Old Convention Center still bustling with work

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 18, 2000

Although the sign on the outside still reads &uot;Natchez Convention Center,&uot; on the inside few signs of the building’s history remain.

No streamers from Mardi Gras parties, no laughter from the countless reunions or booths from craft shows. There is a new type of activity and noise in the building, which now belongs to the Natchez-Adams School District.

The building will soon house areas for the district’s athletic department and varsity band. There is a stage area for the band, a general assembly area that will have commercial carpet for the band and athletes, showers, dressing rooms and offices.

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On the morning when The Dart found the building, it was bustling with activity. Men with hard hats and tools are everywhere. Sparks fly as Scott Russ cuts metal studs for a fire wall.

&uot;People don’t realize how much construction is being done in here,&uot; said Russ, general contractor for Jay-Van Co. &uot;Even though my company is out of Hattiesburg I’d say 90 percent of the guys working here are from Natchez. Something like this really helps our economy.&uot;

Brian Roberts from LCR in Natchez echoed Russ’s words.

&uot;When a construction project uses local workers and they order their materials from local businesses we all win,&uot; said Roberts. &uot;There’s a lot of materials in this building that you can’t even see, like pipes.&uot;

Twenty-five feet above the floor, Cliff Williams and Hayden Verucchi, from Natchez Heating and Cooling, install light fixtures. Williams, a regular employee with the company is working with Verucchi for the first time today. Verucchi, a student from Co-Lin who is working on his heating and cooling degree is working with Natchez Heating and Cooling for the summer.

&uot;These lights are really just fancy street lights,&uot; said Williams. &uot;They are 250 watt lights, so those kids ought to be able to see in here. I’m not afraid of the height but it sure is hot, the temperature goes up a degree for every foot you go up.&uot;

Inside construction on the building is scheduled to be finished the end of October to mid-November. By then school will be in session and the cinder blocks will be painted, carpet will be laid and the building will be filled with the sounds of students.

But for now there are more lights to be installed and showers to be completed on this hot summer day.

The Dart is a weekly feature in which a reporter throws a dart at a map and finds a story wherever it lands.