Vision group takes up Craig

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Imagine a drive by Craig Industrial Complex on U.S. Highway 80 East and seeing something more than the gates to a former air base.

Now, imagine private planes coming in from all parts of the country, loaded with sportsmen who will spend weeks here during hunting season.

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Community people, city officials and others discussed their visions for the way the industrial complex looks as they wound up a workshop about visions that will create economic opportunities in Selma and Dallas County.

Using the complex for industry and to lure sportsmen to the area might prove beneficial to the area, some participants said.

James Waddell, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Atlanta, agreed with the general idea of capitalizing on Dallas County&8217;s wildlife areas.

Waddell acted as facilitator for the two-day workshop.

Not so Dallas County, according to Wayne Vardaman, another participant and executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority.

Dallas County and the Black Belt are rich with commercial hunting camps.

For instance, there&8217;s the Alabama River Lodge in Sardis, which offers hunting on 12,000 acres of privately owned plantation land along the Alabama River, just south of Selma.

But the Web site for the lodge says people may fly into Montgomery&8217;s airport, nearly 45 minutes away. There&8217;s no mention of Craig Field.

Part of the problem on U.S. 80 rests in the signs. People who travel along Alabama Highway 41 see the large sign that lists industries in the industrial park.

The entrance on the U.S. 80 side is a billboard.

Another participant, Ann Thompson, said the area needs more glitz. Frank Smith, yet another participant, agreed, saying all most people see is a guard shack.

Smith would like to see a computer controlled board that tells people the industries and a little about the area at the airfield&8217;s entrance.

Others proffered ideas: building a small museum to honor those who trained at the air field until it closed in 1977; building an entranceway off U.S. 80; ridding the site of concrete chunks and making more green space at the site.

People have begun talking and an artist&8217;s concept will evolve from the conversation. That&8217;s progress, said Vardaman.