Vidalia center nearly complete

Published 11:26 pm Monday, August 18, 2008

VIDALIA — It’s been a little more than a year since the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center first opened its doors, and though it has been operating almost continuously since then, it is now nearly completed.

When the center opened in August 2007, only 26,000 square feet of floor were available, and center employees had to use a makeshift office in the small space that was designated to ultimately become the Jim Bowie museum.

That was phase I of construction. The second phase of construction began in late 2007.

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With the completed construction, employees have their own wing for offices, a significant amount of convention space has been added and a Red Cross evacuation shelter has been incorporated into the shelter.

“We could use it if we have a hurricane next week,” Mayor Hyram Copeland said. “We would be able to accommodate between 500 and 600 evacuees.”

The second phase construction added approximately 11,000 square feet to the building.

While the new addition will primarily be used for conference space, the evacuation shelter has showering and toilet facilities and two full-size kitchens.

Though there are still some small issues — such as landscaping — that need addressing, Copeland said the construction is, for all intents and purposes, completed.

The city will have a dedication ceremony for the addition at 1 p.m. Sept. 1, and local, state and federal dignitaries are expected to be there, Copeland said.

The construction was funded by state and federal grants.