busy with other business endeavors, friends, and family–very happy they took the big step to move to Cherokee County. cherokee-chamber.org
EATING ON LAKE WEISS RESTAURANTS & FOOD
CEDAR BLUFF The Burger Shack 4085 AL Hwy 9 Cedar Bluff, AL 35959 256-779-7244 The Big Chill (seasonal) 4900 Hwy 68 Cedar Bluff, AL 35959 256-453-0260
CENTRE Bar B Que Place & More 800 Alexis Road Centre, AL 35960 256-927-3793 Centre Fuel City & BBQ 125 East Chesnut Bypass Centre, AL 35960 256-927-3006 Dammed Good Coffee Company 181 West Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256-266-1515 Dari King 920 West Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256-266-1160 Easy Street Restaurant Bar & Performance Hall 1605 West Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256-494-8882 F.C. Weiss Pub & Eatery 181 W. Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256-266-1515 Huddle House 1580 West Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256-927-3992 46
Ingles Deli 1550 W. Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256-927-3992
Sherri’s Bakery 7 Sunflower Court Centre, AL 35960 256-927-2183
Coosa Corner 5770 Weiss Lake Blvd. Leesburg, AL 35983 256-526-7800
Jack’s of Centre 1205 Chesnut Bypass Centre, AL 35960
The Fishin’ Hole 500 Chesnut Bypass Centre, AL 35960 256-706-2036
Decks & Docks 165 Chambers Street Leesburg, AL 35983 256-526-3325
Taco Bell 1545 Chesnut Bypass Centre, AL 35960 Tacobell.com
LaMarina Mexican Restaurant 105 Holman Street Leesburg, AL 35983 256-526-7168
Jake’s on the Lake (seasonal) 4293 County Road 63 Centre, AL 35960 Kentucky Fried Chicken 1925 West Main Street Centre, AL 35960 KFC.com Little Caesar’s Pizza 1494 Chesnut Bypass Centre, AL 35960 256-927-8088 McDonald’s of Centre 650 Cedar Bluff Road Centre, AL 35960 256-927-4200 Pat’s Perfections & Catering 1820 East Bypass Centre, AL 35960 256-927-4060 Rooster’s Deli 4645 County Road 22 Centre, AL 35960 256- 630-7921
Taco Mix 758 Hwy 9 Cherokee Plaza Centre, AL 35960 Tony’s Steak Barn 804 Alexis Road Centre, AL 35960 256-927-2844 Walmart Deli 1950 West Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256-927-9900
LEESBURG Artic Snow 170 Industrial Blvd. Leesburg, AL 35983 256-526-7669
Nate’s Pizzeria 282 Industrial Blvd Leesburg, AL 35983 256-630-9924
SAND ROCK Mountain Parkway Grill 85 Overlook Street Centre, AL 35960 256-523-5555
DOGTOWN Woody’s Family Grill 105 County Road 89 Fort Payne, AL 35967 256-364-2221
Royal Waffle King 101 Piedmont Road Centre, AL 35960 256-927-6555 Sageberry Catering 1235 County Road 162 Centre, AL 35960 256-475-3398
OUTDOOR ATTRACTIONS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Alabama Scenic River Trail Located in northeast Alabama, Cherokee County has unique natural features and impressive attractions that provide numerous opportunities for adventure. Whether you are looking for a day out on the water, a walk or hike to bask in the beauty of nature, or a special place to get away, Cherokee County is the perfect place to make memories.
Remarkably, there is a 631-mile journey over water that will take you from the mountains of northeast Alabama to the waves of the Gulf of Mexico that begins right in the heart of Cherokee County, Weiss Lake. Recognized by the National Park Service as the longest river trail in a single state, the ASRT can be enjoyed by both paddling and powerboats. The trail offers nearly 5000 miles to explore through over 43 accessible waterways. You will find campsites and amenities along the journey. From beginning to end, the journey takes about 48 days, but the trail is designed to allow different stages to be enjoyed as day paddles or sections. For more information, visit alabamascenicrivertrail.com.
Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail
There are five Cherokee County locations recognized on the Alabama Birding Trail that can be enjoyed by both the casual observer as well as the more devoted birder. The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport, Cherokee Rock Village, Little River Canyon Center, Canyon Mouth Park, and Weiss Lake Overlook. Weiss Lake is home to numerous species of waterfowl, gulls, and eagles. The number and variety of birds at each location will change according to season and weather conditions. For more information, visit alabamabirdingtrails.com.
Cherokee County Country Club
Located in Centre, Cherokee County Country Club, is a semi-private golf course and practice facility. The 18-hole course measures over 6,000 yards from the back tees and offers a 71-par layout with a rating of 68.4. The course is designed to be enjoyed by golfers of all levels. Highlighting the natural beauty of Cherokee County, at the picturesque 17th hole, you will find a splendid panoramic view at the summit of the course. Cherokee County Country Club is easily accessed from surrounding areas, including Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. For more information, visit ccccgolf.com.
Cherokee Rock Village
Often referred to as Little Rock City or simply, Sand Rock, Cherokee Rock Village is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. The park encompasses 200-acres of sandstone boulders reaching as high as 200-feet. They feature crags, cliffs, and 48
tall rock formations for climbing. For those who like to stay closer to the ground, you can enjoy the 14-miles of hiking, equestrian, and mountain biking trails, as well as bird watching and geocaching. The park offers spectacular views of Weiss Lake and the surrounding valley. Amenities include primitive camping, pavilion, picnic area, playground, and heated bathhouse. For more information, visit ccparkboard. com/parks/cherokee-rock-village.
Cornwall Furnace Memorial Park
Located near Cedar Bluff, this park honors those who fought in the Civil War. The cold blast furnace was built in 1862 and was the first in the county to be powered by water. The furnace supplied iron ore for the Noble Foundry in nearby Rome, Georgia. The furnace stack and canal still survive at the 5-acre park. The site has been registered on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. Currently, the park features a fireplace, pavilion, picnic tables on the shore of Weiss Lake. You will also find an illustrated history display. For more information, visit ccparkboard.com.
411 Twin Drive-in Theatre & Grill
Located at 300 County Road 265 (Old Hwy 411) between Centre and Leesburg. It is home of great food and great movies. The theater is open year-round, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and open 7 nights a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day, playing all new release movies with 2 double features to choose from every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Great food and great prices, it’s fun for the whole family!
Indian Mountain ATV Park
Located near Spring Garden, Indian Mountain ATV Park is the largest off-road park in northeast Alabama. Covering over 4,700 acres in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains the natural environment features over 150 miles of trails. The trails are of various elevations and difficulty with some featuring natural water hazards. The family owned park is a wonderful place to kick back and relax. In addition to OHV trail riding Indian Mountain also offers camping, fishing, and hiking. For more information, visit indianmtnatvpark.com.
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Leesburg Landing & RV Park
Located on Weiss Lake, Leesburg Landing is a popular spot that features a public four-lane concrete boat launch with two 50-foot access piers. There is ample paved parking that accommodates up to 262 truck and trailer rigs. Due to its size and amenities, Leesburg Landing is the site of many local and regional fishing tournaments. The park also offers both primitive and RV camping. You can find the bath house located near the primitive campsites. There is a large pavilion which is used for large gatherings and events. The RV slips include full-service hookups. During your visit, you can enjoy walks along the two-mile nature trail or the one-mile paved walking track. For more information, visit leesburgal.com.
Little River Canyon National Preserve
Located in the Southern Appalachian Mountains atop of Lookout Mountain, you will find diverse terrain and beauty. The Preserve consists of 15,288-acres featuring forested uplands with waterfalls, canyon rims and bluffs, and sandstone cliffs that are utilized for a variety of recreational activities. Little River Waterfalls is located on Hwy 35 with boardwalk access to overlooks that are handicapped accessible. Picnic areas and trails can be enjoyed. For access in Cherokee County, Canyon Mouth Park is on AL Hwy 273, between Leesburg and Blanche. This day recreational area offers easy water access as well as an easy one-mile hiking trail along the river. There are grills and picnic areas to enjoy in the natural setting. Kids can enjoy the playground which is also handicapped accessible. For additional information, visit nationalparks.org/exploreparks/little-river-canyon-national-preserve.
Pirates Bay Water Park at Chesnut Bay Resort and RV Resort
Fun for the entire family can be found at Pirates Bay in Leesburg. The park features swimming pools, tube slides, body slides, a water house, and a splash pad. The entire park offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. There is a separate water area for younger visitors to enjoy. With the price of admission, you also can try your luck on the 9-hole putt-putt golf course built in the natural woods setting, enjoy the large playground for kids, and play games in the arcade room. For more information, visit piratesbaywaterpark.com.
If you are ready for a day of kayaking or canoeing, head to Terrapin Creek near Spring Garden. There you will find a 14-miles of floatable water. The point-to-point trail is rated as a Class I-II recreational stream offering floating, fishing, and swimming. Flowing from the Talladega National Forest, it is an excellent float fishing stream. The broad expanse of the river also offers ideal locations for fly fishing. Redneck Yacht Club and Terrapin Outdoor Center offer services and rentals for this run of Terrapin Creek. For more information, visit redneckyachtclubcanoeandkayakrental. com or canoeshop.net.
The lake had its origins in the Alabama Power project to develop more of the Coosa River with the construction of Weiss Dam in the late 1950s and 1960s. As the lake is now, it currently covers 30,200 acres with a length of 52 miles and 447 miles of shoreline. The underwater terrain of the lake features shallow flats, large coves, under-water dropoffs, and deep channels. A fisherman’s paradise, Weiss is known as the Crappie Capital of the World and numerous species, including catfish, bream, and bass. Alabama Power and its state and local partners operate and maintain dozens of boat ramps and bank fishing access sites along the shoreline. The company also supports thousands of acres of natural and undeveloped land along the lakes for use by hikers, birdwatchers, and primitive campers. For more information, visit apcshorelines.com/our-lakes/weiss.
Yellow Creek Falls
A favorite destination for boaters and kayakers, Yellow Creek Falls, reach 100-feet in height and tumble to a blue hole at its base that is a favorite for swimmers. From the water, this scenic location is marked by giant stone trestles that once were part of the Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia Rail Line. The falls are located on Highway 273 near Leesburg and may be accessed by land and water. Yellow Creek Falls Fish Camp is located nearby for canoe and kayak rentals. For more information, find them on Facebook at Yellow Creek Falls Fish Camp.
Lee Pitts grew up in the Fort Payne area but has spent much of his life behind the wheel of a bass boat on Weiss Lake. Making a living by fishing and guiding visitors on the lake is hard for Lee to call work. It’s more like a dream come true.
GONE FISHIN’ WITH LEE PITTS
Lee has been leading fellow anglers around the lake off and on for about 25 years. Even with full-time jobs, he always managed to find time to take folks out on the water. Previously, he has been employed at a steel plant in Ft. Payne, Alabama, and owned a convenience store in Gaylesville. He went fulltime into the fishing and outdoor guide business about 15 years ago. He says it’s just been his passion all of his life. Lee figures he’s out on the water at least 225 days out of the year, much of that during 50 to 60 days straight. The crappie season kicks off in mid-January and runs through mid-May, and the fall season starts in mid-September, running until around Thanksgiving. “When the daylight hours start getting shorter, the water cools down, and fish start biting. Then after an excellent October and November, Lee takes time off for deer hunting. Weiss draws fishers nation-wide. Lee estimates as much as 80% of his clients come from the lakes in the region of northern Tennessee into Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Some fishing enthusiasts hail from Canada, but he gives credit for the visit to his buddies on the NASCAR circuit at Talladega, Alabama.
search of food. He also shares his expertise by volunteering with the Cherokee County 4-H program, helping youth learn more about fishing and the outdoors. He also attends writers’ camps that take place at different locations throughout the country. Such events allow him to meet and talk with fishing journalists, hearing their lectures and stories. Many of the writers’ camps are arranged through the Alabama Mountain Lakes division of the Alabama Tourism Department. For Lee Pitts, enjoying life is all about being outside and helping people discover and appreciate the natural beauty and assets that surround, and is Weiss Lake. For more information, visit pittsoutdoors.com or follow Lee on Facebook.
He often offers fitting advice to his customers, depending on the time of year he guides them on Weiss. In the early spring, he recommends “float and fly,” a technique that targets schooling fish starting on their migratory pattern toward the main creeks and tributaries to spawn, which hits mid-March and April. He also does a fair bit of long-line trolling, which is a great way to attract fish chasing bait. He may have eight to ten rods out on the boat, letting the boat do all the fishing passengers’ work. We try to intercept fish as they’re coming in and out of these creeks. He also employs what he calls “Junkyard Dog” fishing, which involves going after big Coosa Spotted Bass that like to lay under rough log jams and stump rows. Weiss Lake has some 32,000 acres of water, and Lee believes he has probably reached all of them. Crappie remains king at Weiss, but Lee thinks the bass fishery has improved. In the last six or seven years, Lee says to win a bass tournament, the fish had to weigh in the 17 to19 pound group. Now, the winning catch is somewhere in the mid-20-pound group. He feels that so much backwater and abundance of spawning areas are helping fish production. He explains that it’s not just one or two creeks where the fish go to spawn-- the entire 32,000 acres of water are virtually fishable. In addition to his guide service, Lee participates professionally in the Alabama Bass Trail tournaments. He finds bass fishing at Weiss to be very exciting and memorable. Baitfish are plentiful and found in small pockets in the creeks. Finding the baitfish, primarily shad, will lead to the big bass that are always in cherokee-chamber.org
He learned to work hard early in life and would haul hay all day for fifty cents or cut grass with discarded shears from the textile mill. But growing up was not without fun, and the boys would find it playing outdoors or best yet, going fishing and sometimes with their dad. They would scour the riverbanks looking for lost or discarded jigs and lures to repair and use again. “We knew to stay out of any serious trouble, but sometimes funny pranks were just too irresistible. One of which brought down the wrath of our granddad,” he recalled. “It happened on Halloween night. Trion Manufacturing, the cotton mill, owned most of the property around, including the outhouses placed to accommodate the workers. It was common knowledge that Halloween’s “traditional” trick was to tip over outhouses, which were built partially hanging over the banks of the Chattooga River. After the deed was done, and we had gone in for the night, we were surprised when a very angry grandpa came hunting us culprits. We couldn’t understand why he was so mad—until we learned he was an outhouse occupant at the time.”
AMBASSADOR Jerry Culberson has been fishing at Weiss Lake almost since the day Alabama Power opened it to the public. It was the late 50s, and everyone was talking about the hydro-electric plant being built in Leesburg. People were so interested and curious, they would drive miles, bringing picnic lunches to watch the progress and the landscape transform into Weiss Lake. When Jerry’s grandparents bought a recreational lot on the shoreline, it was the beginning of his lifelong attachment to the lake, Cherokee County and its people. Jerry was born in Marietta, Georgia, in 1949. Eventually, there would be five children to raise and support. His parents followed employment with the Georgia textile mills, working to support the family with earnings never much more than five thousand dollars a year. When he was just a few months old, the family moved to Trion, Georgia. 54
When Jerry was still in elementary school, they moved to Chickamauga, Georgia, not far from Chattanooga, Tennessee. It, too, a mill town. They lived with a railroad track about 50 feet from their house, but within walking distance to school. In good weather, the area was a kid magnet. “If you took a ball and bat outside, 15 kids would appear, complete with cheerleaders,” Jerry recalled. Jerry attended the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and McKenzie College and snagged a job when he was 19 with the Burroughs Corporation by fudging the age requirement. His job was to sell equipment and service contracts to banks, and bonding was required at a minimum age of 21. Always ambitious, it was just a few years before he was employed by IBM. Later on, he sold institutional textiles, the job which introduced him to the administration side of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. When he actually was 21, he met and married Patricia Stephens, a teller in a Birmingham bank. “We were young and just starting out, so we didn’t have much money. So, on our first anniversary, I brought her a single rose and have added another each year thereafter, commemorating our years together. This year, there were 49 roses. That’s why I am still working—to pay for all the roses,” he joked. The couple strategically chose to make Anniston their home base, primarily because of its central location to his working service area. He traveled continuously throughout eight states and was on the road all week, away from Patricia and their three children more than he liked. “When my daughter, Trudy, mailed me an invitation to her high school cherokee-chamber.org
graduation, I got the point. I realized it was time to seek a career change closer to home.” In 1982, he was offered a position with the Northport Health Services in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His job was to computerize and upgrade their facilities. (Today, NHS Management, LLC, is the state’s largest nursing home chain, providing administrative and consulting services for individual health care facilities and companies across the southeast.) Associating and working with administrators of care facilities led him down a new occupational path, and he began arduous training toward his licensing as an administrator himself. Passing all tests and requirements. Using his experience and understanding of the health and long-term care facilities, he launched his own company, Preferred Health Services. “I had often visited the little nursing home in Cherokee County with 30 employees and 53 beds. I was drawn to it, and I wondered if I could convince the authority to let me serve as its manager. They were hard to convince, and I tried repeatedly to no avail. But things changed. The hospital that had been catering meals and supplying laundry service suddenly announced they would discontinue services within a three-week period. That meant that the nursing home would need a kitchen installed immediately. The authority asked me if I could do the job, and I did. The rest is history. In 1988, I took over as the onsite administrator, and we are still affiliated after 24 years. I moved my family and business to Cherokee County, and never left.” The Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center has become the third largest employer in the county. With only 32 employees in the beginning, they now have 325. In addition, PHS works with over 20 healthcare companies and motels, providing them managing and financial services. Jerry has been instrumental in the formation and creation of many projects of improvement in the area, much on behalf of Weiss Lake and its health. He listened to fisherman coming to fish here and realized how much additional lodging was needed. He has built two motels, a convenience store and restaurant in the past and feels we need more to entice fishing, boating and water recreation. He believes Cherokee County has much more to offer, too, including hiking, camping and the love of nature itself. He reminds us that birding has become a multi-billion-dollar ecotourism industry. He also has continually supported programs beneficial to the community, both financially and civically. With many awards and accomplishments, he is most proud of being a founder of the SO-COOL program created 27 years ago to provide summer activities for kids. (SO-COOL is the acronym for School’s Out Camp of Organized Learning.) cherokee-chamber.org
Today the program draws 100 kids during the 5-week period. With volunteers, the Rotary Club and Cherokee County Board of Education provides lunches and a well-organized positive experience. Jerry enjoys living in Cherokee County and has encouraged his brothers to relocate here after retirement, which two have. One is retired military, and a health care administrator and the second, a correction officer. The third brother is an accountant who runs his own textile company in Carrrolton, Georgia. Jerry and Patricia’s three grown children have also chosen to make Cherokee County their home. Son, BJ, is a business owner. Valerie Davis, a homemaker and Trudy Lowe, who is the Chief Operations Officer at PHS. Grandson, Donnie Lowe, is the Assistant Administrator of the Piedmont Health & Rehab Center. A born ambassador for Cherokee County, Jerry Culberson thinks everyone should take great pride in our many natural resources, Weiss Lake, our remarkable community and its friendly, welcoming people.
Jerry Culberson has received many awards and accommodations for accomplishments, both professionally and civically. Some include... • Long-term care Administrator of Year, Alabama Nursing Home Association, 1991 • Alabama Nursing Home Administrator of the Year, 1992 • Escribed, State of Alabama Senior Citizen’s Hall of Fame, Governor’s Office, 1996 • Rotarian of the Year, 1998 • Chairman of the Board, Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, 2001. • Recipient, Estell S. Smith Community Service Award • Co-Founder, SO COOL summer youth program • Alabama Senior Citizen Golden Eagle Award • Founder, Anglers Unlimited, present Chair • Public access provider, Graves Landing, Weiss Lake, current • Weiss Lake Improvement Assoc., Member
After accompanying his mother on a business trip to Los Angeles in January of 2016, everything changed. One of the speakers at the meeting addressed the importance of using your natural gifts and following God’s plan for your life. This was a life-changing moment for Steed; he decided to pursue a career on the stage.
FROM THEATRE CENTRE TO DOLLYWOOD 56
Cherokee County native Chad Steed had followed the path many of us do, graduate from high school, go to college, graduate, and start your career. A graduate of Cherokee County High School, he continued his education at Jacksonville State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. While working at the Centre campus of Gadsden State, he was also working on a master’s degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. After accompanying his mother on a business trip to Los Angeles in January of 2016, everything changed. One of the speakers at the meeting addressed the importance of using your natural gifts and following God’s plan for your life. This was a life-changing moment for Steed; he decided to pursue a career on the stage. As a former member of TheatreCentre, he had enjoyed the opportunity to express himself and explore his creative talents. In February, he attended an open call audition in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for the award-winning theme park Dollywood. Prospects were expected to do both cherokee-chamber.org
vocal and dance auditions. He said, “I showed up with no professional experience, no headshot. All I had was the desire to perform.” Within two months, the transformation was complete. After signing a contract in March, he gave his employer notice and sold his house. In April 2016, he started on the stage at Dollywood. In his fifth season at Dollywood, Chad has performed in many different venues and shows at the park. Most recently, he was the host and featured vocalist at Live at the Back Porch. He was also a member of the Christmas Cast in the Smokies as Gabriel performing The Lord is with You. In 2018 Steed was nominated as Performer of the Year by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Although his career has taken him out of Cherokee County, he always appreciates the community members that visit him when they are at the park. He also loves to perform when he is in town, including at the TheatreCentre, where the dream began.
Brothers Harlan, Jerry, and Hank Richardson grew up farming the fertile land of Cherokee County. In 1974, they opened their first greenhouse, Richardson Greenhouse. As the company grew, they merged with another local greenhouse in 1979, and Dixie Green was born. (Continued on page 60)
A FAMILY TRADITION 58
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Brothers Harlan, Jerry, and Hank Richardson grew up farming the fertile land of Cherokee County. In 1974, they opened their first greenhouse, Richardson Greenhouse. In a 28’ x 96’, together, they learned to cultivate and sell house plants. The brothers traveled the area and sold to garden centers from the back of a truck with a camper shell. As the company grew, they merged with another local greenhouse in 1979, and Dixie Green was born. Many things have changed in 46-years of business, while others are as steadfast as their Cherokee County roots. For example, many local garden centers have been replaced by big-box retailers, and plants are no longer delivered by a pickup truck with a camper shell but a tractor-trailers fleet. What remains is the dedication of the Richardson’s to quality, family, and community. Their facility, located on County Road 69 in Centre, features 12-acres of heated greenhouses and 8-acres of openair pad growing space. Dixie Green grows various plants, including Spring annuals, Fall mums, and Poinsettias for the holidays. While most find their way to the retail market through multiple customers, many are sold directly to groups for fundraising programs. Through dedication and hard work, they yield a significant number of products. Annually they send approximately 500,000 spring plants, 325,000 caladiums, 15,000 ferns, 250,000 mums, and 250,000 poinsettias throughout the Southeast.
World during the Christmas season, you will see their work in full display. Each year the company ships approximately 80,000 poinsettias to the Happiest Place on Earth to set the holiday scene. They also provide seasonal caladiums for the theme park. The company is now led by Hank and his two sons, John and Daniel. Hank currently runs the office and oversees the day-to-day operations of the business. John is the head grower while Daniel manages irrigation, trucking, and shipping. Dixie Green employs 35 people and add more as needed during peak seasons. They were recently recognized as the 2019 Alabama Farm of Distinction by Farm-City based on their productivity, stewardship, and management. They were also named 2019 Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year for Alabama at the Sunbelt Expo. Hank and his wife, Sheila, are active members of the community. In addition to being members of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, they are leaders in their church and spend time volunteering with local youth sports groups. Hank has served in the Ellisville Volunteer Fire Department for over 30 years and currently serves as Fire Chief. Hank is the Treasurer for the Cherokee County Association of Fire Departments and the Fire Department Honor Guard. Both John and Daniel are also members and serve as paramedics.
You will often not know which plants are cultivated at Dixie Green, but if you find your way to Walt Disney 60
RICH LINDSEY Farm Living is the Life for Me
Cherokee Gin is now the largest producing gin in Alabama, handling some 8 to 10 percent of Alabama’s crops. And Manager Rich Lindsey is delighted to have worked alongside others in making a huge difference in agriculture.
RISING STARS OF CHEROKEE COUNTY
These outstanding residents of Cherokee County exhibit exceptional qualities that will no doubt serve not only them in their chosen careers, but help create the future leadership of our community.
Lindsey, a life-long resident of Cherokee County, is a 2005 graduate of Cedar Bluff High School. During this time, he co-opted at the gin. His post-secondary education was interrupted when he built some chicken houses with a partner and was still heavily involved in work on the gin. “Ever since I was a kid growing up, I loved the farm and the gin,” said Lindsey. “My kindergarten and first-grade teacher, Kay Davis, used to have to bargain with me to get me to come to school. I used to stay home and help my granddad at the gin.” While he was in high school, Rich also developed an interest in firefighting. Eventually, he became chief of the McCord’s Crossroads Fire Department. He considers his work with the fire department the most rewarding thing he has ever done. Cherokee County is a special place, he said. “When I was growing up, we had a little country store and a gin in the Alexis, Osceola Community,” said Lindsey. “My grandfather told me ‘we make a living off local people and we do business with local people,’ and I have always tried to live off that principle and follow that as much as possible.” Lindsey is the son of Richard and Johna Lindsey. He and wife, Cassandra, have one daughter, Savannah, 3, and a son on the way in early 2021. Cassandra is employed by the Cherokee County School System. They are Ebenezer United Methodist Church members, where Rich is music minister and serves as lay leader.
DONNIE LOWE Fitness Has No Age Limit
KATELYN WILSON WEST Never Take Your Hearing for Granted
For Donnie Lowe, fitness is full-time. As the owner of The Center and as a nursing home administrator, his goal is to help people keep active as long as possible. This will help ensure they maintain their independence and quality of life.
For Katelyn Wilson West, there is nothing more rewarding than improving the quality of life for those who thought they would never again hear the sounds of nature or the laughter of their grandchildren.
A graduate of the University of Alabama where he played football, Lowe earned a degree in Human Performance and, after football, spent two years as an undergrad assistant with the Strength and Conditioning program.
West, a life-long resident of Cherokee County, is a 2008 graduate of Cherokee County High School and a graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in communicative disorders.
After spending 11 years in Tuscaloosa as a police officer, he and his wife moved back to Cherokee County. He accepted a position at Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation, which is owned by the Cherokee County Health Care Authority and managed by his grandfather, Jerry Culberson. Currently, he serves as the assistant administrator at the Piedmont Nursing Home.
West began her career as an apprentice for Todd Wright with Wright Hearing Center. After five years, she bought the practice which was located on the bypass in Centre. Shortly afterward, she renovated space on Main Street. She moved the Hearing Centre next to the office of her father, Dr. Myron Wilson, a local optometrist.
“Opening a gym had always been in the back of my mind,” said Lowe. After moving to Cherokee County, he saw a need and opportunity for the type of gym he wanted to open and found a prime spot on Main Street in Centre. And The Center, a fitness and strength training business, was born. The Center offers classes and individual instruction to help clients meet their personal goal.
“Most people come in when they are having trouble understanding speech,” said West. “If you are having trouble hearing people, if everybody sounds like they mumble, more than likely, it is not everybody else mumbling. You may have a little bit of hearing loss.”
The Lowes are Pine Grove Baptist Church members, where his wife, Avery, is in the choir. Avery is also a Coast Guard Reservist. They have two children, Tallulah and Trip (Donnie Lowe III).
She shared how many of today’s hearing aids are inconspicuous and how they can use Blue Tooth through smartphones and other devices and other technology to provide that quality of hearing we all long for. “I also offer hearing protection for hunting, which I highly recommend to everybody in the area, so they don’t have to wear hearing aids when they get older,” she said.
“We continue to put our roots down here personally and professionally and are excited about the future and extremely happy with our choice to live here,” said Lowe.
As a businesswoman and a citizen, there is no other place like Cherokee County, “You have that personal feel, and everybody is good to everybody,” she said. Katelyn, daughter of Dr. Myron and Susan Wilson, is married to Zack West, who works at Anniston Army Depot. They attend Cedar Bluff Methodist Church and Alexis Methodist Church. Zack has one son, Brody, 7, who plays in the Cherokee County Youth Football League.
Our communities are nestled in the quiet countryside of northeast Alabama, and centrally located in the ABC Triangle of Atlanta, Birmingham and Chattanooga. On any given day you’ll see the farmers at work in their fields, families together at campgrounds, people fishing, water skiing, boating, canoeing, hiking, hunting, birdwatching and so much more. Whether you’re coming for business, for fun or looking for a place to call home, we have plenty to offer. Come explore!
CEDAR BLUFF Since its founding in 1832, Cedar Bluff has been a welcoming community representing a small southern town’s values. Conveniently located between Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Huntsville, this rustic community is the perfect location to enjoy a vacation with family and friends. Surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, the town is nestled on the shoreline of Weiss Lake. You will enjoy the hometown atmosphere as you enjoy abundant fishing, camping, and recreation opportunities. Access to the lake is available through public and private campgrounds, docks, and marinas. For history lovers, a visit to Cornwall Furnace Memorial Park, one of the bestpreserved locations from the Civil War period, is a must. Over 1800 people call Cedar Bluff home, where they enjoy affordable lakeside living and a close-knit sense of community. Students attend the Cedar Bluff School for grades K-12, which has been recognized as one of the top high schools in the country. There are opportunities for higher education at seven colleges and universities within a 35-mile radius. When you visit Cedar Bluff, you can stop looking for the good life because you will find it here.
For more information, visit cedarbluff-al.org (Continued on page 66)
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CENTRE In the heart of Cherokee County is the bustling city of Centre. The city has served as the county seat of Cherokee County since 1844. The residents petitioned to change the spelling to the British English spelling of Centre to honor an English family that helped settle the area. Not only the geographical center of the county, but also the center of education, commerce, and hospitality for Cherokee County. The community features three schools encompassing grades K through 12. Centre is also the home of the award-winning Cherokee County Career and Technical Center. The CCCTC helps students throughout the county discover vocational skills that prepare them for a successful future. Centre is also the home of a satellite campus of Gadsden State Community College. You will find a revitalized city in the downtown district that embraces the future while honoring its past. Local businesses provide goods and services for residents and visitors while providing essential jobs to the community. As with much of Cherokee County, Weiss Lake serves as the focal point. Always ready to roll out the red carpet for those visiting. There is access to the water at local marinas and quaint lodges and motels to feel at home during your stay.
For more information about Centre visit, cityofcentre.com.
GAYLESVILLE Tucked in northeastern Cherokee County, you will find the beautiful town of Gaylesville. The community is nestled along the Chattooga River, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a small community that is one of the oldest in Alabama and the oldest in Cherokee County. It was recognized as a destination when it was designated with a Post Office in 1836. Here natural beauty abounds. You will find Little River Canyon Natural Preserve and Little River Falls. The Preserve offers recreational opportunities that are enjoyed by locals and tourists. Gaylesville is a delightful place to visit or call home. While things may move a bit slower here, you will find it worth the journey.
For more information about Gaylesville, follow them on Facebook (Continued on page 68)
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LEESBURG Leesburg has the motto, “Come enjoy and stay awhile,” after seeing all that the quaint town has to offer, it is an easy choice. Industry has found a home in Leesburg. In the last annual employment report by the Cherokee County IDA, three of the county’s top ten employers, KTH, Parkdale, and Prince Mineral account for over 880 jobs that impact the community. Weiss Lake is rarely out of view, with both public and private access to the lake. One important access point is Leesburg Landing. Through dedication and vision, the town has taken a small local park and created a modern facility that is now the home of numerous fishing tournaments throughout the season. The landing features a wide concrete boat ramp with two access piers, a pavilion, and a large, paved parking lot. Both primitive and RV camping are available with nature walking trails.
For more information about Leesburg, visit leesburgal.com.
SAND ROCK Sitting on top of Lookout Mountain is the hilltop community of Sand Rock. Compared to the surrounding area, the town of Sand Rock is relatively young. It was incorporated in 1988. The town, however, has a rich history, dating back to the 1800s. Rich in hospitality, natural beauty, and strong family and faith traditions, Citizens of Sand Rock value its rural heritage, dedicated schools, supportive community, and strong work ethic. The small town is home to approximately 500 people. They enjoy quiet country living with easy access to the larger cities in the surrounding area. Residents along the south and east of Lookout Mountain are treated to spectacular views of mountain rocks, beautiful foliage, and Weiss Lake in the distance. Sand Rock is the home of Cherokee Rock Village which is a favorite destination of rock climbers from around the world. Visitors can also enjoy primitive camping, hiking trails.
For more information on Sand Rock, visit sandrock-al.org. 68
NEWCOMER INFORMATION IMPORTANT CONTACT NUMBERS If you are new to Cherokee County, the following information will be helpful. For additional information, please call the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce at 256-927-8455.
Police & Fire For All Emergencies.......................................................... 911 Sheriff Department........................................................... 256.927.3365
County Offices Animal Control................................................................. 256.266.1390 Board of Education........................................................... 256.927.3362 Circuit Clerk..................................................................... 256.927.3637 Commission...................................................................... 256.927.3668 Criminal & District.......................................................... 256.927.3637 District Attorney............................................................... 256.927.5577 E911 Office....................................................................... 256.927.3911 Extension Office................................................................ 256.927.3250 Forestry Commission........................................................ 256.563.0021 Highway Department....................................................... 256.927.5573 Humane Society................................................................ 256.779.7159 Nutrition Program............................................................ 256.927.8432 Probate Judge.................................................................... 256.927.3363 Public Library................................................................... 256.927.5838 Public Transportation........................................................ 256.927.7472 Revenue Commission........................................................ 256.927.5527 Tag & License................................................................... 256.927.3654
US Post Offices Cedar Bluff…........………………………………………256.779.6568 Centre……………......………………………………….256.927.5660 Gaylesville......................................................................... 256.422.3161 Leesburg............................................................................ 256.526.8076 Spring Garden................................................................... 256.447.7227 (Continued on page 72)
Board Certified in Family Medicine
Barton Perry, MD
Brian Perry, MD
Clint Allen, MD
401 Northwood Drive Centre, Alabama 35960 256-927-3607 • Pediatric and adult care of acute and chronic illness • In-house lab • In-house x-ray • Nuclear cardiac stress testing • Bone density testing • In-house pulmonary function testing • Treatment of skin cancers and skin lesions • Aviation medicine/flight physicals • Certified Medical Review Officer • Industrial/occupational medicine • Certified acupuncturist • Weekly orthopedic clinic • Weekly OB/GYN clinic Office Hours: Monday - Friday • 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
5/5/08 7:24:56 AM
NEWCOMER INFORMATION (Continued from page 70)
IMPORTANT CONTACT NUMBERS
If you are new to Cherokee County, the following information will be helpful. For additional information, please call the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce at 256-927-8455.
Municipal Government Cedar Bluff Town Hall.................................256.779.6121 Centre City Hall..........................................256.927.5222 Gaylesville Town Hall...................................256.422.3568 Leesburg Town Hall.....................................256.526.8890 Sand Rock Town Hall..................................256.523.5898
Health Services Floyd Cherokee Medical Center...................256.927.5531 Health Department......................................256.927.3132 CED Mental Health Center.........................256.927.3601 Department of Human Resources................256.927.1440 Family Resource Center................................256.927.7890
Newspaper The Post Herald…........................................256.927.4476
Radio WEIS Radio.................................................256.927.5152
Utilities Advance Disposal.........................................256.792.6004 Alabama Power Shoreline Management........256.927.2597 Amerigas..............................................www.amerigas.com Blossman Gas...............................................256.927.1595 Cherokee Electric Coop...............................256.927.5524 City of Centre Water & Sewer......................256.927.3281 Cherokee County Water Authority...............256.927.8348 DC Natural Gas...........................................256.927.5925 Northeast Alabama Water.............................256.845.6186 TDS Telephone............................................877.837.8372 Town of Cedar Bluff Utility Board...............256.779.6359 Weiss Internet..............................................256.706.4121
SCHOOLS CEDAR BLUFF
Grades: K-12 · Students: 600+ 3655 Old Highway 9 · Cedar Bluff, AL 35959 256.927.1750
CAREER & TECHNOLOGY CENTER
Grades: 8-12 · Students: 600+ 600 Bay Springs Road · Centre, AL 35960 256.927.5351
Grades: K-4 Students: 600+ 725 East Main Street · Centre, AL 35960 256.927.3302
Grades: 5-8 · Students: 500+ 1920 East Main Street · Centre, AL 35960 256.927.5656
CHEROKEE COUNTY HIGH
Grades: 9-12 · Students: 450+ 910 Warrior Drive · Centre, AL 35960 256.927.3625
Grades: K-12 · Students: 400+ 760 Trojan Way · Gaylesville, AL 35973 256.927.1738
Grades: K-12 · Students: 950+ 1950 Sand Rock Avenue · Sand Rock, AL 35983 256.927.1735
Grades: K-12 · Students: 600+ 2430 County Road 29 · Spring Garden, AL 36275 256.447. 7045
Cherokee County Schools Board Central Office 130 East Main Street Centre, AL 35960 256.927.3362
THE HISTORY OF
In 1845, the USM Coosa became the first steamboat on the Coosa River. Two years later, a survey was budgeted to discern if the river was navigable for steamboat traffic. In the 1890s, the Coosa Alabama Improvement Association requested the federal government to open the Coosa for navigation from Mobile to Gadsden. Alabama Power was incorporated in 1906, and in 1913 hired Fernand C. Weiss. With the Great Depression beginning to ebb, President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” funded the Tennessee Valley Authority to determine navigation, flood control, and economic development. Almost two decades would pass before Alabama Power was permitted to construct dams along the upper Coosa River. It was in 1958 that F.C. Weiss would step down as chief engineer of the building of the dam in Leesburg, but to entice him to continue, Alabama Power names the lake after him. In April of that year, the $30 million dam began with a celebration, going only $5 million over budget. Weiss died in 1959. The dam officially began generating power on June 5, 1961.
STAKEHOLDERS Alabama Power Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center Cherokee County Industrial Development Association Chesnut Bay Resort and RV Resort Gadsden State Community College LakeWeissAlabama.com Real Estate Services, Cathy Griffeth
With special thanks and sincere appreciation, we recognize the members of our Chairman’s Circle. PLATINUM Bobby Ledbetter, Twin City Used Car Sales Cherokee County Commission Cherokee County IDA DC Gas District
GOLD Cherokee Electric Co-op City of Centre Floyd Cherokee Medical Center Noble Bank & Trust Regions Bank Southern Bank Company Weiss Lake Shoreline Management
SILVER Advertising Dynamics, Inc. Farmers & Merchants Bank First Southern State Bank Gadsden State Community College Peoples Bank of Alabama Town of Cedar Bluff Town of Leesburg Tractor Supply Company
BRONZE Dekalb Foot Clinic Model Tees State Farm Insurance Town of Gaylesville Town of Sand Rock 76
ADVERTISERS AL Mountain Lake Tourist Assoc. Alabama Teacher’s Credit Union Bartley Realty, L.L.C. Bay Springs Country Inn & Marina Beth Baker State Farm Cathy Griffeth, Realtor Cherokee County Commission Cherokee County Park Board Cherokee County Sheriff Cherokee Electric Co-Op Chesnut Bay Resort and RV Resort City of Centre DC Gas Decks and Docks Easy Street Restaurant & Bar Farmers & Merchants Bank Floyd Cherokee Medical Center Gadsden State Community College LakeWeissAlabama.com Laura St. Clair, Realtor Northeast Orthopedics Orbix Hot Glass Peoples Bank of Alabama Perry Medical Clinic, P.C. Regions Bank Theatre Centre Three River Realty Town of Cedar Bluff Town of Leesburg Twin City Used Car Sales WeissLakeAlabama.com Realty Weiss Lake Realty Weiss Internet WLIA cherokee-chamber.org
CHEROKEECOUNTY CEDAR BLUFF