St. Clair News Aegis (Pell City, AL)

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April 27, 2012

All aboard for a Coosa River cruise

Pell City — The boat has already caused talk amongst people who have seen it.

For Don and Janice Urso, taking riverboat Coosa Queen from dream to reality is something they want people to do more than talk about. They want people to experience it.

Having lived on a houseboat on Lake Logan Martin since 1993 and in Hollywood, Florida, on a boat before that, Don said he has grown to appreciate what the Coosa River scene offers. “I love the people up here. To me, there’s nothing like this on the lake. I just want to support the community and offer it something unique and exciting.”

The Coosa Queen is a 16 x 58 foot, 50-passenger riverboat that offers two-hour cruises for many events and social occasions, offering day and evening cruise options.

Beginning May 12, the boat will also allow cruisers catered dinner while they enjoy the sights, sounds and atmosphere of the Coosa River.

“I want to see a smile on people’s faces like mine every morning,” said Janice, beaming in the early morning hours aboard the couple’s houseboat in Riverside. “It’s like being on vacation every day.”

The couple said they are incorporating the catered dinner, which will include fine dining on weekends, because they wanted to offer more than just a boat ride on the Coosa.

“There are so many people who come out here who don’t have a boat. This gives them an option to enjoy the whole lake and river and have the whole experience out here that they normally couldn’t get,” Janice said.

Don, who says he has lived at nearly all of the marinas around the Coosa River/Logan Martin area, was purposeful in wanting to launch from Riverside Landing, in order to support the city where it docks its boats.

A family-style environment is what the couple’s riverboat dream is intending to offer. The Coosa Queen will also be featured at this year’s Lake Fest, May 11 and 12.

Don said he and Janice had talked about wanting to offer what the Coosa Queen will have in store for cruisers for some time. While driving through Athens, Ala. one day, he spotted the vessel parked in a field, complete with a paddle wheel atatchement and all.

It needed some work, and after restoring the boat for over a year, it will soon be taking people to and fro on the Coosa River.

The couple started their company, Ultimate River Social Options, in order to allow people to enjoy on the water what they enjoy every day, said Janice.

Since it is viewable from Highway 78, the Ursos said they have already gotten word from the Pell City Chamber of Commerce that people are interested in the boat and have already booked some events.

Don, now a retiree said he was glad he waited to begin offering tours so he can give 100 percent of his time to their venture.

“I know the whole river, so while we’ll operate out of Riverside Landing, we will do pickups at homes with service from one side of the lake to the other,” Don added for those who may want a special occasion on the water.

Janice, a Centerpoint native, said their intention is to provide a boat and captain while guests provide whatever they want to bring to their own Coosa River experience.

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