Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Twinkling Lights and Lush Greenery Adorn Decatur

Twinkling Lights and Lush Greenery Adorn Decatur’s
Two Historic Districts During Annual Christmas Tour of Homes

Decatur, Ala. – The city of Decatur is unique in that it has two separate historic districts both of which are listed in the National Register of Historical Places. Homes in the historic districts are not normally open for public viewing except when a select number of homes open their doors during the annual Christmas Tour of Homes. Decorated with luminaries, greenery and thousands of lights, the homes in the two historical districts sparkle on December 12 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Refreshments are served and carriage rides are also available. Admission is charged.

Combined, the Old Decatur and New Albany Historic Districts represents one of the finest and largest collections of Victorian and earlier 20th century craftsman and bungalow homes in Alabama. The homes date back, in some instances, to the early 1800s, while most were constructed around the turn of the 20th century.

Because of its location on the Tennessee River and its critical railroad bridge, Old Decatur suffered a major loss with the Civil War. Only four buildings remained intact. In 1887, wealthy “Yankee” industrialists started a new Decatur, which later became known as Albany, bringing industry and prosperity back to Decatur. In 1927 the two towns, Decatur and Albany, were merged by an act of the state legislature.

Please visit for a list of all the homes that are on tour.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Decatur City Council

Decatur City Council
The Decatur City Council discussed the following business during its work session Monday: A resolution authorizing a $522,000 public-service contract with the Decatur-Morgan County Convention Visitors Bureau.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mobile stage now available for Morgan Events

By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

Festivals and community events throughout Morgan County will have access to a new mobile performance stage.
Sen. Arthur Orr secured $75,000 from the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel for the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau to buy the stage and manage its use.
Orr said he saw the need for the stage while attending the summer Concerts by the River in which performers stand on the ground. Decatur Parks and Recreation has had a portable stage on its wish list for years but was unable to afford one.
“This stage will help with Rhodes Ferry concerts, SoulStock, Depot Days, Frontier Days and similar functions around the county,” Orr said in a press release. “Events like these not only bring tourist dollars in but also provide a great way for local families to enjoy being together in a wholesome, outdoor atmosphere.”
24 by 20 feet
The stage measures 24 by 20 feet and includes a roof, backdrop, stairs, ramp, professional lighting and sound wings.
Tami Reist, visitors bureau president, said the stage is first class and identical to the one Bassmaster uses at weigh-in events. It will be another tool the bureau can use to attract events, she said.
Melinda Dunn, historic resources and events coordinator for parks and recreation, said the stage will be a big help for Concerts by the River because it provides protection for the sensitive equipment and musical instruments and also gives audiences a better view of performers.
Parks and recreation will store the stage between events and provide personnel to set it up. The visitors bureau will manage the stage’s use, and Reist said use will involve a small fee, to be determined, to cover the city’s set-up expense.
The stage is available to all festivals, community activities and special events in Morgan County on a first-come, first-serve basis. Persons scheduling events in 2009 may contact the visitors bureau immediately to reserve the stage. Reservations for events in 2010 will begin Jan. 2.

Meeting - Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau conducted the following business at its monthly board of directors meeting Thursday.
Reported the city collected $71,253 in lodging taxes in July, an 11 percent drop from July 2008. The bureau receives 75 percent of that money for operating and marketing expenses.
Reported the $2-per-night room occupancy tax generated $40,580 in July, a drop of $3,787 compared to July 2008. For the year, the tax raised $447,502, down $72,783 from 2008.
Reported Decatur hotels had an occupancy rate of 49 percent in July, down 5 percent from July 2008.
Reported the Fishers of Men tournament three weeks ago filled 691 hotel room nights for a $295,846 economic impact.
Announced Dana Murphree, general manager at HomeTowne Suites, is a new board member, replacing Anup Patel, whose term ended in September.
Approved an amendment to bylaws, allowing Decatur Parks and Recreation directors (currently Jeff Dunlap) to appoint someone from the department to serve in their place. Tom Chappel, assistant director of parks and recreation, will serve in Dunlap’s place.
by PAUL HUGGINS, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

Tourism revenue down 8 percent

By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

With a drop in hotel occupancy, the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau ended fiscal 2009 with a $28,450 deficit.
The bureau received $679,192 in revenue during the past 12 months, $38,681 above what it projected in its budget, said Wade Weaver, bureau board of directors treasurer.
The bureau staff cut a little more than $10,000 from expenses to reduce losses, he said, but none of the cutbacks related to direct marketing promotions.
Lodging taxes collected by the city were down 8 percent, more than $54,000, from the previous year, and a big reason for the drop was fewer corporate travelers visited the city.
Tami Reist, bureau president, and Lori Boger, bureau group sales director, visited the city’s top 10 corporate clients this week to thank them for their business and inquire about prospects for next year.
Some local industries expect to bring in more out-of-town clients and workers, Reist said, but overall, corporate lodging taxes likely will remain flat during the next year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Proposal: Fishing as school sport

By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

Hunter Spivey dropped three sports at Decatur High School, allowing him more time to reel in large lunkers lurking beneath the surface of Wheeler Lake.
The 16-year-old junior, however, can remain in his fishing boat and still earn a sports letter if a local and state effort can make bass fishing an official high school sport in Alabama.
If approved, the state would become the second in America to reach out to students who otherwise might not be involved in organized school athletics.
“I definitely think there would be a big turnout,” said Spivey, who used to play football, basketball and baseball for the Red Raiders. “I know a lot of people who don’t play those sports who definitely love to fish.”
Max Beasley, 16, said he knows of about 15 students in his junior class at Decatur High that fish weekly.
“There’d be a lot of people trying out for it,” he said. “It’s good for the people who aren’t very athletic or don’t enjoy football, baseball and soccer as much as being an outdoorsman. And it keeps them busy in positive activities.”
Involving students in school activities is one of several reasons cited by proponents for high school fishing teams. More organized fishing tournaments would give Decatur more chances to attract out-of-towners and fill local hotels and restaurants. Getting youths more prepared for tournament fishing also ensures a stable future for professional fishing circuits, such as FLW and Bassmaster.
“It’s the next great movement forward in our sport. I’m glad Alabama is considering it,” said Charlie Evans, FLW president and chief financial officer.
FLW helped Illinois, the first state to sanction fishing as a high school sport, organize its state championship, providing both equipment and personnel.
FLW, supported by Wal-Mart, would want to involve its resources with Alabama, too, he said.
Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, sent a letter to Steve Savarese, president of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, urging support of high school fishing and asked Decatur schools Superintendent Sam Houston to do the same.
“We’ve the facility (Ingalls Harbor) in place, and with its reputation among the pro circuits, I’m sure the high schools would want to come here to fish and pre-fish,” she said.
Dave Gannoway, assistant executive director for the Illinois High School Athletic Association, said bass fishing far exceeded expectations in the first season last year, doubling the 100 schools out of 785 the association hoped to see involved the first season.
“About 2,500 students were involved, both girls and boys,” he said. “We are now anticipating a huge increase this year because a lot of schools were taking a wait-and-see attitude. I’m anticipating more than 300 schools participating in our bass fishing this year.”
Ninety percent of the schools had faculty staff coach the teams, and the remaining schools got help from local fishing clubs, Gannoway said. The clubs also helped provide their local teams with boats and boat captains.
Illinois students cannot operate the outboard motor on the boat, but can operate the trolling motor, he said.
FLW’s Evans said further evidence bass fishing would be popular in high schools comes from watching the explosive growth of the sport in colleges the past few years. Last year, FLW partnered with the U.S. National Guard to start a collegiate series.
“When we started last year, nationwide there was 70 to 80 teams,” he said. “A year later we’re close to 400 active college teams.”
In April, Ingalls Harbor will be the host site of the Southern Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. It will feature about 100 anglers from 20 schools such as Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss.
Tim Tidwell, president of Alabama Family Outdoors, began organizing a statewide, grassroots effort last spring to establish bass fishing as a sanctioned high school sport.
Among bass fishing’s benefits for high schools is it allows boys and girls to compete together; it also allows small rural schools to compete head-to-head with large city schools, he said.
“There’s going to be some little 1A schools that live near some of these little creeks that are going to kick some 4A or 6A schools’ tails in these tournaments,” Tidwell said. He noted the Illinois championship showcased some schools competing in state finals for the first time in any sport.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association has specific steps to help emerging sports become sanctioned, he said. The first is that 10 percent of the state’s 412 high schools agree to field a team. That would set bass fishing up as a “sport under jurisdiction.”
It’s a probationary period, Tidwell said, meaning the AHSAA would govern the sport, but there would be no official state championship the first year.
Tidwell’s plan this year is to get interested schools to form club teams and compete in three regional tournaments in the spring from which the top five will compete in an unofficial state championship.
How Illinois runs its fishing
The Illinois High School Association considers bass fishing an activity, not a sport, so fishing coaches do not need state approval, though they must have approval of the local school board.
Each school provides the boat and one adult driver or coach. Students cannot operate the outboard motor on the boat, but can operate the trolling motor.
Many bass clubs in Illinois offered their services to the schools, including adults to captain the boats.
Illinois high school rules stipulate a school may enter one or two boats per tournament. One boat can have as many as three students but only two can fish at any one time. Boats can exchange student anglers anytime during the tournament hours.
The season featured 18 sectional tournaments leading up to the state championship.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Injury brings a wild life to an end

After ski accident, British businessman slides into stable, successful art career
By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

John S. Gibb was sitting pretty after selling a commercial diver business in the Caribbean in his early 40s.
Actually he wasn’t sitting much at all, at least not during winter ski season. But while racing down a mogul run in Maine 26 years ago, one of his knees tore apart, causing him to wreck and break his shoulder in five places.
“You drink too much, and you go skiing in Vail and you spend your money faster than you think,” Gibb, 70, said, recalling how quickly he went from living the high life to lying flat on his back in a hospital wondering how he was going to support himself and pay mounting medical bills. “That was the end of that sort of life.”
That sort of life had involved lumberjacking in Norway during the summer and working on ships for the British merchant marine in the winter before starting his own business as a commercial diver.
Once he became physically hampered, Gibb re-invented himself by returning to one of the few school activities he enjoyed as a dyslexic student growing up in England: drawing.
Now, nearly three decades later, the Ulverston, England, resident finds himself thriving in the art world and attending shows like this weekend’s Southern Wildlife Festival at Calhoun Community College.
The show continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“As a kid I could draw,” he said, noting his dyslexia made him a poor student in everything else, lining him up to be a tradesman in a factory or a mill. It was a dismal future that he would later flee to Scandinavian forests and the wide open sea to avoid.
“When I looked at other people’s art, I thought, ‘I could do that.’ But when I started, I wasn’t that good, not by today’s standards,” Gibb said.
He sold a few paintings, gained confidence and kept painting and learning. Eventually, he realized he didn’t possess a joy for painting, but he did enjoy the work of sketching out his paintings in pencil prior to applying the brush.
“I got obsessed with the pencil,” he said. “And I’m very disciplined about it. I’m up at 5:30 every morning working on it.”
Tools of the trade
Gibb mostly uses three tools for his art work: a drafting pencil that allows him to switch out various shades of lead, a red rubber eraser and a pencil eraser, which he sharpens with a razor blade. The latter allows him to create crisp white lines through dark tones of graphite.
Even after 26 years as an artist and numerous awards, Gibb said he’s still learning and improving his art. He pointed out his wildlife drawings all feature animals sitting still, but he’s striving to improve to where he can draw birds in flight with the same fine details of his still life subjects.
Gibb said the art career came along at the right time, and that he wouldn’t have had the discipline to stick with it in his 20s and 30s.
Comes with age
Age also brings new interests and ambitions, he added, particularly with viewing and drawing wildlife.
Gibb’s favorite subjects now are wildlife and mariner scenes, but he also does artwork of railways and horses.
Drawing ships was a favorite subject because of his years in the merchant marine, but an admiration of wildlife has grown as he has aged, he said.
“It’s really a matter of having the time to be able to enjoy it,” he said, noting he and his wife, Rosa­lind, usually spend about six weeks in America each year, visiting national parks and refuges in between art shows. “I think it’s just a passion that comes later in life.”
On the Net
To see more of John Gibb’s pencil art, visit www
Southern Wildlife Festival
What: Art show and sale; working decoy competition; children’s arts and crafts activities.
When: Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Calhoun Community College gymnasium.
Cost: $3 for adults; $2 for students and senior citizens; free for children 6 and younger.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Artist overcomes pain to create

Wild ride
Artist overcomes pain to create
By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

Last winter, Danny O’Driscoll thought his illustrious 37-year art career had ended.
Tendinitis in his right thumb made holding a paintbrush too painful. It was impossible to paint with the precision that had earned the Batesburg, S.C., man best of show awards twice at the Southern Wildlife Festival.
He couldn’t even hold a brush from January until April, but the four-month layoff didn’t affect his talent. O’Driscoll claimed his third best of show award at the festival during a special preview show Friday night. The 28th annual art show and sale is open to the public Saturday and Sunday at Calhoun Community College.
This year’s event has attracted 30 artists, including painters, photographers and carvers. Saturday also will feature a working duck decoy competition as well as educational demonstrations with live birds of prey at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
O’Driscoll said he truly feared his painting career was over last winter and spring. Nothing doctors prescribed helped relieve his pain.
“We tried taping it, cortisone shots, heat, cold. Nothing worked,” he said. “Finally, a lady, an artist who had the same type of problem, told me to just rest it. So I did, and here I am.”
O’Driscoll, 56, returned to the canvas in the summer, but he didn’t push himself to work in fine detail that makes his paintings so realistic.
“I was so scared to do it,” he said, noting he usually paints eight hours a day. “I was scared I was going to hurt (my hand) and never be able to paint again.”
Two weeks ago, O’Driscoll decided to give his hand a test and began painting in fine detail again. Last week, he started a painting of a kestrel perched atop a fence post. He finished it Tuesday, and three days later the best of show ribbon hung by its side.
Though he couldn’t paint last winter, O’Driscoll kept himself busy photographing wildlife to use as guides for his paintings. It was the most photography he had ever done, he said, and he figures he has enough photos to keep him painting for 10 more years.
“So some good things did come out of it,” he said.
The photography also had a direct impact on his award-winning kestrel.
O’Driscoll said he has wanted to paint a kestrel perched in that position for many years, but until last winter, he lacked the photographs to help him get the truest perspective on the bird’s movement.
“I wanted to capture the inquisitive look that kestrels have. They’re always moving their heads, always looking around,” he said.
O’Driscoll added that he specifically placed the bird in front of a blue sky to help bring out some of the subtle blue hues in the kestrel’s feathers.
O’Driscoll’s work often is mistaken for photography because the subjects appear so realistic. Part of his technique is to airbrush the background, which makes it look out of focus while also making the subject stand out.
“It was just so lifelike,” said Jennifer Swoboda, one of the show judges. “All the works were so good, it was very hard to pick (a best of show). But that was the one that grabbed my attention first.”
What: Art show and sale; live birds of prey seminars, 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.; working decoy competition; children’s arts and crafts activities.
When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Calhoun Community College gymnasium.
Cost: $3 for adults (good both days); $2 for students and senior citizens; free for children 6 and younger.
Festival winners
Painting, feathers: First, Danny O’Driscoll, kestrel; second, John S. Gibb, tawny owl; third, Steve Burney, redhead ducks.
Painting, fur: first, Martiena Richter, red panda; second, Liz Scott, ram; third, Kevin Webster, elk.
Painting, general: first, Svetlana Bellamy, butterflies and fruit.
Carving and sculpture: First, Jerry Dupré, great blue heron.
Photography: First, Garth Frazier, cougar; second, Kay Benedict and Mike Segorski; songbird; third, Mike Serkowenek, cardinal.

Friday, October 16, 2009

NALL Returns to North Alabama for Special Exhibit

Carnegie Visual Arts Center
Decatur, AL – October 9, 2009 –The Carnegie Visual Arts Center is pleased to announce NALL - Out of the Box. The exhibit opens to the general public on Saturday, October 17 and runs through November 28, with special preview events scheduled for October 15 and 16 where the artist will be the guest of honor.

The exhibit features many new works by Nall. Over 60 pieces are includedin the show. Large original installation pieces, etchings and giclee prints of the the Bellingrath Gardens flower series and the Violata Pax icons make up the majority of the body of work displayed. A casting of the Violata Pax Dove and other three-dimensional works will also be presented. Furniture printed in Nall motif and examples of his dinnerware and fl atware designs round out the one man show. Numerous Nall items will be available for purchase in the gift shop including books, etchings, prints, posters, playing cards, postcards and other items. Many pieces from the exhibit are available for purchase.

Nall’s work is well known and widely collected in North Alabama. A Southern artist with an international following, Nall has a unique style that has captivated the attention of the world. A native of Troy, Alabama, Nall spent his formative years in Arab. He received a degree in Art, Political Science and Psychology from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and in 1971, Nall
traveled to Paris where he studied under the internationally acclaimed artist, Salvador Dali, and attended the prestigious L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. After many years in Paris, Nall moved to the south of France. He resides in Fairhope, Alabama, and maintains the N.A.L.L. Art Association in Vence, France. The institute trains and educates young artists, many of whom are recovering from alcohol, drugs and 21st century abuses.

Surrounded by painters, musicians, and writers, he excelled among his contemporaries while studying at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. During this time Dali advised him to “Draw from life, draw, again and again...” Nall was also inspired by American psychedelic art, fauvism, impressionism and Japanese wash drawings. His current works represent a fusion of his Southern roots and the contemporary stylism of modern Europe. Yet, it is the symbolism and the themes of his work that expose the genius of the fl amboyant artist. Nall, a consummate southern gentleman with a dash of glitz, is a study in contradictions much as his massive works of art stretch the mind from the obvious to the veiled suggestion.

A prolifi c and exciting painter, Nall is also well known for his sculpture and porcelain. As well as exhibiting his art throughout the world, Nall recently created the costumes and sets for the famous Puccini Festival in Italy. His Havilland and Parlon Porcelain from Limoges, France are sold internationally. His monumental sculptures were shown at The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and Pietrasanta, Italy, and Monaco, where his ‘Peace Frame’ is permanently installed. His ‘Violata Pax Dove’ is currently being exhibited at the Pisa, Italy Airport, Miami Dade University, and Vence, France. There seems no limit to the talents displayed by this unpredictable artist. A complete detail of his extraordinary body of work may be found at

Nall’s dedication to his home state – and to the further development of the arts in Alabama –has been played out over and over. From time spent as artist in residence at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to the mentoring of dozens of emerging artists, Nall supports those beginning their exploration by providing the wisdom of experience and the most valuable tool for any artist – encouragement. In 2000 Nall was the curator for “Alabama Art,” an exhibit of 13 Alabama artists, with the aid of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Nall compiled the works and did the layout for the book titled Alabama Art published by Black Belt Press. This book won the Mary Ellen Lopresti ARLIS/Southeast Publishing Award for “Best Art Book” published that year in the Southeastern U.S.A. After serving two semesters as artist-in-residence at Troy University, Nall was awarded a Doctorate
Honoris Causa from Troy University, Alabama.

Nall is currently working on a new line of Limoges Dinnerware Porcelain of Alabama Camellias, produced by the Tunisian Porcelain Company, including six of Mobile’s Bellingrath Gardens Camellias. He has also started a new Book entitled The RSA Permanent Collection of Alabama Art, which includes more than 150 Alabama Artists to be published by American Image Publishing, LLC. His 2010 illustrated agenda book will be available this fall.

Nall and his work have been acclaimed by CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, the Italian Republica, the French La Figaro, and The LA Times.

The Carnegie Visual Arts Center is located at 207 Church Street in historic downtown Decatur, Alabama. Museum hours are Tuesday – Friday 11 AM – 6 PM and Saturdays 11 AM – 4 PM. There is no admission, however, donations are welcome. For more information visit or call (256) 341-0562.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Russian artist born to be wild

28th annual Southern Wildlife Festival
Russian artist born to be wild
Fondness of American fauna inspires immigrant to paint animals on gold
By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

Wildlife was as rare as gold for a young artist growing up in Saratow, Russia, where even spotting a nut-gathering rodent was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
So for Svetlana Bellamy, moving to America 11 years ago was like landing at the end of the rainbow.
And considering her appreciation for the animals and plant life absent in her homeland, it seems a perfect marriage that the 42-year-old Russian immigrant paints many of her wildlife subjects on gold leaf.
North Alabamians will get to share in Bellamy’s wealth this weekend as she brings her lineup of paintings to the 28th annual Southern Wildlife Festival in the gymnasium of Calhoun Community College.
“In Europe, I saw a squirrel only one time, in the park,” Bellamy said from her home near Ithaca, N.Y.
“One time in my lifetime. That’s it. All the people stopped to look.”
Appreciating nature
“You just cannot see all this stuff in Europe,” she said of America’s abundance and wide range of wildlife.
Her favorite places to view American wildlife are Yellowstone National Park and Montana.
“America is the most beautiful thing, the nature and the wildlife,” she said.
Bellamy won’t be the only European making a first-time appearance at the Southern Wildlife Festival this year.
The art show and sale will also feature the pencil drawings of John Gibb, who hails from England. In all, 30 artists, including painters, carvers and photographers, will participate in the two-day art show and sale.
The show also features demonstrations with live birds of prey on Saturday and a hand-carved, working duck decoy competition and exhibition.
Like many professional artists, Bellamy began painting and drawing at an early age.
She was able to attend the Saratow School for Artistically Talented Children and furthered her education at the Saratow Art College, graduating with a diploma to teach painting.
Bellamy then entered a six-year program at the Academy of Art in Kiev.
Honors received
During her first year there, her “Portrait of a Man” earned the honor of showing at the Academy Museum’s 90th anniversary exhibition.
Twice, her works have exhibited at the Russian Center of Science and Culture.
Syracuse University invited Bellamy to attend its master’s degree program for fine arts in the 1990s. She eventually met her husband there, and after marrying, they settled in Freeville, N.Y. Today, Bellamy works in oil, watercolor, pastel, charcoal and mosaics, as well as frescos and murals and wood panels. Her favorite medium, she said, is painting on gold leaf.
“It has to be exact,” she said. “You cannot erase it. You cannot cover it. The gold absorbs the oil, so it can easily stain. And you cannot put your hand on it, because it would absorb oil from skin.”
Painting on gold leaf, Bellamy said, requires the same painstaking skill as a jeweler who cuts diamonds and other precious stones.
There’s an historical appeal to painting on gold leaf, she said, noting artists in the middle ages painted religious icons on gold leaf, and the medium was used in ancient cultures ranging from China to France.
Gold’s greatest appeal, Bellamy said, is its light reflection, even through painted brush strokes.
Its popularity in ancient times was probably related to its ability to stand out in the low light of candle-lit rooms.
“It’s not too expensive to paint on,” she added. “If you’re covering a wall with it, yes, but not so for painting.”
Bellamy has gold leaf paintings as large as 4 by 5 feet but doesn’t have room in her vehicle to carry the large ones to this weekend’s art show. She will have seven or eight in a range of smaller sizes.
Beverly Basham, festival president, was a fan of Bellamy before she decided to attend this year’s show. Basham bought one of her paintings in August.
Luxury, familiarity
“I’ve always admired her work, and I couldn’t resist,” she said. “First, it was extremely well done and so different from what you typically see.
“The gold leaf just adds richness to the piece,” Basham said.
“You don’t think about painting on gold because gold is so precious. But this is such beautiful marriage of the luxury of gold and familiarity we have with painting.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brochure offers insight into Decatur history

Editorial, The Decatur Daily

Racial harmony requires mutual respect, and a brochure prepared by Peggy Towns and King’s Memorial United Methodist Church pastor the Rev. Wylheme Ragland is a great reminder of the contributions black Decatur residents have made in shaping this city.
The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau was wise to print copies of the brochure, which gives tourists and residents alike unique insight into Decatur history.
As Ms. Towns pointed out, the brochure accomplishes more than just educating whites and tourists. It also educates black residents of the enormous contributions, many of them unheralded, that blacks have made to the Decatur area.
From Decatur native Mae Jemison, an astronaut, to Amos McKinney, a Civil War soldier, blacks have helped create every aspect of the city. Slaves cut the stone pillars of Old State Bank, and Decatur Negro High hosted George Washington Carver.
Decatur’s history and present includes numerous blacks who served the community as lawyers, physicians, businessmen and officials.
Ms. Towns deserves our thanks for memorializing an important part of our city.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brochure touts Decatur black pioneers

By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

Black pioneers who helped forge Decatur’s history come to life in a bro­chure that aims to educate local residents as well as help tourism.
“I see it as a tool for all of us. Not just whites, but blacks, too, because a lot of blacks don’t know it,” said Peggy Towns, who worked with King’s Memorial United Methodist Church’s pastor, the Rev. Wylheme Rag­land, to provide information and photos.
The cover features photos of Decatur native Mae Jemison, the first black female astronaut to visit outer space, and the military grave marker for Amos McKinney, a Union Civil War soldier buried at Magnolia Sykes Cemetery.
It also has a photo of the historic marker for the Schaudies-Banks Cottage.
The brochure discusses the slaves who cut the stone pillars of Old State Bank and George Washington Carver’s visit to Decatur Negro High.
It lists early black businessmen, physicians, attorneys and government officials, as well as schools and churches.
Towns, who is distributing the brochures to local black churches and the Morgan County Archives, said her main motivation was to educate and enlighten local residents about their black history, but she also thinks the bro­chure will increase tourism.
“When I go on vacation, I always try to find a museum or some interesting place to visit. Hopefully, when people see the bro­chure, they will say, ‘Hmm, I didn’t know that’ and visit Decatur. It will be a tool to enrich their lives.”
Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, agreed and was willing to spend $2,700 to print 10,000 copies. The bureau will also put the bro­chure on its Web site. Anyone with a computer can download and print it.
Towns will help lead an historic walking tour of some of the areas listed in the brochure Oct. 17 as part of The Big Read, a citywide tribute to the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The tour will start at Cotaco Park at the Morgan County Courthouse at 10 a.m. Towns will explain what 1930s Decatur looked like for the black community and explore sites significant during the Scottsboro Boys trials.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Have a seat...with Rickie Higgins

From Memi Pottery's blog
ARTIST RICKIE HIGGINS joins us THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22nd for Canvas and Conversation at Memi's on Bank. He has been commissioned for his famous "chairs" by many, and has sold them in many galleries, including our own WILLIS GRAY (did you go to the art show last night..check it out!). You don't want to miss out on this one...I'm sure you're thinking it would be a great Christmas gift, but trust me, when you're through it will not leave your house!! $55.00 reserves your spot, all your supplies, SOOO much fun, and of course Rickie (well, as an instructor that is). or 350-0101. IT WILL FILL UP!!
So much going on on Bank Street coming week is Canvas and Conversation with LEE NABORS on Thursday the 15th, Friday at Five on the 16th , plus the NALL Exhibit at the Carnegie, Palettes and Punch with LEE NABORS on Monday the 19th, RICKIE on the 22nd along with Girls Night Out from 4-6:30 at Memi's and our new neighbors the Paper Chase (check their blog for all the details on theirs, different time and SPECIALS) Halloween Hoot on the 24th, and SCOTT WILLIS Canvas and Conversation on the 29th. Whew! AND there's more....Memi's is getting in TONS of new gifts the end of the month! Look for a sale next week as we make room for our fabulous new items we are getting in. I'm almost out of breath, BUT don't forget to schedule your HOLIDAY GIRLS NIGHT OUT TO PAINT POTTERY...We are filling up!! Great gift ideas: Baby hand print ornaments, "We are Thankful Platters" with hand prints, Christmas platters for the parents who have everything....painted teacher gifts for $5.00...WOW! Tuesday - Friday 10-5 or Saturday 10-2. 350-0101. THANKS FOR SUPPORTING MEMI'S ON BANK!

The Terrific Trio at Memi's on Bank

From Memi Pottery's blog

CANVAS AND CONVERSATION is back with a trio of artists that will make you want to quit your day job and paint, paint, paint! October 16th LEE NABORS kicks it off with this beautiful Angel painting. What an awesome piece to embellish your home or give as a gift! Lee's work is a wanted commodity by she can teach you how! $55.00 reserves your spot and everything is included! (of course you need to bring your favorite beverage and your favorite friend) 6-9 p.m. Thursday October 15th at Memi's on Bank. or 350-0101.

RICKIE HIGGINS is always in demand and he is back on October 22nd. Look for his painting to be posted in the next day or two. You can view it if you drop by Memi' is oh so fab! His classes are always full, always fun, and of course your leave with a great piece of art. We just got lucky to catch him between art shows to teach us stroke by stroke...$55.00 from 6:30-9:30!! Why the time change? Because we'll have a GIRLS NIGHT OUT with our new neighbor THE PAPER CHASE from 4-7 with lots of new gifts, Christmas ideas and fun!

Have you ever wanted to be a FLOWER GIRL??? Do you remember your flower girl?? GET READY....Scott Willis is bringing a touch of his famous butterfly that he beautifully painted for the Carnegie Arts Aflutter and painting FLOWER GIRLS...these delightful, faceless, flowery girls are not your typical "ummm" FLOWER GIRLS, but we'll pretend. Bring your favorite bubbly beverage, throw some flowers in your hair, and get ready for an evening of CANVAS AND CONVERSATION, Scott's way. $55.00 reserves your spot. Don't miss out. 6-9 OCTOBER 29th.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

BASS releasese 2010 schedule for Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women's Tour

BASS releases 2010 schedule for Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women's Tour
The 2010 Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year will earn a Classic berth

by BASS Communications,

For the third consecutive year, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women's Tour will award a coveted Bassmaster Classic berth to the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Women's Tour Angler of the Year. The 2010 WBT schedule will span five events, four regular-season tournaments and a championship, and will visit fisheries in Alabama, Texas and Louisiana.
The top 20 WBT anglers, based on their Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year standings in the regular season, will qualify for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women's Tour Championship. The location for the Championship is set for Oct. 15-17 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir out of Lufkin, Texas, which will serve as the host of the event. From that event, the Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year will be determined and the winner will receive a coveted qualifying berth into bass fishing's premier event, the Bassmaster Classic.
"The Bassmaster Women's Tour continues to receive some incredible exposure," said Jamie Wilkinson, senior director of event operations and business development, BASS. "Once again, we have scheduled some top-notch fisheries and engaged communities."
The 2010 season will kick off March 18-20 on Wheeler Lake out of Decatur, Ala. BASS previously has held 10 events on Wheeler but the season opener will mark the first WBT event on the spacious fishery. In 2009, BASS doubled up on Wheeler with a Bassmaster Central Open event in addition to a Bassmaster Elite Series event, the Evan Williams Bourbon Dixie Duel. The Decatur-Morgan Convention & Visitor's Bureau will serve as host.
The second event will be held April 22-24 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir out of Lufkin, which will also host the event. Rayburn, a perennial BASS favorite, has been the site of more than 30 BASS events with the last one, a Bassmaster Central Open, in September. Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, bested the field with a three-day total of 57 pounds, 5 ounces.
For the third regular-season event of 2010, the WBT will visit Belton Lake and Temple, Texas, on June 10-12. Belton, officially impounded in 1954 and just more than 12,000 acres, has never hosted a BASS tournament in the organization's 40-plus year history. The Temple Convention & Visitors Bureau is the local host.
The final regular-season event is set for the Ouachita River out of West Monroe, La., on Sept. 16-18. Ouachita hosted a WBT event earlier this April. Texas' Janet Parker scored victory on the river with a three-day total of 32 pounds, 2 ounces. As in 2008, the Monroe-West Monroe Convention & Visitors Bureau will host the event. After Ouachita, the regular-season AOY standings will be finalized and the qualifying berths for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women's Tour Championship will be determined.
The WBT Championship will mark the end of the 2010 season. Spacious Rayburn will provide a different set of conditions for the Championship event from the April WBT tournament. After points are awarded based on Championship finishes, the Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year will be crowned.
Entry fees will be collected for all five events. Once again, anglers will be able to drop their lowest finish from the four regular-season events before the regular-season standings are finalized and the Championship berths are decided.
At each event, the champion pro will receive $1,000 in addition to a fully-rigged boat package valued at $55,000. The winning co-angler will receive $500 plus a boat package valued at $25,000.
Academy Sports + Outdoors, a Katy, Texas-based sporting goods retailer, continues to reap the benefits of sponsoring the WBT.
"Academy Sports + Outdoors is pleased to sponsor the Bassmaster Women's Tour again in 2010," said Anita Sehgal, vice president of marketing at Academy Sports + Outdoors. "The WBT is a great vehicle that grows the sport of fishing by giving women the opportunity to fish competitively and to be role models for young anglers throughout the United States."
Registration for the four 2010 regular-season events can be completed at Priority registration is open to the top 50 pros and co-anglers in the 2009 Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year standings at 9 a.m. ET Monday, Nov. 2. Registration will open at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9, for all BASS members who wish to sign up for all four regular-season events. Those who wish to sign up for single events can register beginning at noon Monday, Nov. 16.
Fans can visit Academy stores for additional information on the WBT and find out more about the organization at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fishers of Men 2009 Chpionship Series

Fishers Of Men Jeff and John Carman Win the Midwest/Central Lake Wheeler Regional ChampionshipFishers of Men 2009 Championship Series
by Frank Evans, Senior Staff Writer,

(Oct. 05, 2009 - Decatur, AL)... Although bluebird skies and fierce southwesterly winds confronted the anglers on Day-2 of the Fishers of Men Lake Wheeler Midwest - Central Regional Championship, it still proved to be remarkably productive for Jeff and John Carman (Kentucky South-central), as they brought in another 15 plus pound bag of bass to secure the win by more than a four pound margin.
Jeff and John hauled in 15.10 lbs to join the 15.98 from Day-1 and capture the 2009 Midwest - Central Regional Championship with 31.08 lbs overall. The talented pair’s consistent performance throughout the two days of competition earned them championship plaques to commemorate their victory and a certificate for a fully rigged, $30,000.00, 2010 TR-18 Triton bass boat, powered by a 150hp Mercury Optimax, Motorguide trolling motor, and Lowrance electronics.

John and Jeff concentrated their efforts within view of the Lake Guntersville dam. By tossing black jigs tipped with green-pumpkin Paca Craws, the talented duo flipped and tossed this productive bait in and around current breaks in six to ten feet of water and caught so many fish that they were culling them by mere ounces. The pair affirmed that the place was literally loaded with three-pound bass.
Jared Carpenter and Brian Ross, KY SC, finished second for the tournament by adding 10.56 lbs to their Day 1 catch of 16.05lbs. The Berea, KY twosome’s bass came from a secondary channel located up near the Meow Mix factory. The 26.61 lbs of fish fell for Blk/Char jigs and green-pumpkin worms on shaky-head jigs.

Indiana South anglers, Ken and Darren Mitchell, held their 3rd place spot by supplanting their 13.75 lbs with today’s catch of 12.18 lbs, giving them 25.93 for the tournament. Darren and Ken fished several miles downstream near power lines that crossed the lake. Darren stated that their early fish came from cranking a Strike King Series Three, Sexy Shad around an underwater hump that was located near the power lines. When the morning bite slowed, the pair moved up into a creek on the Decatur Flats and worked three brush piles with rattle baits and Strike King Blu/Char tubes; that several big ones really liked.

Don and Steve Sentell, Tennessee Central, moved up from 11th and captured forth place with a two-day total of 24.25 lbs. Steve said that he and his father worked a creek that was located near the Wheeler Dam. Success came by throwing sexy-shad colored Zara Spooks early and pitching shad-colored, Zoom Finesse Worms later in the day.
Moving up from eight, Alabama Northwest teammates John Welborn and Steve Quinn finished fifth overall with 12.76 on Day One and 11.29 lbs today, for a two-day total of 24.05 lbs. John and Steven never wandered far from the launch area, preferring, instead, to work the flats in five to ten feet of water with green-pumpkin, Zoom Trick Worms on Day one. When the flats failed to produce fish on Day 2, John said that the Barge tie-ups produced well.

Jeff Moore and Johnny Bryan’s 6.40 lbs, Day Two, $600.00, 1st Big Fish helped rocket them to a 12th place finish from where they stood on Day One, 44th.

Keith Mc Deerman and Von Dilbeck, from Tennessee East, brought in the Day Two 2nd Big Fish, weighing 4.66 lbs.

The top Adult/Junior team is Tennessee Central’s Mike and Ryan Hollingshead. Mike and Ryan finished 15th overall, with 21.32 lbs and the top Male/Female team is Brian and Heidi Bartos, Minnesota-West Division, with 16.25 lbs.

We want to express our special thanks to Tami Reist and the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Host Hotel, Jameson Inn (256) 355-2229, and First Baptist Church of Decatur.

We also want to thank our national sponsors: Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Strike King Lure Company, Marshalls Marine, Power Pole, Grace Full Gospel Church, Solar Bat, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, Kistler Custom Rods, Keelshield, Jacobs Glass, Markel Insurance, Shakespeare, Stanley Jigs, Spike-It Bait Company, Rejuvenade, Mizmo Bait Company, Motorguide, Lowrance, Logan Fire Apparatus, Keep Alive Oxygen Infusor, Dual Pro Chargers, Buckeye Lures, Allstar Rods, and Xtools.

To Kill A Mockingbird Comes Alive on the Big Screen!

The Most Beloved Pulizer Prize Winner
Comes Alive on the Big Screen!

Enjoy a nostalgic night at the movies for the classic film based on the novel by Harper Lee. Six-year-old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch (Mary Badham) is growing up in the Depression era of the early 1930s in a small Southern town in this highly acclaimed motion picture. Jean’s father (Gregory Peck), the town lawyer, is a wise, quiet man with a great sense of justice who defends a poor, black man accused of rape. The film nominated the 1962 Academy Award for Best Film and Best Actor for Gregory Peck.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

He's fast Tupelo money

Holman clocks 15:40.23 to win 11th Jesse Owens race
From The Decatur Daily

OAKVILLE — Max Holman wasn’t a Mad Max on Saturday, but you couldn’t tell he was happy about posting the fastest time among 4,000 runners, either.
The senior from Tupelo, Miss., ran the 5-kilometer distance in 15 minutes and 40.23 seconds to capture the boys gold elite title in the 11th annual Jesse Owens Cross Country Classic at the Oakville Indian Mounds and Educational Center.
“It was a little humid out there today and the course was a little muddy, but really overall I’m pleased,” said Holman. He said he had saved some energy for a “great kick” near the end of the race to win.
Holman, who said he is getting offers from Southeastern Conference and other Division I schools, might have been comparing his Saturday time with his 15:19 he ran two weeks ago at a Nike event in Louisville, Ky.
“Coming down the hill about the 2-mile mark I had to be a little careful with my footing,” Holman said about the track soaked in recent weeks by constant rain.
However, Holman looked around at the large number in the meet and said he’s impressed with the organization and staff.
“The Jesse Owens race is always very well organized,” he said. “Everything here runs on time. There’s not many meets I can say that about.”
The fastest time of an Alabama runner belonged to Cold Springs’ Nathan Lewis.
He clocked at 15:54.76, good for third place in the gold elite division.
Brewer sophomore Clay Oden finished 48th with a 17:24.68 as the area’s fastest runner in the division.
Winning the gold elite girls event was McGill-Toolen’s Carmen Carlos with an 18:04.27.
“I was just trying to run my best and get a PR (personal record time),” the freshman said after setting her PR Saturday.
Recording a 19:52.15, Brewer senior Emily Trotter finished 16th overall and No. 1 locally in the girls division.
Decatur’s Sally Adams, a senior, posted a 20:59.81 good for 54th overall and second fastest locally.
The Hatton boys turned in a stellar second-place showing in the bronze (Class 1A-4A) boys division.
Lifted by five finishers in the top 27, the defending 1A-2A state champion Hornets used strength in numbers Saturday.
“We came in hoping for a Top 4 finish today,” said Hatton coach Brandon Barringer. “I had a bunch of kids step up. We’ve got 10 new runners this year and winning second here is huge. It’s really hard to single out any one runner we had several with PRs out there.”
The fastest Hornet was senior Jade Brackin with a 17:57.20, good for 13th place. On his heels in 14th place was fellow senior Zachary O’Hare.
Sophomore Blake Brackin (18:17.23, 24th), freshman Reid Harrison (18:18.08, 26th) and junior Devin Jackson (18:19.05, 27th) contributed.
Randolph School of Huntsville won the team event. Lawrence County boys were sixth.
The top local bronze boy runner was Athens Bible senior Cliff Denton with a 17:37.43.
Lawrence County’s Freddie Shirah was 20th with a 18:08.56, a personal best for him.
Clements senior Roger Good finished 31st in the 349-runner field with a 18:36.54.
Rogers High sophomore Katie Stewart won the bronze girls (Class 1A-4A) with a 19:38.58 time. Finishing fifth in the 265-runner field was Lawrence County senior Ari Stephenson with a 21:03.37.
“My practices seem to go better than my races lately,” Stephenson said. “I’ll continue to work to improve. State is back here next month and we’ve got work to do as a team. Rogers is going to be tough to beat.”
Clements freshman Allison Jay was ninth in the division with a 21:14.10.
Rogers won the team event. Lawrence County was seventh, Athens Bible 10th.
Lawrence County cross country coach Stanley Johnson said he was proud of his teams but want to see better results.
“Several of our kids ran PRs today, so I can’t be really disappointed, but I know we’re capable to doing better,” said Johnson, who also served as the tournament director. “We’ve got a month to prepare for state.”
No meet record times were set Saturday.
“The course is a little soft in places because of the rain we’ve had,” Johnson said. “I feel blessed it is not worse than it is.”
The Oakville track is the venue of this year’s Alabama High School Athletic Association’s state championships. It is set for Nov. 14.
The Jesse Owens Runners Club hosted Saturday’s event.
Complete results can be found at

Saturday, October 3, 2009

4,008 runners in Jesse Owens Classic

By From staff reports, The Decatur Daily

OAKVILLE — A record number of runners has registered for the 11th annual Jesse Owens Cross Country Classic.
Organizers said 4,008 runners signed up to compete in Saturday’s event.
The event began in 1999 with about 450 participants.
It honors Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in one day at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He was born in Oakville.
The Jesse Owens Runners’ Club hosts the event at Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Education Center. Races start at 9 a.m.
To find out when each division races, visit
Proceeds help cross country teams at Hatton, Lawrence County and East Lawrence.
The Junior Civitan Club also provides volunteers.
The park is about eight miles south of Moulton on Alabama 157.
Parking is $2 per car.
Stanley Johnson is the race director and coach of the Lawrence County cross country team.
Assistant directors are Dewayne Key and William Calvert.
For more information, call Johnson at 566-4410.