Old Vidalia City Hall to face wrecking crews

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2014

VIDALIA — Demolition of the old Vidalia City Hall could start next week.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen voted Monday to award the demolition contract for the building on North Spruce Street to Camo Construction for $147,500.

Mayor Hyram Copeland said the demolition will probably take two to three weeks.

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But even as the former bank building turned municipal headquarters is torn down, the city will break ground on the $1.2 million Vidalia Technology Center that will take its place, Vidalia Marketing Director Sherri Rabb said.

The groundbreaking will be Oct. 30.

“Since the demolition will still be going on, we will set up a tent in front of the old courthouse where you can see what is going on in the background (at the site),” she said. “We will have the plans on display at the (Vidalia Conference and Convention Center).”

The Vidalia Technology Center’s construction is funded by a grant from the Economic Development Agency, and will serve to house the infrastructure needed for the Vidalia broadband initiative and will offer space for start-up businesses.

The Vidalia broadband initiative has the goal of placing high-speed, fiber optic Internet access throughout Vidalia. Copeland said he hopes one of the key issues — running the cable across the Mississippi River — can be resolved by the end of the month.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation — which maintains the Mississippi River bridge — does not normally allow utilities to run on its bridges. Copeland said he is working with MDOT leadership and the Louisiana transportation secretary to address the matter.

In other news, the board heard a concern from D.A. Biglane Road resident Danielle Wheat.

D.A. Biglane Road has many potholes and many of the road signs are missing, Wheat said.

“It is in terrible shape,” she said.

Copeland said the road is owned by the city even though it is not in city limits.

“The road was built by the state as a grant for an industrial park road,” he said. “The town took over it once we got the monies for the industrial park. The problem with the road is it is actually in the parish.”

The city has asked the police jury for funds to fix it, but the jury has declined to do so, Copeland said.

The city wants to wait to completely repair the road because a new plant could come to the industrial park on the eastern end of the road, and federal funds to repair the road may become available, he said.

“We are going to do the best we can to make it passable, but to overlay it would take over $1 million,” Copeland said.

Street Superintendent Lee Staggs said his department has placed numerous signs along D.A. Biglane Road and has even invested in signs with special locks to keep them from being removed.

But vandals have taken things a step further when theft isn’t a ready option.

“What they can’t take off the pole, they pull up,” Staggs said.

Vidalia Assistant Police Chief Bruce Wiley said he was not aware D.A. Biglane Road was considered a city road, but he would start patrols in the area.