2014 important year for Hattiesburg tourism - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

2014 important year for Hattiesburg tourism

The African-American Military History Museum, closed since the Feb. 10, 2013 tornado, will re-open Feb. 6, 2014. The African-American Military History Museum, closed since the Feb. 10, 2013 tornado, will re-open Feb. 6, 2014.

It was heavily damaged in last February's tornado. But in a few weeks, the African-American Military History Museum on East 6th Street will re-open as good as new, just in time to celebrate Black History Month and the accomplishments of African-American World War Two veterans.

A special grand re-opening celebration is planned for early February.

"February 6th, we'll kick it off," said Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention and Tourism Commissions. "We're going to honor our World War Two veterans at the museum, and then we're going to cut a ribbon and re-open a museum that's near and dear to us and much of Hattiesburg," he said.

Also on East 6th Street at the old Eureka School, work continues on transforming that historic building into a civil rights museum. This year, the newly-renovated cafeteria and kitchen will be used for several activities, including the upcoming 50th anniversary of "Freedom Summer."

Work was also recently completed on the school's roof, which was damaged in last year's tornado.

"Obviously, (the storm) we didn't expect and had to put on hold any other activities until we could get that building repaired," said Taylor. "So, we've been delayed, but 2014 will see us moving forward again strongly on the project and celebrating that 50th anniversary of "Freedom Summer."

Also this year, the Hattiesburg Zoo will open the new Asbury Discovery Center, which is another major step in achieving accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

"The good news is the construction, the hard part, is pretty much done," Taylor said. "Now, we've got to document it all and begin to identify what steps we have to take next to go ahead and request to be appraised by AZA and move forward. So, we're probably within one or two years of going ahead and taking that step," he said.

Taylor said some new animal attractions will also be coming to the zoo this year.

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