Another boll weevil invasion is occurring in Enterprise, but this time it’s being welcomed.
Now, instead of destroying the cotton crop, the six-foot critters are greeting guests and spreading good will throughout the community.
The city’s 15th weevil statue, Wattsworth Weevil, was unveiled recently at the Alabama Power business office, 549 Glover Ave.
Wattsworth Weevil is a bundle of energy representing the men and women who keep the electricity humming in Enterprise. Wattsworth is a lineman, from the top of his hard hat down to his climbing boots. He is proud to be part of the boll weevil circuit and hopes to generate some positive buzz in town, and beyond.
“This public arts project is yet another way we are embracing the bug that we’ve adopted as our mascot here in Enterprise,” said Tami Doerer, the city’s director of tourism. “Businesses and organizations around town can customize their statues to best represent who they are and how they contribute to our community.”
“We decided the best representative of our company is the group that works all hours, in all types of conditions, mostly outdoors, to keep our lights on,” said Trent Dillard, Alabama Power’s community relations manager for the Enterprise area. “Wattsworth Weevil is our tribute to the line crew personnel and our way of working with the community, to illustrate that good things are happening here in Enterprise.”
The relationship between this south Alabama community and the boll weevil is long and storied. During the early 1900s, the big cash crop in the area was cotton. Then the boll weevil, which feeds almost exclusively on cotton, migrated from Mexico and devastated the cotton industry and communities across the South that relied on the commodity to fuel the local economy.
After battling the beetle for several years, some growers in Coffee County and surrounding areas turned to growing peanuts in hopes of avoiding financial ruin. The decision to diversify was fortuitous in more ways than one. By 1919, when the boll weevil plague was reaching its peak in other areas of the South, Coffee County was the largest producer of peanuts in the country. It also later became the first county in the region to produce peanut oil.
The move beyond cotton was so beneficial, the citizens of Enterprise in 1919 erected a monument to the boll weevil, recognizing its contribution toward improving the community.
Today, visitors to Enterprise can visit the original boll weevil statue and tour Weevil Way, recognizing the pest that this community venerates.
“It is our hope that one day, we will see a boll weevil on every corner, said Enterprise Mayor Bill Cooper. “We appreciate Alabama Power honoring their linemen and enhancing our community with their very own boll weevil statue.”
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)