More playtime within our borders

Published 5:33 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

So what’s the big attraction here with all those motel rooms out by U.S. 27 and the by-pass?

It has been said that Bainbridge is a midway stopping point for north-south travelers, a place to spend the night, before motoring on to other faraway destinations.

Sometimes when you drive by there early in the morning or late at night, you wonder how the motels can stay alive with so few vehicles parked at their doors. Then again, it can be just the opposite. It either is or it isn’t.

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Either way, the intersection these past few years has spawned huge retail growth with ever-increasing selections.

The latest addition now under construction should really spark the spot. Soon to open will be the Seminole Wind Restaurant, highly successful in Cairo and Tallahassee, and now coming to our busy tourist-oriented intersection.

Several years ago, while chairing the Tourism Committee for the Chamber of Commerce, we concluded the main reason visitors make Bainbridge-Decatur County a destination stop for more than a night, was for the fishing, tennis and other related outdoor activities. Our amenities included participants in bass tournaments and fishing tournaments and other outdoor activities. When you added together all those folks who came here just for those events alone, the numbers were quite substantial.

Since that report, there have been great improvements in these amenities, which should continue to attract more and more events.


• The newly constructed boat launching facilities at the Earle May Boat Basin.

• Newly constructed tennis complexes.

• Newly constructed baseball fields both at the Bill Reynolds Sports Complex.

If you have not driven out to view these new facilities, you are missing some truly fine additions to our community. They are first rate.

What is happening at the U.S. 27 intersection gives us a great opportunity to really promote our new amenities. They are first-rate too and a tribute to all those who have had a hand in developing them.

The old bug-a-boo has been where do you go to eat.

Yes, there are restaurants there and many about town, but Seminole Wind should give it new impetus. It should make our tourist amenities even more attractive.

Another important ingredient we found in compiling the tourist report for the chamber, that big-time events in a community need a champion for a cause—someone who has a great interest in a particular happening, and devotes untold hours of personal time toward it success. We have that here in tennis with Carole Floyd, who for years, championed tennis tournaments that brought in hundreds of participants and their families.

Another example, of course, is a natural—Jack Wingate. Fishing tournaments and national bass tournament competitions involve Jack Wingate on a grand scale.

Remember the days here when all we basically had for tourists was The Charter House Inn as a full-service facility with rooms, lounge, three meals a day in the restaurant, and community meeting rooms.

These facilities today give us a greater advantage to compete for tourist dollars. We have the facilities to attract folks to fish, play tennis and baseball, to participate in tournaments, and enjoy our outdoor-oriented community while they are here.

For the past several years, we have been suffering with high unemployment, governments with declining revenues, and industry jobs fast-tracking it out of town. Yet we have been able with true grit and determination to build these facilities. They are here for us to promote and enjoy, to attract visitors to stay, play and spend, to help stimulate a faltering economy.

All it takes now are more champions or perhaps a new hired hand, a true professional in marketing and promotion, someone who has been there and done that, someone who can really put this place on the map.

Let’s give it a try.

Jim Smith is a former editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can comment on this and other articles at his website: or email at