Experience Alabama’s beauty: Ribbon cutting for new display room at welcome center

Published 9:00 am Friday, May 5, 2023

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LANETT — The Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting Thursday morning to officially open a new display room at the Alabama Welcome Center on I-85. Located between Exits 79 and 77. The Lanett center is the first one among the state’s eight visitor centers to have such a room in its original design. There are many travel guides, brochures and magazines about interesting places to see and fun things to do in Sweet Home Alabama, but the new room’s most impressive feature is a 12-foot tall by 20-foot wide video wall that highlights places to go and events to take in that are happening in Alabama.

It’s definitely worth a trip to the new display room just to watch the video presentation about our state. The video wall is made up of 16 monitors that work together in a coordinated presentation. Each monitor is three-feet tall by five-feet wide.

This impressive new room is the combined work of True Omni and Method-1 Branded Interiors. Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, True Omni’s video walls display rich content while connecting travelers with things to do, local businesses and attractions and local information. At the top of the video wall is a Sweet Home Alabama greeting, the current outdoor temperature and the weather forecast for the next few days.

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Method-1 Branded Interiors of Birmingham, Alabama designs, builds and installs interesting commercial environments.

Anyone who steps into the display room is immediately drawn to what’s being presented on that unbelievably large TV. There are scenes from the Mardi Gras in Mobile and from the SlossFest in Birmingham. The aerial views of the Robert Trent Jones golfing venues are breathtaking.

Each side wall has three three-foot by five-foot flatscreen TVs. In comparison to the video wall, they appear quite tiny but do offer good views of what’s going on in Alabama.

The video wall offers segments on what’s going on the in the state’s largest cities. The one in Birmingham has some awesome views of Vulcan and tells of Vulcan Park.

Two historic sports venues, Legion Field and Rickwood Park, are featured along with the McWane Center, the Sidewalk Film Festival, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and two historic theaters, the Alabama and the Lyric.

While Birmingham has the state’s largest metro area, Huntsville is the largest city. It’s famous for being Rocket City USA, and there’s a good feature on the city’s nationally famous U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which hosts very popular summer camps. The Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery is a must see along with nationally famous Civil Rights destinations as the Rosa Parks Museum, the National Voting Rights Museum, the Freedom Rides Museum, the Legacy Museum and the Civil Rights Memorial.

The state’s third largest city, Mobile, is home to the USS Alabama and the Mobile Carnival Museum, which spotlights past Mardi Gras celebrations.

The fifth largest city, Tuscaloosa, is home to the Bear Bryant Museum, Bryant-Denney Stadium, and the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Moundville Archaeological Park is nearby.

Chambers County Sheriff Jeff Nelson said the opening prayer at the ribbon cutting. He told the gathering that he had worked all over the state when he was with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and was quite proud for Chambers County to now be home to what is undoubtedly the state’s top welcome center.

“We appreciate the super job you are doing for our state,” he told the welcome center staff. “This is an unbelievable room. It only adds to what’s already a first-rate welcome center. It will help you promote the great state we live in.”

The sheriff grilled hot dogs for the many people coming to the center on National Tourism Day.

Just outside the center, the GVACC, the Opelika-Auburn Chamber and groups supporting Calhoun County, the City of Anniston and the Randolph County-Lake Wedowee area had tourism booths promoting their communities. Lynn Haven of the Lanett Hampton Inn & Suites invited people to an event they will be hosting on Wednesday, May 17. From 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. they will be having Wake Up Wednesday. Free breakfast will be served during that hour.

Lee Sentell, the state’s tourism director, sent best wishes to the staff on this important day for tourism. Trisa Collins, the state’s welcome center director, was present for the ribbon cutting and thanked the staff for the job they do in greeting the traveling public and answering their questions. She also thanked the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) staff for the good work they do in keeping the grounds looking first-rate.

Welcome Center Manager Laura Smith, who is in her 37th year with the welcome center, said that she’s grateful to be able to work in this nice new center with its impressive display room.