Vidalia center gets $1.7M USDA grant

Published 11:45 pm Monday, June 4, 2007

VIDALIA — A $1.7 million USDA grant will fund an addition to the Vidalia Convention Center.

The city will have a public hearing to discuss the funds at their regular meeting next Tuesday.

At a specially called 8 a.m. meeting Monday, the Vidalia City Council voted to advertise a public hearing to discuss the matter for its regularly scheduled meeting next Tuesday.

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The grant, made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be used to make an 11,000 square-foot addition to the convention center on the Vidalia Riverfront.

The public hearing is required by law.

The nearly completed 26,000 square-foot first phase of the convention center will open in mid-July, Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

A 450-person convention is already booked to use the center in August, he said.

The Vidalia Chamber of Commerce office will be located in the center, as well as the Louisiana Tourist Information Center and several other administrative offices.

The convention center will also have a museum containing Jim Bowie artifacts, among other things.

The second phase, for which the $1.7 million grant is earmarked for, will be built by March 2008, Copeland said.

It will incorporate a Red Cross evacuation shelter, and will have showers, air-conditioning, stoves and wiring for televisions, Copeland said.

“It’ll give those people a decent quality of life during (an evacuation) situation,” he said.

The city will accept bids for the second phase June 7, Copeland said.

“Right now we’re going through the USDA requirements (to begin the project),” he said.