Friday, September 16, 2011

Hotels ready to cash in

Hotels ready to cash in

Restaurants also expect to benefit from weekend festivals in area

By Nancy Glasscock, The Decatur Daily

Area hotels and restaurants expect festivals this weekend — starting today with the Decatur Jaycees Riverfest and the Racking Horse World Celebration — to generate more than $342,000 in revenue.

Hartselle’s Depot Days and Eva’s Frontier Days have Saturday events.

Tami Reist, Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau president, said last year’s economic impact of the Racking Horse event and Riverfest alone was $342,000.

“A lot of these events on Saturday, people will come out and eat and spend money, so it’s definitely a boost in sales receipts for the city,” she said. “It should be a very good overall weekend for all of Morgan County.”

Managers of restaurants and hotels in the Decatur area said they notice an increase in sales in conjunction with the festivals.

Carolyn Bild, co-owner of the Daily Brew on Market Street, said Riverfest attracts repeat customers.

“People heading down (Alabama) 20 for Riverfest will stop in for breakfast or stop in for lunch, then after a day of sampling barbecue, will come over to enjoy the entertainment we have on Fridays and Saturdays,” she said.

Bild said performers include Microwave Dave, Tim Tucker, Ken Waters and Phil Weaver.

Jane Davis, manager at Big Bob Gibson on Danville Road, said business increases 50 to 75 percent during the Racking Horse World Celebration because of nearby hotels.

Managers at some restaurants said other events bring in more customers.

Mike Arndt, manager of Alfonso’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant near the intersection of Beltline Road and U.S. 31, said the restaurant does best during other events and after ballgames.

Mike Caldwell, manager at BB Perrins Barbecue on Holly Street, said business has been steady all season. He said the restaurant had one of its best summers, possibly because of customers who would have vacationed staying in town.

Decatur-area hotel managers said they expect the usual increase in bookings from visitors to the festivals.

Parkway Inn & Suites on Point Mallard Parkway still had rooms available this week, but usually has an increase in bookings this time of year, a manager said.

Jameson Inn on the Beltline also had rooms available. Hampton Inn on Beltline Road sold out Tuesday, but expected to have rooms available later in the week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meeting Notes Morgan County Commission During a meeting Tuesday, the Morgan County Commission: ■Authorized Chairman Ray Long to execute the county’s solid waste management plan. ■Approved an application for renewal of the county’s permit for the Decatur-Morgan County Regional Landfill. ■Approved a bid from Keep It Clean Janitorial Services for $1,150 per month for the Farm Service Center in Hartselle. ■Approved a $7,516.72 sales tax refund for Altec Industries Inc. ■Renewed a contract with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency to rent space in the courthouse basement for Morgan EMA for $950 per month. ■Approved paying $1,000 to Godwin, Barnett and Woods for architectural work on a county parking lot. ■Approved giving $2,500 to Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Alabama Charity Championship Horse Show, $1,000; Hartselle High School Baseball, $100; and Falkville Fall Festival, $1,000. ■Approved paying $21,125.22 to Morgan County 911 for dispatch services for the county’s volunteer fire departments. ■Changed the voting precinct at Wilson Morgan Park to First Baptist Church at Austinville; and the precinct at Ryan School to Ryan Baptist Church. ■Approved paying county bills totaling $4,244,738.19 for the month of July. ■Approved paying $2,950 to Nelson Engineering Associates Inc. for work on the new Neel Senior Center. ■Approved paying $71,706.09 to E-Tech Construction for the Neel center project. ■Approved certificates to subdivide or consolidate properties for Robert A. and Amy G. Mims, Union Hill Road in District 4; Judy K. Cloud, Dellwood Drive in District 4; and Angela N. and Johnathan G. Majors, Given Cove Road in District 4. ■Approved paying $15,120 to Godwin, Barnett and Woods Architectural firm for System of Services building. By SHERYL MARSH, The Decatur Dailt

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pavilion pushed back

Completion date now seen in mid-November for 1,200-seat facility By Tiffeny Owens- The Decatur Daily A completion date for the $3 million publicly financed Ingalls Harbor pavilion under construction on Alabama 20 has been pushed back for the second time. City officials expected the 25,000-square-foot facility — billed to be the largest meeting space in the River City — to be finished by Oct. 20. But merging three different building materials took more time and retrofitting than the builder anticipated. Other hiccups have slowed progress. First, workers discovered unsuitable soil at the construction site that had to be dug up, removed and replaced. Then, a wet spring stalled work for a few weeks. And when summer arrived, the searing heat made roofing an agonizing task. Workers had been nailing down the roof at night when temperatures are cooler. The roof should be finished within three weeks, said Jack Fite, president of Decatur's Fite Building Co. The 1,200-seat open-air pavilion, situated beside the Tennessee River roughly a mile west of the bridge into downtown, has to be ready by Nov. 27. That's when Decatur will host the NAIA women's soccer tournament. The event is the city's opportunity to unveil the facility, complete with its salvaged timber from the downtown Robinson building, to out-of-state teams and their families. "We will be done by mid-November, before the tournament gets in town," Fite said. "It's been challenging at times, but it will be one of the most unique projects I've worked on." The pavilion's original completion date was September. But then it was pushed back to late October, and now to November. At a meeting last week, District 2 Councilman Roger Anders said he wants the city to "hold Fite's feet to the fire," suggesting the contractor pay the city liquidated damages agreed to in the contract for missing the previous deadlines. The city and Fite having been going over how many work days were lost, said Tom Chappell, assistant director of Decatur's parks and recreation department. "In their defense, Fite had a lot of issues come up over the course of the project," Chappell said. One problem that consumed a lot of time came from the salvaged Robinson building wood. Workers had to remove nails and other metal pieces embedded in the timber before it could be used on the job, Fite said. "Then we had to marry three different building surfaces together into one structure," he said. "We had to modify some things to make it all fit together." Last month, the City Council approved nearly $40,000 in change orders, all covered by a $250,000 contingency for unforeseen expenses. When officials first proposed the project, it had a $2.8 million price tag. The city still hopes the facility, with its stone fireplaces, projector screens and 700-table capacity, will attract more local and out-of-town visitors. The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau thinks the facility will hook more bass tournaments, which bring hundreds of out-of-town visitors and generates lodging revenue for the city, along with conferences, banquets and receptions for local and regional organizations. Individuals will be able to rent the facility, too. "We're anticipating to collect $25,000 in rental fees in the first year," said Tami Reist, Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau president. That money will roll over into the city's Parks and Recreation Department general fund to offset the costs of the building's upkeep. The department also will coordinate with the tourism bureau for bookings. Decatur borrowed $2 million from its reserves and $1.6 million from the Morgan County Commission's Regional Landfill fund to finance the project. The Hospitality Association will repay the loans over 15 years using revenue from its $2-per-night tax on local hotel stays.