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Dothan is a city in Dale, Henry, and Houston counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is the largest city and county seat of Houston County, with a population of 65,496 at the 2010 census. It is located in the state's southeastern corner, approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of the Georgia state line and 16 miles (26 km) north of Florida. Its name derives from Genesis 37:17: "let us go to Dothan."
Dothan is the principal city of the Dothan, Alabama metropolitan area, which encompasses all of Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties; the small portion that lies in Dale County is part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area. The combined population for the entire Dothan metropolitan area in 2010 was 145,639. The city serves as the main transportation and commercial hub for a significant part of southeastern Alabama, southwest Georgia, and nearby portions of the Florida Panhandle. Since approximately one-fourth of the U.S. peanut crop is produced nearby, with much of it being processed in the city, Dothan is sometimes referred to as "The Peanut Capital of the World". Dothan also hosts the annual National Peanut Festival at the dedicated "Peanut Festival Fairgrounds".
The area that is now Dothan was inhabited for thousands of years by successive cultures of indigenous peoples. In historic times it was occupied by the Alabama and Creek Native American tribes who were hunters and gatherers in the vast forests of pine that covered this region. These tribes had developed complex cultures, and often used to meet and camp for trading near a large spring at the crossroads of two trails.
Between 1763 and 1783, the region that is now Dothan was part of the colony of British West Florida. European-American settlers moving through the area during the late 18th and early 19th centuries discovered the Indian spring, naming it "Poplar Head". Most felt that the sandy soil common to this region would be unsuitable for farming, so they moved on. A crude stockade was constructed on the Barber Plantation, where settlers could take refuge whenever they felt threatened. This fort disappeared by the 1840s, after the end of the Indian Wars in Alabama and the removal of most members of the Five Civilized Tribes to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Some Indians stayed in the region, becoming state and U.S. citizens by giving up their tribal membership.
The first permanent white settlers consisted of nine families who moved into the area during the early 1830s to harvest the abundant timber. Their settlement, named "Poplar Head" after the spring, failed to thrive and was all but abandoned by the time of the Civil War.
After the war, a local Pony Express route was founded; together with other developments during the Reconstruction Era, the town began to grow. On November 11, 1885, the locals voted to incorporate, naming their new city "Dothan" after discovering that "Poplar Head" was already registered with the U.S. post office for a town in northern Alabama.
On October 12, 1889, Dothan was the scene of a deadly altercation resulting from a dispute over a tax levied on all wagons operating within city limits. Local farmers opposed this levy and united in a body called the "Farmers Alliance". The arrest of some of the alliance's men led to a riot, and although the violence lasted only a few minutes, it left two men dead and others seriously wounded. Chief of Police Tobe Domingus was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to ten years in prison. Appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court resulted in a new trial, and Domingus was acquitted.
In 1893, Dothan secured a stop on the first railroad to be built in the region. This development brought new prosperity and growth, as local farmers had a means to market and transport their produce. The pine forests were harvested for turpentine and wood, which was transformed into ship masts, lumber and other wood products. As the pines were cut and land subsequently cleared, cotton was cultivated as a staple of the local economy. The crops were devastated by the boll weevil in the early 1900s.
Farmers turned to peanut production, which was successful and brought financial gain to the city. It became a hub for the production and transport of peanuts and peanut-related products. Today, one-quarter of the U.S. peanut crop is harvested within 75 miles (121 km) of Dothan. A two-week fall festival known as the National Peanut Festival celebrates this heritage.
Dothan also sought out industrial development, with textile and agricultural concerns being joined by manufacturing plants for the Sony, Michelin, and General Electric corporations in the 20th century. The city had an exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Originally part of Henry County, Dothan became the county seat of the newly formed Houston County on May 9, 1903. The city continued to flourish and grow throughout the twentieth century, with an airport being constructed in 1965 and Wallace Community College in 1969. Troy University Dothan Campus was established in 1961 and is located in the northwestern part of the city.
The Southern Company constructed the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Generating Station near the city between 1970 and 1981; this 1,776-megawatt facility currently generates approximately 13,000 GW-h per year. In the late 1970s, factories were constructed in the city by Sony and Michelin corporations. In 2010 Sony announced its closure of its Dothan plant. Pemco Aviation declared bankruptcy in March 2012 and in May that year announced the closing of its Dothan facility.
Culturally, an art museum, several theaters, symphony orchestra, dance troupe and other artistic amenities have been established.
Dothan is located in northwestern Houston County in southeastern Alabama. The city limits extend north into Henry County and northwest into Dale County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 89.7 square miles (232.4 km2), of which 89.4 square miles (231.5 km2) is land and 0.31 square miles (0.8 km2), or 0.36%, is water.
In addition to styling itself "The Peanut Capital of the World", Dothan is the self-proclaimed "Hub of the Wiregrass". It is also commonly referred to as "The Circle City", because it is encircled by Alabama State Route 210, a four-lane highway also known as the Ross Clark Circle. In recent decades, the city has expanded in several directions beyond the confines of this highway.
Fort Rucker, the "Home of Army Aviation", is located about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of the city, just north of the city of Daleville. It is the second-largest city in the Wiregrass Region after Tallahassee, Florida.
Dothan has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa). This produces hot, humid summers and generally mild winters, with average high temperatures ranging from 92 °F (33 °C) in the summer to 59 °F (15 °C) high during winter. Snowfall is an extremely rare event – a two-inch snowfall occurs about once every ten years, which results in a yearly average of 0.2 inches (5.1 mm). Tornadoes are a frequent risk during the spring, summer and fall; the city's tornado activity is slightly below the Alabama state average, but 79% above the U.S. average.
According to the 2000 census, there were 57,737 people, 23,685 households and 17,108 families residing in the city. The population density was 667.7 per square mile (257.4/km2). There were 27,908 housing units at an average density of 299.3 per square mile (115.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.33% White, 30.11% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander American, 0.46% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 27,908 households, of which 31.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 28.4% of all households are made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 2.94. 70% of women with school-age children work.
Age distribution was 25.4% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who are 65 or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females, there are 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males. 22% of adults have never married. 55% are currently married. 3% are separated. 12% are divorced. 9% are widowed.
The median household income was $35,000, and the median family income was $45,025. Males had a median income of $34,475 versus $22,572 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,539. About 12.7% of families and 15.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.2% of those under age 18 and 15.0% of those age 65 or over.
Approximately 79% of residents completed high school, while 23% have college degrees. 8% of the population has a graduate or professional degree; 6% are unemployed. Average commute-to-work time is 18 minutes.
The state-recognized Cher-O-Creek Intra Tribal Indians are located in Dothan. They are descended from members of the Cherokee and Creek peoples who occupied this area and resisted removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s.
According to the 2010 census, there were 65,496 people, 26,845 households and 17,835 families residing in the city. The population density was 754.6 per square mile (291.4/km2). There were 29,274 housing units at an average density of 337.3 per square mile (130.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 63.1% White, 32.5% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander American, 1.1% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. 2.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 26,845 households, of which 28.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% were non-families. 28.8% of all households are made up of individuals, and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 2.93.
Age distribution was 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who are 65 or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females, there are 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.
The median household income was $42,124, and the median family income was $52,855. Males had a median income of $43,892 versus $28,921 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,306. About 13.4% of families and 17.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.7% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.
Dothan is governed by a mayor and city council (called the "Board of Commissioners"), with a city manager employed to manage city affairs. The city is divided into six council districts, with one commissioner elected from each single-member district to a four-year term. Members of the commission serve part-time, and are responsible for drafting all city ordinances and policies, and appropriation of city funds. Dothan's mayor is elected at-large for four years, and serves as a member of the Board of Commissioners. The city manager implements the board's policies and manage’s the city's day-to-day operations, including hiring, managing and firing the heads of city government departments. A total of 999 full-time and 215 part-time employees work for the various city agencies in Dothan, including police, fire, clerical, judicial, finance, public works and utilities.
As of 2017, the office of mayor was held by Mark Saliba, while the city manager was Mike West. Larry H. Williams serves as city fire chief, while Steve Parrish is police chief.
Dothan is located in Alabama's 2nd congressional district; its current representative (as of 2011) is Martha Roby (R). The city is divided among three different state senate districts (28, 29 and 31) and four state representative districts (85, 86, 87 and 93).
The majority of K-12 students in Dothan and Houston County attend Dothan City Schools, or Houston County Schools. Others attend local private schools such as Houston Academy, Providence Christian School, Northside Methodist Academy, Emmanuel Christian School, or Westgate Christian School. Institutes of higher education include Fortis College, Troy University Dothan Campus, Wallace Community College, Bethany Divinity College & Seminary, and the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dothan is home to the "Yes We Can! Dothan" education movement, which is a community-based organization working to improve Dothan's public schools. Through community engagement, this movement has helped improve schools with a theme of "Better Schools. Better Dothan", and has received state and national recognition. This movement began through the efforts of Dothan citizens Morris Slingluff, Judge Rose Gordon, Thomas Harrison, Lucky Martin, Tom Ziegenfelder, Matt Parker, Twyla Williams, Libby Krietemeyer, Cheryl Gibson and Lavonda Gosselin.
Dothan's airport, the Dothan Regional Airport, is served by Delta Air Lines and Aero-One Aviation as of September 2017. This airport was established at the former Army airbase at Napier Field in 1965, after a push to move the airport was started in the early 1950s by then-Mayor Richmond C. McClintock. Jet services began in 1968 with Southern Airways' acquisition of DC-9 aircraft, and continue today using the CRJ-200 regional passenger jet.
Unlike many municipal airports in the U.S., the Dothan airport is entirely self-supporting, operating without any tax-generated funding. All airport revenue is generated through rental and other user fees charged to patrons and tenants of the facility.
The airport serves as the local National Weather Service's weather observation station.
Presently, Dothan is served by three U.S. highways (all four-laned within the city limits, and for some distance beyond): U.S. 84 (east-west), U.S. 231 (north-south) and U.S. 431 (north-south; southern terminus in Dothan). US 84 leads southeast 54 miles (87 km) to Bainbridge, Georgia, and west 30 miles (48 km) to Enterprise, Alabama; US 231 leads northwest 55 miles (89 km) to Troy, Alabama, and south 83 miles (134 km) to Panama City, Florida; and US 431 leads north 51 miles (82 km) to Eufaula, Alabama.
Although passenger trains no longer operate through Dothan, Greyhound Bus Lines maintains a station in town. While Dothan does not have regularly scheduled public transportation, it offers dial-a-ride service through its non-profit Wiregrass Transit Authority.
The city of Dothan has hosted a number of railroads throughout its existence, beginning in 1893 with the Alabama Midland Railroad, later the Atlantic Coast Line, linking the city to Montgomery and Savannah. The Chattahoochee & Gulf, later the Central of Georgia, reached Dothan as part of a route from Columbia, Alabama, to Lockhart, Florida. Additionally, the Bay Line Railroad built a line connecting Dothan to Panama City, Florida, in 1908. There were also a number of logging railroads and other shortlines that existed near Dothan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Bay Line and Central of Georgia railroads jointly operated passenger service from Atlanta to Panama City via Dothan until 1957. Dothan was also a stop for two Seaboard Coast Line local passenger trains from Waycross, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama, until 1971. And finally, Dothan was a stop for the South Wind passenger train, later Amtrak's Floridian, with service ending in 1979. The Floridian was the last passenger train to operate through Dothan.
The Central of Georgia spun off a portion of their line from Hartford to Dothan to the Hartford & Slocomb railroad in 1953, which was later abandoned from Hartford to Taylors in 1992. In 2003, Central of Georgia successor Norfolk Southern sold their route from Dothan to Hilton, Georgia, to the Chattahoochee and Gulf shortline, leaving CSXT as the last Class I railroad operating through Dothan. In 2003 the Genesee & Wyoming purchased the Bay Line, and in 2006 bought the H&S and Chattahoochee and Gulf railroads, merging the latter two into the Chattahoochee Bay Railroad.
Dothan is the home of two hospitals: Southeast Alabama Medical Center is the city's only public hospital, and is located on the city's eastern side. Flowers Hospital is a private hospital situated on Dothan's western side. On May 18, 2010, Southeast Alabama Medical Center announced it would construct Alabama's first college of osteopathic medicine, to help fill the state's shortage of an estimated 400 primary care physicians. The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, ACOM, was dedicated July 29, 2013, with its first class to graduate in 2017. The 110,000-square-foot (10,000 m2) facility is expected to create an economic impact of more than $100 million by 2027.
The largest Christian denomination in Dothan is the Southern Baptist church. There are also Churches of Christ, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, AME, Freewill Baptist, Episcopal, United Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Seventh-day Adventist and various Evangelical churches serving Dothan's Protestant community. St. Columba Catholic Church serves Dothan's Roman Catholics. Dothan hosts a Reform Judaism synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, which became nationally famous in 2008 when the congregation offered Jewish families as much as $50,000 to relocate to Dothan to build up the community. The city is also home to two mosques, an LDS church, a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and an Antiochian Eastern Orthodox church.
Dothan is served by one daily newspaper, the Dothan Eagle, one weekly newspaper, the Dothan Progress, and a blog website Rickey Stokes News. It is host to four television stations, WRGX-LD 23 (NBC), WDFX 34 (FOX), WDHN 18 (ABC) and the oldest television station in southeastern Alabama, WTVY 4 (CBS/MyNetworkTV/CW). WOW!, Comcast and Time Warner Cable provide cable television service. DirecTV and Dish Network provide direct broadcast satellite television including both local and national channels to area residents. The city is also served by several radio stations; among the oldest is WOOF, which went on the air as an AM station in 1947; its FM went on the air in 1964. Among the radio formats in Dothan are adult contemporary, classical, Christian, rock, country, rap, urban contemporary, talk radio and sports. Dothan Magazine offers a bi-monthly, people-focused viewpoint of the Dothan area while also keeping readers up to date on the latest community events, trends and issues. Archived issues of Dothan Magazine are available online.
Dothan hosted minor league baseball teams from 1915 to 1917 (AL-FL-GA League and Dixie League) and again from 1936 through 1962 (AL-FL League, GA-FL League and AL State League). Teams were known at varying times as the Boll Weevils, Browns, Rebels, Cardinals and Phillies. Major League affiliations were maintained in later years with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies organizations. All teams played at the "D" league level, a defunct minor-league classification that represented the entry or "rookie" level in the minors. Ballparks included Baker Field, City Park, Stadium Park, Jill Alexander Miracle Field and the Wiregrass Memorial Stadium.
The city served host to the Ultimate Fighting Championship on February 7, 1997, at the Dothan Civic Center Arena.
Dothan was selected as one of eleven Alabama sites for a course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
In 2007–10, the city was recognized as part of the "Playful City USA" initiative by KaBOOM!, created to honor cities that ensure that their children have great places to play.
Dothan has a diverse economy. Agriculture is the largest industry, though retail sales and restaurants have experienced a rapid growth in recent years. Although peanut production remains a mainstay of the agricultural sector, cotton is gaining in importance. Tomato production is locally significant as well, especially in the nearby town of Slocomb, which styles itself "the Tomato Capital of the World".
The people of Dothan enjoy one of the lowest costs of living in the country, mostly due to the large dependence on city revenue from the sales tax. Dothan receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year from the northern U.S. who pass through the city on their way to visit the Florida beaches. This tourism is a staple of the local economy.
According to the city's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
According to 2016 statistics released by the FBI, Dothan has a violent crime rate far below the national average, with only one homicide reported in the city that year. Property crime rates were slightly above the national average. 274 violent offenses (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) were reported in 2016, compared with 2,934 property crimes.
The National Peanut Festival occurs annually in November. The festival hosts competitions in different areas for all ages. A large midway, entertainment by nationally known recording artists, and the largest parade in the area are featured attractions. Visitors can find many rides such as Speed, Starship 3000, and Wild Mouse. On the last day of the fair, there is a peanut festival parade. This includes bands from high schools around Dothan, pageant winners, and more. Many people line the downtown streets of Dothan to celebrate the parade.
Dothan is also home to two professional barbecue competitions. The Tri-State BBQ Festival is held the second weekend in April, and is sanctioned by the Florida Bar-B-Que Association. It was begun in 2006 and is currently put on at the Houston County Farm Center. PorktoberQue, an Oktoberfest and Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned event, is held the last weekend of September in Dothan. It, too, is held at the Farm Center.
The Toadlick Music Festival (now defunct) was a three-day country music and southern rock festival held every April at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds. Started in 2012, the Toadlick Music Festival featured many noted performers such as Luke Bryan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 3 Doors Down, Merle Haggard, The Band Perry, Trace Adkins, and Kellie Pickler.
The US Army Aviation Museum, located on nearby Fort Rucker, houses one of the largest helicopter collections in the world. The museum focuses on the role of fixed and rotary-wing flight in the U.S. Army. The exhibits depict over 50 years of Army aviation, and include a number of life size dioramas, films, and interpretive material. Several period aircraft are available for viewing.
The George Washington Carver Monument, located at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds, pays tribute to one of the nation's greatest educators and agricultural researchers, whose work resulted in the creation of 325 products from peanuts, more than 100 products from sweet potatoes and hundreds more from a dozen other plants native to the South. These products contributed to rural economic improvement, by offering alternative crops to cotton that were beneficial for the farmers and for the land.
The George Washington Carver Museum relates the story of the African-American genius and offers information on African cultures and their influences on the world, prominent African-American scientists, explorers and inventors, and the positive contributions made by African Americans in military affairs and the area of social development.
The Wiregrass Museum of Art, located in the city's original power and water plant (1913), features ongoing exhibitions of visual and decorative art. The museum's permanent collection includes works by contemporary Southeastern artists such as Dale Kennington, Frank Flemming, Dale Lewis and Cal Breed, as well as material by nationally recognized artists including Frank Stella and Jim Dine. The museum was organized in 1989 by private citizens and the City of Dothan; it is operated by the Wiregrass Museum of Art, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization.
Landmark Park is a 135-acre (55 ha) park built to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of southeast Alabama's Wiregrass Region and serves as Alabama's official museum of agriculture. Visitors can experience history on an 1890s living history farm, complete with an old farmhouse, smokehouse, cane mill, and syrup shed, as well as sheep, mules, cows, chickens, goats and pigs. There is a Victorian gazebo, a one-room schoolhouse, a drugstore and soda fountain, a country store, and a turn-of-the-century church. Landmark Park also has an elevated boardwalk, nature trails, picnic areas, a playground and an interpretive center with a state-of-the-art "digitarium" (planetarium). Special events include folklife festivals, antique car shows, traveling exhibits, concerts and workshops year-round.
Southeast Alabama Community Theater offers live entertainment and theatrical productions for the Dothan community.
Spark Theater Company is a non-profit theater company and performing-arts educational program. Spark Theater offers several public theater productions each year by Dothan-area youth and teens, an after-school theater program, as well as supplemental theater classes for the public school system.
The Joseph statue at Millennium Park is a ten-foot, cast bronze sculpture, located in the historic downtown area. It represents the Bible verse, "For I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan" (Genesis 37:17), on which the town based its name.
Peanuts Around Town is a public art project organized by The Downtown Group, consisting of 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) peanut sculptures decorated in various fashions and displayed around Dothan.
"Wiregrass Festival of Murals" is an ongoing project offering historic murals painted by nationally and internationally acclaimed muralists on walls of buildings in the downtown historic district. Guided tours are available upon request.
The Dothan Opera House, built in 1915, features theatre performances, concerts, symphonies, ballet performances, and other cultural events. Tours are available upon request.
Music South, formerly the Southern Alabama Symphony Association, offers a wide variety of musical performances, from classical symphony performances to jazz, African and other musical styles. "Music by Moonlight" offers four free concerts per year at Dothan's Landmark Park, featuring classical, jazz, Celtic and bluegrass musicians, among others.
Patti Rutland Jazz is a professional contemporary jazz and hip-hop dance company located in Dothan. This company produces two full-length jazz and hip-hop theatrical dance productions yearly (one in late February and one in early June) at their home in the Cultural Arts Center, as well as at Dothan's historical landmark Opera House. Patti Rutland Jazz operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose core mission is to offer its dancers to the Wiregrass Region to assist under-served youths with free dance classes. This mutually beneficial program hopes to make Dothan a destination for, and a source of, future professional dance talent in the United States.
Dothan has Three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:
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