Tourism Tuesdays Jan. 21, 2020

Alabama lynching memorial, museum expanding

Alabama Music Hall of Fame celebrates 30 years in 2020

Alabama cuts ribbon on Birmingham’s new interstate bridges

More on new Alabama Bass Trail 100 tournament series

Road trip from Atlanta to this stunning canyon waterfall in Alabama

Walking in King’s footsteps

Dreams come true at this zen inn on Mobile Bay

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Alabama lynching memorial, museum expanding
From the article on

The nation’s first memorial to lynching victims is expanding.

The Equal Justice Initiative on Saturday opened a new welcome center and exhibition space that will add to the existing lynching memorial and museum that documents the history of racial inequality in America.

The pavilion, located in downtown Montgomery, will serve as a hub for visitors to the two previously opened sites, EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which documents the era of racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950 and the Legacy Museum.

The Legacy Pavilion will include a monument to women, men and children who were victims of racial terror lynchings in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and during Reconstruction. It will also honor civil rights figures including Martin Luther King Jr., Claudette Colvin, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Jonathan Daniels, Jo Ann Robinson, and E.D. Nixon and describe the role Montgomery played in fueling a civil rights movement.

It will also include a gift shop, soul food restaurant and a shuttle service to the memorial and museum.

The organization said the new welcome center will provide convenience, comfort, and food to the thousands of people who visit the memorial and museum. The organization said they are also proud to present new content about America’s history “that is essential for understanding our past and improving our future.”

The Equal Justice Initiative is a a legal advocacy center. The organization’s work is featured in the movie “Just Mercy.” The organization said 650,000 people have visited the memorial and museum since the sites opened in 2018.

For the complete article please see

Alabama Music Hall of Fame celebrates 30 years in 2020
From the article by Jeremy Jackson on

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame located on Highway 72 in Tuscumbia has been preserving the musical history of the state of Alabama for nearly 30 years, though the history it preserves dates back decades.

“We have singers, songwriters, producers, musicians, all from the state of Alabama,” said Sandra Burroughs, Executive Director of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. “They were either born and raised here or moved here quickly afterwards or have a really strong tie to Alabama.”

The exhibits that fill the museum area display clothing, musical instruments and even transportation used by the artists themselves.

“Our biggest exhibit is the Alabama tour bus and from what I’m told is they had to bring the bus in and build the building up around it,” said Burroughs.

While the Alabama Hall of Fame recognizes artists from across the state, Burroughs said its location in the Shoals is significant.

“The history of music actually starts in Muscle Shoals,” she said. “When the state of Alabama decided to actually erect this museum, it was obvious it needed to be in the Shoals area because that’s where it all started.”

Every two years, four or five artists are inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame at an induction banquet. The next banquet will be held Saturday, Jan. 25. Taylor Hicks will be the emcee and the Backstreet Boys will be there to induct their friend, Gary Baker.

For the complete article please see

Alabama cuts ribbon on Birmingham’s new interstate bridges
From the article by Donna Cope on

Birmingham is rejoicing as the new Interstate 59/20 interchange is set to reopen.

Celebrating the completion of the city’s $700 million Bridge Replacement Project Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) representatives and civic leaders took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the interchange. Ivey praised the team effort by ALDOT, contract firm Johnson Brothers Corp., and state and city leaders instrumental in the yearlong work.

Ivey said the state’s infrastructure is an important factor in maintaining Alabama’s economic participation and production. The governor noted that the rehabilitation of Alabama’s bridges and infrastructure creates thousands of jobs each year and provides a more attractive appearance, encouraging businesses to relocate and to expand in the state.

“To the ladies and gentlemen of the city of Birmingham, I want to thank you all for your patience, and your help with this as we have been trying hard to finish before the deadline,” Ivey said. “You’ve been a great asset to the effort, and I am grateful.

“All of these bridges were 45 years old,” she said. “Now, when they were built, they were designed to carry a capacity of 80,000 vehicles a day. Well, here we are today, and there’s over 160,000 vehicles traveling on these roads.”

City of Birmingham Transportation Director James Fowler attended for Mayor Randall Woodfin, who was out of town. Fowler said city leaders are thankful for the magnitude of the investment in Birmingham.

“We are grateful for ALDOT’s efforts in communities with our residents and to people present,” Fowler said. “We are grateful for relationships we’ve built in this process, and we’re grateful to the workers and the large personal investment and sacrifices they made to this huge project.”

Alabama Sen. Rodger Smitherman said he is thrilled to see the completion of the interchange. He said that the new roadways will make travel safer for residents and visitors.

“This interchange will be a new standard moving forward,” Smitherman said. “I commend Governor Ivey, who recognized the need for upgrading, and for all of her work on this project. This will move our region forward. It was a monumental task.”

DeJarvis Leonard, regional engineer of ALDOT-East Central Region, said more than 500 workers were onsite throughout the project.

“We want to thank all of the workers who came early and stayed late, taking away time from their family to complete this on time,” Leonard said. “They endured long hours to make this project happen. We are grateful to God for the success of this project.”

Johnson Brothers beat its March 21, 2020, deadline by about two months. Every day the bridges are open before the deadline, the contract firm gets a $250,000 per day bonus, with a maximum bonus of $15 million.

Johnson Brothers Operations Manager Mike Brown called the job “unprecedented,” saying his team met the challenge of restoring I-59/20 in “just shy of a year.”

“We set a world record for safety in this given time span,” said Brown, a project manager at Johnson Brothers for about six years. “I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of our people, the men and women who poured their hearts and souls into making this happen. Without these folks, clearly this wouldn’t be possible. Tremendous execution and planning went into this, so much sacrifice. We are elated and ready to see the roads open. I’m ready to share this moment with my team. They’ve put a lot into this. It’s a long time coming.

“I’m excited for the residents, the locals and the traveling public that come through here,” he said. “I hope that people will be proud of the structures here – I think they will be. … I think they’re the best in Alabama.”

For the complete article please see

More on new Alabama Bass Trail 100 tournament series
From the article by Frank Sargeant on

Some anglers may get shut out of the Alabama Bass Trail 100 (ABT100) because the field is being limited to 100 boats, according to Kay Donaldson, program director for the Alabama Bass Trail.

Tournament bass anglers will need to mark their calendars for June 1, 2020, and set the alarm clock to 6 a.m. That date and time is when registration opens for the newest bass trail in Alabama aimed at serious tournament anglers, with a $25,000 first prize in each of three events and a total payout of $100,000 per tournament.

Donaldson said the entry fee per event is $1,000, and anglers must sign up for all three events to participate. No single entries are allowed. Note that 100 times $1,000 is $100,000, so this is a 100-percent payout tournament series.

The first ABT 100 tournament is scheduled for Lay Lake on the Coosa River on Jan. 9, 2021. Lake Eufaula on the Chattahoochee River in southeast Alabama will be the site of the second event on June 5, 2021, followed by the trail finale at Lake Guntersville on the Tennessee River on Nov. 20, 2021.

Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, represented Gov. Kay Ivey at the trail’s unveiling last week at Guntersville State Park Lodge.

Blankenship said he is blessed to be the Conservation Commissioner of a state with such outstanding natural resources and fisheries, according to David Rainer of ADCNR. Blankenship said fishing has a $2 billion impact on the state, including both fresh and saltwater venues.

“We have such a great bass fishery here in our state, from the lakes on the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, the Tennessee River lakes, like here at Guntersville, the Tombigbee River, Smith Lake, Lake Eufaula, the Alabama River, and the place I’m most familiar with, fishing for bass in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta,” Blankenship said. “We have unique bass fisheries from one end of our state to the other. That’s where I think the Alabama Bass Trail is so impressive. It allows people from our state and from out of state to experience the different kinds of fisheries and the different places that make up our great bass fisheries here in Alabama.

The original Alabama Bass Trail started seven years ago with the idea of promoting bass fishing across the state with Northern and Southern divisions. That tournament trail has become so popular that the slots open for the 2020 ABT were filled in hours, Rainer said.

“Tournaments like this highlight the fisheries and bring more people to our state to buy fishing licenses and tackle and those type things,” Blankenship said. “That money is used by the Department to go back into building the high-quality fisheries and install boat ramps and public access areas around the state. We have more than 150 boat ramps in the state that the Department maintains or partners with cities and counties to manage. I really want to say thanks to those cities and counties that partner with us.

“Now we’re looking at building new ramps with big bass tournaments in mind. Kay has been very helpful in discussions about what works better for bass tournaments and helps get boats in and out of the water, parking and what helps facilitate attracting some of the largest fishing tournaments to our state. We appreciate the Alabama Bass Trail and its leadership. All that plays a role in attracting great tournaments to our state.”

When the ABT was just a lofty idea, Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell provided the catalyst to make the tournament trail a reality, Rainer said.

“I’m a member of an organization called Travel South USA, which is the 12 southern states’ tourism departments,” said Sentell, who recognized the ABT as the 2018 Tourism Organization of the Year in Alabama. “Every year I get more questions from my counterparts from throughout the South who will say, ‘Now, how did that Alabama Bass Trail thing get started?’ I tell them some people had a great idea and great vision. Great things happen when you have great talent, great resources and people who want to make a difference and bring more anglers into our state.

“I just want to say a big congratulations to the Alabama Bass Trail and Alabama Mountain Lakes (Tourist Association). It’s hard to believe this has been going on for seven years. But, it’s exciting.”

Donaldson said registration to the ABT100 is open to all anglers with no priority registration for current ABT anglers. Only one pro angler is allowed per boat.

For the complete article please see

Road trip from Atlanta to this stunning canyon waterfall in Alabama
From the article by Samantha Maxwell on

For those who love spending time in nature, Georgia has a seemingly endless supply of beautiful natural spots where you can go hiking. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t branch out and find some great places to hike outside of the state. If you’re willing to take a road trip from Atlanta, there are countless places you can find.

You can head to Dismals Canyon in Phil Campbell, Alabama for waterfalls, canyons and stunning views. It will take you a little under four hours to drive from Atlanta to the canyon (if you don’t leave during rush hour).

That makes it the perfect road trip spot for those who want to find someplace new but don’t want to drive forever just to spend time in nature.

It’s an ideal place for springtime hiking, even when the temperature starts to rise. You can hike to a waterfall in the canyon that will cool you off even when the sun is beating down on you. The height of the waterfall is not currently known, but the views will not disappoint.

Dismals Canyon is known as a sandstone gorge; it’s so beautiful that it was declared a National Natural Landmark back in 1974. The greenish walls of the canyon make it the perfect place to stop and get a few shots of the natural beauty.

Apart from the stunning scenery, it’s also well known for the rare insects that live there, called dismalites. When these insects are larva, they glow a bright blue-green color to attract mates. However, keep in mind that you can only see these creatures past twilight.

Whether you want to make it a day trip or you plan to spend the night somewhere near the canyon, this spot is a road trip just waiting to happen.

For the complete article please see

Walking in King’s footsteps
From the article by Maggie Stanwood on

A whirlwind trip to key civil rights sites in the Deep South has forever changed the way five students at Rogers High School look at Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday which will be marked on Monday.

“I used to think of it as like a day off of school. Now I will actually think about what happened and what he did,” said Rebecca Teshome, a junior at Rogers High School.

Teshome and four other RHS juniors — Sandra Zelee, Ondreah Wade, Alex Dickerson and Faaiza Fayzal-Bakare — had the opportunity to take a college course and travel to Alabama through a partnership with North Hennepin Community College.

As part of the partnership, students were able to take the “African American Civil Rights Immersion Experience” course which “challenges students to utilize and address issues such as political power, economic systems, racism and activism,” according to the course description.

“Even for myself, it was one of the best experiences of my life and no history class could do what this class did for us,” District Equity Specialist Allison Guggisberg said during a presentation about the trip at an ISD 728 School Board meeting on Monday. Guggisberg and the students also met with the Star News to discuss their trip.

Students primarily took the course online, but attended the class at the college three times. The class also took a seven-day bus trip to the southern United States in October to visit important sites in civil rights history and learn about the significance of these sites.

These sites included the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four black girls were killed and 22 others injured when Ku Klux Klan members bombed the church in 1963.

Two of the students, Dickerson and Wade, said the church was the most memorable part of the trip.

“That was the only place that actually got me to cry — the four little girls whose lives were taken because of the hatred of the color of their skin and how someone would go out of their way to do something so malicious for no reason,” Wade said.

The group also saw the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The bridge was involved in three protest marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 to demonstrate the desire of African American people to be able to vote without harassment. The Voting Rights Act was passed later that year, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

As they visited the bridge, a man was there who had participated in the marches and the students were able to hear him speak about his experience. He still bore a scar from Bloody Sunday — the March 7, 1965, clash between civil rights marchers and authorities.

The group also visited Tuskegee University, a historically black university where the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” was conducted and where black technicians, many of them female, produced HeLa cells to help cure polio.

The “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” was a clinical study done between 1932 and 1972 to observe untreated syphilis. The men involved in the study were not told they had syphilis and were not treated for the disease, even after penicillin was discovered to be an effective treatment. As a result, a large number of the study participants died, 40 wives contracted the disease and 19 children were born with congenital syphilis. The study led to many laws and regulations protecting human study subjects.

According to “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” at the same time and on the same campus, scientists and technicians were producing HeLa cells to help cure polio. Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman who died in 1951 from cancer. During her treatment, doctors took a sample of healthy and cancerous tissue without her knowledge. The cancerous tissue was used to create HeLa, a cell line. While most human cell cultures survive only a few days, HeLa cells do not “die” and are able to be used for medical experiments without the scientists spending time trying to keep the cells alive.

HeLa cells were used to cure polio and have been used for research for cancer, AIDS, radiation effects, gene mapping, and more. Lacks’ family was not told until 1975 that her cells had been and were continuing to be used for research.

Meanwhile, the students learned about a lynching that happened in Minnesota during a visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, which commemorates victims of lynching. One of the cases highlighted there involved three African American men who were falsely accused of rape and hanged by an angry mob in 1920 in Duluth.

The group saw several sites related to Martin Luther King Jr. as well. They visited the house where he was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was shot on April 4, 1968, the spot at a nearby boarding house from where the shooter fired the fatal shot and King’s gravesite in Atlanta.

Seeing those sites made his death and the circumstances surrounding it so much more real, the students said.

Overall, Zelee said the trip brought history to life and made her want to learn more about African American culture.

The trip was the first of its kind taken by Rogers High School students, Guggisberg said. Also participating in the trip were students from North Hennepin Community College and high school students from Brooklyn Center and Robbinsdale.

One student who went on the trip said the professor encouraged the students to take notes about what they learned, or what they found interesting on the trip and by the end she had filled “pages.” She also said she had learned more in the trip than she would have been able to learn in a year in the classroom.

The participating Rogers students are all part of the Post Secondary Enrollment Option program.

Both Guggisberg and the students said the trip packed an emotional punch.

“When you’re sitting in a classroom and you’re learning about it, it doesn’t really hit as much as seeing it physically,” Fayzal-Bakare said.

Said Guggisberg, “It was an emotional trip. Lots of tears. Lots of anger.”

Added Wade, “It makes me appreciate what everyone in the past did for me.”

For the complete article please see

Dreams come true at this zen inn on Mobile Bay
From the article by Michelle Matthews on

Growing up in landlocked Missouri, Dana Maloney never dreamed of living on the water one day. But now, thanks to the fact that her middle son fell in love with and married someone from Mobile, Dana and her husband Jim are living a dream on Mobile Bay, where they moved to be close to their first grandchild, 2-year-old Beatrice Louise.

“You never know where love is going to lead you,” says Dana.

As the owners of a rambling former bed-and-breakfast that they have completely renovated over the past couple of years, they share their dream with guests who stay at the boutique hotel located on a bluff 50 feet above the bay in Fairhope. Jubilee Suites receives rave reviews from guests.

“I always dreamed of having a B&B, but I never imagined looking at these sunsets over the water every night,” says Dana. “It’s spectacular.”

Before relocating to Fairhope, the Maloneys had spent the past 26 years in Charlotte, N.C., where Jim, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, worked for Microsoft as they raised their three sons. Once the boys were grown and gone, the couple turned their 3,500-square-foot home in Charlotte into an Airbnb, becoming one of the state’s first superhosts. The space was so popular that Dana and Jim moved into a small condo a quarter of a mile away, and Dana found herself making several trips to the Airbnb every day to accommodate the needs of her guests.

When Jim retired, they started to think about investing in a property where they could live and be hosts at the same time. In May of 2016, on a visit to Mobile, Dana’s daughter-in-law drove her past Away at the Bay bed and breakfast in Fairhope and pointed out where she’d stayed one summer in college when she worked at the Grand Hotel.

Originally built in 1940 as two buildings that served as barracks at Brookley Field in Mobile, the structure was moved across the bay by barge after World War II. For many years, it was known as Eastern Shore Apartments before becoming Away at the Bay in 1987.

Dana told her daughter-in-law to let her know if the B&B ever went up for sale. “I saw the potential,” she says – with seven suites, most of which have private balconies overlooking the bay; a 200-foot stretch of shoreline; and a bird’s-eye view of those amazing sunsets for which Fairhope is known.

As luck would have it, the place had been on and off the market for a few years, so the Maloneys were able to purchase it and move to Fairhope, where they keep little Beatrice during the week while her parents work. “I wouldn’t trade the last couple of years with my granddaughter for anything,” says Dana.

The hotel is located in a quiet neighborhood about halfway between Fly Creek Marina and the Fairhope Municipal Pier, within walking distance of downtown Fairhope.

During the renovation, the red-brick exterior was whitewashed to give it a more coastal feel. The seven suites have names like Dogwood, Camellia and Magnolia. Each suite is different, with one or two bedrooms and one or two baths, fully equipped kitchens and even washers and dryers.

But it’s the little details throughout that elicit glowing reviews from guests: cozy bedding, thick towels, TVs with streaming services at the ready, local tea from Fairhope’s Spice and Tea Exchange, local artwork on the walls and the Maloneys’ graciousness as live-in hosts.

“We want people to feel pampered and really relaxed,” says Dana, who cultivates an “upscale, healthy vibe” at the boutique hotel.

A certified yoga instructor, Dana loves hosting workshops of all kinds, especially those that nurture creativity. “You name it, we will host it,” she says. A large yoga studio on the third floor offers stunning views of the bay and excellent acoustics.

There’s even an “experience manager,” Christy Wells, on premise whose job is to tailor each guest’s visit to make it as memorable as possible. “They’re really trying to do something different here, out of the box,” Christy says of the Maloneys.

While Christy can help plan activities in and around Fairhope, there’s nothing wrong with taking it easy at this zen inn. “If you want to be a hermit,” says Dana, “you can be a hermit.”

Against the backdrop of Mobile Bay and its famous sunsets, Jubilee Suites has become a popular place for weddings and other special events.

“People have been so supportive in this town – local artists, musicians, forward-thinkers,” Dana says. “We said yes to coming here, and it all kind of happened. And it’s greater than my wildest dreams.”

For the complete article please see

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Spring Break season is right around the corner. Alabama is a hot spot for family Spring Break trips – with award-winning restaurants, white-sand beaches, hiking and biking trails, and much more. Update your Partner page and add events to show trip planners what you have to offer. What are you waiting for?

Login and update your Partner account today.


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