- Associated Press - Friday, April 4, 2014

SYLACAUGA, Ala. (AP) - Area residents have known about it for decades, but people across the state will soon have a chance to discover the magic of Sylacauga marble.

“Discovering Alabama,” an Emmy-awarded television series about the state’s natural history and heritage, debuted an episode titled “Marble City” at B.B. Comer Memorial Library on Wednesday. The show explores the history and varied uses of Sylacauga’s pure, white marble.

“The story of the Marble City is going to be seen, embraced and appreciated,” Doug Phillips, host and executive producer of the show, told a crowd at the library. “Folks are going to find out about Sylacauga. I hope some already know.”

The 30-minute episode details the practical, industrial and artistic uses of the city’s marble through interviews with state experts as well as familiar faces from local organizations and industries.

“Sylacauga Emerging,” the marble sculpture at City Hall by resident sculptor Craigger Browne, is heavily featured in the episode, as well as other sculptures created during the annual Marble Festival.

“One of the neat things about this show in particular is that we were able to focus on how this natural element is used in industry and also the artistic element,” said “Discovering Alabama” producer Wendy Reed. “This is a fascinating story that not many people know, so we are excited to get the message out, and we hope the community enjoys our product.”

The show will air April 14, 15 and 16 on Alabama Public Television, Reed said, in conjunction with the sixth annual Marble Festival occurring April 8-19.

This particular episode of “Discovering Alabama,” directed by Roger Reid, has been in the works for about two years, and was made possible in part through a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

At the debut, Marble Festival Chairman Ted Spears thanked numerous groups involved in making the show. “A thread called marble runs through this community, and it seems to touch the heart of a lot of people,” Spears said.

Mayor Doug Murphree said Sylacauga is honored to be featured on “Discovering Alabama,” which is now in its 30th year.

“We’re lucky to have them do the things they do in Alabama,” Murphree said. “They’ve certainly made our state look good, and we’re proud now that they’ve come to Sylacauga. We appreciate what they have done to preserve the history of Sylacauga.”

Likewise, Phillips said the show is honored to showcase the Marble City.

“You are a wonderful community, a wonderful bunch of folks,” Phillips said. “Your show gets to be part of our 30th year celebration. We’ve done almost 100 shows now, won several Emmys. We have a million home viewers, and we’re used in classrooms in every school system in this state.”

The series is a production of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, The University of Alabama in cooperation with the Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio, and Alabama Public Television. It received two Emmy awards for its coverage of the Gulf Coast oil spill and one Emmy for a show about Alabama’s role in space exploration.


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