In the News

$1.3 Million Alexander Project

The Chamber of Commerce last week approved an architectural concept for a $1.3 million renovation of the Alexander building which belongs to the Blakely-Early County Chamber of Commerce.

The renovation plans, developed by Polyengineering Inc. of Dothan, were first presented to the chamber board at the February board meeting.

EC2055 manager Lisa Collins announced to the board at that meeting that the Rice Foundation had hired Howard Benson of National Community Development Services of Atlanta to direct fund raising for several projects, including the Alexander building renovation.

A design committee consisting of representatives from EC2055, the chamber, city, county and arts council has been mulling over the plans with the architects since last fall.

The idea of rennovating the Alexander Building was sparked by a visit to Fitzgerald where the chamber there had renovated a chamber building to serve the community.

Charles Barton Rice stated at the Commerce Club meeting in Atlanta March 6 that Stanley Houston approaching him with the idea of renovating the building was in part what sparked the idea of EC2055.

The Alexander Building renovation project was buoyed late last year when it was bundled with the existing theater project and the City Council redirected $262,000 in SPLOST funds earmarked for the Blakely Theater project to help with renovation.

The Chamber of Commerce purchased the two-story building in the 1980s. The first floor of the building, built in 1903, had been home to Rupe's 5&10 and Sim's Variety Store during later decades. The upstairs offices have been vacant for a number of years.

The chamber received a Citation of Excellence from the Georgia Trust in 1989 for preservation of the building.

In other business, chamber president Kenneth Hall told of the chamber's efforts to re-establish the Department of Labor "One Stop Shop" in Blakely.

For a number of years a DOL representative was available at DFACS one day a month. For the past year or two, however, local persons seeking DOL services have had to find a way to Bainbridge.

The chamber is encouraging local businesses to participate in the "Work Ready Community" information seminars March 29 at Bainbridge College in Bainbridge. (See details in front page story.)

Hall also noted that plans are underway for the Administrative Assistants Day luncheon which will be April 26.

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