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Alabama A&M University Since its beginning more than 135 years ago, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University has established a reputation of academic excellence and community leadership. ■ The northeastern Huntsville campus, fondly referred to as “The Hill,” was founded in 1875 by William Hooper Councill, an ex-slave with a daring-todream-big attitude in an often-hostile American South. Today, Alabama A&M, touting a legacy of success that

The picturesque campus of Alabama A&M is situated on what many alumni and friends fondly refer to as “The Hill,” only a

has achieved national acclaim, is called “Alma Mater” by men and women throughout the world. For three consecutive years, Alabama A&M placed students on the coveted academic teams of USA Today. Similarly, the Washington Monthly magazine ranks AAMU as one of the Top 40 schools in the country while Diverse Magazine considers it one of the Top 100 degree producing universities nationwide. “We are proud of our history and our achievements, but we never lose focus on the future and the importance of producing graduates who will go on to do great things for their communities and for society,” says the school’s president Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr. “We give students numerous opportunities to develop skills and knowledge that will be instrumental in their lives long after they leave Alabama A&M.”

few miles from downtown Huntsville. Serving more than 5,000 students, the university, which reflects the uniqueness of the traditional land-grant institution, combines professional, vocational and, liberal arts pursuits.

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A LEGACY OF ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE Alabama A&M provides a setting for the emergence of scholars, leaders, thinkers, and other contributors to society. University scientists work on a variety of projects, including an allergy-free peanut, flight simulation software for the Department of Defense, alternative fuels, safe public transportation and improved infrastructure, and plants that may be effective in the treatment of diabetes. AAMU is home to one of the largest graduate schools among Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It is the only 1890

Land-grant university offering doctoral degree programs in food science, physics, plant and soil science, and reading and literacy. Moreover, the school’s MBA program offers concentrations in finance, accounting, economics, logistics, management of information systems, and marketing. Alabama A&M offers nationally accredited programs in family and consumer sciences, rehabilitative counselor education, and speech pathology. It is also North Alabama’s only source for the accredited master’s degree in social work. In addition, Alabama A&M is one of few Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offers a baccalaureate degree program in telecommunications. CUBIC EXPANDS CAREER OPPORTUNITIES A commitment to education for all who enter its gates has made Alabama A&M an institution with one of the most diverse faculty bodies in the state of Alabama. Such diversity has spurred collaborations and numerous research opportunities, including partnership contracts with NASA. Because so many agencies have recognized the potential of Alabama A&M’s research and outreach components, the Collaborative University Business-Industry Consortium, or CUBIC, has expanded its partnership role to strengthen bonds between the university and the corporate sector. Participating companies quickly tap into the school’s vast


for research faculty necessitated the development in 1999 of the Alabama A&M University Research Institute. The institute offers corporate access to Alabama A&M’s state-ofthe-art equipment and instrumentation capabilities. In addition, services are offered to evaluate or enhance a client’s existing products; to help government and industry adopt best-suited technologies; and to provide up-to-date information on the latest scientific and technological developments.

research capabilities and benefit from quality and cost-effective research by brilliant campus scientists and researchers from the schools of agricultural and environmental sciences, arts and sciences, business, education, and engineering and technology. AN ENGINEERING POWERHOUSE Huntsville is one of the South’s leading destinations for engineering graduates, and Alabama A&M’s ever-expanding engineering school is positioned to market the expertise of its faculty and students to area business and industry. For example, the department of electrical engineering has offered prospective and veteran engineers options in electrical, microelectronics, and computer engineering. Moreover, engineering and computer science faculty members are heavily involved in various aspects of research for numerous governmental agencies and subcontractors. The school of engineering and technology introduces quality graduates to a world in great need of its full-fledged civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering degrees. New programs have evolved in construction management and materials engineering. The tremendous volume of research grants and contracts


Professor and

students in speech pathology (Communicative Sciences and Disorders) class Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr., Alabama A&M University’s 11th president, surrounded by the “Baby Bulldog” cheerleaders.

BUILDING STRONGER COMMUNITIES To better serve the surrounding community, Alabama A&M promotes an array of programs and activities. The non-profit Community Development Corporation addresses housing and economic needs in Huntsville and Madison County via the Huntsville/Madison County First Time Homebuyers Club, the Olympia Gardens apartment complex on Meridian Street, and the Edmonton Heights Family Life Center. Meanwhile, Alabama A&M’s Cooperative Extension Program provides educational programs to help the state’s urban and nontraditional audiences adapt to changing environments and needs. Workshops and conferences focus on such diverse issues as the family, aging, adolescence, domestic violence, neighborhood revitalization, and volunteerism. “Providing students more avenues to become engaged in their communities really sets us apart from other institutions,” says Hugine. “Whether it is academics, research, athletics, or community involvement, this is an exciting time for involvement at any level with Alabama A&M.” ■



Alabama Music Hall of Fame Located in Tuscumbia, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame (AMHOF) is dedicated to honoring all Alabamians who have contributed to the music industry in all genres. Not only recording artists from the state, but songwriters, producers, and anyone whose efforts made a significant impact in the music industry. AMHOF is the number one music attraction in the state and perhaps, the South.

The eye-catching Alabama Music Hall of Fame exhibit hall is the number one music attraction in the state of Alabama.

The “Walk of Fame,” which features bronze stars engraved with various music achievers names, welcomes visitors to the museum. Among many other exhibits and memorabilia,

AMHOF displays include wax figures of Nat King Cole and Hank Williams, a tour bus used by the group Alabama, and an exhibit to honor Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Studios, which includes original recording equipment used by Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Muddy Waters, and the 1960 “Golden Country Car” with over 300 silver dollars and sixteen guns mounted on and in the car.

The giant jukebox is showcased at the entrance of the pop and rock section. The jukebox contains popular music by Alabama artist.

IT BEGAN WITH A DREAM AMHOF began as a dream of the Muscle Shoals Music Association – a local organization of area studio owners, musicians, producers, and other professionals in the music industry. Their efforts proved fruitful because in 1980 with the leadership of State Senator Bobby Denton the state legislature created a state agency, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame board, and charged them with building a facility in which to honor all of Alabama’s great music achievers and the State’s music heritage. In 1987, the citizens of Alabama approved a $2.5 million bond to fund the construction of the first phase of the facility – a 12,500 square foot exhibition hall, and the city of Tuscumbia donated some of the land. A grand opening on July 26, 1990, attracted more than 35,000 music lovers and fans. In the early 1990’s an outdoor arena was added to host fundraising concerts. Headliners have included Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams, Jr., Charlie Daniels, and Gretchen Wilson. Along with concerts and other fundraising events, AMHOF is funded by admissions, gift shop sales, and a state appropriation. HONORING ALABAMA’S MUSIC ACHIEVERS We honor all who have had a major impact on the music in-

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The original recording equipment from the internationally known Sun Studio owned by the rock pioneer,

dustry in three ways,” said AMHOF Executive Director, David Johnson. “We provide information and exhibits concerning their accomplishments, place a bronze star with their name engraved on our walk of fame, and by the ultimate honor of induction to the Music Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are held every other year. The nominees are selected by a nominating committee and voted on by the previous inductees and 30 or so other people from the music and radio industries.” Induction ceremonies and award banquets are held in different major cities throughout the state every other year. “We celebrate the diversity of Alabama’s music heritage by bringing together Alabamians from all genres of music. In addition to the inductions, during the ceremony we present a variety of contemporary awards and some of the best known entertainers in the world perform,” Johnson explained. Future plans for the museum include a 2,500-seat auditorium featuring state-of-the-art sound and audio/video recording capabilities and a research library on southern music with an emphasis on music with its roots in Alabama.

Alabama native, Sam Phillips. The 1961 Pontiac Bonneville convertible has 1,500 pounds of silver from bumper to bumper, 16 silver plated pistols and rifles, and a silver dollar studded steering wheel. The car belonged to “Happy Hal” Burns. Known as the man with the velvet voice, Nat King Cole is one of the wax figures showcased in the

THE STARS REALLY DO FALL ON ALABAMA “Anyone who thinks a huge musical footprint is not set in Alabama just doesn’t know the facts – or they certainly haven’t heard my spiel,” Johnson said. “W.C. Handy, The Father of the Blues, is from Alabama, as are Dinah Washington, known as the Queen of the Blues; Jimmie Rodgers, The Father of Country Music; Country Music Legend, Hank Williams, Sr.; and the Founder of Sun Records – which many consider The Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll. How’s that for a family tree?” If you’re ready to study up on Alabama’s Musical genealogy,


Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

come to tour the only place that is “Honoring all styles of music and dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Alabama musicians and the state’s rich musical heritage, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.” ■



Alabama Wine Trail The Alabama Wine Trail is considered to be one of the best by the people who have made the tour. The Alabama Wine Trail offers an exciting experience for wine enthusiasts or anyone looking to experience wines with a personal touch. The trail promotes not only an appreciation of wine, but it also provides visitors with a way of supporting local farmers. From top: Jules J. Berta Vineyards Ozan Vineyards & Cellars Vizzini Farms Winery

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Although Alabama is not generally known as a wine producing state, there is a long history of grape production and wine making. Because Alabama has a mountainous terrain combined with sandy coastal plains and mineral rich plateaus, the Alabama wine industry is thriving - boasting numerous vineyards, orchards, and local wineries. Native American muscadine and Norton grapes, plus locally grown fruits and robust French grapes, are the foundation of a diverse and exciting collection of local wines. The Alabama Wine Trail is sponsored by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. There are eleven locally owned and operated wineries in Alabama. The wineries are located as far north as Albertville and as far south as Perdido. The association encourages visitors to stop in and meet the winemakers and experience first-hand their knowledge and the attentive care that produces the high quality wines. The winemakers are dedicated to making quality wines from their own estate grown grapes. To begin the journey of the Alabama Wine Trail, wine connoisseurs (or soon to be connoisseurs) will pick up a “passport” at the first winery. After a tour and sampling of wine, visitors will receive a stamp on their passport from the winery. At the end of the trail, when all stamps have been received, the visitor of the trail will receive a free commemorative Alabama Wine Trail glass. Most of the wineries on the trail are open Monday through Saturday during regular business hours for guided tours and wine tastings. Others may just be open on the weekends and by special appointment. Each winery is unique, and

each offers various opportunities for the ultimate wine experience. Interested individuals should make sure and visit each vineyard’s website for information on wine tasting events and special outings. JULES J. BERTA VINEYARDS ( Jules J. Berta Vineyards, Alabama’s premiere and largest vinifera winery, is located just minutes from Lake Guntersville atop Sand Mountain. A first ever of its was said to be impossible to grow “true wine grapes” in Alabama! The vineyards began in 1987 as a hobby lot by Jules’ father who immigrated from Hungary in 1959 with a family history of vineyards and cellars dating back over many generations. In 2000, thousands of vines were planted by Jules and his father to include the more common Chardonnay and Merlot. The winery boasts a delicious collection of muscadine and fruit wines grown by local farmers, as well as traditional red and white wines. The tasting room is impressive with over 20 wines to sip one’s taste buds into. The gift shop offers handmade soy candles, soaps, and cheeses made by local Alabamians. T-shirts and wine supplies are also available. The yard has a beautiful trellised patio for relaxing and overlooking the vineyards. The vineyard is only seconds off Hwy 431 in Albertville and open year round with extended hours. Becky is an Alabama native with a family history of farming. Jules was born in New York, grew up in Ohio, and lived abroad during his service in the military. One would be right to assume he’s not a Southerner, but according to Becky, he is being “Southernized.” Please stop by for a visit and chat with the owners, Jules and Becky Berta. They will even give you a tour! Don’t be intimidated, this winery has a lot of Southern charm! OZAN VINEYARD & CELLARS ( This 24-acre farm winery is located just south of Birmingham in Calera. The Patrick family owns and operates the winery. Included are Norton (aka Cynthiana) and hybrid grape vineyards, European styled farmhouse tasting room, and a sunset viewing deck. Over a dozen wines are available for tasting and purchase. The Patricks produce barrel-aged European red and white wines, Chilton county peach, muscadine and dessert wines. Guests enjoy complimentary and souvenir wine tastings. Tasting room hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or by appointment. Visitors will especially be delighted with the uniquely southern Dixie Wine Train excursion. Ozan also host seasonal

Alabama HOME SWEET HOME wine release events, charity occasions and private events. VIZZINI FARMS WINERY (WWW.VIZZINIFARMSWINERY.COM) Located off Highway 87 in Calera, Old World wine-making still exists through the skills of the Vizzini family. Tom Vizzini is a second generation, Sicilian winemaker, learning winemaking skills from his grandfather. The flavorsome wines can be found at local retailers. The vineyard’s three vines (Chambourcin, Niagra, Viognier), combined with grapes and fruits from across the state and the country, produce both sweet and traditional wines. The vineyard’s most popular wine is made from the Viognier grape and is called the “granddaughter of the chardonnay.” According to Vizzini, it is like “Champagne without the bubbles.” Visitors can enjoy lunch in an outdoor setting with a view of the nearby vineyards while partaking of gourmet foods, fresh salads, and baked goods. Fresh-baked breads and cheeses from around the world offer the perfect compliment to their premium vinifera wines. Tours of the Vizzini Farms Winery are available daily. The winery is open for lunch Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Brunch is served on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Dinner is by reservation only. Enjoy tours and tastings all day on Saturdays. The vineyard also hosts private parties and events. For a real treat, make reservations and bring the lawn chairs for one of the vineyard’s “Wine & Music” celebrations. WHIPPOORWILL VINEYARDS ( The only vineyard in southeastern Alabama located in Notasulga, Whippoorwill Vineyards is family owned and operated, getting its name from the song of the Whippoorwill at dusk. Wines are made from 100 percent sun-ripened muscadines and scuppernongs. The winery has developed four residual sugar concentrations: sweet and semi-sweet, dry and semi-dry. The grapes are fermented without diluting to create the rich flavors of these Alabama wines. Whippoorwill Vineyards is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Wine tastings and tours are by appointment only after hours. Visitors can also pick fresh seasonal fruits for one dollar a pound. Hand-harvested cracked pecans are available in the winery’s gift shop during October, November, and December. According to Tim Watkins, co-owner and winemaker, “good fruit equals good wine,” and he says both can be found at Whippoorwill Vineyards. WILLS CREEK VINEYARDS ( Wills Creek Vineyards is located in the Duck Springs Valley of Attalla, Alabama. It was established in 2001 by Janie and Jahn Coppey, continuing a family wine-making tradition spanning many generations in Switzerland. Today, Wills Creek Winery produces over fifteen varieties of muscadine and private label grape, fruit-infused and dessert wines, and offers an array of wines from sweet to semi-sweet to dry to please a wide range of


taste preferences. A covered deck off the tasting room allows visitors to stop and enjoy a glass of wine with cheese, sausages and seasonal fruit. Wills Creek Winery is open for business all year, offering complimentary tastings and tours. Tasting room hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A winemaking class is held the first Saturday of each month. During spring, summer and fall, the winery hosts evenings of music and dinner on the winery grounds over-looking the duck pond and vineyards. The fall harvest festival is an annual favorite. The gift shop provides palate-pleasing jellies, preserves, sauces, syrups and juices. Fresh fruit is available in season. Wine making supplies are also available. A second vineyard just two miles down the road from the winery, Wills Creek Vineyards at The Mill was established in 2004 with the planting of 50 muscadine vines. Today The Mill property cultivates over 1000 vines that are used exclusively for Wills Creek Vineyards wines and features a 2,000 square foot pavilion for weddings, reunions and other private parties. The property is named for the windmill that adorns the hilltop.

From top: Whippoorwill Wineyards Wills Creek Vineyards The Winery at Pepper Place

THE WINERY AT PEPPER PLACE (www. The newest winery on the Alabama Wine Trail and the first in Jefferson County since prohibition was founded by three wine entrepreneurs with a combined 20 years experience: Jahn Coppey, Tom Vizzini and Teal Dick. A fine selection of wines are produced and bottled on the premises. The winery is open six days a week and serves food. Check the website for hours of operation at During the Farmer’s Market season, the winery is open on Saturdays at 7:00 a.m. serving coffee and pastries. Live jazz is featured on Saturday evenings. This urban winery, bistro, and event space is located at the antique Dr. Pepper bottling plant on Second Avenue South in Birmingham. Patrons can tour the winery, sample the wines, and make purchases. The winery will be hosting various events through-out the year. Space is also available for private parties and events. ■



Chesnut Bay Resort Chesnut Bay Resort offers all of the ingredients needed for the perfect getaway: comfortable, carefree accommodations with plenty of family activities, breathtaking waterfront views and some of the best fishing in Alabama. ■ Located on the banks of Weiss Lake in northeast Alabama, the increasingly popular resort is the ideal all-season vacation spot for families, couples and groups who appreciate the beauty, serenity and

The Chesnut Bay Lighthouse overlooks the beautiful, 30,200 acre Weiss Lake in Northeast Alabama.

enjoyment that only nature can provide. In addition to stunning views of the 30,200 acre lake, visitors can also take in the scenic vistas of the surrounding forest, the Northeast Alabama Mountains and Little River Canyon National Preserve. There is also plenty of manmade fun. Kids of all ages will love the 120-foot lake waterslide, two swimming pools, playgrounds, walking trails, beach activities, covered picnic areas and even an amphitheater for family movies.

“Our goal is to create memories for families that they will have forever,” says resort Manager Jerry Waters. “Whether your family likes water sports, fishing, hiking, boating or just watching the sun set, Chesnut Bay Resort offers something for everyone and every age.” RUSTIC ELEGANCE IS CHESNUT BAY’S CHARM While camping trips are fun, families are sometimes looking for an upscale outdoor experience that offers the comforts and amenities of home. Chesnut Bay meets that need with its individually owned and appointed lakeside rental homes, each with its own character and style. Unlike the cookie-cutter predictability of many condo developments, resort properties are reasonably priced and sized to fit any family’s budget with homes ranging in size from two to six bedrooms. Every home has a different floor plan and is situated either on the waterfront or within 300 feet of the water. There are also several poolside villas in the mix, and lakefront rental homes include private docks. Pride in ownership means that homes are meticulously maintained year-round, offering a warm, welcoming atmosphere that is often absent in many commercial condos. And just as importantly, there is no busy spring break traffic and no noisy crowds. Chesnut Bay is also popular during the off-season when lake activities are quieter and visitors can enjoy placid waters, a quiet walk through the woods and the dazzling colors of autumn. There’s even a country store on the premises. The gated community is conveniently located for visitors from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi and is less than two hours from Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Gadsden, Huntsville and Rome. “There’s nothing else like Chesnut Bay in the four-state area,” Waters said. “We are committed to providing a wholesome family atmosphere where people feel safe and relaxed. This is truly a one-of-a-kind getaway experience and a great place for family reunions.” FANTASTIC FISHING AND FAMILY FUN ON WEISS LAKE For amateurs and seasoned anglers alike, Chesnut Bay is a favorite destination for fishing enthusiasts. Highly ranked for year-round fishing and known as the “Crappie Capital of the World,” Weiss Lake offers strong crappie, striper, catfish and bass fishing opportunities. Chesnut Bay provides all of the lakeside amenities that help make fishing trips comfortable, productive and, most of all, fun. Weiss Lake is a hydro-electric impoundment of the Coosa, Chattooga, and Little rivers, with 447 miles of shoreline com-

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Nestled along the

prising shallow flats, underwater drop-offs, deep channels and large coves. Chesnut Bay is located on the Yellow Creek portion of Weiss Lake with deep-water access and perfect conditions for fishing. Multiple tie-off areas and stainless steel fish cleaning facilities are available. Weiss Lake is also a mecca for swimming, boating and water sports. In addition to the thrilling lake waterslide that’s open daily during peak summer months, Chesnut Bay even offers complimentary paddle boats and kayaks for guests. Other fun amenities include Jet Ski and pontoon boat rentals, tennis and volleyball courts and a fully appointed fitness gym. The Chesnut Bay RV Park overlooking the resort offers incredible lake and mountain views and use of all the resort amenities, including community docks and boat ramp.

banks of Weiss Lake, Chesnut Bay provides just what guests are looking for in vacation and weekend getaway value. Whether you are ready for a great fishing trip, boating, a family vacation, or just a convenient and quiet weekend away, Chesnut Bay Resort offers the best in

PICNIC WITH THE FAMILY IN SUN OR SHADE Chesnut Bay offers plenty of opportunities for land-based fun. The Children’s Treehouse Playground, filled with multiple slides, countless ways to climb and exploration areas to play, is a favorite for toddlers and children under the age of ten. The Chesnut Bay Fish Tales Amphitheatre is the ideal setting for an evening under the stars, watching a movie, listening to local music, or even attending a wedding. During the summer months, families love Saturday movie night in the amphitheater. Situated in the middle of Chesnut Bay is the Chestnut Chapel and picnic pavilion, a peaceful oasis in the resort where visitors go to relax and reflect. The covered picnic pavilion and swing park offer even more ways to enjoy time with family and friends in the sun or shade. The pavilion provides covered space suitable for picnic lunches and evening barbeques. The picnic area is located in a large, grassy overlook of Weiss Lake and includes two swing sets for kids to enjoy. There are also a number of picnic pavilions located along the edge of Weiss Lake. “With so many options available, our visitors can plan their


resort amenities in a quiet lakeside community. Among its most popular attractions is Mushroom Lagoon Pool, featuring a waterfall that cascades off a rock wall into the pool, and a water slide that provides the perfect splash for cooling down on summer afternoons.

own customized vacation experience or just relax and go with the flow,” says Waters. “Either way, they’ll have many wonderful memories of their time at Chesnut Bay.” ■



Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau Known as the “Gateway to Northwest Alabama,” Colbert County offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, culture, and recreational events. No wonder the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau has been helping create memories for visitors for more than 25 years. ■ “We’re a full-service bureau devoted to showcasing the many popular attractions of one of Alabama’s premiere tourist destinations,” says Susann Hamlin, executive director of the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau. “We have so much to offer, including many one-of-a-kind attractions that keep visitors coming back year after year.” Located in northwest Alabama, Colbert County’s four-city region is comprised of Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Muscle Shoals, and Florence. Collectively known as The Shoals, the area stands out as one of the state’s most popular destinations.

An array of well-known artists, ranging from Aretha Franklin to Tom Jones to ZZ Hill, has recorded hits at Muscle Shoals’ FAME Studio. Meanwhile, the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield and session musicians “The Swampers” boast equally significant contributions to the music scene immortalized by the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit “Sweet Home Alabama.” The Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia pays tribute to the state’s legendary artists, and visitors may even make their own “hit” recording at Muscle Shoals. Meanwhile, a humble log cabin in Florence is the birthplace of W. C. Handy, and guests to his home may view the piano on which he composed “The St. Louis Blues.” A JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST One of the area’s most visited attractions, the Helen Keller Birthplace in Tuscumbia, features mementoes from the humanitarian’s life along with a dramatization of “The Miracle Worker” held each summer in the outdoor amphitheater. The LaGrange College Site and Pioneer Park east of Muscle Shoals is the site of Alabama’s first chartered college where visitors enjoy a recreation of a pioneer settlement complete with log buildings and year-round living history events. Belle Mont in Tuscumbia is one of Alabama’s most architecturally significant mansions, providing a glimpse of the antebellum South. “A Plantation Christmas” is hosted annually. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum Home in Florence is a premier example of the noted architect’s work and is his only design in Alabama. ATTRACTIONS FOUND NOWHERE ELSE In the Freedom Hills west of Tuscumbia is a special tribute to man’s best friend – the Coon Dog Cemetery. More than 200 hunting hounds rest beneath tombstones featuring extremely colorful epitaphs. Tuscumbia’s Spring Park features a scenic waterfall and the dancing waters of the Spring Park Light and Water Show. Visitors enjoy year-round trout fishing and picnicking, and kids can ride the park’s train, carousel, and roller coaster. More outdoor fun can be found on hiking and biking trails, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Pickwick and Wilson lakes, and the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway.

Colbert County is home to a number of attractions sure to suit the interests of all family members.

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HOME OF MUSIC LEGENDS Music plays an important role in the area’s appeal to visitors who flock from around the world to explore the origins of Southern Rock, Soul, Country, and a signature style known as the “Muscle Shoals Sound.”

PERFECT FOR YOUR NEXT GETAWAY The staff of the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau is always ready to assist in event and vacation planning. “Our team has extensive experience in coordinating a wide spectrum of events, including business meetings, corporate retreats, family reunions, and conventions,” says Hamlin. “Our personal and professional service always guarantees a memorable experience.” ■



Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau Leisure and business travelers who think they can’t have it all in one destination need only turn to the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau for a pleasant 21st century surprise. ■ Located on the banks of the Tennessee River in northern Alabama, just southwest of Huntsville, and about an hour north of Birmingham, Decatur offers the best in business, recreation, and family living. Visitors soon understand why experts refer to the community as “a grand city on a charming scale.” “We really do have the best of all worlds in Decatur,” says Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “By combining the simple pleasures of small-town living with cultural and recreational attractions that rival those of larger cities, we always have something going on for everybody.” PROMOTING DECATUR Established in 1988, the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau promotes the area in a variety of ways – from creative, integrated marketing campaigns and self-supporting publications to the organization’s com-prehensive sales efforts, trade show participation, a comprehensive web site, and media and travel agent tours. All of this work pays off for the local community. Visitors contribute significantly to Decatur’s economy each year, and tourism generates hundreds of jobs in the city. The strong tourism base has also laid the foundation for diversification of the Decatur-Morgan County economy. “Our tremendous growth and success would not be possible without the commitment, support, and forethought of the political leadership, business community, and local residents,” says Reist. “We’re continuously working with all groups and organizations to secure that next sporting event, convention, meeting, reunion, or tradeshow in Decatur.” AN ARRAY OF ATTRACTIONS Decatur’s diverse appeal gives guests from around the world the opportunity to enjoy an array of recreational opportunities in addition to an abundance of free museums, attractions, and events that run the gamut from hot-air balloon races to sports to science and the arts. For water sports enthusiasts, the city’s location on the Tennessee River makes it an ideal destination for boating, water skiing, and fishing. Meanwhile, Point Mallard Park, listed as one of the top tourist destinations by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel, features 750 acres for recreational use and year-round activities, including a water theme park, golf course, an indoor ice rink, hiking and biking trails, and a campground. Several of the county’s popular annual events, including the Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic, Riverfest, and Spirit of America, draw thousands of people from around the region. All of the events are family-friendly, and many are free of charge. Visitors also enjoy four major hiking trails and a unique concentration of wild geese and ducks at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in addition to an array of local-to-international art exhibits at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center.

STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVE The Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s commitment to the community extends beyond its mission to strengthen tourism. It partners on various projects with several local organizations, including its work with the Decatur Police Department on initiatives to ensure visitor safety. Innovation, strategic thinking, and community support are keys to the continuing success of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We’re fortunate that travelers leave here excited, satisfied, and eager to plan their next trip,” says Reist. “We expect to develop greater interest in the future by staying ahead of the curve with a strong regional message and strategic partnerships that extend and maximize our marketing efforts for the continued economic benefit of our community.” ■


From hot-air balloon races to sports to science and the arts, Decatur combines the simple pleasures of small-town living with cultural and recreational attractions that rival those of larger cities.



DeKalb County Tourist Association Visitors from around the world are lured by a DeKalb County vacation – a year-round feast for the senses that showcases Alabama in all of its seasonal glory. ■ Located in the state’s northeast corner, the area is home to the legendary Country music group Alabama and a bounty of recreational activities that include sightseeing, hiking and rock climbing, snow skiing, whitewater rafting and canoeing, horseback riding, fly fishing, dining and shopping, museums, and music venues. Lookout Mountain Parkway, was named by Reader’s Digest as one of America’s most scenic drives, and is published in National Geographic’s Appalachia’s map of best places to visit in the Appalachia Mountains. “This land is a national treasure, and there’s no place like it in the world,” says John Dersham, executive director of the DeKalb County Tourist Association. “It’s a one-of-a-kind destination in the Appalachian Mountains that features the natural beauty and hospitality of Alabama.” The area attracts national and international visitors year-round. ENJOY NATURE’S PLAYGROUND Lookout Mountain, Sand Mountain, and the valley in between, burst with natural beauty all year long in Dekalb County. Lookout Mountain Parkway is a botanical delight with an abundance of trees, flowers, and foliage. Springtime brings a renewal to the mountainous terrain with blooming redbuds and dogwoods, and the hills come to life with rhododendron, mountain laurel, wild azaleas, pink lady slippers, and jackin-the-pulpits. The county’s geographic zone supports both northern and southern flora and fauna. Autumn on the Parkway is equally spectacular – an explosion of glorious fall colors reflecting a breathtaking spectrum of beauty. In the town of Mentone atop Lookout Mountain, vacationers flock to cozy country cottages nestled along the west fork of Little River and to the area’s unique bed and breakfast inns. THE ULTIMATE YARD SALE! While taking in the scenery of Lookout Mountain, a world of bargains can be found in the nation’s longest yard sale. The tour of sales starts on the 93-mile Lookout Mountain Parkway Among DeKalb County’s most celebrated citizens are members of the legendary Country music group Alabama, who are immortalized with life-size statues at Fort Payne City Park.

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route from Gadsden, Alabama, to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The yard sale continues along the U.S.-127 corridor from Chattanooga to West Unity, Ohio, for another 650 miles of bargains with thousands of vendors. PARKS OFFER WORLDS OF BEAUTY AND FUN The Little River Canyon National Preserve offers an enchanting mix of forests, mountains, caves, springs, and waterfalls, attracting nature enthusiasts from around the world. A 23-mile drive along the canyon’s rim showcases spectacular vistas into the 700-foot deep gorge and Little River Falls. The Jacksonville State University Canyon Center at the Preserve serves as JSU’s field school and serves as home to the National Park Service for Little River Canyon. You can find exhibits, hiking trails and a gift shop there, as well. The DeSoto State Park was voted one of America’s top 10 state parks by Camping Life magazine in 2006. In addition to the 1,000-foot Azalea Cascades Boardwalk Trail and a 104-foot waterfall, there are guided hikes, biking trails, a swimming pool, tennis courts, playground, and picnic area. Overnight accommodations are available in rustic cabins and modern chalets. Buck’s Pocket State Park, secluded in a natural pocket of the Appalachian Mountains, is located on an upstream tributary of Lake Guntersville and hosts a campground and comfort station with 20 miles of hiking trails. Fishing at nearby Morgan’s Cove, and eagle watching are favorite pastimes in the area. At High Falls Park, a bridge spans a gorge, overlooking Town Creek with majestic scenic vistas and waterfall. FORT PAYNE: AN ALL-IN-ONE DESTINATION Fort Payne is one of Alabama’s most colorful and historic towns. In the 1880s, settlers from New England came with

Alabama HOME SWEET HOME DeKalb County offers an exciting combination of attractions and breath-taking views, including (top) the Alabama walking trail and Railroad Depot Museum, (middle) Little River Falls at Little River Canyon PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY JOHN DERSHAM

Preserve; and (bottom) a view of Lookout Mountain at Colbran Gap.

money, architecture, and culture to pursue opportunities in iron and coal. In less than a decade, they discovered the area lacked the abundance of minerals needed to operate. While some returned to New England, many stayed, helping to mold the area into an all-in-one destination. Today, the architecture of the era remains and includes an opera house and the Depot Museum, a beautiful pink sandstone building operated by the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. It now houses railroad memorabilia, antique handcrafted dioramas, and Native American artifacts. Fort Payne is headquarters to the Alabama Fan Club and Museum, and houses awards, collections from the band members, and a gift shop. “DeKalb County truly offers something for everyone,” says Dersham. “Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week-long family vacation, people keep coming back year after year to discover even more opportunities for fun and enjoyment.” ■




Doublehead Resort For those in search of a one-of-a-kind getaway that combines unmatched natural beauty with an array of fun-filled activities, Doublehead Resort stands out as the perfect choice. ■ Located on the beautiful recreational waters of Wilson Lake in Town Creek, Alabama, Doublehead embraces some 1,100 acres of woodland along a pine and hardwood-covered peninsula where the mouth of Town Creek joins the Tennessee River. That, coupled with a commitment to provide exceptional facilities and amenities, makes the resort a popular destination for church retreats, family reunions, weddings, banquets, receptions, corporate events, and vacation fun for the whole family. “This is not your typical resort,” says Melissa Killen, director of operations for Doublehead Resort. “Our guests are often

access to Doublehead’s many recreational facilities, which include a beach area with volleyball and horseshoes, a two-anda-half mile nature trail, golf packages, two mini-playgrounds, boat launch, tennis court, basketball court, softball field, and swimming pool. Also available are guided fishing trips, quail hunts and clay

so charmed that they can’t wait to come back. This is where people attend church camp, create corporate strategies, and make lasting family memories. It’s a very special place with a very special history.”

shooting, horseback riding, spa and massage packages in addition to canoe, paddleboat, sea doos, and pontoon boat rentals. Custom activities include team-building exercises, bonfires on the beach, DJs and live entertainment, theme parties, and personalized event shirts.

Doublehead Resort’s beautiful hand-crafted Lodge is surrounded by a 5,000 sq. ft wooden deck that overlooks a beautiful lake and is a perfect setting for your special event.

WATERFRONT BEAUTY, FUN AND RELAXATION From sunrise until long after sunset, there are countless reasons families love vacations at Doublehead Resort. Lodging at Doublehead balances modern-day amenities with cabin-style housing, creating a relaxed and unique setting. Snug among the trees are 38 split-level, waterfront cottages, each with a private pier, hammock, picnic table, and charcoal grill. Each 1,400-square-foot cottage encloses a large great room with a wood-burning fireplace, satellite TV, a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, three bedrooms, two baths, and large rocking chairs on the waterfront porch. Guests are drawn year-round to Doublehead Resort’s numerous sporting and outdoor activities. Cottage guests have full

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DESIGNED WITH GROUPS IN MIND Doublehead Resort is the perfect place for a group getaway offering visitors plenty of privacy in the handcrafted cottages and close proximity to meeting spaces and recreational activities. The resort’s towering lodge is an architectural masterpiece filled with paintings, sculptures, and exquisite furnishings. Consisting of more than 8,000 square feet of dining and meeting space, it is the cornerstone of Doublehead Resort’s group facilities. Inside are three executive-style meeting rooms that overlook Wilson Lake. The Heron and Beaver rooms each offer seating for up to 40 people while the Pow Wow Room can comfortably


accommodate up to 15. All rooms can be furnished with audio/visual equipment. Surrounding the lodge is an extraordinary 5,000-square-foot wooden deck where guests take in the spectacular views of Wilson Lake while enjoying outdoor dining or social gatherings. For larger events and meetings, Doublehead Resort’s beachside conference center provides the perfect atmosphere with accommodations for up to 250. Designed to meet every need, the center can be divided into two equal conference rooms with audio/visual equipment. Catering is available for group events with a minimum of 25 guests. “All too often, individuals or groups are stressed by all the planning, coordination, and decisions required for a successful event or vacation,” says Killen. “That’s why we take care of all the details so that our guests can enjoy every second of their time here. From bonfires to sports tournaments to team-building activities, our group service coordinators work hard to accommodate the needs of every gathering,”


PLAN YOUR DREAM WEDDING Doublehead Resort has been the setting for many dream weddings. Situated on beautiful Wilson Lake among acres of soaring pines, the rustic, yet romantic cedar lodge and spacious deck are enchanting amenities for couples and their guests. An onsite wedding coordinator can assist couples in designing the perfect wedding, handling booking and lodging details, and planning a delicious menu prepared by the in-house catering staff. From a rehearsal dinner for 60 or breakfast for 150, the resort’s flexibility allows for customized menus that suit the tastes of any group. Whether guests prefer Southern regional, or international cuisine, their meals will be cooked to perfection and styled to fit any budget. “At Doublehead Resort, we’re more than another place to go,” says Killen. “We offer an all-around experience for our guests, no matter the occasion. Once you’ve been a guest here, you’ll certainly want to come back again and again.” ■

Guests at Doublehead Resort enjoying a scenic trail ride. Breathtaking views of Wilson Lake and one of a kind pool complex.



Etowah County Etowah County, located in the northeastern part of the state, is one of the most beautiful areas in the Southeast. Home to 12 communities, several historic downtowns, and dozens of natural and cultural attractions, Etowah County offers visitors a wide selection of adventures and the warm welcome that only the world’s friendliest people can provide. Gadsden, the county seat and largest city, is where the Etowah County Visitor’s Center is located and is a great place to begin to discover Alabama’s “Heart of Beauty.”

Highway 411 along the Coosa River

ETOWAH COUNTY – THE HEART OF BEAUTY With the Coosa River and Lake Gadsden nearby and the mountains as a backdrop to all, it’s easy to see why Etowah County is known as the “Heart of Beauty.” The H. Neely Henry Lake with more than 11,000 acres of water and 300 miles of shoreline are appealing to those who enjoy pleasure boating and sport fishing throughout the year. The lake is stocked with many species of bass and several fishing tournaments are held in Gadsden annually. The land bordering Lake Gadsden behind the Gadsden Mall was set aside as an urban green space and in 1991 became the James D. Marin Wildlife Park and Walking Trail. It is a nature preserve on a wooded island in the middle of a large lake and is free and open to the public. NOCCALULA FALLS PARK Not far from downtown Gadsden is Alabama’s most visited natural attraction and most beautiful state park, Noccalula Falls. The majestic 99-foot tall waterfall dominates the landscape, but the park also has several historic sites that


in Gadsden.

HISTORIC DOWNTOWN GADSDEN Gadsden’s downtown renovation is one of the state’s most successful projects and local residents are happy to show off the revitalized area. Cobblestone streets lit by old-fashioned gas lanterns guide patrons and visitors into the historic shopping and business district. The Memorial Bridge, spanning the Coosa River, provides a picturesque entrance to the Downtown area. Downtown Gadsden, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to promoting the area, hosts several monthly parties – most notably First Fridays, a celebration held the first Friday evening of each month where Broad Street is blocked off to make room for the 25,000 or so who come to listen to live music, dance in the streets, sample diverse food offerings, look at classic cars, and take in the beautiful sunsets. Downtown, along the banks of the Coosa River, is also the venue for one of the region’s largest annual music festivals – Gadsden Riverfest – the second weekend of June. The Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts is downtown on Broad Street and is home to the nationally acclaimed Etowah Youth Symphony. Also, the Imagination Place Children’s

Museum, a learning playground where children will enjoy the hands-on exhibits designed to promote education through experience and tactile participation is located here. Next door is the Gadsden Museum of Art, a treasure trove of Southern art.

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include Civil War carvings, gorge trails with caves and Indian carvings, an aboriginal fort, and an abandoned dam. A smallscale train ride takes visitors around the park. There is camping, hiking on the Black Creek Trail, and mini-golf. Noccalula Falls State Park also hosts several annual events and festivals popular with locals and visitors: “Smoke on the Falls” Barbeque Festival, held in early April; a Halloween festival, Fantasy Falls held during weekends in October; and Christmas at the Falls, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve.

Clockwise from upper left: The Memorial Bridge, Noccalula Falls, the Train ride at Noccalula Falls, the Ferguson Wedding Chapel Courtyard in Attalla, and a First Friday Downtown

VISIT ALABAMA’S HEART OF BEAUTY “Whether someone has a free day, weekend or several months




LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN PARKWAY One of America’s most scenic drives starts at the entry to Noccalula Falls Park. Lookout Mountain Parkway is a 93 mile drive that follows the historic mountain through Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Along the parkway are many scenic vistas, waterfalls, canyons, state and national parks, preserves, and one-of-a-kind towns and villages. Lookout Mountain Parkway also hosts the World’s Longest Yard Sale each August when thousands of homeowners and vendors offer their wares, creating approximately 650 miles of bargains.

to fill, a trip to Alabama’s smallest county and “The Heart of Beauty” should be on their agenda,” said Hugh Stump, executive director of the Etowah County Tourism Board. “The area is so beautiful and things to do so abundant, visitors will have a hard time deciding what to do first!” ■



Gerald Murray Music Being a rowdy friend of Hank Williams Jr., or managing multi-city tours for the legendary George Jones would supply enough thrills to last a lifetime for many. For others, writing a best-selling book or reaching the pinnacle of business and academic success would be over the top. ■ Interestingly enough, Dr. Gerald Murray has achieved these milestones and more on his way to building one of the nation’s most successful

Boasting a career filled with an array of unique and exciting opportunities, Gerald Murray has built one of the nation’s most

management agencies for Country music artists based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Murray moved to Muscle Shoals as a child. Little did he know that the early exposure he would get to Country music would create an interest that would eventually land him in the inner circle of some of Country music’s biggest legends. “My dad worked the swing shift,” recalls Murray, “so I spent a lot of nights beside the radio listening to my favorite stars, particularly Hank Williams Sr. When I wasn’t listening to the radio, I was hanging out with my uncles, all amateur musicians who loved getting together to play music – especially the hits by their favorite Country music stars. It just got in my blood and never left me.”

successful agencies for Country music artists based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

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ROWDY TIMES WITH NEW FRIENDS One of Murray’s first business ventures in the 1970s was a clothing store in Muscle Shoals where two customers came in one day on a special errand for a friend.

“One was the manager for Hank Williams Jr., and the other was a member of Hank’s band,” says Murray. “They wanted to buy some blue jeans for Hank, who was in Cullman, Alabama, at the time. I asked if I could go along to deliver the jeans.” Murray met Williams that evening, and the two became fast friends – so fast, in fact, that on that same night Williams gave Murray a very special gift: the baby blue 1952 Cadillac that Hank Williams Sr., died in at age 29. “I felt uncomfortable about having the car and kept it in my garage for three years,” recalls Murray. “With Hank’s approval, I ended up donating it to the Hank Williams Museum in Nashville.” In the following years, Murray toured with Williams and became one of his “rowdy friends.” The experience wasn’t all fun and games, though. Murray was learning the ropes of the industry from Williams’ manager at the time, J.R. Smith. In 1978, Gerald Murray Music opened with Smith making a deal to sign over Williams’ management to Murray within a 60-day period. Williams had not scored a hit in five years since,


“Pride’s Not Hard To Swallow,” (MGM Records, 1973) but with a new #1 hit, Smith opted to stick with him. His management of Williams lasted another nine years. Yet, another opportunity waited in the wings. At Smith’s recommendation, Murray took the reins of George Jones’ career and managed the singer from 1981 to 1983. “There were a lot of good times hanging out with George and his band,” says Murray. “Being his manager included managing all of his shows, one tour, a 13-day tour that started in Nashville and turned around in California, covered 9 states and included 12 shows. At the time, Lori Morgan was performing with him and singing Tammy Wynette’s part. We all have lots of good memories from those days.” One of Murray’s first decisions was finding an opening act for Jones. He ended up signing Vern Gosdin for $500 a night, a move that led to yet another lifelong friendship and business partnership.

Jack Greene, Gerald Murray and Moe Bandy. Murray is a booking agent for Greene. Some of the many Gold and Platinum records by Murray’s clients, Vern Gosdin, Hank Williams, Jr. and the George Jones’ album, I Am What I Am, with the number one all time song in country music, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (1980 Epic

MANAGER, COLLEGE STUDENT AND AUTHOR For the next several years, Murray spent time with Gosdin touring the country and making more connections in the industry. He also felt inspired to pursue a personal goal of earning a doctorate degree. “I always wanted to be a medical doctor and started college in pre-med,” says Murray. “I soon realized that being a doctor would mean taking a pay cut, so I decided to study business.” Murray received undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of North Alabama, and in 2000 he graduated from Nova Southeastern University in Florida at the top of his class with a doctorate in business administration. Later that year, he returned to the national spotlight when he signed a management agreement with Gosdin. One of his proudest moments was seeing his friend inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Murray recently authored an award-winning book, “True


Records). It went Gold in 1981 and Platinum

Life Stories About ‘The Voice,’” (Gerald Murray Music, 2007) that chronicles Gosdin’s career, which ended with his death in April 2009. Along the way, Murray managed many others, including Dolly Parton’s sister, Stella. His current star lineup includes Jack Greene, T. Graham Brown, Alabama-based Shenandoah, and manages a recent Nashville Star finalist. “I’ve done a lot over my lifetime, including ownership of restaurants, a clothing store, and a manufactured housing business that I still have,” says Murray. “But nothing compares to the music business and the friends I’ve made along the way. That’s home for me now.” Murray is currently working on a project with the RFD TV series R5Sons, Alaska that has just started its second season. ■

in 1983.



Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Known as one of the nation’s best small-town communities, Athens, Alabama, is a place where Southern culture, history, hospitality and natural beauty are showcased year-round. ■ In addition to its picturesque charm, Athens is located near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, making it a 20-minute drive from Huntsville, Decatur, and Redstone Arsenal and an easy commute to Birmingham and Nashville.

An annual favorite of residents and guests alike is the Athens On the Square Car Show, featuring more than 800 antique vehicles along with food and fun for the entire family.

Athens and Limestone County are also great places to do business. The Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce works to promote economic growth, relocation, and tourism. It partners with the Limestone County Economic Development Association to foster growth by bringing new jobs to the area. “We see Athens and Limestone County as a place that offers residents and visitors the best of both worlds – small-town relaxation near big city lights,” says Hugh Ball, chamber president. “We also work hard to attract new business and network with existing businesses to build and expand their markets. Each month we host networking and learning events targeted for the business community, as well as educational and experiential programs for area youth.”

HISTORIC SITES TELL THE STORY OF ATHENS Dotted with historical buildings, antebellum homes and battle sites, Limestone County offers visitors a lively and informative walk through the area’s history, dating back well before the Civil War. The Athens Visitors Center, which also includes a small museum, gift shop and a large meeting room, is located in the former Athens Utilities Building built in 1906. Guests will enjoy the beautiful new interior that has retained the original brick walls and integrity of the building. In the early 1900s, pumps located in the building provided water for a holding tank that stood where the Chamber of Commerce office is located today. More recently, the building was known as the “Domino Hall” where men gathered for their daily domino games. Visitors may purchase handmade items while enjoying exhibits about Limestone County accomplishments and celebrities such as the Delmore Brothers, country music’s first duet featured on WSM’s Grand Old Opry from 1931 until 1938. Meanwhile, the Limestone County Archives office, located in the former L&N Railroad passenger depot, is a favorite stop for visitors researching their family history. The Limestone County Historical Society provides historical information and markers for 18 of the most important sites. The tourism council provides guided and self-directed tours for nearly all of the area’s attractions and historical sites. Athens State University, founded in 1822, is the state’s oldest institution for higher education and features Founders Hall, a building that is reputed to have survived the Civil War due to a letter written by Abraham Lincoln requesting that it be saved at all costs. Athens State is also the scene for many concerts and theatrical productions. The Alabama Veteran’s Museum and Archives is located in an old freight train depot on Pryor Street in downtown Athens and features documents and artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan and Iraq. Another point of interest is the Houston Memorial Library and Museum, the home of two-time Alabama Governor George S. Houston. Built around 1835, the home features the Houston family coat of arms, original furnishings, and a staffed and functional library. Another historical living museum, a must-see in Athens, is the Donnell House. This antebellum home, built in 1851, was the home of Reverend Robert Donnell (1784-1855). The facility is open for tours by appointment and is available to rent for special occasions. TRAILS TO DISCOVER HISTORY AND BEAUTY Visitors interested in enjoying the fresh air and natural beauty of Limestone County can choose from nine trails twisting through the county’s most scenic and historic attractions that

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Alabama HOME SWEET HOME Limestone County

provides a variety of activities and attractions including (top left and right) popular groups such as the Piney Creek Boys at the Athens Singing on the Square, (center) the Rails-to-Trails Walking Trail with beautiful Redbud trees in Elkmont, and (bottom) the Alabama Veterans Museum and

are suitable for driving, walking, horseback riding or biking. They can also take a 26-mile canoe or kayak journey down the Elk River. The most popular routes are the Antebellum Trail, a twohour driving tour that guides visitors through 31 properties; Rails to Trails, a path open to walkers and non-motorized vehicles that follows the long-abandoned railroad from Piney Chapel Road in Athens to the Tennessee state line; the AthensLimestone County Civil War Trail that includes local battle sites; and the Noah Bike and Vintage Car Trail, an 89-mile bike trail that begins at the Athens Visitor’s Center. “Whatever your preference, there’s a trail here for you to enjoy,” says Jeanette Dunnavant, director of tourism for the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce. “Our area is rich in history and natural beauty, and these trails are designed to help visitors discover all that we have to offer in Limestone County.” FESTIVALS FOR EVERYONE Each year brings dozens of festivals, one-of-a-kind events and regional celebrations that attract enough visitors to more than double the area’s population. The largest attraction is the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention held each year on the first full weekend in October at Athens State University’s Founders Hall. This two-day event attracts up to 200 participants competing in numerous categories including the title of “Master Fiddler,” 150 arts and crafts vendors, and 18,000 visitors. Other popular festivals and events include the Limestone Sheriff ’s Rodeo held the second weekend in May in Athens with an average attendance of 10,000; the Athens Storytelling Festival, an October event that draws more than 10,000 each year; Delmore Days Music Festival held each June; Cars on the Square Car exposition held every April on the Athens’ historic town square; Ardmore Quarterback Club’s Car Show in August; and several truck and tractor pulls as well as antique engine shows running from July through September. MEET THE GHOSTS OF ATHENS Each year Athens makes sure to celebrate some of its more discreet celebrities. The city is home to numerous structures, a mix of homes, businesses and public buildings, that are reported to be haunted. An annual “Haunts Walk,” guided and narrated by local

Archives in Athens.

attorney Shane Black, gives participants a glimpse of the tales and stories of Athens. Black, also an author, has written a book, “The Spirits of Athens” about the haunted structures. A portion of the proceeds from the book goes to the Spirit of Athens, an organization dedicated to preserving and revitalizing downtown Athens. “Stop at the Athens Visitors Center and we’ll direct you to festivals, museums, walking tracks and more. With so much to see and do in this area, we’ve really put the fun back in tourism,” Dunnavant says. Whether you’re visiting Limestone County for pleasure, to conduct business or relocate, the chamber of commerce will be happy to start you on your journey. “Limestone County is a great place to start or grow a business and a wonderful place to call home,” says Ball. ■




Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce For Over 70 years, the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce has been the uniting force of the community. The Chamber provides information through its website, by telephone, or via the Welcome Center to thousands of visitors each year seeking information on the area: An area that is rich in vibrant natural beauty and a warm home-town feeling. ■ The Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce has a long history of serving its members. The Chamber represents more than 1,200 business men and women in the Guntersville area and boasts 600 members. Membership in the Chamber of Commerce is open to any business, association, or individual interested in boosting the economic and civic interests of the Guntersville area. Residents of Guntersville and Marshall County enjoy a solid business setting based on the 189 local industries that employ more than 20,000 people. Manufacturing serves as the largest employment sector; however, retail and city services also provide 50 percent of jobs in the area. PROMOTING THE COMMUNITY The Chamber plays a crucial role in marketing and promoting the community. This is achieved through various mediums such as its monthly newsletter, weekly email report, and chamber updates in local media outlets. The Chamber also markets through national and regional publications and various trade shows throughout the country. Chamber membership includes a listing on the Chamber’s website, which has over 40,000 visitors in any given year. Members also receive a listing in the Lake Guntersville Magazine that is distributed to people looking to relocate or visit the area. Guntersville is virtually surrounded by 69,000 acres of water.

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A new Chamber benefit added in 2009 was a 24-hour information kiosk. As the number of visitors coming to Guntersville continues to grow, the Chamber began looking for better ways to serve their members and visitors to the area. Morri Yancy, Chamber president, suggested to the Board the possibility of the Chamber offering the 24-hour service. After several months of research, Yancy found a company that specialized in Chamber kiosks. In June 2009, the Chamber unveiled the new 24 hour kiosk, providing visitors with information on Chamber member businesses and printed directions to businesses. “The kiosk has already produced phenomenal results,” says Yancy. “Between June 2009 and October 2009, the kiosk produced over 20,000 searches.” LINKING PEOPLE TOGETHER The Chamber ensures that it creates opportunities for its members to network and market themselves. There are professional development seminars, monthly Business & Breakfasts, quarterly Lunch & Learns, quarterly Professional Women’s Network, annual Golf Tournament, and an annual Member Appreciation event. The Chamber also works closely with the Guntersville City

School system through various projects and partnerships. The Chamber members are a family of people working together to make Guntersville a great place to live and do business.


RECOGNIZING OUTSTANDING LEADERS Each year, the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce honors and recognizes its citizens with three very special awards at its annual banquet. The Educator of the Year award is presented to an educator for academic accomplishments and community involvement over the past year. Citizen of the Year is presented to someone for their charitable work, civic involvement, and overall accomplishments over the previous year. The Chairman’s Cut is an honor bestowed on someone by the Board of Directors of the Chamber and is awarded based on a person’s lifetime contribution to the community. ONE BIG FAMILY Located on the southernmost tip of the Tennessee River, Guntersville is an affordable, family friendly place to live. It is the mission of the Chamber to “serve as an organization to unite and support the citizens of the community in their endeavors to create a superior quality of life.” “The Guntersville community is a lot like one big family. While we may not always agree on college football and politics, in the end, we all look out for one another and support each other in times of need,” says Yancy. “I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.” ■

Fishing is world-class on this record-setting lake. The city’s unique beauty is reflected at every turn.




Guntersville - Alabama’s Lake City Surrounded by Lake Guntersville in North Alabama’s Mountain-Lakes region, the City of Guntersville is unmatched in its stunning natural beauty. The combination of trees, mountains, and 69,000 acres of water makes this one of the most magnificent areas in the South for living, working, or playing. AWARD-WINNING CITY Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, Guntersville is located at the southernmost point of the Tennessee River – an inland peninsula surrounded by Lake Guntersville, which was created in the 1930s by the Tennessee Valley Authority. From three directions, you will travel across water to find a friendly Southern welcome in an award-winning city. Southern Living recognized Lake Guntersville as Alabama’s best lake, and Relocate America included Guntersville among “The 100 Best Places to Live in America.” Field and Stream ranked the city as the “Number 9 Best Fishing Town in America.” Where to Retire Magazine recognized Guntersville as “one of the top places to retire.”

The Lodge at Lake Guntersville State Park provides stunning views.

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BALANCED, SMART, AND HEALTHY Beyond recreation and tourism, Guntersville’s economy is balanced between manufacturing, commercial business, and professional services. Local schools rank among the state’s best. And the city’s quality of life attracts outstanding medical practitioners, resulting in excellent local healthcare resources.

RECREATIONAL HAVEN – INSIDE AND OUT ESPN rates Guntersville as one of the top bass lakes in the country with the city a regular stop on the ESPN Bassmasters Tour. And in addition to water sports of all types, there are miles of walking and hiking trails, plus mountain biking, camping, hunting, and golfing. The 6,000-acre Lake Guntersville State Park has an Eagle Awareness program that bares witnesses to a thriving local bald eagle population. With a rich heritage in Native American and Civil War history, the fun is not all outdoors. A unique city museum brings the past alive while also highlighting a dynamic arts community. The Whole Backstage, an award-winning regional theatre organization, boasts a state-of-the-art theatre facility usually found only in larger cities. AN EXPANDING VISION Guntersville is making the most of its natural potential with a community effort called Vision Guntersville – a comprehensive project to make five key areas of the city work even better


together. The vision encompasses the unique City Harbor area, a streetscape renovation of the historic downtown shopping district, the 400-acre Conners Island Business Park (an Advantage Site designation), a new FAA-approved 5,000foot runway under development at the Municipal Airport,

and expanded development of the Southern Retail and Commercial Corridor. Natural beauty, local charm, business opportunity – this mountain-lakes jewel offers a welcoming atmosphere where natural beauty blends perfectly with the quality of living. â–

A beautiful setting for miles of walking trails. A lakeside amphitheater features free concerts during summer months.




Marshall Medical Centers With a vision to be the healthcare provider of choice in Marshall County and the surrounding area, Marshall Medical Centers is establishing itself as a leader in the delivery of personalized care while integrating the latest technological advancements into all of its services. ■ As a publicly owned, not-for-profit organization, Marshall Medical includes Marshall Medical Center North in Guntersville and Marshal Medical Center South in Boaz. Together the hospitals depend on more than 100 physicians and more than 1,200 employees to deliver a broad range of health-related options. “We have come a long way since our beginning, and much about the delivery of healthcare has changed,” says Gary Gore, chief executive officer of Marshall Medical Centers. “Our team has done a wonderful job of anticipating these changes and has

Marshall Medical gives every advantage when welcoming that newest addition to a family - experienced staff and physicians, the latest in technology and care delivered with a personal touch. Marshall Medical Center North.

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responded in a timely, efficient, and effective manner. Looking ahead, we are committed to an even stronger performance as we work to provide world-class medical services to the communities we serve.” MEDICAL SPECIALTIES AND ADVANCES Serving a population of 125,000 in Marshall and portions

of surrounding counties, Marshall Medical Centers provides general medical and surgical services as well as more than 20 sub-specialty services. Marshall Medical also features certified Trauma III Emergency Departments staffed with board certified physicians and highly-skilled nurses. Comprehensive physical therapy and wellness programs are also available on each campus at state-of-the art facilities called Therapy Plus Fitness. While most services are available at both locations, Marshall Medical Center South houses the county’s only cancer treatment facilities, including medical and radiation oncology. Meanwhile, Marshall Medical Center North offers the county’s only inpatient psychiatric facility. Marshall Medical’s services and facilities don’t stop at the two hospitals. Marshall Medical Centers offers many services at other convenient locations, including those housed at the Marshall Professional Center. The Professional Center is home to the Sleep Disorders Center, the Wound Healing Center, the Pain Clinic, and Marshall Imaging. Other off-campus locations include Medical Centers Homecare, Marshall Family Health Clinic, and Marshall Diagnostic Center. As Marshall Medical Centers looks to the future, it remains committed to meeting the healthcare needs of its communities by improving its work processes and adding products and services that reflect visionary leadership and a pioneering spirit. Aggressive steps are underway to improve communications, recruit additional physicians, eliminate preventable events, improve the availability of specialty services, and employ new technologies.


Both awards acknowledge Marshall Medical’s patient-centered focus on a high quality of care and a commitment to continuous improvement. “At Marshall Medical Centers, we are pleased our reputation for excellence is recognized by our patients as well as our peers in the industry,” says Gore. “We devote much of our time and energy toward personalizing each patient’s healthcare experience, and it’s rewarding when our work pays off. In fact, that’s the vision we are pursuing for the future – to provide world-class healthcare with a personal touch.” ■

Marshall Medical Centers were the first hospitals in the State of Alabama to install high-definition monitors in their operating rooms. Marshall Medical

RECOGNITION AS A LEADING HEALTHCARE PROVIDER For its focus on performance excellence, Marshall Medical Centers has won dozens of awards over the years for quality healthcare, technology, and patient satisfaction. Most recently, Marshall Medical received the 2009 Alabama Quality Award for past and recent innovations resulting in increased productivity and quality. In addition, Marshall Medical Centers ranked in the top one percent of more than 1,400 hospital systems participating in a 2009 survey commissioned by VHA Inc., a national health care alliance that gathers feedback from patients about the level of care provided during their hospitalizations.


network includes Marshall Professional Center where the Marshall Sleep Disorders Center, Marshall Pain Clinic, Marshall Wound Healing Center and Marshall Imaging Center are housed. Marshall Medical Center South.



Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau From its humble beginnings of red clay and sprawling cotton fields to its high-tech present and future, Huntsville, Alabama, has evolved into one of the most desirable areas in the United States to live, work, and play. As part of Madison County and nestled in northeastern Alabama, Huntsville is in the heart of the Tennessee Valley. Named for pioneer John Hunt, Huntsville flourished as the Valley’s cotton trading center throughout the mid-1800s. In 1950, with the arrival of Dr. Wernher von Braun and several other German rocket scientists, Huntsville blasted off into the Space Age. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Huntsville is centrally located to several popular cities such as Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Louisville, Memphis, and Nashville. However, Huntsville is a vacation destination in its own right. According to Judy Ryals, CEO/president of Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, “Huntsville is a destination city for leisure and tourism, and the area’s attractions offer a wealth of activities for the native and international visitor alike.”

A popular place to relax, scenic Big Spring International Park is also host to Panoply and Big Spring Jam.

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CULTURE Each year there are over 600 events. Huntsville presents a colorful palette of art and music activities in the form of Panoply, Concerts in the Park, Downtown Sidewalk Art Stroll, Monte Sano Art Show, and many more events. This arts and culture filled city is also home to the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Broadway Theatre League, and the Huntsville Museum of Art.

SPORTS Huntsville’s temperate climate is perfect for year round sports and outdoor activities. In a state that ranks fifth in the nation for public golf courses per resident, golf enthusiasts enjoy the 54-hole Hampton Cove Golf Course. Part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which encompasses 21 courses in eight cities in Alabama, it is one of the finest, most affordable golf courses in the world. Competitive swimming is also popular. Three-time Olympic swimming medalist, Margaret Hoelzer, grew up and trained in Huntsville. Considered the “Hockey Capital of the South,” Huntsville has the Havoc, a Southern Professional Hockey League team, as well as the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. For baseball lovers, there’s the Huntsville Stars, a AA Minor League Baseball team. For those interested in Indoor Arena Football, the Alabama Vipers are local crowd-pleasers. DINING AND SHOPPING Huntsville boasts a variety of dining and shopping experiences. From the standard “meat and three” to cuisines from virtually every international culture, Huntsville is home to locally-owned eateries and national restaurant chains. Shopping adventures await at Parkway Place Mall and Interior Marketplace. One of the newest developments, Bridge Street Town Centre, features

Alabama HOME SWEET HOME over 70 upscale shops and restaurants, the 210-room Westin Huntsville Hotel and the 14-screen Monaco Pictures. Bridge Street also features a 10-acre lake, a carousel, street performers and fountains - something for the entire family! ATTRACTIONS No visit is complete without a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. This hands-on showcase of space technology is the state’s largest tourist attraction and is home to the internationally known U.S. Space Camp. Nearby, Huntsville Botanical Garden is a beautiful 120-acre site with stunning floral collections, inviting woodland paths and broad grassy meadows. For hiking enthusiasts, the Land Trust of Huntsville provides opportunities to enjoy the great local wildflower trails and natural springs. Located in Monte Sano State Park, the Monte Sano Lodge is a rustically designed conference center complete with modern amenities. With the scenic views and overlook, it’s an attractive location to host a meeting or special event. HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU The HMCCVB serves the needs of visitors and newcomers alike. Located in downtown Huntsville, the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor Center® is designed with visitors in mind. With plenty of parking, easy access, and highly informative collateral materials, the Visitor Center is a work of architectural art in itself. Brick construction, gracefully curved walls, arched brochure racks, and an historic Weeden House fan light motif create an inviting ambience. With the beauty of all four seasons, Huntsville is home to international diversity, culture, and technology. Each year, new businesses and people from all over the world move to

Huntsville/Madison County and make it their home. There’s something for everyone: Close-knit community, great weather, fantastic dining, and affordable living. It’s all right here in Huntsville! The Convention & Visitors Bureau is working on bigger plans for the future. Says Ryals, “Visitors have so much to see and do in our community. We are a fantastic destination for conventions, meetings, trade shows and sporting events as well as business, group and leisure travelers. The future is definitely bright for Huntsville/Madison and all of Madison County.” ■

Experience nature’s kaleidoscope of colors at the Huntsville Botanical Garden where there’s always something growing on. The Davidson Center for Space Exploration is the newest addition to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and showcases NASA and Marshall Space Flight Center.




Jacksonville State University Cradled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in northeast Alabama, Jacksonville State University enjoys several distinctions that set it apart from other state, regional and national institutions of higher learning. ■ On the state level, the university historically has graduated more teachers than any other college of education in Alabama. As a regional university, Jacksonville State has the highest number of accredited

From top left: Two great traditions come together to thrill a devoted fan following

programs among regional institutions in Alabama, offering more than 150 courses of study including 24 master’s degree programs, two graduate certificate programs and extensive online offerings. Meanwhile, in national news, the Princeton Review ranks the JSU College of Business among the country’s best. Jacksonville State is also one of twelve schools nationwide selected in 2009 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the Science Education Alliance’s National Genomics Research Initiative. From outstanding academics to campus involvement to a rich athletic tradition, Jacksonville State has it all. But the most important distinction behind the school’s sustained success is one lasting feature: its focus on the individual. “Our students come from all walks, but they share a common expectation for their educational experience,” says Dr. William

Meehan, president of Jacksonville State. “They tell us that at JSU they are more than a number. We know we’ve accomplished our mission when our students tell us they feel welcomed and are supported socially and culturally as well as academically during their time with us.”

each fall at Paul Snow Stadium on the

future of marching


Jacksonville State

band for more than 50

University campus. A nationally known entity, the Southerners and the Marching Ballerinas (left) have been defining the

HISTORY, INSPIRATION, INNOVATION Located in Calhoun County nearly midway between Birmingham and Atlanta, Jacksonville State’s rich history dates back to 1883 when it was founded as a state normal school. In 1929, the school became a four-year institution and was renamed the Jacksonville State Teachers College. The first Bachelor of Science in Education degree was awarded in 1931. Five years later, the college earned regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The teachers college became Jacksonville State College in 1957 with the creation of its first graduate program, a master’s degree in elementary education. In August 1966, the State Board of Education elevated the college to university status. In the time since the school’s founding, strong visionaries have guided Jacksonville State, establishing and nurturing a reputation for honoring the highest academic principles. Through the years, school leaders also have focused on progress and modernization to meet the changing needs of students and the world. “While beautiful historic buildings are plentiful on our cam-

years and perform for thousands each season- sending chills up the spine and tears down the face. The JSU Gamecock football team (right) has won one national championship (1992) and eleven conference championships. The bell in front of Jacksonville State University’s Bibb

Hall on the former campus. It was relocated to its new and permanent home in February 1983 as part of the university’s centennial celebration.


Graves Hall was originally at Hames

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Alabama HOME SWEET HOME From top right:

Jacksonville State University’s Hugh Merrill Building houses the College of Commerce and Business Administration. Dr. LaJoyce Debro and Dr. Chris ▼ ALEX STILLWAGON/JSU PHOTO

Murdock work with students in a biology lab at Jacksonville State University. Some freshman biology students at JSU will have the opportunity to participate in scientific discovery

pus and traditional methods of instruction are still very much in place, we embrace the opportunity to offer quality distance education to a growing non-traditional student population,” Meehan says. “This distinction moves Jacksonville State beyond instruction in an ivory tower, firmly establishing us as an institution of innovation and inspiration.”

on a national scale beginning in Fall 2010 due to the university’s recent selection for the National Genomics Research Initiative funded by the Howard

SO MANY WAYS TO SHINE The Gamecocks have built a proud record of success in multiple sports. Jacksonville State is the only school in the nation


Hughes Medical


MOVING BEYOND THE CLASSROOM In addition to academics, students who attend Jacksonville State have many social and creative outlets that can help them sharpen their focus on future goals and prepare for professional careers. Setting the pace for success is the Gamecock Orientation Program, which introduces new students to the campus community. Led by enthusiastic and well-trained student leaders and faculty advisors, each orientation session is designed to meet the needs of all new students and their families so that they may grow and thrive at Jacksonville State on their way to fulfilling lives and careers. An outstanding example of Jacksonville State’s career-oriented focus is the training provided in the new hospitality and culinary management program. In 2009, the JSU Foundation received a very generous gift from Earlon and Betty McWhorter who donated a historic property in Anniston, the Victoria Inn, to the university. That same year, Chef Alan Martin, who had a successful career as a chef in Birmingham and Atlanta, came home to Anniston to reopen the restaurant at The Victoria. The restaurant gives students real-world experience while they earn college credit in hospitality and culinary management. “An important part of our academic mission is to ensure that when graduates leave our campus with degree in hand, they’re armed with the professional skills needed to build a successful career,” says Meehan.


that has won NCAA national titles in football (1992), men’s basketball (1985), and baseball (1990 and 1991). In addition, Gamecocks won two national championships in women’s gymnastics (1984 and 1985). A rich campus life filled with multi-faceted activities and groups gives students many ways to enjoy the college experience. Among JSU’s outstanding organizations are the Southerners and Marching Ballerinas who have marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Notable JSU alumni include Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of “All Over But the Shoutin’,” Randy Owen, lead singer of country music super group Alabama, Heather Whitestone McCallum, 1995 Miss America, and Alabama’s Lt. Governor, Jim Folsom. While the university enjoys a stellar alumni list, Jacksonville State treats each student like a star. “Our goal is to prepare students for unbridled success and offer opportunities for lifelong learning,” Meehan says. “Jacksonville State is the perfect setting to begin one of the most important steps in life, and we take our role in each student’s development very seriously. We invite prospective students to come and see for themselves why we’re known as ‘The Friendliest Campus in the South.’” ■



The Old State Bank The Old State Bank in downtown Decatur is the oldest standing bank building in the state. Opening in 1833, the building has a rich history of its own and survived through some of the worst and best times in U.S. history. Operated as a part of the City of Decatur’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Old State Bank stands as a testament to the perseverance of the early founders of the area. AN INTRODUCTION TO LOCAL HISTORY As one of only four antebellum structures standing in Decatur, the Old State Bank offers visitors the perfect introduction to local history. “The building was originally built as one of three branches of the Alabama State Bank-the others were in Montgomery and Mobile” explains Melinda Dunn, Historic Resource and event coordinator for the Parks and Recreation The 1833 Old State Bank serves as a charming introduction to the rich history of Decatur, Alabama. The banking lobby of the 1833 Old State Bank features the original vault and a restored teller’s cage.

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Department. “The first floor features the lobby and vault where visitors can sign a replica bank note with a quill pen just as customers would have done in 1833. A unique aspect of the building is the second floor residential quarters for the bank’s cashier. It was thought that having the cashier live upstairs would provide both security and stability.” The bank’s opening served as a catalyst for Decatur’s transition

Alabama HOME SWEET HOME Visitors gather at the 1833 Old State Bank for a Saturday morning walking tour. The Old Bank’s 2nd floor was required to serve as a cashier’s residence and features period room settings. The Old Bank is one of the few buildings to survive Decatur’s destruction during the Civil War.

from a frontier village to a respected town. Although the bank’s location was a source of argument, it reported a profit of over $84,000 in its first year of operation. The national depression of 1837 contributed heavily to the decline of all banks and in 1845, the Decatur bank’s franchise was revoked. The building served as a Union army hospital during the Civil War and still has marks on its columns made during local battles. First National Bank of Decatur occupied the building from 1881-1902, and would help finance the redevelopment and recovery of the town in the post-war years. In the early 20th century, it was used as a boardinghouse – charging 25 cents for a meal and a bed. The building was refurbished as a WPA project and was utilized as a public meeting space in the 1930’s. The building was later donated to the American Legion, who in turn, gave the building to the City of Decatur for restoration as a museum in 1976. INTO THE 21ST CENTURY FOR THE DOWNTOWN CORNERSTONE “We are always working to improve and restore the historical accuracy of the Old Bank,” said Dunn. “Guests who visit the site can learn about local history and culture through guided tours, speaker programs, classes and special events, all designed to bring history alive.” Located in the quaint Old Decatur and Bank Street Historic Districts, the Old Bank is the ideal place to begin one of the area’s two walking tours: the Civil War Walking Tour and the Walking Tour of Historic Decatur. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old


State Bank preserves an important part of both local and state history. It continues to serve as a symbol of Decatur’s ambition and steadfast will to prosper. ■



Point Mallard Park As one of Alabama’s most visited destinations, Point Mallard Park offers something for everyone – from toddlers to seniors. The park, located in Decatur, encompasses more than 780 wooded acres and is accessible by the Tennessee River. ■ Main attractions at Point Mallard include an Aquatic Center, an 18 hole golf course, 25-acres of wooded camp grounds, a year-round ice skating facility, a golf driving range, and batting cages for both baseball and softball. Also on site are three lighted and fenced baseball fields; the tennis center with 14 hard and 4 clay courts; the T.C. Almon Center, featuring basketball and racquetball courts, a weight room, and showers and lockers; a soccer center, and miles of walking and jogging trails.

View overlooking the large swimming area and diving well, Point Mallard’s waterpark is nestled in 32 of the 780 acre park.

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J. GILMER BLACKBURN’S DREAM The former mayor of Decatur had a dream of making a unique destination park for travelers in Northern Alabama. Blackburn had seen new concepts of family recreation during a trip to Germany, and he came back determined to open such a park in Decatur. Through years of hard work, creative financing, and land deals with the TVA, Blackburn was able to see his dream become reality when America’s first wave pool opened in the summer of 1970 at Point Mallard Park. The park grew at a rapid pace. An 18 hole, par 71 championship golf course was opened within a year. The 25-acre campground was added in 1972, and the ice skating rink was completed in 1973. The Aquatic Center at Point Mallard was dedicated to Blackburn in 1987. Today, along with the wave pool, the J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center features an Olympic-size diving pool, water slides, a children’s pool and a

separate lagoon and waterway – which flows into the park from the Tennessee River. FESTIVALS AND COMMUNITY EVENTS Point Mallard Park hosts several major festivals each year – most of which are free and open to the public. The park’s large, open beautiful areas make it the perfect venue for tourists and locals to gather and celebrate the holidays, enjoy music and crafts, or just camp and have family fun. SoulStock, a contemporary Christian music festival, is held the weekend prior to Memorial Day each year. The event is sponsored by more than 40 multi-denominational churches from the area and features several bands and solo acts. The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Festival is held each Memorial Day weekend at Point Mallard and has become a traditional way to kick-off the summer. The two-day event is one of the largest gatherings in northern Alabama, attracting dozens of hot air balloon enthusiasts from around the country. Along with the aerial competition, the festival features a variety of music on stage, arts and crafts exhibits, fireworks, and an evening of watching the balloons light up the evening sky. A Fourth of July weekend would not be complete without


The beautiful beach area offers riverside lounging, beach volleyball and a swimming area. Boaters with season passes may even dock and enter the park from the Tennessee River. Squirt Factory (bottom left & right) is designed for kids ages 5-10 with

attending the Spirit of America Festival, which draws more than 70,000 revelers annually. The weekend is packed with events including the Miss Point Mallard Pageant, patriotism awards to honor military heroes and volunteers, and the magnificent fireworks display – the largest such exhibition in northern Alabama. Point Mallard celebrates the end of summer each year with the Battle for Decatur Civil War Reenactment each Labor Day weekend. More than 200 authentically costumed soldiers reenact the four-day battle that occurred October 26-29, 1864. Civil War camps and crafts are also highlighted. FUN IN TUNE WITH NATURE Point Mallard Park is a haven for naturalists and attracts thousands each year for fishing and bird and wildlife watching. “We are built on TVA land and are dedicated to their mission of making sure the land continues to support the success of waterways, wildlife, and the environment as a whole,” said Julianne Lowman, Point Mallard marketing director. “Working in harmony with the environment is not


mulit-level waterplay activities.

only the right thing to do, it has also helped us to create and maintain the scenic beauty for which the park is known.” PERFECT FOR FAMILY OUTINGS OR CORPORATE EVENTS Point Mallard’s diverse offerings make it the perfect location for people of varying ages, backgrounds, and interests. The park is available to be partially or totally rented for special events and corporate gatherings. Make plans to visit northern Alabama’s crown jewel and discover why Alabama Tourism named Point Mallard Park “Alabama’s Number One Seasonal Attraction.” ■



Tigers for Tomorrow at Untamed Mountain Tigers for Tomorrow is a non-profit exotic animal rescue preserve and wild animal park. The Preserve, home to over 130 animals including 75 predators, is a last stop for the animals. “The animals that come to live with us remain here for the rest of their lives,” says Susan Steffens-McCauley, executive director and one of the founders of the Preserve.

Tigers for Tomorrow is a premier exotic animal park and rescue providing environmental educational programming to the local community and tourists of North Alabama.

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LIVING THE DREAM Tigers for Tomorrow was founded in 1999 in Florida by a group of like-minded individuals aware of the huge surplus of exotic animals that would end up homeless with no safe place to live out the remainder of their lives. Many of these animals have lost their “jobs” or their “owners.” In 2004, the Florida Preserve was hit by a tornado that caused extensive damage to the animals’ habitats. Dedicated volunteers had just finished rebuilding when three hurricanes in 2005 brought more devastation. The Board of Directors decided to move the sanctuary to a safer location where they could concentrate on rescuing animals in need without having Mother Nature impede. The sanctuary was relocated to an area of outstanding natural beauty and resources in the foothills of the Appalachians Mountains - now known as Untamed Mountain in Dekalb County, Alabama. Untamed Mountain opened to the public in June of 2006 and presently encompasses 140 acres. This extraordinary notfor-profit organization specializes in big cats, mainly lions and tigers and other large predators, but they will not turn away other exotic or farm animals in need. Executive Director Susan Steffens-McCauley and Director of Animal Care & Operations Wilbur McCauley are a husband and wife team with a combined 40 years experience working with wild animals. According to Steffens-McCauley, “Care begins the day the animals come to live at the Preserve and continues throughout everyday of the rest of their lives. “We establish a relationship with every animal at the Preserve in the hopes of enriching their lives even from outside of their enclosures.”

It costs a minimum of $10,000 to build a new enclosure equipped with a den box, jungle gym, and small wading pool. Between 1500 and 1700 pounds of meat per week are required to feed the predators. The Preserve’s annual $400,000 operating budget is off-set through the receipt of donations, habitat sponsorships, grants, public events, the Guardian Angel Animal Adoption Program, and gate admission fees. “Every contribution, no matter the size, allows us to continue providing for the animals entrusted to our care,” says Steffens-McCauley. TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE Visitors to the Preserve will not only encounter tigers, leopards, cougars, wolves, and bears in a safe and natural setting but will also experience the wonders the facility offers through two options. First, visitors can take part in a “walk about.” This option allows visitors the chance to tour the Preserve at their leisure and takes about 90 minutes to com-plete. Most visitors to the Preserve will bring a picnic lunch and spend the entire day. Upon entering the Preserve, visitors will be greeted by “Zack” and “Tootles,” a young zebra and camel that have become the best of friends. The next stop is the Children’s Barnyard & Contact Area. Here children can interact with the inhabitants ranging from farm animals such as goats, sheep, donkeys, and pigs to the more exotic llamas, emus, and even a very old and large tortoise. The Moljac Bear Wolf Children’s Pavilion is available for picnics, birthday parties, seminars and education programs. The pavilion is totally “green,” as are many of the other structures at Untamed Mountain, having been built from recycled wood. Located just a quick stroll down a natural


“Care begins the day

pathway is the Carnivore Compound, which encompasses over 18-acres of habitats and houses 70 big cats and large predators. Upon entering the Carnivore Compound, visitors are warned not to be startled by the occasional howling by wolves, or if they are really lucky, the roaring of lions. Private tours, group tours, and school field trips with knowledgeable volunteers or staff members are also available by appointment. Since Tigers for Tomorrow is a place of peace for the animals that live at Untamed Mountain, these scheduled appointments are the only times visitors are permitted to use cameras of any kind while at the Preserve. Visitors are asked to respect this for the animals’ well-being and peace of mind. In June 2009, Tigers for Tomorrow opened the first section of the West Side Preserve. “Cowboy,” the second largest tiger at the Preserve, eagerly greets visitors as they come down the hill. His neighbor “Boris the Great,” an African lion, occasionally will save a portion of his meal so that he can demonstrate to visitors one of the primary triggers that will naturally bring his instincts to the surface. Animals by nature are not mean, but their instincts make them dangerous. As Wilbur McCauley explains, “As guardians of the animals we must first understand them for who they are and what they are not. Each animal is an individual with intellect and emotions driven by instincts which can never be removed. They are in their purest form, wild by nature. Once this is understood, we can give them the love, dignity, and respect they deserve so that the world may learn they truly are worth protecting.”

the animals come to live at the Preserve and continues throughout everyday of the rest of their lives,” says Susan Steffens-McCauley, founder and executive director. “As guardians of the animals we must first understand them for who they are and what they are not. Once this is understood, we can give them the love, dignity, and respect they deserve so that the world may learn they truly are worth protecting.” - Wilbur McCauley, founder and director of animal care and operations

WILDLIFE AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER The heart of Tigers for Tomorrow lies in its commitment to educating today’s youth in issues relating to wildlife conservation and renewable resources. “The Preserve’s educational philosophy is based on the belief that the earlier children are exposed to nature the earlier they can develop an understanding and appreciation for the world’s wildlife,” says SteffensMcCauley. “Our goal is to be regarded by parents, teachers, and the community-at-large as a fundamental education and cultural resource. Children are becoming hesitant to venture outdoors; they are losing their ability to imagine and the desire to explore. It is our responsibility as educators of today’s youth to keep a child’s imagination, creativity and desire to explore alive by allowing them to indulge in the joys of nature.”


THE FUTURE Those at the Preserve live by a very simple philosophy: continue to make a difference everyday; never stop caring about the animals; and never stop educating the public, for people will never fear that of which they have knowledge. The Preserve one day hopes to have an endowment so that environmental education programs can be provided to all those that visit Untamed Mountain free of charge. ■



The University of Alabama in Huntsville The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) is a thriving educational institution with a history rich in community and civic duty and a commitment to teaching, research, and service. The university currently has an enrollment of more than 7,400 students pursuing academic and professional majors through the colleges of Business Administration, Liberal Arts, Engineering, Science, and Nursing.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville is Alabama’s leading technological university.

Nurtured both by progressive leadership and a faculty dedicated to learning inside and outside the classroom, UAHuntsville has developed into a nationally recognized institution of higher learning that is valued for its technological research by industry and government agencies while being prized for the extraordinary educational opportunities it provides for students. A HISTORY OF COMMITMENT The University of Alabama Huntsville Extension Center first opened its doors in January of 1950 – serving 137 students at what is now known as Stone Middle School. That was also the year that Redstone Arsenal – a former Army chemical manufacturing and storage facility – was designated the center of the U.S. Army’s missile defense program. Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket scientists moved to Huntsville to form the Redstone Arsenal Institute of Graduate Studies. Although Redstone wasn’t formally linked to the Huntsville Center, classroom space was shared and class schedules were coordinated. This was to become the beginning of a very important relationship. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Major General John

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Maderis and Marshall Space Flight Center Director, Dr. Wernher von Braun, addressed the Alabama Legislature to assert that the Huntsville Center must be supported and expanded to a four-year institution if the state wanted to benefit from future technology-oriented growth. Both presentations were successful and resulted in issuing of bonds to support the building and land requirements of what would become UAHuntsville. In September of 1969, The University of Alabama in Huntsville was given autonomous, equal, and independent status in the UA system. During the 1970s, UAHuntsville capitalized on the connections with Huntsville’s business and technology communities – laying the groundwork for research centers in optics, microgravity, robotics, and space plasma. University President, Dr. David B. Williams, links classroom work with hands-on experience at NASA, the U.S. Army, and at corporations in Cummings Research Park, the second largest university-related research park in the United States. He understands learning must go beyond the classroom. “Our students participate in hands-on research – both as undergraduates and as graduate students; it is the combination of classroom instruction and practical application of that knowledge that

provides a learning environment that exists at very few institutions – such as UAHuntsville,” Williams explained. “We value students who seek a distinctive education that gives them the knowledge and tools to provide innovative solutions through an approach that involves leadership, values teamwork, and collaboration.” The approach works. Some of the past students UAHuntsville has inspired have included astronaut Jan Davis; John Hendricks, founder and chairman of the Discovery Channel; and Jim Hudson, founder of both Research Genetics and the Hudson-Alpha Institute for Biotechnology.


he said. “Huntsville’s success provided the groundwork for UAHuntsville. In turn, the successes of our students and graduates help foster a strong future for Huntsville. We’re proud of our community and our university.” ■

IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES WHEN CLASSROOM AND RESEARCH MERGE UAHuntsville conducts research in a number of disciplines that can be compared to some of the top universities around the nation. This provides students with opportunities that students elsewhere can only imagine. Without the barriers between research and classroom, the possibilities are only bound by one’s imagination. UAHuntsville students have the opportunity to help design a helicopter or a missile that may be used by the U.S. Army in the year 2020, learn from a scientist whose experiments fly aboard the space station, and carry out experiments in a zero-gravity environments while flying at 36,000 feet in a NASA airplane. Undergraduate students are involved in research in all departments – from building experiments for suborbital rockets to developing special lenses, building satellites, excavating dinosaur bones, traveling to tropical jungles to find medical uses for plants, helping high-tech industry solve real-life management and marketing problems, or working with patients in some of the most modern medical facilities in the region. Breaking the barriers to the world’s endless possibilities is the mission of UAHuntsville.

Rocket science is one of the research strengths at technology-intensive University of Alabama in Huntsville. Information technology finds a multitude of applications at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION The University of Alabama in Huntsville is one of the leading producers of engineers and scientists in Alabama as approximately half of the graduates earn a degree in engineering or science. UAHuntsville has made many of the nation’s best lists. U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked the university among the 200 Best National Doctorial Universities – a distinction shared by less than ten percent of the more than 2,000 fouryear colleges in America. The American Society for Engineering Management named UAH’s graduate engineering program the Best in the Nation and Consumers Digest magazine has named the university One of the Best Educational Values in America. UAH SUCCESS = SUCCESS FOR HUNTSVILLE “In many ways, UAH is a reflection of this high-tech community we call Huntsville. In fact, I believe it took a city like Huntsville to cultivate an environment in which our university, faculty, and students could thrive,” Williams said. “It is because of the community that our research and PhD programs are nationally and internationally visible. “The business and governmental agencies we serve offer our students hands-on experience and frequently full-time employment. They also give our Business, Liberal Arts, and Nursing programs the ability to consistently give back to the community,”




University of North Alabama As one of the nation’s first coed colleges, the University of North Alabama has evolved into a comprehensive regional university providing quality educational opportunities for students with majors in four colleges arts and sciences, business, education, and nursing and allied health. ■ With a broad array of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, the university also stands as a leader in international programs. Its diverse student body creates an exciting learning community for the entire campus. Beyond the classroom, the University of North Alabama provides a comprehensive mix of extracurricular opportunities. And the success of the university is no secret. In 2008, U.S. News & World Report named the University of North Alabama as one of America’s Best Colleges. “We pride ourselves on our small classes and our commitment to student success,” says President William Cale, Jr. “We work to maintain an environment in which our students thrive, and we are also an integral part of the community. There are many dimensions to an enriching college experience, and our goal at the University of North Alabama is to focus on developing the whole person.” Situated on 130 acres in Florence’s historic district, the University of North Alabama stands as one of the most picturesque college campuses in the state.

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HISTORY, BEAUTY AND ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE The University of North Alabama owns a proud history, opening in 1830 as LaGrange College in Franklin County. Moving to its present location in Lauderdale County in the mid 1850s, the college became Florence Wesleyan University. In 1872, it became the first state-supported teacher’s college south of the Ohio River. It became the University of North Alabama in 1974.

Today, the beautiful campus occupies more than 130 acres in a restored historic district in Florence, Alabama, where the setting is residential and pedestrian friendly. Nicknamed “Alabama’s Renaissance City,” Florence is the largest of a four-city region that also includes Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Muscle Shoals. Florence lies about an hour west of Huntsville and is located between Birmingham, Alabama, and Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. The University of North Alabama offers more than 60 majors, plus masters degrees, certifications, and diploma programs. A majority of the faculty members are full-time with 71 percent holding doctoral degrees and 72 percent holding terminal degrees in their fields of study. An average class size of 25 puts the student-to-teacher ratio at an enviable 23:1. Students who attend the University of North Alabama choose from among more than 100 student clubs and organizations, including nine fraternities and seven sororities. Tuition is among the lowest in the state and in the nation. Approximately 66 percent of students receive financial aid; a typical package is about $5,000 a year. All university students who complete the application process receive an offer of financial assistance with more than $3 million in scholarships awarded in 2009-2010.


A LEARNING COMMUNITY Learning communities are springing up at colleges and universities all over the nation, and the University of North Alabama is pleased to offer a unique approach that helps students learn together. In their simplest form, learning communities take two courses, such as English and history, and connect them to help students get the most out of their college experience. Included is a one-hour learning community course in which students interact with their professors and get to know fellow students from both core classes. All paired courses are those that students would normally take during their freshman year. By organizing students and faculty into smaller groups, a learning community brings faculty and students together, encourages integration of different subjects, helps participants establish support networks, and provides a setting for adjusting to college life. DISTANCE LEARNING AND EARLY SCHOLARS Other popular learning options at the University of North Alabama are its distance learning and early scholars programs. The typical distance-learning student has special scheduling needs because of employment, family responsibilities, or geographic distances. Distance learning courses allow flexibility by offering classes online and include facilitation by a University of North Alabama faculty member. Internet classes include undergraduate and graduate-level courses that feature online lectures, list-servers and threaded mail discussion groups. Most classes have online testing, but a few courses do require proctored exams. The nationally accredited College of Business offers the online Master of Business Administration program in which


students can earn an MBA through Internet-based instruction with no on-campus requirement. Other online degree programs include the RN-to-BSN program, the bachelor’s degree in sociology, and the Master of Science in nursing. In the early scholars program, qualified secondary students can take university classes through distance learning without ever leaving their high school campuses. This special option allows a generous discount on tuition (five hours per semester) for high school students.

Boasting more than 7,100 students, the University of North Alabama offers more than 60 undergraduate majors, plus the education specialist and master’s degrees in seven fields of study.

CREATE THE FUTURE AND MAKE HISTORY Beyond the classroom, students enjoy opportunities at the University of North Alabama that are in many cases truly one-of-a-kind. For example, students can get involved with the university’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, which built the first zero-energy solar-powered Habitat home in Alabama. They can enroll in the four-year culinary arts program – the first such degree program offered in Alabama. Students can soak up the rich musical heritage of the area, including the world-famous W.C. Handy Music Festival. They can cheer on the many teams representing the University of North Alabama Lions – football, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, cross country, volleyball, softball, and soccer. “The University of North Alabama is a great place to be,” says Cale. “A great place to go to school, a great place to work, and a great place for the community. It is easy to be excited about the fabulous things happening here. “Looking toward the future,” he adds, “we will strive to bring higher education even closer to the people as we serve the academic, employment, physical, cultural, and special needs of the citizens of Northwest Alabama.” ■



Ivy Green: The Birthplace of Helen Keller Helen Keller was born June 27, 1880, on a 640-acre estate in Tuscumbia. The city purchased the land and buildings from the estate of Helen Keller in 1952 and opened it for public viewing two years later. Ivy Green, the main residential building on the estate, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1954. The property was managed by an appointed board until 2000 when the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation was formed. The voluntary board continues to oversee the fundraising, maintenance, and restoration efforts at Ivy Green. The History of Ivy Green Helen’s grandparents built Ivy Green in 1820, and a cottage was later built on the grounds to serve as an office. When widower Captain Arthur Keller retired and decided to marry Kate Adams, he realized the house would not be big enough, as it was already housing his mother, sister, and two sons from his first marriage, so he fixed up the cottage to serve as a bridal suite. It was in this cottage that Helen Keller was born, and it would later serve as home to Helen and her dedicated teacher Anne Sullivan. Today, the homes and museum are filled with much of the original furnishings of the Keller family and many of Helen’s personal items, including her Braille typewriter and books. The grounds have an abundance of roses and 150-year-old boxwood trees covered with English ivy–for which the estate is named.

Ivy Green, the home of the Keller family, located in Tuscumbia, Alabama, was the birthplace of Helen Keller in 1880. Helen spent her childhood surrounded by loving family members. It was to this home that Annie Sullivan arrived in 1887 to serve as teacher to the undisciplined blind and deaf child who went on to become known as “America’s First Lady of Courage.” The museum at the Birthplace of Helen

Helen Keller’s Life Helen would have attended what is now known as the Helen Keller School–a school located in Talladega, Alabama–had the school accepted children with multiple disabilities at the time. Upon the suggestion of Alexander Graham Bell, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, a recent graduate of The Perkins School in Boston, began to tutor 6-year-old Helen. Later, Helen attended Perkins School, and with Sullivan’s help in interpreting lectures and class discussions, she graduated with honors from Radcliff. She later dedicated her life to improving the quality of life for blind and blind-deaf people around the world. Helen lectured in more than 25 countries and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson. Ivy Green in the Summer Sue Pilkilton, executive director of Ivy Green, suggests a visit in the summer. “Since 1979, we’ve held a Helen Keller Festival each year during the last week of June, and performances of ‘The Miracle Worker’ begin the first week of June and run for six weeks. Prior to the festival, we review artwork from deaf and/or blind school-aged children and award one child with expenses to his or her visit for the entire weekend during the festival. The summer is a wonderful time to visit Ivy Green.” Make plans to visit the inter-nationally known birthplace of Helen Keller and create your own miracles in Tuscumbia, Alabama. ■

Keller contains memorabilia from a lifetime of accomplishments, including this bust of the famous blind and deaf humanitarian.

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Alabama HOME SWEET HOME A walking path in DeSoto State Park near Fort Payne and


Mentone, Alabama.



Since its beginning more than 135 years ago, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University has established a reputation of academic excelle...


Since its beginning more than 135 years ago, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University has established a reputation of academic excelle...