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Medley wins prestigious tourism award

Cassie Medley attended the recent awards banquet for the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA) expecting to enjoy lunch and see various award winners for the past year.

Little did Medley know she’d turn out to be the guest of honor.

Medley was awarded the highest achievement in the North Alabama tourism industry, the Tourism Professional of the Year for 2017, at the September 21 event.

“When they started describing the winner, they mentioned the Watermelon Festival,” Medley said, “and it hit me. I said, ‘Oh my gosh,’ they’re talking about me.”

The Tourism Professional of the Year goes to the individual or employee of an Alabama Mountain Lakes Association member organization who has made a great contribution to tourism in the past year. AMLA spans across 16 north Alabama counties.

AMLA officials arranged for Medley’s husband, Jamie, and Scott Wiginton, vice-president of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, to attend the event.

“They sneaked in after I was seated, and they did a clever job of seating me where I couldn’t see them,” Medley said.

Medley came to the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce as its executive director in March of 2012. During her tenure, the Chamber has seen tremendous growth with more than 150 members now part of the organization. The Chamber averages 10 new members each year.

Under Medley’s leadership, Franklin County has seen a steady increase in lodging taxes, even with only a few hotels in the area. Medley gives back to the community by serving on several boards and committees across Franklin County. She volunteers with the Franklin County Relay for Life, Camp Courage and the Russellville Marching Hundred Band Parent Association, among others.

Medley and her husband have two children, Sydney and Nathan, and they live in Russellville.

The Franklin County Watermelon Festival has also grown immensely since Medley came on in 2012.

“We try and get a well-known entertainer to come in each year, especially for our headliner,” Medley said. “I attribute the festival’s growth to that as well as the increase of vendors, and that’s all led to larger attendance numbers.”

Medley said she was humbled by the honor and shares it with her assistant Chamber director and her board of directors.

“I’ve never liked attention, and this award isn’t just about me,” Medley said. “It’s due to the work of Susan Hall and our directors. We’re all part of the team. Everybody contributes—not just me. I definitely feel like I’m sharing this honor with them.”

Medley said the Chamber operates to support its member businesses, and she stresses that when introducing herself to a prospective new member.

“We promote local business and tourism in Franklin County,” she said. “We receive calls every day needing some type of service, and we tell callers about our members every day. Whether it’s a need for flowers, a plumber, a place to stay overnight, an electrician or whatever the need, we send them in the direction of our Chamber members first.”

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