EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that Chuck Keith is military liaison and Events and Promotions Subcommittee co-chair for the Hall of Heroes. A previous version misstated his position.
TALLADEGA -- Members of the Hall of Heroes Committee presented their annual update to the Talladega City Council during its regular monthly meeting Monday evening.
Since opening in its current location, in the renovated Wood-Weaver building on the Square in April 2018, the Hall has welcomed more than 1,300 visitors from 36 states and four countries, according to Chuck Keith, the Hall's military liaison and Events and Promotions Subcommittee co-chair.
In addition to the museum on the Square, Keith said a mobile unit containing some of the portraits and items on display has also recently been launched. The mobile unit was seen most recently at Armed Forces Day at Fort McClellan last weekend.
First Bank of Alabama President and CEO Chad Jones said Tuesday the bank would be donating $1,500 toward the Hall of Heroes Road Show. Councilman Ricky Simpson said he would match that donation in honor of his father, who was both a veteran and a Talladega city firefighter.
Mayor Jerry Cooper, who is also a committee member, and who was instrumental in renovating the building, commended the donations. His involvement, he said, “has been a highlight of my life.”
“There are over 300 military uniforms on display throughout the exhibit and in the mobile exhibit,” Keith said. “We also have a vast number of first responder uniforms on display, which also includes K-9 patrol officer Jerrico. We also have a very unique and large amount of Boy Scout, Cub Scout, Girl Scout and other scout uniforms on display.”
But the heart of the museum lies in the 1,247 veterans’ pictures “displayed throughout the museum, which are also in display in our continuous, computerized slide presentation, highlighting each photo on the large screen every 30 seconds, in alphabetical order.”
Every single item in the museum, including uniforms, photos, artifacts, articles and memorabilia “have been donated by local veterans past and present, their families and friends from all over the world,” Keith added. All funding is also provided by donations, contributions and local grants.
“The Hall,” Keith said, “has been recognized in the congressional record of the U.S. House of Representatives, commended by the governor of Alabama and by the state of Alabama House of Representatives resolution.”
It has been featured on Fox 6 News’ “Absolutely Alabama” with Fred Hunter and by Alabama Power’s “Powergrams” magazine.
The Hall of Heroes was found in 2004 by a group led by Bobbye Trammell and was originally housed in the Osborne-Armstrong Public Library.
As the number of photos and amount of information steadily increased, the Hall soon outgrew the library and moved onto the Square. The Hall celebrated its first anniversary in its current location in April.
On May 25, the Hall will participate in the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars annual poppy drive. The Hall will host a Memorial Day program at The Ritz Theatre and a wreath laying ceremony at the county monument May 27.
The mobile display will be headed to the Civilian Marksmanship Park for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion June 6-9 and will participate in the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.
Also Monday night, the council:
Announced this year’s summer food program will launch May 30, providing 700 meals for children under the age of 18 at 13 different sites, according to City Manager Beth Cheeks;
Approved the purchase of an ad in a Daily Home tribute to local first responders;
Announced Cheeks would be giving a public state of the city address at the Ritz Theatre on June 18 at 5:30 p.m.;
Heard a presentation from former Gadsden City Councilman Robert Avery about census jobs for 2020. Avery said 128 people had already been hired in Talladega, but 700 total would be needed;
Approved an ordinance making Era Scott Circle and Staples Lane one-way streets with no on-street parking and 15 mph speed limits;
Renewed the city’s public transportation program and agreed to buy a new van with a grant from the East Alabama Regional Planning Commission. The city’s match is $47,802;
Approved a $2,500 contract with Terracon Consultants for a visual hazardous materials survey at the Wehadkee Yarn Mill;
Heard Cheeks commend the launch of a dinner theater with “Nunsense” at the Talladega Bottling Works, the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Industrial Development Board and the banquet honoring this year’s Greater Talladega and Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce ambassadors;
Heard Councilman David Street commend Michael Gee of Michael’s Menswear for his new sign, the first to be permitted under the recently amended historic sign ordinance; and
Heard Council President Dr. Horace Patterson ask Cheeks to begin working on something to honor the 50th anniversary of the Talladega Superspeedway this fall.