UA student helps tornado-stricken area revive

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GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) - Glencoe native Leah Bradford was a freshman at the University of Alabama when a tornado struck near the campus on April 27, 2011. Now, as a senior, she is involved in an award-winning project that rebrands one of the communities destroyed that day.

“This is a nice bookend for me,” Bradford, the student producer for the project, said.

Bradford, a telecommunications and film-broadcast news major, is involved in a project working with residents of Alberta City to rebrand the community.

Bradford said the city was destroyed, but has a lot on its horizon.

The Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreation Authority has built a new tennis complex that will have numerous courts and have the ability to host tournaments from around the country.

A new school, Alberta School, is expected to open by the end of the year and will specialize in fine arts education.

Bradford said Councilman Kip Tyner is working with the team to construct new websites and social media sites to bring Alberta to the forefront of the Tuscaloosa area.

“We are working to give the community of Alberta an outlet to use for updates and information about the area using videos on the website. Using Instagram and Vine, we are able to promote upcoming events such as business openings and ground-breakings,” Bradford said.

She said she and those on her team are working as Alberta’s unofficial marketing team.

“We’re using our experience and knowledge about social media and community interests,” she said. “We communicate weekly to assess our progress and see what is needed for the community project.”

Bradford said she recently learned that her team won second place in the University Research and Creative Activity Research Conference in the Communications and Information Sciences division.

Other members on the team are Drew Bryant of Guntersville, Taylor Crosby of Tennessee and Sarah Hollingsworth of Georgia.

Bradford said the project is personal for her.

She was in her dorm that day, in an area closest to 15th Street - an area hit hard by the tornadoes.

“We went to the first level and the power went out,” she said.

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