Signs could boost local park business

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chilton County’s two major parks, Higgins Ferry Park and Minooka Park, have seen many improvements in recent months. But when you drive along major highways, something seems to be missing — park signs.

Officials at both parks want to put up signage either along Interstate 65 or near an exit on county right-of-way.

Frank Atkinson, park ranger at Higgins Ferry on Lake Mitchell, said signs could boost park business and in turn help the local economy.

Atkinson said he observed a large number of RVs pulling into Love’s Travel Stop off I-65 Exit 208, which is just eight miles from the park. Recently, a tourist asked where the nearest RV park was, and a friend of Atkinson’s directed him to the campground at Higgins Ferry.

“I’m just wondering how many times that’s happened,” Atkinson said.

The park just added nine new RV campsites and offers a total 29 campsites, in addition to primitive camping.

While Higgins Ferry sees plenty of visitors during tournaments and weekends, Atkinson said most locals don’t stay past Sunday.

“We could use some more business through the week,” he said. “The county needs all the extra money they can get, and every little bit helps.”

While Atkinson has faced roadblocks trying to put up signs on the Interstate due to the proximity of the park to the exit, he says there shouldn’t be any issues getting one put up on County Road 28 across from Love’s, which he says is county right-of-way.

Unfortunately, Minooka Park Manager Gerald Arrington has had more difficulty with signs.

He recently put up two signs made from heavy gauge aluminum along Highway 31 advertising the ATV and wilderness park, located north of Jemison. After about three months, however, a state road crew reportedly removed the signs and delivered them back to Arrington.

“They told me I didn’t have permission to put up the signs,” he said, adding that the signs were later replaced with much smaller versions.

When inquiring about Interstate signage, Arrington has pretty much gotten nowhere.

“I’ve really spent a lot of time and effort with the letters, pictures and correspondents with very little results so far,” he said.

Arrington wants to place signs along County Road 42 near Exit 219, and possibly at the intersection of 42 and U.S. 31 in Jemison. He said this would increase awareness of the park as well as direct motorists who are unfamiliar with the area.

“When people call me, the two main question I get are what are your hours and how do you get there?” he said.

Both parks have links on the county’s Web site,