Interstate signs could bring more people to Minooka

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The word might start spreading about Minooka Park, one of Chilton County’s best-kept secrets.

Park Manager Gerald Arrington’s efforts to have the blue, state-issued “Attractions” signs placed near Interstate 65 Exit 219 in Jemison may finally pay off.

Arrington has received word that Minooka was approved for the signs, and the Chilton County Commission has agreed to pay the costs associated with installing the signs.

“To say the least, it’s been a long process,” Arrington said. “Some of the delay was us not meeting the criteria.”

Namely, state officials wanted the road from Highway 31 to the park entrance paved, expanded hours of operation and a list of at least four activities available at the park.

“That satisfied the requirements that they had,” Arrington said.

Opening an RV campground provided the park with its fourth activity, along with fishing, hiking and picnicking.

The park was designed for ATV riding, though that isn’t one of the state’s recognized activities. Primitive campsites are available, and horseback riding has also been added since Arrington began working toward having the signs more than two years ago.

The signs off the interstate—there will be signs along the northbound and southbound sides of the road, and two more signs along the exit ramps—could benefit the park’s RV campground the most.

“Right now, the campground is doing really well on the weekends, if we have nice weather,” Arrington said. “I think that the signs will help us pick up more traffic during the week—people stopping in for one or two nights on their way to some other destination.”

C&C Trophy in Clanton is developing a logo for Minooka, and Arrington will submit the logo for approval by the state’s Department of Transportation along with necessary paperwork and fees.

“As soon as I get the things together that I need and send it to the state DOT, then the ball is in their court,” Arrington said.

The county will pay the state $1,700. Most of that amount is an annual fee, while $300 is a one-time payment for installation of the signs.

Arrington said he thinks the amount of business the signs could bring to the park makes them worth the fees, especially when compared to the cost of purchasing billboard space.

“The cost on those signs compared to a billboard made this a lot more attractive,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is just drawing more attention to the park.”

As part of the agreement with the state, the city of Jemison also had to commit to installing a “trailblazer” sign at the intersection of County Road 42, coming off the interstate, and Highway 31. The city council has done so.

“They said, ‘If we get them off the interstate, you all will have to direct them to the park from there,” Arrington said.