Frings to head new science research center at state park

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Alabaster Mayor David M. Frings has a new hat &8212; or at least a new role to add to his collection.

The geologist, local businessman and politician is the new director of Samford University&8217;s Oak Mountain Interpretive Center.

Frings officially retires from 30-year career with Southern Company and Alabama Power on April 21.

He is in his sixth year as mayor and as the operator of the Fossil Site in Alabaster. His first day with Samford University was March 27.

According to Frings, the Interpretive Center will include 2,500 square feet of indoor science and nature exhibits with a wet lab where university and school students can do research and workshops.

He said, &8220;It exciting because I&8217;m getting in on the ground level. I&8217;ll be involved in the selection and design of exhibits.&8221; Frings said he would also work with others to determine programs and classes.

He said his new position gives him a rare opportunity to roll up his sleeves and to be in on something from the start.

Frings said the center would also be open to families and schools for field trips.

He explained that the state is providing the facilities and Samford is proving his position and the programs.

According to Samford University, the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center will be for environmental education, ecological research and family recreation.

It is located in Oak Mountain State Park and is collaboration between Samford University, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Friends of Oak Mountain.

The center&8217;s mission is to promote appreciation for Oak Mountain State Park as a natural habitat and to provide a hands-on interactive educational experience that enables children and adults to learn about Alabama&8217;s biodiversity, students and teachers to research its wonders and visitors to understand the importance of environmental stewardship.

It will offer academic courses and community education classes for adults ranging from academic credit courses in biology to special interest classes such as Alabama birding.

Frings said he is not sure when the center will open, but said it will help attract more people to the park and to help education the public.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in geology with a minor in biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is a licensed professional geologist and a certified municipal official