On April 27, 2011, a monstrous EF5 tornado tore through the nature trail and outdoor classroom on the Phil Campbell campus of Northwest-Shoals Community College (NW-SCC). Downed trees and debris rendered the trail and classroom unsafe and unusable.

Ten years to the day after the storm, the Cecil Clapp Nature Trail and outdoor classroom is open again.  A reopening ceremony took place April 26 at the revitalized outdoor classroom, which is now named in honor of former NW-SCC science instructor Joe Mack Alls. The Cecil Clapp Trail is  named in honor of a former forestry instructor at the college.

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“We are so glad that, with the help of our community partners, we were able to revitalize this unique part of our campus,” NW-SCC President Glenda Colagross said during the ceremony.

On hand to celebrate were representatives from the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation & Development Council, and the NW-SCC Jazz Band. Also attending was state Representative Jamie Kiel of Russellville, whose district includes the Phil Campbell area.

The reopened trail and outdoor classroom will serve more than the students at NW-SCC. It provides area K-12 schools a free and accessible educational resource, conducive to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes, as well as physical education and language arts instruction. The trail is also available to the community at large as a recreational asset and place to enjoy nature.

The Alabama Power Foundation is among the partners who supported restoration of the trail and outdoor classroom.

“This project was a great fit for the Alabama Power Foundation and in line with our commitment to supporting education and the environment. We are proud to be a part of bringing this resource back to the Phil Campbell community,” said Alabama Power Community Relations Manager Melinda Weaver.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)