Wetumpka Crater Commission finds new funding

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Wetumpka, AL (WSFA) - The Wetumpka Crater Commission is one step closer to building an interpretive center.

This week, the Elmore County Commission contributed $5,000 dollars to help the group apply for a grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Leaders say, they'll use that money to turn an idea into a reality.

Wetumpka is already known for it's unique New Year's Eve meteor drop, playing off the city's history of being hit by a meteor 84 million years ago.

But Marilee Tankersley and other members of the Wetumpka Crater Commission have plans to take that history and turn it into a teaching and tourism hotspot.

Because of a lack of funding, the project is still in the beginning stages; the money from the county commission and grant process will help them move it forward.

Tankersley said, "What we're hoping to do with that money is to help get an impact study done, financially especially.  And we're also hoping to set up an authority that can run the project."

Elmore County Commissioner David Bowen said, "We do recognize that it has the potential to bring in lots of people to the area."

Previous studies estimate potential economic impact for the area at more than $1.2 million dollars a year. Tankersley says the interest is already there.

"We have people to come from as far as Nashville, Atlanta, and Birmingham to go on our tours. So we know this will bring jobs and bring revenue to the community," Tankersley added.

Crater Commission members believe the entire project will cost around $15 million dollars.  They hope to start small with the Interpretive Center and go from there.

Architecture students from Auburn worked with the Commission to create renderings of the master plan.

The project is a joint effort between Elmore County, the City of Wetumpka, and the Elmore County Economic Development Authority.

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