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2019 could be a special year for Alabama

There’s reason to believe that 2019 is going to be a special year. First of all, it’s our state’s bicentennial. Alabama became a state on Dec. 14, 1819. There’s going to be lots of events throughout the year in celebration of this.

One of the best ways for a local person to take part in this is to be part of this year’s bus tour sponsored by the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society. It will be the local organization’s fifth consecutive summer bus tour. The first four were to Civil War battlefields, and the participants weren’t all from the two-state area. There were people from Florida, Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin participating in something they could learn from while having a good time.

The June 22 to 26 bus trip will take in all of the sites used as state capitals, including the lost ones at St. Stephens and Old Cahawba, Constitution Village and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, and the Sloss Furnace and the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham. Other interesting sites will include antebellum homes of the Black Belt, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, a tour of historic Tuscaloosa, sites in the Mobile area such as the historic downtown area, Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan.

The tour concludes with stops in Montgomery to see the Rosa Parks Museum, the First White House of the Confederacy, the State Capitol and the Department of Archives and History.

The CVHS does great work in telling the story of our Valley, our state and region. It’s a nonprofit with all proceeds going to the cause of local historic preservation. They also put on some very good programs four times a year. If you haven’t been to one lately, you’re missing something. The next one will be at 3 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 27. Anyone with an interest in the history of the local area and surrounding area is welcome to attend.

While Alabama is celebrating its 200th birthday this year, there are a couple of buildings in Chambers County that are reaching their centennial year in 2019. The Community Clubhouse in Fredonia opened as a school in 1919. Several miles away is the New Hope Rosenwald School that was also built in 1919.

Both are historic treasures, especially the Rosenwald School.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, there were more than 5,000 Rosenwald schools, shops and teacher’s homes in the U.S. They were concentrated in the rural South and were built for the education of African-American children. The project was the product of a partnership between Julius Rosenwald and Tuskegee Institute President Booker T. Washington. Rosenwald was the president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and wanted to help uplift the plight of disadvantaged minorities.

Most of the Rosenwald buildings have been long gone. The ones that have survived are national treasures. Since 2002, these buildings have been near the top of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of most endangered places.

The New Hope School is one of around 60 former Rosenwald Schools that’s on the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

There’s no question it’s one of the most special places in Chambers County, a building we can be proud of and committed to preserve for many years to come.

We hope to continue seeing progress in 2019 with the development of the 10th Street corridor in West Point, North Lanier Avenue in Lanett and the Valley Industrial Park. We are getting closer to the opening of John Soules Foods, which could be an economic boon for our area. Any entity that can bring 500 new jobs in a five-year period can only help.