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New City Hall opens doors to the public

"It looks fabulous!" "I can't believe how beautiful it is!" "Isn't it wonderful that they were able to preserve this grand old building?" Those were just some of the comments overheard at the Open House for the newly renovated East Three Notch School, now the Andalusia City Hall, Sunday, Jan. 11.

The Open House, sponsored by the City of Andalusia, gave residents and other curious people the opportunity to see just what had been done to the school building that was the learning ground of thousands of Covington County students in their earlier days.

Although there were no formal tours or speeches, numerous city officials and workers were on hand to talk with tourists about the building and answer questions.

Mayor Earl Johnson said the building was a prime example of Andalusia's spirit.

"This building and the work that's been done on it says a lot about our community," Johnson said. "It shows that we have respect for our past, but look forward to the bright future. It's something we can all be proud of."

Laurie Hall, one of the visitors to the building, said the renovated building showed initiative for the city's future.

"Let's grow!," Hall said. "We've needed a building we

can grow into, and now we've got it. The city needs to grow now, and everyone needs to do what they can to make it happen."

And room to grow is exactly what the new building has.

Although the building is full of offices and public spaces, there is ample room for the city to add additional offices - or put into use offices that aren't being used currently.

Among the most admired rooms in the building, the auditorium was the sight of the most astonishment - especially from those who remember what shape the auditorium was in when the school closed.

"It's a beautiful room," said Kate Bush during her tour of the building. "They've done a marvelous job."

Irene Butler, a professional building, commented on the quality of the workmanship in the building.

"As someone who builds, I'm admiring the great job the builders did on this," Butler said. "It looks very nice and I think I'm going to tell the people at the RSA they need to come see our building."

Dozens of former students and teachers also paid a visit to the building - many sharing memories of the old building.

One young woman even commented if she didn't know that's where her old classroom was, she wouldn't have known it.

That's just a taste of the dramatic transformation the building has undertaken. Wider hallways, walls moved, stairwells moved, an elevator added. The list goes on and on.

However, one thing has remained the same Š the floors.

Where possible, the City preserved the old wooden floors in the building - creaks, bumps and baubles alike.

Andalusia City Clerk, Pam Steele, has an office with just such character.

"I was moving some things the other day and tripped on the floor a little bit," Steele said. "I told myself I'd have to remember that the floor's not even in that spot. That's just one of the things that makes the building so special. The best part is we have room to move around and it's a wonderful place to work. The building just has that special something about it."

In addition to Steele, Deborah Spivey, the City's human resources director, said her office was wonderful too.

"I've got room to spread out," Spivey said. "It's beautiful in here. I've got a great view, and it's going to make coming into work a lot easier."

Although the building is officially open for business, there are still some minor projects to be finished.

"We've still got some cosmetic things to do, but it'll all come in time," Spivey said. "I'm just glad people like what's been done to the building and can see that this is going to be great for the city."

One visitor to the building, pleased with the work he saw at the new City Hall, questioned what was to come of the old Church Street School.

Said one city official, "I think that's next on the list."