Visitors center in works

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2003

Vidalia &045; Here we grow again.

With the latest addition to Vidalia Landing, Riverview Medical Center, scheduled to be completed in October or November, an aquarium and visitors center is also in the works, according to Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland.

The 12,000-square-foot medical complex began construction last fall and is projected to employ 40 to 50 employees,

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featuring ambulatory surgery, industrial medicine facilities and specialists’ offices.

Some of the new procedures that will be performed at the new facility will keep local residents from having to go to medical facilities in Baton Rouge or Alexandria, Copeland said.

In early March, Copeland and the members of the council will be meeting with Secretary of Tourism Phillip Jones to discuss the design stage of a tourist center.

The $32 million complex will incorporate a welcome center, chamber of commerce, museum and 12,000-square-foot meeting complex.

Copeland said the complex will &uot;enable us to bring small conventions to our area.&uot;

The 20,000 to 25,000-square-foot complex will accommodate 650 to 700 people.

Comfort Suites, on Vidalia Landing, will also be accommodating a large group of people for the Louisiana Retirement Weekend Summit from April 11-13.

In other news, the aquarium &045; an idea suggested by a trip to Chattanooga, Tenn. &045; could become a reality.

&uot;We’re looking at building something similar,&uot; Copeland said of Chattanooga’s riverfront project.

The process of constructing an aquarium will begin by obtaining funding though state and federal grants and private funding, Copeland said.

A committee is also in the process of finding an architect to construct the facility.