By Kay Campbell, The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Jehovah's Witnesses from five states will return to Huntsville in June and July for conventions on three successive weekends, June 25-27, July 2-4 and July 9-11, officials announced Tuesday morning.
Each convention is expected to draw about 6,000 members and visitors. Each is expected to generate about $2.5 million in local sales tax.
"We thank you for bringing the tax money here -- that's important," Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in his remarks. "But more than that, thank you for bringing the people here. Your emphasis on family values reflects the family values of our city."
A disagreement over parking fees meant that members were directed to other cities in 2009. The denomination holds 358 conventions in 90 cities in the U.S.
Battle was credited for assembling a negotiating team that included local hoteliers, the city's Parking and Public Transit, the Von Braun, the Visitors Bureau and, for the first time, representatives from Decatur's Visitors Bureau.
"We are glad to be back," said Dale Moore, a church member who handles local communications, citing the beauty of Big Spring Park, the centrality of facilities and the local hospitality of motel and restaurant workers. "We love it here."