published Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Amphitheater under way at Fort Payne's Little River Canyon Center

Anniston, Ala.-based Hale Building Co. crew members Steven Yenour and Jack Grant, from left, work on wood framing for the floor a new amphitheater at the Little River Canyon Center in Fort Payne, Ala.
Anniston, Ala.-based Hale Building Co. crew members Steven Yenour and Jack Grant, from left, work on wood framing for the floor a new amphitheater at the Little River Canyon Center in Fort Payne, Ala.
Photo by Ben Benton.

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Little River Canyon Center officials envision a variety of activities on the stage of a new amphitheater being built on a hillside behind the facility.

"We plan on having everything from the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, blues, picnics, weddings," Canyon Center Director Pete Conroy said Friday.

The center, operated by Jacksonville State University, was opened to the public in the Little River Canyon National Preserve in 2009.

The center is already equipped with meeting rooms, a high-definition theater with surround sound for up to 150 people, a catering kitchen, exhibit hall, library, picnic area and patio. Conroy said the $300,000 to $400,000 open-air amphitheater will improve the center's facilities.

"The architecture is the same natural design as the Canyon Center," he said.

The handicap-accessible amphitheater will be roofed and have a dock at the rear for 18-wheelers to load and unload during events and concerts.

Randy Owen, JSU board member, former lead singer for the county group Alabama and a Fort Payne resident, said he's excited about the new stage.

"I expect to see a lot of bluegrass and gospel coming from that stage," Owen said Friday.

Interpretive Park Ranger Larry Beane hopes it's operational by the time the "flint knappers" arrive in July. "Flint knappers" hand-replicate stone tools and art.

"We can use it when we have our knap-in, if not this year then next year," Beane said.

Conroy projected a completion date of September to October.

On Friday, Jack Grant and Steven Yenour, both of Anniston, Ala.-based Hale Building Co., were framing the concrete floor that Grant said will be poured Wednesday. More crew members will be on site Monday to prepare for the concrete, he said.

Project architect Carl Munroe, of Munroe+Jenkins Architects in Anniston, said the project is on schedule despite wet weather.

"It's going fine," Munroe said. "It rained a lot at the beginning, but it's still on schedule."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times freepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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