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Visitors bureau seeks funding to complete city's Ingalls Harbor

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

Ingalls Harbor has already made a name for itself as a premier site for fishing tournaments, but tourism officials are quick to point out it's not finished.

The property on Alabama 20 still needs landscaping, picnic pavilions and a restroom facility, and that's just the short list. The master plan also calls for a river heritage museum and a riverboat docking facility.

Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, hopes to secure the money to complete the short list next week as she joins other Decatur and Morgan County leaders on their annual legislative trip to Washington, D.C.

Her goal is to get $500,000 in grants. She has prepared information packets detailing the early success of the boat launch facility and how it's bringing dollars into Decatur. She will give the packets to Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, and to Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville.

The packet includes newspaper quotes from Bill Taylor, FLW Tour tournament director, who called Ingalls "far and away better than anything in the United States when it comes to locations to do fishing events."

Taylor used Ingalls during the FLW Stren Series Championship, which brought 400 anglers from across America in November. The tourney had an economic impact of $836,000, according to the visitors

The legislative packet will include those figures as well as the projected economic impact of eight more fishing tournaments the visitors bureau has drawn to Ingalls for the next two years.

The packet also will show that lodging taxes for the 2007 fiscal year are 28 percent higher than last year, Reist said, attributing the increase mostly to fishing and soccer tournaments.

"And we haven't even hit our peak season yet," she said.

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