Intrepretive Center gets $150k for renovations

Published 8:29 pm Thursday, August 13, 2015

The city of Selma got the final piece of the puzzle to finish renovating the second and third floors of the Selma Interpretive Center Tuesday.

Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill presented the center with a $150,000 check as part of a $400,000 investment in Alabama’s Black Belt while he was on a tour of Black Belt region.

“The Alabama Black Belt has one of the richest cultural and civil rights histories in this country. These investments will help the region grow its economic development and tourism by attracting businesses and tourists alike to invest in this region and learn from its history,” Masingill said in a statement.

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The $150,000 is part of the DRA’s 2014 States’ Economic Developmental Assistance Program, which aims at improve Delta communities by supporting local and regional projects.

The investment was the final part of a $1.65 million renovation to the Selma Interpretive Center’s second and third floors. The money will also allow the National Park Service, who runs the center, to hire another employee to manage it.

The newly renovated second and third floors will feature educational and additional exhibits to help tell the story of the civil rights movement in Selma that led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a Selma native, showed gratitude for DRA’s support in enriching Selma’s history and helping the city expand the center.

“I am thrilled that the Delta Regional Authority has joined us in preserving the rich history of the city of Selma,” Sewell said in a statement. “This investment will not only strengthen the education and historical resources offered at the Selma Interpretive Center, but it will also create new opportunities for economic development.”

Spencer Lucker, spokesperson for the DRA, said the state’s funding for the interpretive center helped them decide to provide additional funding.

“We like to invest in projects that are leveraging other money as well, so the fact that the state had committed $1.5 million was very important to us,” Luker said. “We know that we like to be partners in working with the local and state government to leverage our resources into a much bigger project.”

It is unclear on when renovations to the center will begin. The DRA also awarded $250,000 to the city of Camden for sewer improvements.