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Chamber renovation project progressing

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce officials say abuilding renovation project is moving forward but likely remainsseveral years away from completion.

“We’re starting to make progress,” Executive Vice PresidentChandler Russ said.

The project involves restoring and renovating the old firestation and portions of the chamber building for meeting areas andoffice space. The total estimate for the project, includinghandicap accessibility, an elevator and other mechanicalimprovements, is approximately $800,000.

“The contractor has completed the roof, which is by far the mostimportant part of the project,” Russ said, adding that the workwill prevent damage from the top of the building down.

Installation of new, custom-made windows in the fire stationwill be the next step. Russ said the windows had to be ordered andare expected to arrive in about three weeks.

“We’re hoping within the next month to have the windowsinstalled,” Russ said.

The third part of the project involves cleaning bricks andaddressing any concerns there.

“Then the entire structure from the outside will be safe fromthe weather and further deterioration,” Russ said.

Including discussions and planning, Russ said chamber officialshave been working on the project a little over two years.

Funds raised for the project so far total around $54,000. Moneyhas come from Rural Development, the Brookhaven Trust, the Krewe ofCeres and the Perkins Foundation.

“We’re real proud that the Trust and the other organizationrealize how important the fire house and the courtroom upstairs areand what assets they can be to the community,” Russ said.

Russ said the chamber is expecting to have spent current fundingby the end of the year. Other work, though, will remain to be doneas funding becomes available.

“We’re a long way from it being presentable to the public atlarge,” Russ said.

With the help of Third District U.S. Rep Chip Pickering, who hasan office in the chamber building, Russ said the chamber has made arequest for $650,000 in federal funding to continue the project. Hesaid chamber officials were expecting word in the spring on whetherthat funding will materialize.

While funding to pursue interior work remains uncertain, Russwas pleased to see the exterior progress being made.

“This work will secure the building and prevent furtherdeterioration, as well as making it look good from the outside,”Russ said.