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State park work to resume

Work on the Florala State Park is set to resume in the coming days, state park officials said Tuesday.

Mark Easterwood, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources state parks director, said workers will be on hand “to start preliminary work in the next few days. The construction work will follow as soon as subcontractors can be lined up and determine what the figures come in at.”

The Lakeshore Boulevard site has been vacant since July 2009, and in November, the Alabama Department of Conservation said the community center and amphitheater project was more than $50,000 over budget and only 75 percent complete.

Easterwood said preliminary estimates show upward of $200,000 is needed to finish the project, which includes paving the parking lot.

“That figure also doesn’t include furnishings,” he said. “We’re going to have to see how far we can make that money stretch.”

Williamson said Monday he has been told that the work has been made possible by funding obtained by Speaker of the House Seth Hammett.

“Either way, this is great news for Florala,” Williamson said. “We will all be thrilled to see the completion of this project.”

Earlier, state officials cited “lean economic times” for the funding shortage and said the state parks system is self-sufficient and does not receive money from the state’s general fund. Therefore, facility operations are the sole responsibility of the Department of Conservation.

In September 2009, the state said there was no funding left to complete the 10,400-square-foot community center, which at the end of July boasted bare sheetrock and concrete floors and no ceiling. A year earlier, the State Parks Joint Legislative Committee approved $1 million for the project. An additional $1 million of in-kind expenses from labor and equipment cost was obtained through the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s Innovative Readiness Team (IRT) program.

Williamson said he “assume(s) that once they start, it would only take 45 days or so to finish out the project.”

In other business, the council:

appropriated $1,500 to assist in the construction of a small gazebo for the “Year of the Small Town” homecoming event, set for June the 24 celebration weekend; $100 donation to the Masonic Celebration; and $1,600 to repair a section of sidewalk adjacent to the Florala Middle School.

voted to participate in the state’s annual sales tax holiday, set for Aug. 6-8, 2010.

signed a resolution commemorating the life of Lexi Worrell, the victim of a recent school bus accident.

appointed Nellie Bell to the South Central Alabama Mental Health Board.

discussed a road paving priority list.

tabled adoption of the new employee standard operating procedure manual.