Regional history education gets a major boost

For more than 40 years, the Historic Chattahoochee Commission has been the middle and lower Chattahoochee Valley’s standard-bearer in tourism, economic development, folklore, historic preservation and education. Now, in partnership with the Columbus Public Library and thanks to some private generosity, HCC is broadening its reach in local history.

As reported in the “Roving Reporter” roundup in Friday’s Ledger-Enquirer, HCC is developing a top-quality audiobook recording program specifically (but not exclusively) for the benefit of the region’s visually impaired history buffs.

Commission Executive Director Mike Bunn said Friday that the idea for this project was “already in motion” last year when as an HCC board member he was approached by a national advocacy group for the sight-impaired. “Little did I know,” he said, “that HCC could work with them to get grant money to fund a studio locally, and then Country’s (Barbecue) came forward to sponsor the recording studio and it just kind of went from there.”

The initial focus of the project, Bunn said, is “anything that deals with local history.” Among the volumes already slated for recording -- some to be read by the authors themselves -- are books on the life of slave-born bridge builder Horace King, histories of Chattahoochee steamboat traffic, and “The Federal Road Through Georgia” by Henry DeLeon Southerland and former Auburn University journalism professor Jerry E. Brown.

Columbus authors are also involved: Lynn Willoughby’s “Flowing Through Time,” Peggy Stelpflug’s and Richard Hyatt’s “Home of the Infantry” and Billy Winn’s “The Old Beloved Path” are just a few of the histories that will be part of the audiobooks catalogue.

Bunn said assembling the library’s audiobooks collection is conceived as “an ongoing project we don’t have a start or end date. We want to get as many people involved as soon as possible.”

Training for volunteer readers has begun, and the recording studio is already in place at the main Columbus Public Library on Macon Road. Bunn describes it as a “state of the art” facility that meets Library of Congress standards of library service for the blind and physically handicapped. In fact, he added, the local audiobooks catalogue might very well be accessible through the Library of Congress itself, so that people nationwide could have access to this source of local and regional history.

The Chattahoochee Trace -- the 18-county region of Georgia and Alabama that is the Historic Chattahoochee Commission’s domain -- is rich in history, culture and literature. The commission, the library, Country’s and other generous donors are collaborating to share those riches with many who otherwise have had little or no access to them.

To volunteer or get more information on the audiobooks project, contact Mike Bunn by e-mail at trace@eufaula.rr.com or call toll-free: 1-877-766-2443.