ALPENA - The success of the US-23 Heritage Route continues to grow, as the route recently received a national award.
Interim City Manager Greg Sundin issued an update to the Alpena County Board of Commissioners on the success and future of the route during the commissioner's meeting on Tuesday. Sundin said the cities along the highway's corridor have seen an increase in visitors because of the information distributed by the organizers and what is made available via the website, which is about to get a facelift.
"The website has become very popular in the area, the state, the region, the nation and even across the world," Sundin said. "When you start to look at the hits which are received, there are hits from 198 different countries.We are also seeing that our website is being looked at as a model for others to use for other projects and efforts for things such as trail systems and such."
Sundin said the heritage trail was recognized for its efforts with a special honor that will cast even more light on what Northeast Michigan has to offer to tourists.
"We did receive a very prestigious award called the "Trail Blazer Award" from the National Association of Development Organizations," Sundin said. "It is a national award, and every state was able to submit projects and it was narrowed down to the final, and low and behold we won one of the top awards for the route, the website and all of the activities it is doing. It is a very big feather in the cap."
Sundin said funding has been found to continue to develop the amount of information people will be able to access from the Internet. He said when the update to the website is complete, more details and legends will be told about the focal points along the route.
"It took a while to get it, but we finally received major funding from the National Scenic byways and we are going to do some major work on the website," Sundin said. "We will be adding an element, which will basically tell the users stories and historical narratives about the six counties and the shoreline. People will be able to get the information either from the website, or from their smartphones. They are being developed, will have video and audio, but it probably still needs a year or so to be completed."
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.