Rattlesnake Rodeo moving West

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Inclement weather over the past few years and economic factors have prompted the Opp Jaycees to make a big decision - to move the Rattlesnake Rodeo from Opp's Channell-Lee Stadium to the Kiwanis Community Center and Covington Center Arena in Andalusia at the Covington County Fairgrounds.

Dodd Jowers, president of the Opp Jaycees said the decision was a tough one, but one that was necessary.

"We thought about this matter long and hard before making the decision," Jowers said. "The reason boiled down to economics. The city of Opp has been great to the Jaycees and to the Rattlesnake Rodeo. But, the weather hasn't always cooperated. "It costs the Jaycees thousands of dollars to put on the Rattlesnake Rodeo, and the cost of top name entertainment continues to rise. If it rains, a lot of entertainers won't perform, but they get paid anyway. They're paid a flat rate.

"The club has absorbed these costs for the past six years with at least one day of inclement weather during the rodeo. Now, with moving to Andalusia and an indoor facility, that will no longer be a problem."

With the move to Andalusia, the entire fairgrounds complex will be utilized, allowing for more space, and a more friendly, inviting atmosphere for both rodeo fans and vendors.

"The arts and crafts will be set up in the Kiwanis Building, and the snake shows, concerts and other events will be held in the Covington Center Arena," Jowers said. "It will be set up similar to the fair, so you have to enter through the Kiwanis Building - so the vendors won't be short-changed - and then, there will be ways to get to the arena. You won't even have to see a snake if you don't want too."

Jowers said keeping the vendors in mind was of great importance in the decision as well.

"Most of the arts and crafts vendors first question when talking to us is, "Is it indoors or some type of cover for our items'," he said. "The vendors spend great amounts of time assembling their crafts to display, and are hurt by inclement weather as well. A lot of vendors drive two days in order to participate. They spend money to stay in our hotels, purchase display space and use our restaurants. Bad weather can hurt them severely."

But with the departure of the rodeo, Jowers said people shouldn't think the Jaycees are abandoning Opp.

"We will still be part of Opp," he said. "The Rattlesnake Rodeo Beauty Pageant, Bass Tournaments, Christmas Tour and other events hosted by the Jaycees in the past will continue to be held in Opp. Just moving the rodeo to an indoor facility will ensure that it remains a part of Covington County for years to come."

Jowers also said the move should be viewed as an opportunity for expanding the rodeo.

"The potential for expansion exists at the fairgrounds," he said. "We can continue to grow and still keep all the proceeds inside Covington County. This is an opportunity for Andalusia and Opp to work together. Hotels in both towns will continue to fill up during the rodeo weekend, and the opportunity exists for more people to visit who might not have otherwise."years.

The homestead exemption will increase from $40,000 a year to $50,000.

Farmland under 200 acres will be exempt from state property taxes.

Property owners currently pay an average of $1.25 per acre in property taxes on farmland and timberland.

The average will be increased to $2.50 per acre.

Current use on land will be covered up to 2000 acres, and maximum current use values for farms would increase from $532 to $650 per acre exceeding that amount.

Property taxes on the average home priced at $80,000 will increase by $7 per month, and the net taxes will be phased in over four years.

An estimated 67 percent of Alabamians will pay the same or lower income taxes than they are paying now.

The individual tax rate would be raised from 5 percent to 6 percent on incomes over $75,000 (if single) or $150,000 (if married).

In accordance to federal exemption levels, the dependent exemption level would be raised from $300 to over $2000 in the first year.