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Gadsden State Cherokee honors Richard Lindsey with naming ceremony

Centre, Ala. —  The Gadsden State Cherokee Arena was packed with friends, family, Chamber of Commerce members and College employees today for a naming ceremony honoring Richard Lindsey.

“It is my privilege to announce the naming of this building as the Richard Lindsey Arena,” said Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State. “What an honor it is to acknowledge a hometown hero today.”

Lindsey, who served as the representative for the Alabama House District 39 for 35 years, was instrumental in securing the construction of the Gadsden State satellite campus in Centre. Gadsden State Cherokee was constructed in response to community and governmental efforts to meet the growing educational needs in the region. The $22 million multi-level complex was constructed in 2008 and includes a 300-seat conference room, smaller meeting rooms, classrooms, learning laboratories and office space in addition to the 2,500-seat arena. The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is also housed on campus.

“We believe this campus is a great asset to Cherokee County and our entire service area,” Murphy said. “This is one of Rep. Lindsey’s greatest accomplishments. He will be distinctively and prominently recognized on this campus for years to come as the arena carries his name.”

Trudy Lowe spoke during the ceremony on behalf of the Cardinal Foundation. The support organization for Gadsden State co-hosted the ceremony with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.

“Gadsden State Cherokee has been important to our town, to all of the students who have graduated from this campus and to the many other students who will attend here in the future,” she said.

Joy Perry, executive director of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, said she is proud of the partnership the Chamber has with Gadsden State. She said not only is Gadsden State convenient and affordable for local students, but it is also a big plus when recruiting business and industry to the area.

“Since the campus was constructed, it has been the site for many events including sporting events, ACT testing, volleyball and basketball games, concerts, robotics competitions and even a circus,” she said. “About 30,000 people pass through this arena every year.”

Rep. Ginny Shaver said education has always been the top priority for Lindsey. In addition to helping steer Gadsden State to Cherokee County, Lindsey was instrumental in establishing the Cherokee County Education and Training Center.

“We wouldn’t have the opportunity to further our education and training locally if it weren’t for you,” she said to Lindsey. “As you drive by and see your name on this building, I want you to consider it our thank you. We appreciate all the work you’ve done for this community.”

Al Shumaker, an attorney and resident of Cherokee County, worked with Lindsey on several projects, including the establishment of the Pinhoti Trail, an extension of the Appalachian Mountain Trail. The trail covers 171 miles in Alabama and stretches to Maine.

“Richard comes up with a lot of ideas, and he always says, ‘I think we can do it,’” Shumaker said. “He never wavers. He is honest, hardworking and always worked for the best interests of his constituents. Thank you, Richard, for your vision, optimism and tenacity.”

Lindsey said he is humbled and thankful to the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees for approving the renaming of the largest sports venue in Cherokee County to the Richard Lindsey Arena. Theresa Hulgan, the now-retired executive director of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, worked with Murphy to get the resolution passed. The board gave its official approval on May 11.

“I’m honored to have the support of my local community and the citizens of this area,” he said.

Lindsey partnered with leadership from the Cherokee County Commission, KTH Leesburg Products and the municipalities of Centre, Cedar Bluff, Gaylesville, Leesburg and Sand Rock to get the Cherokee County campus constructed.

“I just happened to be in a place to lead the charge, and I was happy to do it,” he said. “We all came together as one. All of us worked together and we spoke as one. Working together is the way you get things done.”

He said he expects to see the arena consistently utilized by schools and other community organizations, and it’s his dream to see Gadsden State Cherokee continue to grow.

“There have been many students who have come to this college to get an education that changed their lives and changed the lives of their families,” he said. “They were able to graduate, get a job and make a successful life in Cherokee County. A lot of them may be living in poverty if it weren’t for Gadsden State.”

Lindsey recognized his family and thanked those in attendance.

“Not only do I have good community partners, but I have a good family, too,” he said. “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who had a part in this. Thank you for honoring me and thank you for supporting Cherokee County and this wonderful campus. May God bless you and this community.”

Others participating in the renaming ceremony were the Cherokee County Volunteer Fire Department Honor Guard and the Gadsden State A Cappella Choir.

For more information on Gadsden State Cherokee and the programs offered at the Centre campus, visit


Lindsey is widely known for serving nine consecutive terms in the Alabama House of Representatives. Elected for the first time in 1983, he served 10 years as the chairman of the Education Finance and Appropriations Committee. He served three terms as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee as well as several regional and national legislative committees.

During his legislative services, Lindsey was honored with numerous awards, including Legislator of the Year from the Alabama Rural Electric Cooperatives, State Representative of the Year from the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts and the Lifetime Legislative Leadership Award from the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools.

In addition to assisting in the establishment of two educational facilities in Cherokee County, he also worked closely with former Gov. Don Siegelman and Transportation Director Mack Roberts to bring KTH, a Tier 1 automotive supplier, to Leesburg. He also joined other local officials to convince state leadership to four lane Hwy. 411 from Leesburg to Gadsden.

Lindsey is a co-owner of Cherokee Gin and Cotton Co., one of the largest gins in the south and is a partner in a large farming operation called Coosa River Land Co. He is a delegate to the National Cotton Council, vice president of the National Cotton Ginners Association and past president of the Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association. He is a long-time member of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the First Southern State Bank Board of Directors serving Northeast Alabama. He has also served on multiple boards, including the Cherokee County Assisted Living Federation of America, Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association, Cherokee County ALFA Organization and the Howells Cemetery Association.

He is married to Johna and they have two children: Rich (Cassandra) Lindsey and Anna (Caleb) Brown. Their grandchildren are Savannah and R.J.

Richard Linsdey speaks during the Naming Ceremony of the Richard Lindsey Arena. Looking on are, from right, Al Shumaker, Dr. Kathy Murphy and Joy Perry.

Richard Linsdey speaks during the Naming Ceremony of the Richard Lindsey Arena. Looking on are, from right, Al Shumaker, Dr. Kathy Murphy and Joy Perry.

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Richard Lindsey Arena