A program to help support an important initiative for East Alabama marketing gets a grant from the Alabama Tourism Department. Here are the details… The Alabama Tourism Department held a press conference today at the Hilton Garden Inn Oxford to announce the funding of the East Alabama Tourism Department. Sentell also presented the agency with a unique contribution from the Alabama Department of Tourism. Area politicians also attended the presentation. Senator Del Marsh says this initiative is one of the first times that actual dollars have been spent to advertise East Alabama. Calhoun County Tourism Director Mary Patchunka-Smith says the goal of Tour East Alabama Group is to get people off the interstate and to our attractions, shops and restaurants. Representative Steve Hurst of Alabama’s 35th District says you can take everything this region has to offer and easily promote it. Chairman of Talladega Superspeedway W. Grant Lynch Jr. says he appreciated the counties coming together and talking about tourism. Lynch believes the marketing units will be a great benefit during race time. The 8 counties in the East Alabama region have been working on the plan for 4-and-a-half years.