The Braille Monitor                                                                                       January 2003

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NFB National Convention
Louisville, Kentucky
Take Two

by Cathy Jackson

Part of the Louisville skyline at night
Part of the Louisville skyline at night

From the Editor: January is here, so it's time to make your plans for attending the national convention. Consult the information at the front of this issue for registration details. NFB of Kentucky President Cathy Jackson and the Kentucky affiliate are already hard at work making plans for our entertainment. Here is Cathy's report on what's going on in Louisville:

Welcome to Louisville, Kentucky, the largest city in the commonwealth and the sixteenth largest city in the United States. On January 6, 2003, we officially merged our city and county into one metropolitan government. We have come a long way since the county was formed in 1780. Jefferson County was one of the first three counties to split from Kentucky County, Virginia. Our county was proudly named after Thomas Jefferson, who was governor of Virginia at the time.

As the rest of the nation settles back after a joyous holiday season, the members of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky are gearing up for the 2003 annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. The doors of the Galt House Hotel will open wide to allow over three thousand Federationists to take up residence beginning the week of June 28. In case you haven't heard, Louisville, Kentucky, is once again the site for this one-of-a-kind event. For all of you who attended last year, I certainly hope you are making plans to return to Louisville. For those of you who were not among the numbers in 2002, you absolutely do not want to make the same mistake twice. We have the challenging task of making this year's convention bigger and better than last; however, I believe we are up to the test. We had our first planning meeting in mid November. Assignments have been made, and everyone is anxious to welcome you back.

The remodeling continues at the Galt House Hotel. You will probably not notice any significant changes. The renovation is taking longer than expected. Some of the executive suites on the fifteenth floor of the East Tower have been refurbished. A fresh coat of paint, new carpet, new wall covering, color-coordinated window and bed treatments, and new furnishings make for pleasant surroundings. Some of these executive suites have Jacuzzis for your relaxation and enjoyment. Remodeling also continues on the two-bedroom apartments.

The remodeling efforts will not interfere with your good time at this year's convention. During your leisure you might take time to browse through the in-house mall. Here you will find specialty shops, a gift boutique, hair salon, and portrait studio. You will still be able to enjoy a good meal in the River Grill at a reasonable price. Check out the Fountain Room for lunch. You will delight in a superb luncheon buffet. Before dinner enjoy a cocktail in the cozy atmosphere of the English Tavern. Put on your best bib and tucker and relish continental cuisine in the famous revolving Flagship Restaurant overlooking the city and the Ohio River. If you are still not ready to call it an evening, D'Marie's Lounge offers nightly entertainment.

Once the Galt House fulfills all of its contractual obligations, it will be able to move full speed ahead with its restoration plans for this historic Louisville landmark. I am hopeful that, when you return in 2005, the work will be completed.

When you arrive next summer in late June, the Fourth Street Galleria will also be undergoing a major overhaul. Many of the retail stores and fast-food restaurants will be conspicuously absent. We do know that some of these businesses will remain or relocate. However, at this point we do not have specific details. Do not push the panic button. Just as one business closes, another opens. Already we have new eating establishments since your visit last summer. Cunningham's, one of Louisville's oldest and most popular restaurants, has reestablished itself near Fourth and Broadway, just a short trolley ride from the hotel. Cunningham's is open for both lunch and dinner. There is more than baseball at Louisville Slugger Field. Wellinghurst's Steakhouse is fast gaining popularity with the locals. Browning's Brewery serves bluegrass-influenced ballpark specialties. The menu features all sorts of pub grub. The thirty-five-foot-high glass-enclosed brewing tower has added a unique ambience to the bar.

The most dramatic change you will notice is that Fourth Avenue will be open to through traffic, where the Galleria Atrium now stands. By the time the 2005 convention rolls around, this area will be a major entertainment venue called Fourth Street Live, with restaurants, nightclubs, and retail stores. Hard Rock Café and Border's Books and Music have already signed leases with the property management and should be open by the spring of 2004. Everyone involved in paint-up, fix-up Louisville is hoping that we will be able to lure ESPN Zone and Ruth's Chris to the tenants list.

Churchill Downs is also getting a face-lift. The first phase of a $130 million revitalization is well underway. On Monday, May 6, 2002, less than forty-eight hours after the running of the 128th Kentucky Derby, construction began. The historic track has never before undergone such sensational and exciting changes. A large meeting space, luxurious suites (which will provide a view of the downtown skyline), renovation of the first- and second-floor Jockey Club, renovation of the first-floor grandstand, and new elevators should all be just about complete by the time the convention comes to town. The majestic twin spires have already been repaired and continue to beckon you back for a fun-filled afternoon. Those who enjoy browsing the Internet can visit the Downs by going to <www.churchilldowns.com>. Once you are on the home page arrow down to "Building on a Tradition," located on the left side of the page near the bottom. You can follow the work in progress.

The Playscape play area, located on the riverfront, is five times larger than it was last summer. Even the 120-foot-tall baseball bat outside Slugger Field has been spruced up. It took sixty-five gallons of paint and a very patient painter using a two-inch brush to give the bat a wood-grain look.

Louisville is rich with history and tradition, and we want to share it with you. The restoration and rebuilding of this southern town is long overdue. The changes are a new design being woven into the tapestry we call Louisville. But one thing is for certain: Good ol' southern hospitality still beats in the hearts of southern folk.

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