Lake Jackson conference center gets formal OK

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Rodney J. Evans Conference Center at Florala State Park is now ready to rent.

State Park officials said the building passed its final inspection Wednesday and is now open for business.

“The center is now open for rentals,” said Sonny Foster, construction superintendent for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

Park Manager Donny Thornton said the grand opening is tentatively set for April 15.

Work on the 11,500 square-foot facility began in 2009 after more than three years of planning. It was named in honor of the former Florala resident, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, and features a large multipurpose room and an outdoor amphitheater, both of which overlook Lake Jackson.

The multipurpose room will seat up to 350 people, while the amphitheater will seat 500 in concrete, stadium-style bleachers.

“(The facility) is a big addition to the state park system, in particular to Florala and the whole area of Covington County and the surrounding areas,” said Mark Easterwood, director of the state’s DCNR.

“We expect it to be very popular,” he said. “In fact, there are already events just waiting to hear the start date so they can get on the books.”

Easterwood said the state plans to market the building by placing it on the state park Web site.

“But we really expect the weddings, meetings and class reunions to be the bread and butter of the facility,” he said.

Thornton said Tuesday there are a host of such events already scheduled, despite the lack of an opening date.

“We had to get a book to put it all in,” Thornton said. “We haven’t taken any money yet. We were just waiting to get a start date when we could begin renting it out.”

Cost to rent the facility during the week is $100 per hour with a two-hour minimum. That figure increases on the weekend to $150 per hour with a three-hour minimum.

“That amount includes the whole facility – the building, the kitchen and the amphitheater,” Thornton said. “You can rent the amphitheater without renting the facility for $100 per day.”

To rent the facility, contact Thornton at 334-858-6425 or visit the campgrounds in Florala.