Country Music Stars Heading To Houston County

Dothan, Al (WSFA) -- Some big news out of Houston County could mean big business in the wiregrass.

At the Houston County commission meeting on Monday, county commissioners voted unanimously on two resolutions.

One to update rules on charitable bingo, the other an agreement on economic development in the county.

What's all this mean? A mixed-use entertainment development, rival to Branson, Missouri.

It's called Country Crossing.  It will consist of a 10,000+ capacity amphitheater, restaurants, shops, RV park, fair grounds, and resort hotels.  Major country music stars have already committed to the project.  George Jones, John Anderson, and Lorrie Morgan are just a few who have already signed on.

Ronnie Gilley of Ronnie Gilley Properties said, "We feel like we're going to have an entertainment community extravaganza like none other in the country." This concept will move forward under Ronnie Gilley Properties. Construction costs are estimated to be $100 million dollars in the first 12 months.  In excess of $300 million dollars when it is fully finished.

The first venues are expected to open at the beginning of 2009 bringing with it an estimated 500,000 visitors in the first year.  With all those traveling to the county, they'll be bringing with them lots of dollars.

"It'll be a tremendous number of employees." said Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver. He also added, "more importantly it brings Houston County to be a destination for others all over the country to come and bring their money with them."

This major economic news has people hoping that instead of taking trip to the beach, they'll take trips right here to Houston County.

Dothan resident Barbara Alford said, "We have a wonderful community here but a lot of folks drive through us and pass around us on the way to something else."

Country Crossing will also have charity bingo. That's why the commission was voting on a rules update to better regulate it.  As one of the commissioners described it, we're tightening it up.  Money raised from bingo will go to fund education in the county.

Three to four sites have been discussed for Country Crossing. Those involved with the project tell WSFA 12 News they plan on finalizing its location, very soon.

Reporter: Daniel Curtis