BY JANE CLARK SUMMERS
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
CORINTH – The National Park Service hopes to open the Civil War Interpretive Center in July.
A grand opening is tentatively planned July 19-31, Stacy Allen, chief ranger at Shiloh National Military Park, told a group of volunteers with Alcorn County Team to Implement Opportunities Now on Tuesday.
The date depends in part on the schedules of state and national dignitaries, who will be invited to attend, he said.
Tourists to the center are expected to pump $14 million into the local economy each year, said Rosemary Williams, chairperson of the Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission.
The commission has been the guiding force behind historic preservation efforts and successfully obtained funding for the $9.5 million interpretive center and another $2 million for a 20-mile hiking-biking trail and downtown trailhead park. The trail links historic Civil War sites, including 16 historic landmarks, with the interpretive center at Battery Robinett.
The center will be operated as a satellite of the Shiloh Park and six or seven Shiloh employees will be relocated to Corinth to staff it initially, Allen said.
Funds a challenge
Funding operations at both sites will be a challenge, Allen said. The Corinth center has 12,500 square feet and 22-foot ceilings. Shiloh has 5,000 square feet. The center on 24 acres contains four exhibit rooms and two mini-theaters as well as a large auditorium.
So far, Congress has not authorized additional funds for operation or additional staff, he said.
ACTION Director Bob Joiner said various agencies and groups are making progress in preparing for the visitors expected after the center opens.
Some of the projects include refurbishing historic markers and landscaping the route leading from the center to downtown Corinth.
The Leadership Alcorn Class has put together a tour of historic sites to familiarize local residents, business employees and others who will come in contact with tourists, said Greg Kiddy, class co-chair. If visitors ask what there is to do in Corinth, everyone should be able to tell them about the many attractions, he said.
Main Street Director Susan Joiner said the program's goal is to enhance the appearance of downtown Corinth while increasing business development.
The Alcorn County Tourism Council is promoting the center, said project manager Del Horton.
Tourists downtown now
Already there are 50-100 tourists visiting downtown on Saturdays, he said, so the tourism office across from the courthouse is going to be opened on Saturdays.
Inquiries from potential visitors are up this year, Horton said.
Boogie White said two local men have applied with the Federal Communications Commission for a special call signal to operate during the grand opening of the interpretive center.
Business woman Maud DeLes Lancaster is heading up a committee tackling a growing parking problem. She said designating a certain number of “come and go” parking spaces and stiff fines for violators may help solve the problem.