Many have made lake project success

Published 11:59 pm Friday, March 13, 2009

As you drive down (Florala’s) Lake Drive, it would be hard not to notice the change in the appearance and terrain. The women’s clubhouse has been moved to a new home, thanks to Charles and Linda Russell. Many of the trees have been removed to make room for the new conference center and amphitheater. None of this could have been done without the help of our friends in Montgomery, Mr. Barnett Lawley, Parks Commissioner; Seth Hammett, Speaker of the House; Jimmy Holley, Senator and Mr. Mark Easterwood, State Park Director.

We have so many people to thank for giving their time, effort and equipment. This project is being done on a voluntary basis with the IRT furnishing reserve troops to do most of the actual work. Following is a list of most of those participants: Mayor Williamson and the City Council have given their full support. Gill Taylor, without his help with the IRT, there would be not project. Gill is retired as a former chief and has guided us through this entire project. Lynn Hughes is handling all the finances, permits and the paperwork directly with the State Parks Division, who is furnishing the money. Bonnie Brown, who coordinates everything for the entities involved, has been the go-to person from the beginning. She works directly with the IRT and the civilian group. The Florala Utilities has prepared the area for digging the infrastructure and is ready to assist in any way.

As to progress, the two buildings have been demolished, and the debris removed (this also served as a training exercise for the fire department). A special thank you goes to the following owners and operators who did the demolition and hauling: Michael McDaniel of Smith Development Co., along with William Gautney, Buford Lee, Wade Goodson, and Randy Grimes, County Commissioner Harold Elmore, Mike Hughes and Jim Johnson. Cliff Prescott and the city crew of Larry Jackson, Danny Nowling and Paul Davis are responsible for saving the water fountain and memory bricks. Mr. Ron Hargrove sent his large excavator and Billy Don Gautney operated it in the demolition. Donnie Thornton and Joe Drakkar, who are park managers, have been very helpful in this project, preparing for demolition, salvaging plants, flowers, and shrubs and relocating them elsewhere in the park. Chief of Police Sonny Bedsole has promised regular patrols as often as necessary to protect the hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and material that will be delivered to the site as work progresses. Steve Lassiter, who lives on Lake Drive, has volunteered his time as security director. We want to say thanks to Steve Gillman of Top Notch Home And Repair for the loan of a construction trailer at no charge. Steve’s business is soon to start up in our industrial park.

This project would never have gotten started had it not been for Tim Ramsden of CDG Engineers and his perseverance and dedication to this project. Tim spent two years drawing and revising his conceptional drawings until he received a sign off from everyone involved and then coordinating them with Walter McKee of McKee Architectural Firm.

We want to welcome IRT Chief Phillip Watkins and his family, who will supervise all construction and supervise troops of 25 to 30 and will be living here in Florala on Lake Drive until completion of the project. The anticipated time line of completion is approximately six months. We had hoped to have it open by the summer months, but Watkins stated that he and his crew will do their best to have it open the first of August 2009.

W.H. “Billy” McDaniel

Project Director