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Welcome center celebrates 40 years

The West Point Visitor Information Center, otherwise known as the Georgia welcome center, celebrated 40 years on Friday.

The welcome center is the first place visitors come to when they enter our great state. Some stop just to take a quick restroom break. Others are trying to find things to do or get directions.

The center currently sees about 800,000 visitors a year, according to Rebecca Clopp, the manager of the information center.

When tourists come to our area, they need something to do. Or they might be heading to Atlanta, but end up with a few hours to kill. The welcome center gives information on area attractions.

Even if visitors can’t spare some extra time when they first stop, they might grab a pamphlet and plan a visit to LaGrange later on.

“Events like this are what helps get awareness out about all the surrounding areas — the things to go and see and do,” said Martha Lopez from Butts Mill Farm. “It just helps develop tourism throughout the whole state of Georgia.”

Of course, the welcome center also provides information about other areas of Georgia too.

Interstate 85 is extremely busy, with thousands of motorists going back and forth across the state line. Once we get those people in Georgia, we want them to stay as long as possible.

Last week, we wrote a story about a national website featuring LaGrange as the best place in Georgia to visit for a friendly-family, low-budget vacation. Many locals were surprised by that, but there’s a lot to offer in this area. The website was Cheapism.com, but the story was published on MSN.com as well.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to completely see the full picture when you’re close to something. Visitors see several breweries, West Point Lake, Hills & Dales Estate, the Biblical History Center, the Wild Animal Safari and Callaway Gardens as tourist attractions.

Thanks to the visitors center, more people find out about our area each day and spend their money here.