Friday, January 13, 2012

Lawrence to keep state cross country meet

By Nancy Glasscock, The Decatur Daily
The high school state cross country championships will remain in Lawrence County for the next three years, race director Stanley Johnson said.
The Jesse Owens Runners Club received verbal notification Thursday that it would host the meet at Oakville Indian Mounds park, Johnson said.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association chose the park over Veterans Park in Birmingham because of organization and atmosphere at the park, Johnson said.
“There was just an overwhelming response from Scottsboro, Florence and even in Mobile during the committee meeting,” he said. “That says something when coaches and teams and parents are willing to drive from Mobile for the state meet.”
The race, held Nov. 10, will be the 11th high school state cross country championship held at the park.
The runners club must re-apply to host the race again after three years.
Johnson and others want to keep the race in Lawrence County because of the economic impact on Lawrence, Morgan and Cullman counties. More runners and their families stay in hotels in Cullman and Morgan counties than in Lawrence County because of the availability of rooms, and more revenue is generated by guests spending money at gas stations and restaurants in Lawrence County.
Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said 49 room nights were booked in the Decatur area during the weekend of the race in 2011, bringing the economic impact to $23,233. In 2010, 61 hotel room nights were booked, for an economic impact of $27,919.
“We have a soccer tournament that takes place that same weekend, so for that race, Decatur can’t take as much business in because of those other events,” Reist said.
Cullman County receives more hotel revenue from the event than Morgan and Lawrence, but Cullman doesn’t track bookings from the event.
About 1,200 to 1,500 runners participate in the races. To be considered by the AHSAA to host the race, Johnson said the runners club had to submit a plan dealing with issues such as safety, parking, the race course, personnel and volunteers. Cost to host the race is $21,000, which comes from sponsorships, the Chickasaw Trails and Jesse Owens Classic cross country races in September and October, and from fees that schools pay to participate.
Johnson said the running trail at Oakville Indian Mounds is “one of the best venues in the nation.”
“And how the staff works with us out there just makes it even better,” he said. “It really is a genuine team effort with Morgan and Lawrence counties and everyone involved.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bureau 'caches in" to lure tourist

Geocachers follow Civil War trail, visit 3 local historic sites  
By Johnny Kampis, The Decatur Daily
A new program is spurring treasure hunters to descend on some of the area’s Civil War-era sites, and local officials hope they learn a bit of the region’s history while they are there.
The Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau recently launched the Appalachia Civil War: The Home Front in Alabama Passport, which tasks geocachers with visiting 20 historic state sites, including three in Decatur.
Tami Reist, president of the bureau, said the challenge was born from a project last year for the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. Signature sites were featured on a map inserted into American Heritage magazine.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if we geocached this trail?’ ” she said.
Geocachers use GPS devices to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using map coordinates.
The containers on the trail contain stamps that participants use to mark their passports, verifying they’ve traveled to the locations.
Each box also contains a quick response code, which, when scanned by a smartphone, will provide more information about the site.
“It encourages them to go in and explore and learn more about history,” Reist said.
Local geocacher Owen Chapman helped set up the challenge by placing containers at most of the locations.
Chapman said he had to improvise in some spots, because geocaching rules prevent new caches from being placed within 500 feet of existing containers.
The caches for Old State Bank and Blue & Gray Museum of North Alabama, both in Decatur, were put in alternate locations in the city because the sites are too close to a cache in Lafayette Street Cemetery.
Geocachers must visit these sites to gather clues to the cache locations. For example, a participant must count the columns of Old State Bank to help determine one of the coordinates.
Chapman said geocachers are enjoying the new challenge. A couple have already completed the passport and brought the document to the visitors bureau, where they received a Civil War commemorative coin for their efforts.
“Anytime you get new caches, you get a rush to them,” Chapman said. “People like being introduced to something new. I’ve been all over North Alabama to places I never would have been if I wasn’t geocaching.”
You can pick up your passport at the visitors bureau, 719 Sixth Ave. SE, or download a copy at

Area spots on the Civil War geocaching passport

  • Pond Springs, Courtland
  • Alabama Veterans Museum, Athens
  • Blue & Gray Museum of North Alabama, Decatur
  • Old State Bank, Decatur
  • Bennett-McEntire House (also known as Rhea-McEntire House), Decatur
  • Alabama Veterans Museum, Huntsville
  • Huntsville Depot, Huntsville
  • EarlyWorks History Complex (formerly Alabama Constitution Village), Huntsville

Thursday, January 5, 2012

No decistion yet of city riverboat

Three months after the Pickwick Belle riverboat’s trial run in Decatur, no decision has been made whether Decatur will become the new home of the Tennessee-based attraction.The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau has been trying to court the Belle away from Florence. Bureau President Tami Reist said she plans to meet with the riverboat company this month.
“We’re hoping to hear some positive feedback from them soon,” Reist said. “Tanya Irwin (Pickwick Belle’s marketing director) attended the opening of the Ingalls Harbor pavilion last month and seemed very excited about the possibilities.”
The riverboat held cruises, launching from Ingalls Harbor, from mid-August to mid-September to gauge interest from the Decatur area. All cruises either sold out or came close to capacity, Reist said.
The 90-foot-long paddle boat is scheduled to stop in Decatur again in May for a lunch cruise chartered by Daikin-America, according to Pickwick Belle’s website. Irwin did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
TIFFENY OWENS, The Decatur Daily

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


In January, Ingalls Harbor Pavilion will play host to over 20 manufacturer representatives from several states at North America Fire Equipment Company's

NAFECO 2012 Vendor Expo. The event will bring companies that provide equipment and apparel to fire, police, sheriff, EMS and industrial safety personnel to Decatur. Companies from as far away as Virginia, Indiana and Colorado will be coming to the River City to display their products for members of area public safety departments as well as the local public.

The event, sponsored by NAFECO, has been held on a smaller scale for several years, however due to the absence of a larger venue, only NAFECO employees have been able to participate. “We are excited to bring an expo of this scale to the public safety personnel here in the Southeast.” said Jerrell Oaks, President of NAFECO. Mr. Oaks believes the benefit will go beyond that of our local public safety personnel by bringing exposure to the Decatur area and this new facility, as well as bringing increased revenue to the city as these manufacturer representatives will be staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants and purchasing gas from local stations.
In addition to the vendor representatives, Mr. Oaks stated that public safety personnel from not only Morgan and surrounding counties, but from departments within a 150-mile radius are being invited to attend. “This will be the first event of this scale in our area. We look forward to showing departments from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi what is available to them, right here in their own backyard.”
The 2012 Vendor Expo will be held on Thursday, January 5, 2012, from 2:00 – 7:00pm at Ingalls Harbor Pavilion. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
North America Fire Equipment Co., Inc.
(NAFECO)is a Decatur-based company owned by Jerrell Oaks and has been in business since 1968. NAFECO maintains their corporate office, warehouse and retail stores in Decatur, along with their

Fire Division, Public Safety Division and Fire Apparatus Repair and Service Center. NAFECO also has offices located in Ashland, VA, Rock Hill, SC, Morganton, NC, Norcross, GA, Clearwater, FL and New Braunfels, TX.
# # #
If you would like more information about this upcoming event, or to schedule an interview, please contact Mr. Kevin Naumann, Director of Marketing, at 256/353-7100, ext. 145 or via email at

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ingalls pavilion offers local business space it needs for nearing expo

By Ronnie Thomas, The Decatur Daily

For the past 15 years, North America Fire Equipment Co. hosted a small vendor expo at its headquarters on West Moulton Street or at local motels.
“We’d have about six manufacturers to come and speak to our sales force of about 40 people during our annual sales meetings,” said Ronald Woodall, vice president of the company.
But at NAFECO’s 2012 vendor expo Thursday at Ingalls Harbor pavilion, Woodall said 21 vendors will display their equipment and apparel for emergency responders.
The public event will run from 2-7 p.m. Admission is free.
“There are other type of expos in which manufacturers come in and set up their displays, but this is the first time one the size of this one will be in Decatur,” Woodall said. “The reason we’re able to do it is because of the city of Decatur and the new pavilion.”
The $3 million Ingalls Harbor pavilion, the city’s largest event space, opened Nov. 27 and hosted a banquet for almost 600 players and coaches participating in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics women’s soccer tournament at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex.
On Dec. 9, about the same number of people came to the pavilion for the Decatur General Hospital Foundation’s XXVII Gala.
“We’ve had other smaller events,” said Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Nucor had two parties there for employees’ children and the Kiwanis Club held its meeting at the pavilion last Thursday. But what NAFECO is doing will be totally different from our other events.”
NAFECO will spread the displays featuring the manufacturers’ equipment for firefighters, police officers, industrial safety crews and others over more than 18,000 square feet of the 25,000-square-foot facility.
“We’re a distributor for these manufacturers rather than being a manufacturer ourselves,” Woodall said. “We’re expecting vendors from throughout the Southeast, as well as from Pennsylvania and Ohio. Our sales people are coming from the Southeastern region of the United States, from Virginia, to Florida and to Texas.”
Woodall said he expects public safety personnel from north and central Alabama and central Tennessee, as well as representatives of local industry.
He said with the expo being open to the public, he has no idea how many people will attend.
“But there will be 80 to 100 people among our sales force and manufacturing personnel,” Woodall said. “They are spending two and three nights in the city in preparation for the expo and working it. That has to be good for the city.”
Reist and city officials will be pleased to know that NAFECO plans to make its vendor expo an annual event at the pavilion.
“We’re excited about what we can do in the future,” Woodall said. “We may expand our expo more hours and more days.”
Decatur Fire Chief Charlie Johnson said he is pleased that the city has a local resource such as NAFECO.
“They’ve grown so much during the past 10 years I’ve been here, and I’m happy to see that they’re able to put together an expo such as this for the local and area fire and police departments, and for the whole region,” he said.
Johnson said the pavilion itself is a showcase for Decatur and the Parks and Recreation Department.
“NAFECO’s expo is a win-win situation — a local company showing off what they can do and being able to put everything together in one place,” he said. “This is a good use of the facility.”