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Florala plans park for 2010

Plans are under way in Florala to construct a small town square, park and veteran’s memorial park as part of Gov. Bob Riley’s “Year of the Small Town” project.

Each year, Riley has highlighted areas such as the arts and sports. In 2010, Alabama will celebrate the “Year of the Small Town.”

Sue Mathis, project spokesman, announced Monday night that a preliminary plan has been presented, and the group hopes to begin site prep work in the coming weeks.

Located in the median area of Fifth Street, the 14-foot-by-36-foot park will feature some interesting pieces of Florala history.

“This is a joint project between the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the Civic Club and the city,” Mathis said. “We are very excited about it — the whole thing is going to come together at a celebration during June 24th in 2010.

“We plan to do a true town square with grass and a fountain and brick pavers throughout,” she said. “We’re not quite sure how we’re going to make it all work just yet, but we do know that we will utilize the brick pavers from the lake that were removed and the fountain.

“That’s going to save us tremendously in costs,” she said.

While no preliminary cost estimate was available for the project, Mathis said the group is currently working to solicit donations, both in money and in-kind services.

“The county has said they would do in-kind services for us and we’re working now to try and get the concrete work donated,” she said. “We’re looking for donations anywhere we can get them. We want this to be a nice park — something the whole city can be proud of.”

Mayor Robert Williamson commended the group on their activism.

“I think this is a great idea,” he said. “We need a focal point for the downtown, and we’d like for it to be very nice. This will be something that sticks in people’s mind when they think of Florala.”

The council pledged their support to the project and gave Mathis the go ahead to begin site preparation on the street.

Mathis said the park will be completed by the 2010 June 24th celebration and plans are also under way to organize a “homecoming celebration.”

“This is the time of year when everyone comes back home to Florala,” she said. “We didn’t think there would be a better time to show off what Florala has accomplished.”

During those events, a historic marker will be unveiled detailing a “bit of Florala history” and the name of the park, Mathis said.

The “Year of the Small Town” program is sponsored by the Office of the Governor, the Alabama League of Municipalities, the Alabama State Chambers of Commerce and Alabama Tourism Department. Participating cities will be featured in a book to be published by the Alabama Tourism Department featuring photographs and a brief history of each participating town. The books will be sold in stores all over Alabama.

In other business, the council:

voted to change its insurance company of record to South Central Insurance Agency.

voted to discontinue participation in the 475 retirement plan after two of three employees participating in the program announced they were pulling out their money.

gave $200 donations to the Incident Response Team and the Covington County Honor Flight.

announced Congressman Bobby Bright will hold a town hall meeting at Country Folks Buffet at noon Friday.