Summary The Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce has embarked on a plan to improve and expand its facilities built in the 1800s, a renovation that will revitalize an entire city block in downtown. Lynch said the incubator will be ideal for information technology companies looking to establish themselves in Elmore County. After Lynch made the request to the County Commission, Chairman David Bowen said the commission would consider the request, likely through its budget process.
Construction coming to downtown Wetumpka Matt Okarmus, Montgomery Advertiser5:06 p.m. CDT June 15, 2014
WETUMPKA – After years of talking about the changes coming to downtown Wetumpka, signs of action have begun to appear.
Markings — various combinations of green lines, blue arrows, and pink and yellow numbers and letters — can be seen on East Bridge, Court and Company streets downtown.
David Robison, planning and project director for Wetumpka, said the markings are the beginning steps for the Downtown and Riverfront Revitalization Plan, which the Wetumpka City Council adopted in March.
“The first step was locating utilities and conducting topography surveys,” Robison said. “When that’s finished, we will have an elevation plan of what downtown actually looks like.”
From there, the engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Inc. will use the surveys to make designs.
“They’ll turn those designs into 3D pictures that contractors can build,” Robison said.
Revitalization plans for downtown officially began to take shape in 2012, and the Nashville, Tennessee-based consulting group the Walker Collaborative was brought in last spring to provide the city with a blueprint for future development. The Downtown and Riverfront Revitalization Plan includes many suggestions, such as placing a landscaped median on Main Street, developing a roundabout at Company and Orline streets, placing “gateway” signage at the entrances to the city and the possibility of a parking deck.
Initial work includes water, sewer and storm sewer improvements. Construction is expected to begin in the fall with a “best-case scenario” of completion in spring 2015, Robinson said.
Once that’s finished, the surface work — the sidewalk and streetscape rehabilitation outlined in the revitalization plan — will take place. It is estimated to begin in late spring or early summer 2015.
The work will be done in stages and affect Company, East Bridge, Court and South Main streets. Robison said planners are aware of the impact the work will have on property owners and patrons of downtown.
“We are going to do everything we can to work with them, to make sure they are aware of the schedule when we have it and to minimize the impact on them as best we can,” he said.
Robison said the area “will look worse before it looks a lot better” because the work is being done in stages.
Once surveying is finished, updated design plans will be developed and shared with the public. Robison said planners hope to hold a public hearing this summer.
David Robison, planning and project director for Wetumpka, said funding for the downtown construction was provided with the assistance of recently approved grants. Including:
• A Community Development Block Grant from Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. The city of Wetumpka was awarded $450,000 that will go toward the subsurface work, with the city and the Wetumpka Water Works and Sewer Board providing a $200,000 match.
• A Transportation Alternatives Program grant that will provide $377,000 for streetscaping and sidewalk improvements for portions of East Bridge, South Main and Court streets. There is a $94,000 match from the city.
• About $786,000 has been provided through the Montgomery Metropolitan Planning Organization, with a $196,000 match from the city. This will be used to fund sidewalk and streetscape improvements for Company Street as well as resurfacing work throughout downtown.
For a detailed look at the Downtown and Riverfront Revitalization Plan, visit cityofwetumpka.com and click on the link for “downtown redevelopment.”
A heated debate took place in the State House today as lawmakers shouted at each other, over alcohol. The debate is over the local sale of alcohol on Sundays.
Leaders in Wetumpka and Millbrook want their restaurants to be able to serve alcohol on Sundays, just like their neighbors, Prattville and Montgomery.
Wednesday a public hearing was held in the local legislation committee. Those involved obviously are very passionate about where they stand.
While at the podium arguing in support of the bill, John Teague, a lobbyist for Poarch Band of Creek Indians said, "this racially discriminatory language singles us out, to tell us that we are to be treated different."
Senator Bryan Taylor, who has been openly opposing the bill argued back.
"This isn't about gambling, this is about a business that wants to expand its privilege to profit from the sale of alcohol in my county," Taylor said. "While telling the citizens and constituents that I represent, if you are injured because of our irresponsible sale and serving of alcohol, too bad there's nothing you can do about it, we are exempt from the jurisdiction of this state."
No matter if for or against the bill, which would allow on premise Sunday alcohol sales in Wetumpka and Millbrook, the emotions were high on all sides.
"I will take you to court any day," said Representative Paul Beckman to Taylor, while arguing after the hearing.
Beckman introduced the bill. Amended from its original form, the bill now includes gambling facilities.
"Indians are on sovereign land and that's exactly what they are, they are sovereign," Beckman stated. "The federal courts have said state has no jurisdiction on them."
Taylor fired back to Beckman's statement.
"None of my other restaurants and bars in Wetumpka or Millbrook are authorized to run gambling operations, if they do they could lose their ABC license," argued Taylor.
Beyond the fight over casinos, Senator Bryan Taylor, who also introduced a similar bill which later failed in the senate, says Sunday alcohol sales should have a referendum and be voted on by residents.
Mike Ingram, a resident of Millbrook and Senior Pastor at Millbrook Baptist Church believes that Sunday alcohol sales would negatively impact the community.
"We are looking at it from a moral issue and just an effect on the community, and how an increase in alcohol sales will negatively impact our community," Ingram said. "Sunday, itself, is a special day for us as Christians and as believes and we just think it would be better not to sell alcohol."
Even though there's a major divide, all sides agree on one thing. It could have an economic boost to the two cities and place them on an equal playing field with their neighbors.
"We also want to make sure we are treating all of our businesses and restaurants equally," stated Taylor.
While talking about the casino, Taylor stated "We want to make sure we aren't giving any competitive edge over one or the other."
"We are trying to keep as far as the economic development equal between all cities where they have the same opportunity and same privilege," said Beckman.
The bill did get approved by the committee. It will now be added to the regular Senate calendar. However, Thursday is the last day of the session. If it doesn't get to the floor for a vote, it will be next year before the cities could see a change, if at all.
The bill also includes the sale of draft beer. Something else to note, Prattville passed Sunday alcohol sales more than ten years ago. It did not have a referendum.
Summary Wetumpka residents will not have the opportunity to vote on draft beer or Sunday alcohol sales after a state senator added amendments targeted at local casinos, as well as any strip clubs or night clubs, to bills in the state legislative session. If the local officials had come to me, they would have understood my concern. Willis said while they are disappointed with the outcome of the legislative session, the city still will attempt to seek out the right for residents to vote on the issues in the future.
Restaurants and leaders in both Wetumpka and Millbrook are fighting for Sunday alcohol sales, but they may have hit a bump in the road.
Not having Sunday alcohol sales in Millbrook is posing a problem for many restaurants. In fact, at Habaneros employees say they loose business every Sunday to restaurants in Prattville.
"As soon as we tell them we don't sell alcohol they walk away, they go across the interstate," said Carlos Badillo, Manager for Habaneros restaurant in Millbrook.
It's a similar situation in Wetumpka where Mayor Jerry Willis says it has forced businesses out of town.
Possible changes are in the works for both cities.
Bills have been advertised in local papers in Wetumpka and Millbrook to allow Sunday alcohol sales.
The problem: State Rep. Paul Beckman and State Sen. Bryan Taylor are both proposing different bills on the same issue.
Taylor's requires a referendum for residents to vote on the matter. It's an issue Millbrook Mayor Al Kelly and Mayor Willis both feel could keep the Sunday sales from coming to fruition.
Taylor argues it's the only way the bill will actually pass the senate.
"The elected officials owe it to their constituents to give them some input. Sunday sales just happens to be one of those issues where a lot of people feel very strongly their voice should be heard in a formal referendum," Taylor said.
Millbrook and Wetumpka taxpayers are paying to advertise both bills, including Taylor's, which city leaders claim they knew nothing about.
Taylor says city leaders were aware and his actions are legal.
The cities are also wanting to allow draft beer sales. Beckman's bill includes both while Taylor's separates the two.
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Department of Transportation has approved $377,200 in funding for the Commercial Business District Revitalization Area Pedestrian Connector in Wetumpka, as part of the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
Authorized by the Federal Highway Administration’s Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), TAP provides funding for projects defined as transportation alternatives, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation.
TAP replaces the funding from pre-MAP-21 programs including Transportation Enhancement Activities, Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to School Program.
ALDOT’s mission is to provide a safe, efficient, environmentally sound transportation network across Alabama. For additional information, visit www.dot.state.al.us
Governor Bentley in Elmore today for economic recovery tour
Representatives from MAX Credit Union, the City of Wetumpka, Elmore County and the Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce help MAX President & CEO Greg McClellan break ground on a new MAX branch on Captain Crommelin Road in Wetumpka.
(Montgomery, Ala) – MAX, a full-service financial institution headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., celebrated the groundbreaking for its new branch location in Wetumpka today.
The new branch will be located at 94 Captain Crommelin Road and offer lobby and drive-thru service. The new branch will replace the existing location at 4352 US Highway 231.
The state-of-the art branch will feature the latest in modern design and technology. A concierge will greet customers as soon as they arrive and individual kiosks, staffed with professional and friendly MAX associates, will offer customers one-on-one personalized attention and service.
Enhancing the customer experience will be the MAX Perks refreshment center, offering free coffee and bottled water, and the MAX Business Center where clients can have a quiet area to organize paperwork, send a fax or make copies of documents.
The financial center is scheduled to open for business in Spring 2014.
D!scover ITT to offer free training to Disabled Veterans
Space available training opportunites will help Veterans gain employment
BIRMINGHAM — January 13, 2013 — Discover Information Technology and Training recently announced that they will begin offering free training to disabled veterans beginning February 1, 2013. “We are very proud to be in a position to offer our disabled veterans these training opportunities on a space available basis.” Said Ron Whitney, President of D!scover Information Technology and Training. “As a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer, I know the difficulties our disabled folks face when they embark on a civilian career, and the challenges their repective disablilites present. We offer a full range of techinical, design, development and application training at our Riverchase Training Facility. When we have an empty seat, I can see no better use of that opportunity than for one of our disabled vets to come train with us.” Added Whitney.
IT Techs in Demand
Entry level IT technicians can earn up to $37,000.00 a year to start. “We have several local IT placement agencies in the Birmingham market who have indicated they will help these veterans find meaningful employment.” Stated Mr. Whitney. “If we can help a few vets get started on a new career, then we feel other companies will jump in and make similar offers”
For information on courses offered and available dates please visit www.discoveritt.com, or call 205-989-4944.
Founded in 2011, Discover Information Technology and Training is a privately held, veteran owned Limited Liabilty Company.
Posted on June 26, 2013 · Posted in News Red Bay, Ashland, Andalusia, Fairhope, Northport and Wetumpka. No, they aren’t stops along the old Silver Comet’s train route, but they are destination points for an historic traveling exhibit from Washington, D.C.
All six Alabama towns and cities have been chosen for The Way We Worked exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution in 2013-14 as part of the Museum on Main Street project.
Beginning Sept. 14, 2013, and running through July 6, 2014, The Way We Worked will be featured for more than a month at each stop, giving thousands of residents and students in those small or rural cities an opportunity they may not have had otherwise.
Through a partnership between Alabama Humanities Foundation and the Smithsonian begun in 1997, Museum on Main Street is able to offer small communities with average populations of 8,000 a quality education experience with community programs and activities in conjunction with the exhibit.
Dr. John F. Kvach, an assistant professor of history at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, will spend much of the next year visiting those towns as a key figure in the program.
The exhibit will focus on how Alabamians worked over time and place and highlight the work experiences of Americans as part of the nation’s story. Kvach will supplement the traveling exhibit with teacher workshops and public lectures as well as an oral history project that will record the voices of state residents.
The oral history project will train public school teachers and high school students to conduct interviews with local residents. Kvach hopes that the oral history component of the exhibit and the exhibit itself will allow students to engage their community’s history and encourage the public to help preserve Alabama’s historical legacy.
Plans in each of the towns and cities are already under way, officially kicked off in February with an orientation and overview conference at AHF. There, host site participants were able to hear about how the program works and what is expected of each site. They also heard a first-person account from Katy Norton, president of the Arab Chamber of Commerce, who was project director for Museum on Main Street’s 2011-12 tour.
And in return, they shared what this national exhibition means to their community back home.
Councilwoman Becky Boddie of Ashland, who along with husband Jerry, are spearheading plans in Clay County, said it was important to “acknowledge and celebrate our past while forming a bridge to the future. This project allows us to do just that.”
“Just the word, ‘Smithsonian,’ was enough to make me say, ‘We need to do this project,’ ” said Barbara Tyler, grants coordinator for Andalusia. “For a small town, rural area to have the opportunity to host museum quality information, exhibits and activities is priceless.”
Stephen Sickler of the Friends of Northport couldn’t agree more. “Many residents will never be exposed to cultural experiences such as the Smithsonian … Educational opportunities abound as a direct result of this program, which will inevitably trickle down throughout our entire community.”
In Red Bay, it is much the same story with Rosalyn Labrinke as she talks about the impact on her community. She sees it as an opportunity for the city to rediscover its “strength and spirit.”
As a selected site in a competitive process, she is grateful for Red Bay’s role. “We so appreciate the consideration as we are honored to have the Smithsonian coming to our ‘main street.’ We look forward with great anticipation to The Way We Worked and this unique mission to engage, educate and inspire.”
The Way We Worked Exhibition Tour Dates:
Red Bay Friday, September 14 – Saturday, October 25
Ashland Saturday, November 2 – Saturday, December 25
Andalusia Thursday, January 2 – Sunday, February 9
Some 22 towns across Alabama will be on display during Saturday mornings in April as part of the Alabama Tourism Department's April Walking Tours.
A variety of community leaders will lead the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns. The hour-long tours will start at 10 a.m. on April 6, 13, 20, and 27.
Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours are: Athens, Athens Visitor Center; Atmore, Heritage Park; Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Butler, Jackson’s On The Square; Courtland, Town Square; Cullman, Cullman County Museum; Decatur, Old State Bank; Eufaula, various locations; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various locations.
Huntsville, Constitution Village (April 6 & 13 only); Madison, Madison Roundhouse (April 20 & 27 only); Mobile, Downtown Mobile Alliance; Monroeville, Chamber of Commerce; Montevallo, Chamber of Commerce; Montgomery; Montgomery Area Visitor Center; Phenix City; Amphitheater; Prattville, Autauga County Heritage Center; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Sylacauga, B.B. Comer Memorial Library; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore; Wetumpka, Elmore County Museum.
The tours are being coordinated by Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. These walking tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our state. We have done more than 1,700 walking tours since the beginning of the program ten years ago and they keep increasing in popularity every year,” Jones said.
More information about the April Walking Tours is available on the Alabama Tourism Department website atwww.alabama.travel.
Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce announces its plans for a large scale music festival, Wetumpka Craterfest to be held on Saturday April 20th, 2013. This event will replace the former Riverfest with a stronger focus on attracting tourism to the area while maintaining the community aspect with a children’s area and offering the event at no cost with the help of sponsorships from community businesses.
Country music recording artist, Keith Anderson who is best known for his Billboard chart topping hit song, “Picking Wildflowers” will be the headline act, sponsored by Creek Casino of Wetumpka. Announcements regarding support acts, sponsorship and vender applications will be available in the coming weeks.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to brand Wetumpka’s rare treasure and story of the impact crater, that only we can tell here in the Eastern United States by changing the name to Wetumpka Craterfest” says Vanessa Lynch, Executive Director of the WACC. Future plans will involve more lectures, a possible science fair and related activities that educate and bring attention to the Wetumpka Impact Crater.
“We were thrilled to have the blessing and support from the Crater Commission and are looking forward to another great event in Wetumpka to bring the community together for fun and entertainment, while drawing attention to Wetumpka from outside the area” says Lynch.
Police, Fire, and Medical need your help to quickly and efficiently locate your home when you need them the most. To accomplish this task, we ask every citizen of Elmore County to address your homes and mailboxes in 3inch relective signs and letters. The E9-1-1 office has signs available for purchase. Call today at 334-567-0911 or stop by the E9-1-1 office located inside the Elmore County Judicial Complex, 8935 US Hwy 231, Room 188.
$15.00 per sign - a small price for huge returns.
Save your life or that of a loved one. Address your home and mailbox.
WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA)- Prattville's done it and Montgomery is doing it! Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis says it's his city's turn.
Wetumpka took another major step last week to begin revitalizing its downtown. The plan is to begin with Court Street, which is directly in front of the old courthouse.
Currently, Court Street looks outdated. An artist's sketch has it looking better with improved landscaping, better lighting and even a more pedestrian friendly atmosphere.
Shelley Brown is relatively new to downtown. She opened her studio photography and tanning business a few months ago.
"If they help make it pretty and drive more people down here, I'm all for it," Brown said.
Still undecided is whether to keep vehicle traffic going or close it off entirely and make it only for pedestrians.
"I don't think that part is a good idea because then no one would drive by and see us," Brown explained of the idea.
To help city leaders make those kind of decisions, Wetumpka hired another firm out of Nashville, Tennessee, just last week. Mayor Willis says the design is still in the planning stages.
Willis couldn't say for now how much this will cost Wetumpka taxpayers because most of the money is coming from the federal government.
"We've saved up to $1.3 million dollars in MPO money and believe we'll get another $450,000 in grants and perhaps another $50,000, so we'll be sitting on around $2 million for this project," Willis explained.
Meantime, the mayor is beginning to see signs of private owners taking an interest. For example, one man is looking at restoring Wetumpka's first hotel to its former glory, and the Chamber is considering tearing down one of its buildings to create 'green' space.
Keep in mind revitalizing downtown Wetumpka has been talked about for more than 10 years and nothing ever became of it.
Mayor Willis admitted there are a lot of people who have doubts whether the city will go forward with its renovation plans. This time he says it's for real.
"We're further along than we've ever been," Willis stated.
In fact, Willis says if all goes well over the next few months he predicts construction will begin on Court Street by next spring.
Shelley Brown just hopes in the end it's picture-perfect for her business.
Signs that construction is about to begin in Wetumpka
WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA)- The first construction office is on the property where a new hotel is slated to be built for the Creek Casino in Wetumpka.
Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce officials say they're getting "significant" calls from potential businesses such as eateries and retail shops interested in moving into the area.
Casino officials have not yet started hiring anyone, but they say their in the process of preparing job fairs to fill positions once they are available.
The announcement to expand the operation at Creek Casino was made by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians back in July. The expansion, estimated to cost $246 million, will include a large hotel, parking deck, and other facilities that promise nearly 600 jobs.
Construction is expected to be complete by the start of 2014.
WSFA 12 News reporter Bryan Henry is following this story and will have details on WSFA 12 News First at 4:00, and WSFA 12 News at 5:00 and 6:00.
Poarch Creek Indians announced Wednesday the 20-story Wind Creek Wetumpka Hotel scheduled to open fully by New Year's 2014. It will have 285 rooms. Part of the hotel/casino will be open by Oct. 2013. It is a $246 million project.
The hotel/casino will have up to 2,500 gaming machines.
The present casino in Wetumpka has 400 full-time employees. By the time the hotel/casino is fully operational, it will have 1,000 full-time employees.
Included in the hotel/casino will be a grille and a fine dining restaurant.
All suites at the hotel will also face the nearby Coosa River.
The current parking deck on site right now accommodates 500 cars. The deck will expand to 2,500 by the time the expansion is complete.
As of Wednesday, when ground was broken, 1,200 construction workers will be on the site until the expansion is completed.
Interior Dept. smiles on Alabama Scenic River Trail
Interior Dept. smiles on Alabama Scenic River Trail
Kayakers test the waters at Moccasin Gap during the 27th Whitewater Festival. The U.S. Department of the Interior recognized the Alabama Scenic River Trail, along with trails in Georgia and Missouri, for it’s effort to promote tourism and conservation.
The Alabama Scenic River Trail got a publicity boost earlier in the week when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recognized it, and two other trails, as a positive way to promote conservation and tourism.
“Restoring our nation’s rivers and expanding outdoor recreational activities on them is one of the major goals of President Obama’s America Great Outdoors Initiative,” said Salazar said in a press release statement.
The U.S. Department of the interior recognized the Alabama Scenic River Trail, the Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail and the Mississippi River Water Trail.
“This is a great news for the state of Alabama and for cities along the trail like Wetumpka,” said Edith Parten, spokesperson for the Alabama Tourism Department. “By bringing attention to the trail, more and more visitors will be interested in coming here and kayak a portion of it, canoeing a portion of it or going down the whole thing.”
Locally, there typically is a non-stop stream of paddlers using Wetumpka as a stopping-point as they trek down the 631-mile trail.
“This is the brainchild of Fred Couch and Jim Felder,” said Parten. “We knew they had put together quite a gem and it was up to us to promote it. This makes that job a little easier.”
The Alabama Scenic River Trail begins at the point where the Coosa River enters Alabama just northeast of Cedar Bluff at Weiss Lake, and continues down to its confluence with the Tallapoosa River near Wetumpka.
From this conjunction, the trail follows the Alabama River to its junction with the Tom Bigbee/Warrior River System just north of Mobile.
It then proceeds through the Mobile River and the Tensaw/Mobile Delta, along the Tensaw River and it’s tributaries to Mobile Bay.
“This is positive news and brings attention to all the little communities along the trail that normally don’t get put in the spotlight,” said Parten. “More people will be attracted to the trail and hopefully stop and explore some of the towns along the way.”
According to the release, the National Park Service will work with the state and local partners to provide resources and technical expertise to promote the development and recognition of the trail.
“Through a network of National Water Trails, we are not only connecting people to the outdoors and supporting conservation efforts for our scenic rivers, but also supporting tourism and the recreation economy in nearby communities,” wrote Salazar.
The Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail spans 120 miles located in Georgia near the towns of Folkston, Waycross and Fargo and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Mississippi River Water Trail spans 121 miles begins in Saverton (MO) and ends at the St. Louis Riverfront and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This year’s Business Expo sponsored by the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce was so big, organizers are already thinking expansion for next year.
With more than 50 local businesses on hand to share their stories with Wetumpka residents and visitors, Chamber Executive Director Vanessa Lynch said next year’s expo might have to expand into the parking lot of the Wetumpka Civic Center, because the exhibition hall was packed.
“This has been a great success and we’re getting really good feedback from all the businesses,” Lynch said, as she took a brief break from announcing the winners of drawings by the various vendors.
Tina Hines, manager at The Money Store, said it was “the best I’ve seen.”
Cathy Saylor, who just stopped in when she noticed the crowd on her way home from work, said she enjoyed seeing the many businesses involved.
“There are ones I know here and ones that are different that I’d never seen,” she said. “I’m glad we came in to check it out.”
Lynch said the response was so strong that the chamber had to close registration two and a half weeks ago.
After the event was cancelled last year, Lynch said, “we were just trying to bring it back in a big way.”
She said she was impressed by the quality and professionalism of the businesses that exhibited.
“We’re excited about raising the bar for local businesses and giving them even more exposure,” Lynch said.
Brooke Poague was on hand representing the law firm Bailey and Poague LLC. She said she was impressed by the turnout and, especially, the quality of the businesses’ displays.
“It looks nice and everything is presented so well,” she said.
WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA)- With just fewer than four weeks until municipal elections in our area, the candidates are pulling out all the stops. In Wetumpka, voters got the chance to hear directly from the candidates for mayor and city council at a forum Thursday night.
It touched on key issues facing Wetumpka, including the casino expansion.
"We want to take advantage of that and we want to make sure that we open doors to where we benefit from what they're doing out here," said Mayor Jerry Willis, who is seeking another term.
"In a collaborative effort, between them and the city, we can be poised as they grow and the city of Wetumpka grows, we can ensure the very best for our city," said City Councilman Ken Hammock, who is challenging Willis.
Voters we spoke with appreciated the chance to get up close and personal with the candidates and hear from them all in one place, as they make their decisions before the election.
"I gotta go home and think about it," said Cheryl Tucker, who attended the forum. "And just say who I think is going to be the better candidate to better help Wetumpka."
"I really didn't hear any bad answers," said Marilee Tankersley. "I thought all of them have very good answers. Several of them honed in on issues I was very interested in."
The candidates also discussed revitalization, improving life for youth, and bringing more jobs to the city.
The forum was sponsored by the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce. Election Day is August 28th.
Montgomery, Ala. — An initial 132 Alabama Restaurants have signed up for participation in the Alabama Tourism Department’s inaugural statewide “Restaurant Week” scheduled for August 17-26. The deadline to register and post online menus on the website, www.AlabamaRestaurantWeek.com, is July 17.
A few of the restaurants already signed up include Lulu’s at Homeport Marina, Cobalt’s and Cosmos in Gulf Shores; Commerce Kitchen, Grille 29, Clementine’s and Ruth Chris in Huntsville; Roux’s, Michaels Table, and Central in Montgomery; Jesse’s in Magnolia Springs, the Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia; True Midtown Kitchen and The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Mobile; The Overall Company in Auburn/Opelika; and Dreamland BBQ & Bob Baumhowers in multiple locations across Alabama.
“We will be hosting Alabama Restaurant Week for the next three years,” said Lee Sentell, tourism director. “We are thrilled to have more than 100 restaurants signed up so far during our inaugural year and we want to make sure all restaurants in Alabama know about this opportunity. We are getting the word out and coordinating a big push to get restaurants to sign up.”
Sign up is quick and easy. Once on the website, a restaurant enters basic information about their establishment and what meals they want to offer at set prices of $10, $20 and $30 for dinner and $5, $10 and $15 for lunch. In all cases, the price is per person and excludes tax, tip and drink.
A restaurant may participate in all three preset prices for both lunch or dinner, or just one or any combination. They do not have to participate in both lunch and dinner.
“Alabama Restaurant Week” will highlight locally owned and operated restaurants and is part of the overall Alabama Tourism Department’s Year of Alabama Food campaign.
Birmingham-area restaurants are participating in their third year of “Restaurant Week” and are working with local coordinator James Little. The Alabama Tourism Department scheduled the statewide “Restaurant Week” to coincide with Birmingham’s.
Partners with the Alabama Tourism Department in Alabama Restaurant Week include participating restaurants, local and regional Alabama tourism destination organizations, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, Birmingham Restaurant Week and the Alabama Restaurant Association.
Wind Creek Hospitality announced an initiative to use locally grown and produced food at Wind Creek Properties as well as supporting food pantries and food banks in the region. The Southern Table initiative will support EAT South, which has a downtown Montgomery farm.
Wind Creek Hospitality has bought nearly 250,000 pounds of local chicken in the last six months; nearly 50,000 pounds of catfish; and 15,000-plus pounds of locally made sausage.
There is also a 24 foot long food truck, which has been named "Good To Go" and is capable of producing hundreds of meals at a time.
What they are:
Chamber Bucks are a valid bank check that spends just like cash and can be used at any Wetumpka Area Chamber member business. The program is designed to promote community members to "Shop Locally First."
Why Chamber Bucks?
Chamber Bucks make great gifts! Consumers can purchase Bucks for birthday gifts, wedding gifts, gifts for moms, dads, grads, college students, and for holiday gift-giving. The Bucks can be used to purchase merchandise, products, and services at nearly 250 businesses.
How Does the Program Work?
Chamber Bucks are like super gift certificates that are purchased at the Chamber office and spent at a Chamber Member business. After receiving a Chamber Buck check for payment of products or services, the Chamber Member processes it for deposit as they would any other check.
These are certificates that can be used the same as cash. They can only be purchased through the Chamber and redeemed at participating Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce businesses. They can only be used for goods and services. The certificates are good for 6 months from date of purchase. If you have any additional questions, please contact the chamber office at (334) 567-4811.
We are in the process of creating a brochure and a listing of Chamber member businesses that will accept chamber bucks!
March is Red Cross Month- Learn How to Prepare Your Business in the Case of an Emergency
Since July 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration has supported a partnership with the American Red Cross, participating in events to promote the importance of disaster preparedness for individuals and businesses. Getting the word out about the Red Cross Ready Rating program has been a focus of the American Red Cross/SBA relationship.
Ready Rating is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that helps a business measure its ability to deal with emergencies. All you have to do is answer the questions, based on what you know about your company and its operations, and Ready Rating gives customized feedback on how to start or improve your business continuity planning.
A recent report by the Small Business Majority and the American Sustainable Business Council estimates the average cost of downtime from small businesses affected by an extreme weather event is $3,000 per day. Since small businesses don’t have the resources of large corporations, it’s a good idea to build a resilient organization by creating a solid disaster preparedness plan. And Ready Rating is a great, easy-to-use emergency planning tool.
Complete an assessment to measure the overall preparedness level of your business
Create a custom-made emergency plan for your organization
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Meteor Town Hit by New Local Book
Authors erect literary temple to Alabama’s “Little Corner of Greece”
Celebrating a city once paired with Chicago as one of the “two most promising cities of the West”, a new local book entitled Wetumpka conveys as much town pride as that of any metropolis. The book is the newest release in Arcadia Publishing’s iconic Images of America history book series.
Authors Joe Allen Turner and Jan Wood beam with pride at this paperback monument to their town. “I really want people to realize the importance of preserving every piece of history possible.,” Jan Wood said.
Back when dinosaurs roamed Alabama, a meteor created a horseshoe of hills, and Wetumpka has been lucky ever since. Worshiped as Alabama’s “Little Corner of Greece,” Wetumpka offers tales of the Creek Indians, destructive floods, French forts, and a replica of the Greek Temple of Hera, all chronicled in more than 200 captivating vintage images.
Highlights of Wetumpka include:
An entire chapter devoted to Wetumpka’s vibrant commercial history
Illustrations of Wetumpka’s prehistoric history, courtesy of the Wetumpka Impact Crater Commission
A photograph of the assumed only swayback bridge in Alabama
A history of Julia Tutwiler Prison, the only maximum security women’s prison in Alabama and the nation’s first with an all-female staff
Photographs of still-standing and still-occupied historic homes, one of which was featured on the HGTV show If Walls could Talk
Images of painter and Wetumpka native John Kelly Fitzpatrick
Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places. Discover more than 8,500 small towns and downtowns at http://www.arcadiapublishing.com.
by Jan Wood and Joe Allen Turner
Images of America Series
128 pages/ softcover
Available: January 13, 2014
Author inquires contact:
Meet Jan Wood and Joe Allen Turner
Jan Wood, a native of south Mississippi, has lived here since 1968. Jan’s interest in the history of Wetumpka and the surrounding area began with extensive genealogical research on family members. She was educated at Millsaps College in Mississippi, and her advanced degree was received from Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology.
Her working career began with ten years in various leadership roles in Community Action and Head Start. It concluded with nineteen years as Executive Director of the local chamber. During those years, she gave extensive service to many volunteer organizations. Prior to retirement, she served as Chairman of the Board of Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.
She has served her church as teacher, pianist and board chairman since 1969. She and her husband have two adult children and two grandchildren.
Joe Allen Turner has made his home in Wetumpka with relatives around the county. He received his education in the schools of Wetumpka and the University of Alabama. Joe Allen worked for Civil Service for 32 years at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, AL before his retirement in 1985.
A charter member of Elmore County Historical Society, he has served since 1971. Currently he is the curator and archivist for the Elmore County Historical Society and Museum.
He has been a member of several local and state historical organizations and has traveled extensively, observing the work of other historical societies and organizations. His most intimate knowledge about Wetumpka comes from having been a lifelong resident of the city and being related to so many of its citizens.
What lasting impact do you hope your book will leave?
I personally want book purchasers to be curious enough to learn more detail about our history and these images; and excited about the people who are pictured in the images. I wish them to be inspired by the history of Wetumpka and the courage of the people who struggled and grew and made Wetumpka the impressive (small) city that it is. It has maintained the integrity of a small town close knit community, while continuing to grow in population almost in spite of itself. I really want people to realize the importance of preserving every piece of history possible. I trust that we have done our part in this preservation effort.
Visit the KFMG Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery located at The City Administration Building, 408 South Main Street, Wetumpka, AL. Open Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM. The KFMG is dedicated to promoting local and regional visual arts. The Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery is a project of the City of Wetumpka in conjunction with a group of local volunteers. We are a non-profit organization in the process of applying for 501 (c) 3 status. Admission is free; however, donations are appreciated.Through our programs and exhibitions, our goal is to make art more accessible to the public at large and to engage, inspire and educate both the public and local artists. For more information, visit www.KFMG-Online.org or call Hope Brannon at (334) 300-3779 or Mark Harris at (334) 262-8061.
Wind Creek Wetumpka Casino & Hotel
330 Wind Creek Blvd.
Wetumpka, AL 36092
Opening in March 2014, Wetumpka will be the home of a brand new hotel, Wind Creek Casino & Hotel featuring 283 luxurious rooms, 5 amazing restaurants and a pool where you can lounge the day away. Also on display will be a 16,000 gallon shark tank designed by the crew from the Animal Planet show, "Tank".
Wind Creek Wetumpka casino to open in December; hotel to open in early 2014
Oct. 29, 2013 2:06 PM |
Wind Creek nears completion: Property manager Cody Williamson leads a tour through Wind Creek Wetumpka on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. The Casino portion is on track to open in Dec. 17. (Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards)
Work continues on Wind Creek Wetumpka on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. The Casino portion is on track to open in Dec. 17. (Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards) / Amanda Sowards/Advertiser Facts and figures
• At maximum, there have been 810 workers involved with construction with 1.4 million man-hours logged. • There will be 283 rooms in the hotel. An average price for a standard room is estimated to be $99 to $129. Penthouses and suites also are available. • The 2,520 machines on the casino floor is an increase from the 1,182 currently at Creek Casino Wetumpka. • The parking garage will increase from 500 to 2,500 spaces.
WETUMPKA — The casino floor of Wind Creek Wetumpka soon will be filled with flashing lights, celebration bells and lots of people as casino officials prepare for an upcoming opening.
Wind Creek Wetumpka, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ hotel and casino, officially is scheduled to open its casino floor Dec. 17, replacing the current Creek Casino Wetumpka at the same location. A new 20-story hotel is set to open in January or February.
“We think it’s been a long time coming,” said General Manager Cody Williamson. “We are very excited to have a great place to play and stay.”
Williamson gave a tour of the property Thursday as workers made preparations for the operation of electronic bingo machines. Williamson said the casino has 2,520 machines on the 85,000-square-foot gaming floor, five restaurants and a state-of-the-art, 16,000-gallon shark tank. The casino floor will feature only gaming machines, Williamson added.
The overall cost for the project is about $250 million, Williamson said Thursday, with the casino portion estimated to cost $150 million to $200 million.
Along the tour, Williamson pointed out special features of the casino, such as an air system designed to help clear away cigarette smoke and electronic connections that will help employees adjust settings such as temperature, music or television entertainment from mobile devices.
“We think it will make the guest experience better in real time,” Williamson said, adding the new technology will decrease the time it takes to address a guest’s concern.
Williamson also pointed out a dining space that overlooks the Coosa River, a guest area with a fireplace that sits near an outdoor pool, and a “fast food to go” option for quick meals.
Since starting construction in August 2012, casino officials have reached out to the local community and recently held a job fair at the Wetumpka Civic Center. Williamson said the job fair resulted in 580 job offers. Currently, about 100 to 150 positions are available, and officials expect to have about 1,000 employees at the casino’s opening, including the current workforce.
“The main thing with 1,000 employees is those people will infuse a lot of money into the local economy,” Williamson said. He added that Wind Creek Wetumpka officials hope to attract guests from Atlanta, Birmingham and Huntsville with the expanded hotel and casino.
After the opening of the new gaming facility, the current Creek Casino Wetumpka will be closed. The front portion will be turned into a convenience store and the back portion will become a special events center.
WETUMPKA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
BUSINESS ALABAMA MAGAZINE, Jan. 2012
Wetumpka is embarking on a master revitalization plan that will involve community input and architectural planning by a firm that worked with Montgomery's riverfront development, says Barry Mask, executive director of Elmore County Economic Development Authority.
The ECEDA is project manager, and the final plan is expected to be ready for public review in March or April 2012.
Wetumpka is also moving ahead on a science-based interpretative center that would attract visitors from throughout the region. Wetumpka has the only authenticated impact crater in the eastern U.S., and just one of 200 worldwide.
The center would be part of the state's "trail" of science and space related attractions. The Elmore County Economic Development Authority, Wetumpka city officials and Auburn University school of architecture have been working on the development.
In September 2011, the Wetumpka Impact Crater Commission was awarded a $20,000 grant to help study the potential economic impact of the center. Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the University of Alabama's Center for Economic Development will conduct the study.
The grant also includes developing a website, and local agencies are matching the grant finds.
Lynch Steps in as Chamber Director
News Article Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 9:30 am The Wetumpka Herald updated: 9:52 am, Tue Jan 3, 2012.
Vanessa Lynch is eager to start her first day at work on Tuesday. She also knows she faces a challenge and welcomes it with open arms. Lynch will begin her first day as the new executive director of the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce. The challenge is stepping into a position which was held by Jan Wood for nearly 20 years.
“I’m not intimidated of that fact, but I also recognize and want to honor the fact that Jan put so much of her life into the chamber,” Lynch said.
Lynch, 36, is a 1997 graduate of Lee University. After graduation she spent three years working in the public relations and marketing section for an outdoor recreation company that was later purchased by Patagonia – an outdoor clothing, apparel and gear company.
She later moved to Nashville and spent a decade as a song writer while also developing a well-followed blog.
While as a song writer she sat around coffee houses and fast food restaurants writing songs with fellow writers, including Jason Aldean, Lynch remained an outdoors enthusiast.
“She comes to us with a great knowlege in the tourism industry, and her experience in the music industry will help jump start the downtown revitalization,” said Dennis Fain, chamber president. “She is very entergetic and a creative person, and I’m excited to have her come on board.”
Lynch is an avid runner and kyacker, and recently competed in the Attack on Swayback.
“I think Wetumpka could easily capitalize on Swayback and the Coosa River,” she said. “The Coosa River is a gold mine. ... I could see Wetumpka being one of the top places to live in the Southeast for recreation lovers.”
But at the top of her list, Lynch said the first few weeks on the job will be spent observing and listening.
“I want everyone to know that I will have an open-door policy and look forward to listening to every chamber and non-chamber member’s needs,” she said.