Tourism Tuesdays July 21, 2015

  • Who should the Alabama Music Hall of Fame induct next? You tell them
  • Two Alabama BBQ joints featured on Cooking Channel show tonight
  • Go Set a Watchman release draws ‘media avalanche’ Monroeville
  • Perry County site added to civil rights Selma to Montgomery National Historic Rail
  • Tax incentives bring film, TV show crews to Alabama
  • Selma sees major economic, tourism boost in wake of film, Bloody Sunday anniversary events
  • Nicolas Cage meets man of courage on set of ‘USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage’
  • Survivors, relatives of U.S.S. Indianapolis tragedy give their blessing to filmmakers
  • Elberta Sausage Fest goes global on funny pages, thanks to ‘Blondie’
  • Alabama’s BBQ Trail on list of nominees for USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice contest
  • Volunteer student replicates hand-drawn diagrams of the USS Alabama
  • Historic Chattahoochee Commission launches reorganization plan
  • Alabama Restaurant Week jumps to 62 participating establishments
  • Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism 2015 Mobile App
  • Alabama artists and craftspeople
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Who should the Alabama Music Hall of Fame induct next? You tell them.
By Lawrence Specker,, July 20

Induction into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame is the highest state honor an Alabama music-maker can get. Who should be the next to receive it?

According to a release from the Alabama Tourism Department, the Hall of Fame board has invited the public to suggest candidates for the next wave of inductions. The hall’s next awards ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 26, but the deadline for suggestions is July 31.

In the statement announcing the call for induction, Hall of Fame board member Bill Newton said: “Our state has been blessed with talented songwriters, performers, producers and others who deserve recognition. We want recommendations about those whose careers have had a significant impact on our music industry.”

Keep in mind that many of the obvious choices already have been so honored: Inductees include Nat King Cole, Hank Williams Sr., W.C. Handy, Sam Phillips, The Louvin Brothers, Dinah Washington, Alabama, Percy Sledge, Tammy Wynette, Clarence Carter, Emmylou Harris and more. A gallery of inductees can be seen on the Hall’s website,

Another key point: The Hall also presents a number of “Contemporary Awards” in various categories. Many of the artists and acts who’ve received such awards in the past remain eligible for induction. For example (hint, hint), Wet Willie received the America’s Music Award in 2001. Thanks to its association with Macon-based Capricorn Records, the band from Mobile was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame last year, but it has not yet been inducted into the Alabama Hall.

To nominate a music-maker for induction, e-mail Nominations will be considered alongside those suggested by a statewide panel that has been asked for recommendations, according to the Tourism Department statement.

To read this article online, go to:

Two Alabama BBQ joints featured on Cooking Channel show tonight
By Candace White, ABC33/40 News, July 20

Alabama is a barbecue mecca, and two iconic locations will be featured on Cooking Channel’s Man Fire Food.  Big Bob Gibson’s and The Brick Pit will represent different parts of the state and very different styles of barbecue on Tuesday, July 21.  The episode is entitled “Alabama BBQ.”

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur is known for its unique white sauce.  In the episode, award-winning Pit Master Chris Lilly shows how to make their legendary smoked chicken.  Then, host Roger Mooking will take viewers down to Mobile to The Brick Pit.  Owner, Bill Ambrecht, who has been serving Alabama-style ‘cue for 20 years, will showcase the chicken and ribs.  However, we’re told the thing everyone talks about is the pulled pork, which cooks for almost 30 hours in a smoker called “The Big Red.”

Both locations have been serving BBQ for generations in the heart of The American Barbecue Belt.  The Alabama Tourism Department is encouraging people to tune in to watch our Bama establishments.  “We are thrilled with the exposure that this will bring to Alabama, especially during The Year of Alabama BBQ,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department. “Big Bob Gibson and The Brick Pit are two of the state’s most iconic barbecue restaurants.”

This is the year designated as “The Year of Alabama BBQ” by The Alabama Tourism Department.  When you tune in to watch Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m., you are asked to use the hashtag #AlabamaBBQ on social media.

To read this article online, go to:

Go Set a Watchman release draws ‘media avalanche’ to Monroeville
By Connor Sheets,, July 16

As beloved novelist Harper Lee’s hometown, Monroeville has for decades been periodically inundated with tourists and reporters from around the world looking to capture a little bit of that Maycomb magic. But Tuesday may have been the town’s biggest day yet, as dozens of journalists and bibliophiles traveled from places like Kentucky, Texas and even overseas to experience the festivities attending the release of Lee’s “new” novel, “Go Set a Watchman.”

“I think it’s safe to say there’s not a news organization that missed this story,” Stephanie Rogers, executive director of the Monroe County Heritage Museum, which is dedicated in large part to the legacy of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and now to “Watchman” as well, told recently.

Though Monroeville is a tiny county seat with a population of fewer than 6,500 people, on the day of the Watchman unveiling all accounts suggested that the city was easily able to gracefully accommodate the influx of visitors.

Alabama Tourism Department Director Lee Sentell told that the “avalanche of media coverage” was not entirely out of the ordinary for a town that has hosted a popular production of the stage version of Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird each year for more than two decades.

“It’s just more people,” he explained while seated in the Monroe County museum, adding that the Tourism Department helped the town prepare for this week’s events by providing promotional materials, setting up tours and getting the word out.

Robert Champion, a 66-year-old Monroeville resident who has played multiple parts including Boo Radley in the town’s Mockingbird performances for the past 19 years, told that though reporters for outlets like CNN, the BBC and the Associated Press had been in town for days, they were not a nuisance.

“I don’t think they’ve been bothering people. There’s been press here for several days. As far as I know, they’ve been courteous, and it’s not like they’re shoving cameras in your face every few minutes,” he said. “We’re happy to have them. For us, it’s nothing unusual because we’re used to being interviewed.”

As many as a dozen TV crews were on hand for the Monday evening and early Tuesday morning book release activities, in addition to dozens of print and online journalists, said a member of a CNN crew posted outside the Monroe County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon. The member of the crew – which was supporting CNN‘s Dallas correspondent Ed Lavandera in covering the story – said that the mood among members of the press in Monroeville for the release event and during the day Tuesday was amiable and even collaborative.

“There was no cutthroat aspect yesterday, they were respectful and everyone played nice. More so than usual, even,” he said. “It’s rare you get such a positive event to cover. Like, when’s the last time you saw lines of people waiting to buy a book? I think that positive energy really contributed to everyone getting along, too.”

To read this article online, go to:

Perry County site added to civil rights Selma to Montgomery National Historic Rail
By Kelvin Reynolds, WBRC Fox News, July 20

Alabama’s contribution to America’s civil rights movement was highlighted in the movie Selma.

But there was one important moment not seen in the movie or very well-known outside of Perry County that got more recognition Monday. That change is coming thanks to historical markers unveiled.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, National Parks Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and others unveiled a historic marker outside Zion United Methodist Church in the town of Marion.

Marion was formally added to the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail Monday. Signs on the street also pay tribute to that recognition.

“Well today we get the story correct. Today, we add Marion to the historic Selma to Montgomery trail. I think it’s really important that the world knows the importance of the city Marion, Perry County to the story of voting rights,” Congresswoman Terri Sewell.

The death of Jimmie Lee Jackson at the hands of an Alabama state trooper in February of 1965 during a civil rights protest sparked protesters to later march across Selma’s Edmond Pettus Bridge. Troopers also attacked those protestors. It’s seen as a key civil rights moment that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Ira Fairley, a distant cousin of Jackson, described her family’s feelings about new historic markers.

“And when they did the movie, we didn’t hear anything about Marion, Alabama. So I’m just trying to get to the history, do I can teach my grandkids and relatives all about the struggle here in Marion,” Fairley said.

From here on, Marion gets a bigger role in Alabama’s and America’s history.

To read this article online, go to:

Tax incentives bring film, TV show crews to Alabama
By Martin Swant, The Associated Press,, July 19

Richard Rionda Del Castro, the producer of “USS Indianapolis” — an upcoming movie starring Nicolas Cage about the sinking of the ship that transported the nuclear bomb to end World War II — is filming on and off Alabama’s coast this month.

“What is exciting about this film is really making this story,” he said. “It’s a film that should have been made long ago, and I don’t understand why no producer has made this film before.”

But it’s not just Orange Beach’s white sand, downtown Mobile’s historic architecture and a mansion outside of town that make Alabama an attractive setting for such a major motion picture.

There’s something else pretty about this picturesque port town: tax credits.

In 2012, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed a bill expanding how much money companies that produce movies, television shows and commercials can recoup on expenses and payroll by filming in the state. Before then, the state’s film incentive program, which began in 2009, was capped at $10 million. After, it rose to $15 million in 2013, to $20 million in 2014 and to $25 million in 2015.

According to the Alabama Film Office, the state since 2009 has been home to 55 projects — feature films, television shows and commercials. However, knowing the direct economic benefit — or loss — is nearly impossible to tell.

Film office manager Kathy Falk said the program is bringing more films, more jobs and more revenue to cities where scenes are set. She said the state has nearly reached its incentives cap in the years since expanding.

“We feel like we are getting back from it what we’re giving out,” Faulk said. “So we feel like our program is working the way it was intended and the way it should.”

Films shot in Alabama are also seen as a boon for tourism. Lee Sentell, director of the state’s tourism department, said more tourists and school groups have traveled to Selma since the historical drama was released last year.

“The gold standard was the film ‘Selma,’ ” Sentell said. “Not only was the story based in Alabama, but the most significant scenes were filmed where they actually happened, so that is a huge win for the production side but also for the tourism side. It was essentially a two-hour commercial for Alabama.”

Marco Cordova, a film tax credit placement expert for Los Angeles-based Entertainment Partners, said incentives play a vital role in any location decision. Cordova said it’s often one of the very first things production companies consider.

“I think that in general, incentives are helping states attract business and create infrastructure that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said.

Not everyone is giving film credits a four-star rating.

Joseph Henchman, vice president of legal and state projects at the Tax Foundation, a right-leaning tax think tank that has studied film incentives, said states’ collective spending has plateaued at $1.5 billion. The number of states with programs has also fallen from its peak of 41 to under 30.

“What we are seeing is it used to be every state had a small program, and now a couple of states have very large programs and the other states have very small programs,” he said.

Henchman said some states have commissioned studies to examine the effectiveness of their programs and have found unfavorable results. He said production companies have been less than loyal when the money dries up.

“As soon as you end your program or make it less generous or some other state makes theirs more generous, the industry’s out of there,” he said.

A number of other states are capping, cutting or closing programs that for years have doled out millions of dollars. Lawmakers in Michigan — a state that began offering incentives decades ago— voted last month to end its program after this year.

However, Del Castro said incentives are critical.

“If you start changing the tax credits and making them less attractive, then we won’t come here,” he said. “And that will mean that all the progress that has been made by these men and women who work in this industry will be wasted.”

To read this article online, go to:

Selma sees major economic, tourism boost in wake of film, Bloody Sunday anniversary events
By Connor Sheets,, July 15

Selma is enjoying an ongoing wave of interest coming off its big national moment, which began with the Christmas release of the Oscar-nominated film bearing its name and continued through the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in March.

The national spotlight may now be largely off the small city, but the residual effects of the events of the past winter continue to drive economic benefits for its citizens and business owners.

The main lasting impact of the movie’s release and the 50th anniversary of the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge – which drew luminaries including President Barack Obama to Selma – has been a major surge in name recognition.

With that boost to the Selma brand has come a marked increase in the number of tourists and history buffs making a stop in the iconic city during tours of the South.

“We had the movie, and then this year in March we had the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday event in Selma, and since then Selma has had bus group after bus group after bus group coming to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge,” Alabama Tourism Department Director Lee Sentell told Tuesday.

The revitalized interest in Selma’s cultural offerings has put the city on the national map in a way that Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, told she has not experienced there before.

“We are considered rural and we are off the beaten path but we’ve had snowbirds and spring breakers this year that in the five years I’ve been at the chamber haven’t been here before, and I believe that has something to do with the 50th anniversary and the movie Selma,” she said.

That rise in the number of visitors to Selma has resulted in real benefits for the city itself, as tourists have boosted the economy and tax base by spending money in between visits to its historic and architectural sites.

“Our lodging tax is up $106,000 from this time last year, and we are up $146,000 in sales tax from this time last year,” Smedley said.

Those numbers reflect a significant uptick in visitors to the city that continues to this day, Sentell said.

“In the past in Selma you would see, once in a while, a couple from out of town walking across the bridge,” he said. “But now it’s busloads of people with matching T-shirts coming from all over the world coming to travel what we call ‘The Alabama Civil Rights Trail.'”

Smedley’s not surprised that now that the historic city is getting so much attention, it’s becoming a real destination for people across the country.

“Until you come and experience Selma, you don’t really know the true treasures that are here,” she said. “We have wonderful architecture here and the civil rights history here, so there’s really a lot here to see and experience.”

To read this article online, go to:

Nicolas Cage meets man of courage on set of ‘USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage’
By Tamara Ikenberg,, July 14

Recently, a movie star and a war hero met on a Bienville Square bench.

After filming a scene for the WWII disaster movie “USS Indianapolis:Men of Courage,” Nicolas Cage sat down to chat with one of the actual men of courage: Navy veteran and Alabama native Richard Stephens, 88.

Stephens is a survivor of the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis, the cruiser that delivered the atomic bomb to the South Pacific island of Tinian where it was retrieved by the plane that dropped it on Hiroshima.

After the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, Stephens, who was 19 at the time, spent five days fighting for his life in the South Pacific.

He witnessed many of his fellow servicemen die from shark attacks, exposure, saltwater poisoning and dehydration before he and the remaining few were spotted by a plane and rescued.

Out the 1,196 USS Indianapolis crewmen, only 317 survived.

Cage, who plays USS Indianapolis Capt. Charles Butler McVay in the film, was eager to learn more about Stephens’ harrowing experience

“You were out there in the water a long time…What were the sharks like?” Cage asked.

“They were terrible,” Stephens recalled. “They’re aggressive.”

During the chat, Cage leaned in to catch Stephens’ every word, and looked solemn and deferential as he spoke to the survivor.

The Oscar-winning actor also asked Stephens about what kept him going during those awful five days, and if he ever doubted that he’d get through the ordeal alive.

“I didn’t know if I was going to make it, but I did,” said Stephens, who currently lives near Birmingham.

After a few minutes of talking, Stephens put in a plug for his family, which was sitting nearby.

“My family is crazy about you,” Stephens said.

Cage asked if any of Stephens’ relatives were there in Bienville Square, and when Stephens said yes, Cage asked if he could meet them.

Stephens attempted to stand up, and Cage the gentleman quickly offered him his arm.

Stephens hooked arms with Cage and led the actor to his granddaughter Johanna Auterson, her husband John, and their two daughters Hannah, 8, and Miriam, 5.

“Your grandpa says you watch my movies,” Cage told the starstruck Auterson clan as he posed for pictures with them.

After the Cage encounter, Stephens shared more of his story.

He said he doesn’t enjoy talking about the experience.

“I haven’t thought about it in a good while. I tried to get it out of my mind,” Stephens said. “Death is not a pretty thing and I saw too much of it.”

He decided to relive it and check out the shoot because the filmmakers said they were dedicated to making the movie as authentic as possible. He also pointed out that the reality was so horrific that it doesn’t really need any exaggeration.

Stephens provided some painful details. He said the five days bobbing in the ocean left his body covered in deep, silver-dollar sized sores. He added that he was lucky to heal fairly quickly.

Stephens, who was so generous and patient during his time on set, said he was encouraged by one thing in particular that Cage told him about the movie.

“He said he didn’t want to glorify what happened too much,” Stephens said. “Death isn’t a thing to be glorified.”

“USS Indianapolis,” which also stars Tom Sizemore, Matt Lanter and Thomas Jane, and is directed by Mario Van Peebles, has been filming in the Mobile area since June 18.

So far, scenes have been shot in Orange Beach, on the USS Alabama, and in downtown Mobile.

After Tuesday’s Bienville Square scene was completed, the cast and crew relocated to the Battle House Hotel to resume filming.

The filmmakers reached out to the 32 remaining living survivors of the disaster and families of deceased survivors and invited them to share their stories and visit the set.

Producer Richard Rionda Del Castro said having folks like Stephens participate in the process “is very gratifying.”

Del Castro is determined to make “USS Indianapolis” a stunning and meaningful movie.

“I love history and I am at the point in my career as a film producer where I wanted to make a statement,” he said. “I wanted to pay homage to these men. I felt they were never really acknowledged properly.”

To read this article online, go to:

Survivors, relatives of U.S.S. Indianapolis tragedy give their blessing to filmmakersBy Will Robinson-Smith, Fox10 News, July 15

For veteran Richard Stephens, thinking about July 30, 1945 is no easy task.

“I don’t like to go out and think about it. It’ll get you…when you think about it, you’ll have a lot of nightmares over it,” Stephens said.

It was on that day that the U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sank about 12 minutes later. Days before, it had delivered the atomic bomb to the island of Tinian.

“Most children in the schools don’t have any idea. They don’t even know what the U.S.S. Indianapolis is. You’ll mention it and they’ll ask you, what is it?” Stephens said.

About 900 men went into the shark infested water that day. Only 317, including Stephens survived for five days before being rescued.

“Death is not a pretty thing. And I saw too much of it at one time,” he said.

Michael Emery’s uncle, William Friend Emery, was one of those who didn’t survive. The family now treasures the Super 8 film they have showing the man who was lovingly known as “Billy” just before he went on his first and last mission at age 19.

Indianapolis Captain Charles McVay sent a handwritten letter of condolence to Billy’s father.

“(He was) saying that he actually knew my uncle, standing watch on the bridge, being part of N-division, but also saying I didn’t know what happened to your boy, but I knew him well before the ship sank,” Emery said.

On Wednesday, Emery was able to meet with the cast and crew of U.S.S. Indianapolis: Men of Courage and share his uncle’s story. The film has been shooting in and around the Mobile area since June 18.

He said having that opportunity reassured him that Billy’s story and that of so many others is in good hands.

“Seeing how open they were to hearing my uncle’s story and thanking him and seeing how sincere they were about being a part of such a special production,” Emery said.

The gravity of getting to meet these men who embodied the tragedy wasn’t lost on the filmmakers either.

“To spend time with some of the survivors of the Indianapolis who went through it on all sides has just been fascinating. And each time we do it, it enriches the experience for me and it reminds us that we’re not just doing a movie. We’re doing a piece of history,” Director Mario Van Peebles said.

“We have a huge responsibility in portraying these guys and what they went through and it’s something that everyone’s taken to heart and taken very seriously. They’re here, they’re supporting the movie and we don’t want to let them down,” actor Cody Walker said.

Star Nicolas Cage also took time to speak with Stephens and Emery as well.

“(Nicolas) was just telling me about how he wanted to make a truthful statement about the movie and he didn’t want to glorify it too much,” Stephens said.

The meeting comes about a week ahead of the annual meeting of the survivors and relatives of those who served aboard the Indianapolis. The film is set for a 2016 Memorial Day release.

To read this article online, go to:

Elberta Sausage Fest goes global on funny pages, thanks to ‘Blondie’
By Marc D. Anderson,, July 14

A small-town Alabama festival received some big-time attention Tuesday when the long-running “Blondie” comic strip mentioned the Elberta German Sausage Festival.

In the comic strip, Blondie’s husband Dagwood Bumstead is having some Wi-Fi signal issues and is using his neighbor and best friend Herb’s connection. “Won’t that interfere with his computer?” Blondie asks. “Nah…I doubt it,” Dagwood replies, as he taps away on the keyboard. Meanwhile, Herb has his arms out questioning, “Oh Brother! Why am I getting all these pop-ups from the ‘Elberta, Alabama Sausage Festival’?!!”

Touted on as reaching an estimated 280 million people daily in over 2,000 newspapers and being translated into 35 different languages in 55 countries, the July 14 comic strip was quite an attention-grabber for the Elberta Volunteer Fire Department fundraiser that draws between 35,000 to 50,000 people to south Alabama twice a year.

“Someone had Facebooked us this morning and since then Facebook has been blowing up,” Fire Chief Scott Gamache told Tuesday afternoon. “It’s just kind of neat to see.”

Ask if he knew how Blondie cartoonist John Marshall or scripter Dean Young knew about the event, Gamache said he had no idea. Young is the son of the late Chic Young, who created the comic strip that was first published in 1930.

“This is an absolute first to us,” he said. “No one that I know has talked to anybody. One of the firefighter’s wives found the paper this morning and made it pretty famous.”

Since the festival serves as the department’s main fundraiser on the last Saturday of March and October, Gamache said he welcomed the extra attention.

“We’re nationally known,” he said. “There’s people that come from all over the country to see us during the festival.

There’s actually people who come from Germany and England in October every year to come visit us and get some sausage. So, we are well known but as far as the cartoon goes I’m really at a loss for words. I don’t know where it would’ve come from, but we’re proud to have it.

The festival had its start in 1978, and the closely guarded recipe for the sausage is credited to Alfred Stucki, who managed Elberta’s Locker Plant from 1953 until his death in 1973. The festival celebrates the coastal Alabama community’s heritage as it was founded by German businessmen from Chicago in 1903 and then settled by German immigrants.

Gamache said the department sells about 6,000 pounds of sausage at each festival and they’re usually sold out by mid-afternoon.

The funds help the department purchase new equipment and keep the fire trucks maintained. Gamache said there are about 25 firefighters on the active roster but there’s always room for more if people are willing to volunteer.

The next festival will be held Sat., Oct. 31, at Elberta Town Park.

To read this article online, go to:

Alabama’s BBQ Trail on list of nominees for USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice contest

The nominees for Best Food Trail have been announced, and the Alabama BBQ Trail is one of the finalists competing for a spot in the winners list.

Voting is open, runs for four weeks and ends Mon., Aug. 17 at 10:59 a.m.  You can rock the vote at and also share the contest URL with your social network. The public can vote once per day, per category.

To follow live voting action (and discover the most active campaigns for award categories), search #10BestChoice on Twitter (we are @10Best). Some contests also have custom hashtags, which you will discover. You can also find us on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

To see the entire list of nominees and cast your vote, go to:

Volunteer student replicates hand-drawn diagrams of the USS Alabama
By Angela Levins,, July 17

A Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College student has helped the USS Alabama bring a piece of its history back to life.

David Culpepper said he was looking for ways to cover his extracurricular credits needed in school, and growing up he’s loved going to USS Alabama. So, Culpepper called Shea McLean, the curator at Battleship Park, and asked if he could volunteer.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Culpepper said. “I thought I would be moving tables and setting up chairs.”

While on a tour of the facility, Culpepper said he spotted a box of papers in the USS Alabama’s Damage Control Room. The papers were pieces of the diagrams of the ship that once hung on the wall.

McLean and Culpepper both explained the diagrams were hand-drawn by a seaman on the ship while at sea. They detailed each deck and were hung behind plexiglass.

“The whole purpose was to keep track of damage and water tightness,” Culpepper added. “The guy who did them in the 1940s was an extremely detail oriented draftsman.”

Culpepper told McLean that with his arts background he could help to replicate the diagrams.

Before he began working on the replications, Culpepper called the other museum ships, the Naval History Heritage Command, and the National Archives to find out more about the diagrams and the Damage Control Room.

Instead of getting an inside look at how things used to be, Culpepper said there are no pictures of Damage Control and the USS Alabama diagrams falling to pieces were extremely rare.

“They’re the only diagrams left of any ship, specifically for a South Dakota Class battleship,” Culpepper said.

Despite the lack of extra information, Culpepper got to work piecing together the diagram jigsaw and replicating it deck by deck. The third deck took two days to piece together and at times pieces were completely missing.

“I went to pretty extreme lengths to make it look just as he did it,” Culpepper said. “I even replicated his handwriting.”

Culpepper finished up the diagrams, drawn to scale just as the originals, at the end of June. Now, he’s helping to restore the Damage Control Room.

Once the Damage Control Room is done, the replicated diagrams will be hung on the wall with plexiglass covering it.

The pieces of the original diagrams will be placed in storage.

“Feels pretty good to preserve what he did,” Culpepper said.

Culpepper encourages anyone who can to volunteer their time at Battleship Park.

To read this article online, go to:

Historic Chattahoochee Commission launches reorganization plan
The Historic Chattahoochee Commission (HCC) has launched a reorganization plan designed to work within a smaller financial footprint. The Commission is no longer able to operate within its traditional organizational framework. Therefore, some significant changes will be made in its service delivery activities but the HCC has no intention of closing the door on its heritage tourism program.

Plans are underway to sell the historic Hart House, home to the HCC for the last thirty years. While this sales transaction is pending, the Commission is seeking a management partner to assist with the administration of program activities under the direction of its board of directors. In addition, selected project partners will help with the management of the HCC’s signature programs including historic markers, publications, the Creek Heritage Trail and regional promotion activities.

Doug Purcell, HCC chair, made these recommendations to the board of directors at a meeting in Eufaula on July 10, and they were unanimously adopted. These changes will allow the Commission to remain active with most of its programs. The HCC will continue seeking appropriations from Alabama and Georgia while building its membership base and investigating other funding sources.

The HCC celebrated its 45th anniversary this year and looks forward to promoting the heritage tourism assets of the Chattahoochee Trace for many more years to come.

For more information of the Commission’s program of work, contact Deborah Shaw, HCC Administrative Assistant, at 334-687-9755 or

Alabama Restaurant Week jumps to 62 participating establishments
Huntsville has the most signed up so far

The number of restaurants signed up to participate in next month’s Alabama Restaurant Week has increased to sixty-two as of Mon., July 20.  Most are from the Huntsville area where a total of 40 restaurants from Madison County are participating.  The other restaurants are throughout the state with 7 from Baldwin, 3 from Mobile, 2 each from Lee and Marshall counties and 1 each from Colbert, Elmore, Montgomery, Pike and Tuscaloosa counties.

Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department encourages local Chamber of Commerce offices and tourism offices in every city and county to use this promotion as a way to increase business to their local restaurants, “We count on the local chamber and tourism offices across the state to join in on the promotion. It is free and I’ve had several restaurants tell me how they saw an increase in business during the week.  This promotion is great city promotion that we take statewide.”

Brennan added that it is part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s continuing effort to showcase Alabama as a dining destination. “The Alabama Restaurant Week is our annual promotion that complements the 100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die brochure and this year’s major campaign, The Year of Alabama BBQ.

There is still time to for restaurants to sign up at www.alabamarestaurantweekcom.  The promotion has been very successful with more than 200 participating restaurants last year.

More information can be found in the About section of the website or by contacting

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism 2015 Mobile App

The 2015 mobile app is ready.  It has been created by and is sponsored by Populace, Inc.  It has the convention schedule and a place to load personal agendas, etc.

The app is available at the AppStore and the Playstore.



Conference registration, full agenda and hotel reservations available online at

Alabama artists and craftspeople

Alabama is home to a vast number of talented and creative artists and craftspeople who produce a wide variety of items including, but not limited to, woodwork, paintings, ceramics, fabrics and a lot of food.

The Alabama Tourism Department is looking for information about these artists and crafters and their products.  We are interested in the home-grown cottage industries rather than the industrial giants.

Please send information about people and their products, including contact information, to Peggy Collins, or call 334-242-4545.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Aug 1 – 4                    Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism – Mobile
Aug 8 – 12                  Alabama Motorcoach/SCMA/GMOA Regional Meeting
Lake Lanier, GA
Aug 14 – 23                Alabama Restaurant Week

Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department.
It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

To subscribe to the weekly Alabama Tourism News, please contact Peggy Collins at:

Alabama Tourism Department