Friday, October 28, 2011

Decatur to Host Division I and II State Soccer Tournament

The Jack Allen Recreation Complex will host the Alabama Youth Soccer Association (AYSA) Division I Powerade State Cup (U15-U18), Division II State Cup (U14-U18), Governor’s Cup, and Division I Powerade Final Four in November, 2011. The city of Decatur has hosted the tournaments since 2007 and will also serve as host venue in 2012.
“We are excited AYSA has selected the city of Decatur to host the State Cup, Governor’s Cup and Final Four tournaments,” said Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau President Tami Reist, “Over the last three years, these tournaments filled over 3,800 room nights producing an economic impact of $2.4 million through revenues generated by lodging, dining, and retail sales provided by visitors traveling from outside the area to participate in the tournament.”

The Division I Powerade State Cup and Division II State Cup are set for November 4-6, 2011 with the Governor’s Cup and Division I Powerade State Cup Final Four following on November 11-13, 2011 at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex. The Governor’s Cup, a recreational competition at the state level, decides which teams are Division III (recreation) state champions and has been previously featured by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel as the largest recreational tournament for 9- to 18-year olds in Alabama.

“It must be said, the City of Decatur, the CVB and the Parks and Rec have been phenomenal to work with. We are grateful they continue to work with us to host these events,” said Lynn Bertovic, Office Manager/State Administrator for AYSA. AYSA is the governing body for all soccer clubs in Alabama who qualify to participate in these events.

The Jack Allen Recreation Complex contains 10 international size lighted fields with laser-graded certified sports turf and a computerized irrigation system. With the additional fields located in Point Mallard Park, Decatur has quickly become known nationally as a top rated soccer tournament location.

For more information on the State Cup, Governor’s Cup, and Final Four tournaments, visit the AYSA’s website at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Storms, Sports kept local hotels booked

Decatur lodging tax revenues up 11 percent in fiscal 2011  
By Seth Burkett Th Decatur Daily
Devastating storms, sporting events and industry kept tourism revenue in Decatur vibrant this past fiscal year despite a struggling economy, officials said.
The city collected $704,000 in lodging taxes from October 2010 to September 2011, an 11-percent increase, said Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
“Right now we’re about $130,000 to $140,000 up from last year,” said Anthony Viator, sales manager for Country Inn and Suites on Bank Street Northeast. “Every month has been better than it was last year. With corporate travel, it’s been up. With groups, it’s been up.”
Following the April 27 tornadoes in the Tennessee Valley, many relief workers and people displaced from their homes stayed in hotels.
“It’s not a good thing, but those tornadoes brought a lot of government agencies in town and a lot of contractors,” Viator said. “We actually had several people staying here for whom we set good rates for a long term while they worked with their insurance agencies, and then we had one family stay here whose whole house was blown away.”
Those are not typical sources of tourism revenue, but hotel-motel receipts fall under the tourism budget.
“I don’t like using that as a plus,” Viator said. “But that one month with the tornadoes, we made more revenue lodging than we ever have in the past four years.
“So if that went across the board in Decatur, I’m sure they made a lot of money, too.”
Following the storms, two state soccer tournaments were canceled, creating rooms for workers and evacuees.
“We lost that business to Gulf Shores,” Reist said of the sporting events. “But with that devastation we would not have been able to take them on.”
Reist said it was a growing year aside from the tornadoes.
She said the area saw an uptick in lodging taxes brought in by events and industry.
Reist said the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2011 brought many festivals, sporting events and fishing tournaments to the River City.
More large events took place during the spring.
The biggest event was the President’s Cup soccer tournament at the Jack Allen complex in June, which generated 1,090 room nights in Decatur and more than 4,000 throughout Morgan, Limestone and Madison counties, Reist said.
“We had to use the Von Braun Center for the opening ceremonies,” she said of the Huntsville arena. “... Anytime you have to go to Huntsville to welcome people, that’s a big event.”
“That Jack Allen complex is a major impact when it comes to bringing soccer teams from all over the states,” Viator said. “The same thing with Ingalls Harbor. We’re going to see more and more fishing tournaments coming here.”
Reist estimated about 10,000 people attended a Colt Ford concert held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Elite Series Dixie Duel Tournament in June.
“That sort of weekend business is great, but during the week, our industry is rolling,” Reist said.
Reist said companies such as Nucor, 3M and Daikin have been expanding or having outages during which they bring in crews for maintenance and repair.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dream coming to Ingalls

International bass tourney to be held in US for first time
By Catherine Godbey, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

A U.S. congressman, an Alabama state senator and local leaders gathered at Ingalls Harbor Friday. The attraction — Koto Kiriyama, a professional angler originally from Japan.

“Wheeler Lake was chosen and selected for the launch of the inaugural American Dream Tournament, marking the first time the international bass fishing tournament will be held in the United States,” announced Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, R-Huntsville, called the tournament a recruiting tool.

State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, described it as an international relationship builder.

For Kiriyama, the competition’s organizer, the tournament is about bridging two nations.

“This is about connecting people and having more of a cultural understanding between Japan and the United States,” Kiriyama said. “I have loved fishing since I was 5. My whole life is about bass fishing. When I moved here 15 years ago, I didn’t speak any English and bass fishing helped me survive. I met a lot of good people who helped me learn the language and culture.”

Winners of the inaugural tournament, scheduled for Oct. 23 and 24, will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Japan’s Lake Biwa, linking Kiriyama’s adopted country with his native country.

Officials expect more than 100 two-man teams to compete for the trip to the lake, where an angler caught a record-tying largemouth bass weighing more than 22 pounds.

The 2010 competition will be the fourth annual American Dreams Tournament.

North Alabama’s reputation for bass fishing and the support from the area’s tourism officials landed Ingalls Harbor the hosting duties, said Kiriyama, a six-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and champion of the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament at Lake Erie.

Originally held in Japan, the tournament awarded the winning team with a trip to fish at the BassCat Invitational in Arkansas.

“The winners come back and talk about how they are able to widen their view of life, and this is what I would like to achieve,” Kiriyama said. “I want to make Decatur an international city and help people understand other cultures.”

The tournament further strengthens an already strong relationship between Decatur and Japan, said Orr, citing the presence of Toray, Daikin and Toyota in the Tennessee Valley.

Along with cultural and industrial benefits, the tournament will produce financial benefits.

“The tournament is expected to provide an economic boost to the local economy through revenues generated by lodging, dining and retail sales, and the international exposure generated from hosting the event will further elevate Wheeler Lake into the fishing spotlight,” Reist said.

Since Ingalls Harbor opened in 2006, Decatur’s fishing reputation has climbed, capturing the industry’s attention and attracting regional and national tournaments.

So far, tournaments hosted at Ingalls Harbor have translated into an economic impact of $4 million.

For more information or to register for the tournament visit or

Decatur needs pavilion as meeting place

Editorial, The Decatur Daily

The proposed pavilion at Ingalls Harbor is an opportunity for Decatur to have a multi-purpose meeting place and help with further re-establishing a resident-friendly waterfront.

City Council members are poised to vote on a funding resolution Monday that probably includes a 25,000-square-foot pavilion that will cost something less than $3 million.

The consideration to build the facility is not if the city needs a gathering place that can seat 1,500, but the city’s ability to finance it.

One proposal is for the city to front the money and for the Hospitality Association to repay the cost from its $2-per-night hotel room occupancy fee. The hotels’ self-imposed fee is for such purposes. The fee is not tax dollars.

The association already is repaying the cost of the harbor improvements through the fee, and a spokesman says it can take on the additional payment.

Tami Reist, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the fee generates about $400,000 per year and is enough to pay for the pavilion and continue to pay the existing debt.

Decatur’s riverfront is a work in pro­gress, but it has made gigantic strides after the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and the city built the Riverwalk at Rhodes Ferry Park.

The addition of a pavilion will bring thousands more people to Decatur. Most of all, it will give Decatur residents greater access to the south bank of the Tennessee River.

Tourism industry grows by 11 percent

By The Decatur Daily
A lingering recession has not dampened the tourism industry for Decatur and Morgan County. The city collected $704,000 in lodging taxes from October 2010 to September 2011, showing an increase of 11 percent from the previous year.
According to Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau president Tami Reist, the third and fourth quarters of 2010 brought many festivals, sporting events and fishing tournaments to the River City, generating overnight visits and contributing significantly to the 11 percent increase. The April 27 tornado outbreak also played a role when those displaced from their homes utilized accommodations in Morgan County.
In order to meet the needs of the storm victims, two state soccer tournaments were canceled, thereby creating available lodging for those needing shelter.

Mud-Slingin', Music, and More

 Fredricks Equipment and Fredricks Marine in Priceville will host mud riding and ATV enthusiasts for a mud-slinging event Saturday, October 29, 2011. The first annual Muddin’ at the Farm Pro-Am Mud Race and Concert promises lots of mud, live music, special sales and pricing in a family-friendly atmosphere.

Set for 2 p.m., the race takes place at Fredericks Equipment located at 1312 South Bethel Road in Priceville. For those who are up for the challenge and want to get dirty, registration opens at 9 a.m. for race participants. Those interested in competing must have safe, reliable equipment and must adhere to regulations set forth by Championship Mud Racing. The circular course is a standard, short-course mud pit, two feet deep. For complete rules and regulations, visit Registration fee for the Pro-Am Mud Race is $25 per participant.

Fredricks Equipment boasts a 28,000 square foot retail facility offering outdoor power equipment as well as a wide variety of boats, accessories, and parts from its sister company Fredricks Marine. Showroom doors open at 8 a.m. and special pricing will be offered throughout the day on all boats, tractors, portable power tools, accessories, ATV’s and utility vehicles.

In addition, live music is slated for the mud-slinging event, marking the end of the Fredricks Outdoor Concert Series for 2011. Firing up at 6 p.m. Arkansas native Ryan Couron ( will take to the stage with his blend of new and traditional country, followed by special guest Randy Houser, noted songwriter who co-wrote Trace Adkins’ chart topper Honky Tonk Badonkadonk. The title track from his debut album Anything Goes reached the Top 20 on the Billboard country singles charts. For more information on Houser, visit

Tickets can be purchased beginning October 5th and can also be purchased at the gate. Admission is $25 per person for an all-day pass which includes the mud race and concerts.

For more information, visit or call 256.340.8899 for ticket purchases.

Free Pancakes, Music, and Fun in Falkville

Confederate Railroad Slated to Headline Annual Free Event

The town of Falkville rolls out the red carpet for a day of free music, fun and games each year in October welcoming visitors to the rural hamlet. The Falkville Fall Festival, sponsored by the Falkville Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of Falkville, is set for October 29, 2011 and offers free pancakes, a car and tractor show, children’s activities, arts and crafts, and more culminating with country rock band Confederate Railroad live in concert. All activities take place in the town’s downtown area.

A free pancake breakfast at the Fire Department kicks things off at 7 a.m. where plenty of the fluffy hot cakes will be served until 11 a.m. Donations to the Fire Department will be accepted at the door. The car show and tractor show follow at 8 a.m. with arts and crafts vendors, bingo, inflatable fun for children, and food vendors set up throughout the day. The Fire Department will host a cake auction at noon where an assortment of yummy desserts will be up for grabs.

Music fills the air beginning at 11 a.m. with a 1 ½ hour performance by the Dusty Winsett Band followed by headliner Confederate Railroad taking to the stage at 1 p.m. The event wraps up around 3 p.m. Founded in 1984 in Marietta, Georgia, Confederate Railroad has released six albums with more than twenty singles earning a spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. Hits include “She Took It Like A Man,” “Queen of Memphis,” “Trashy Women,” “Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind,” and “Elvis and Andy.” In 1993, they were awarded Best New Group at the Academy of Country Music Awards with a Grammy nomination and a host of nominations from the Country Music Association and the British Country Music Foundation soon following. For more information, visit

The town has more to celebrate in 2011. This year marks its 125th anniversary of incorporation as a city, and to celebrate a time capsule will be buried during the one day festival. For more information on the annual event, contact the Falkville Town Hall at 256.784.5922.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

By Chatter Box, The Decatur Daily It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas ... Or it soon will be. The Historic Decatur Christmas Tour committee met recently for the 2011 tour planning party at Albany Bistro on Grant Street. Those attending included tour sponsors, home and site owners, committee members and neighborhood volunteers. Attendees were Jake Reed, Squee Bailey, Diane Scanland, Gloria Arthur, Sheila Motley, Suzanne Woller, Janet South, Tony Shubert, Jack Thomas, John and Carlyn Deeds, Dave Armistead, John Sisco, Tommy and Bonnie Black, Scott and Susie Schoel, Tolly and Barrett Shelton, Gay and Mark Maloney, Lynn and Ken Schuppert and Julia and Nick Roth. And to have a Christmas Tour of historical homes and sites around the district, you have to have home owners and businesses willing to let you tour their properties. Enjoying the kickoff party were site owners Sharon Faison of the Barrett-Faison House, Berval and Sandi Bennett of the McEntire-Bennett House, Carolyn Mills of the Girl Scout Little House and Trish Brown of First Presbyterian Church. Other neighborhood volunteers and committee members attending were Tim and Libby Britt, Margret Ann Templeton, Joel Weinbaum, Nell Standridge, Andy and Barbara Kelly, Larry and Martha Freeman, Nancy Greenleaf, June Odom, Kathy Taylor, Pat and Sally Smartt, Frank and Carolyn Price and Carol Chenault. The Historic Decatur Christmas Tour will be Dec. 10 from 3-8 p.m. Be sure to mark the date on your calendars and purchase your tickets. For more information, contact the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 256-350-2028.