‘O’ Foundation leads effort for complex awning installation

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2008

A local effort to shield patrons of the Lincoln CountyMulti-Purpose Facility from the elements is just now receiving itsfirst donations.

Brookhaven’s “O” Foundation is extending its feelers across thecity, seeking anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 in donations to fundthe installation of a sprawling, metal awning to cover the frontentrance of the facility.

Foundation president Rose “Polly” Powell said the awning isestimated to cover an area of 36 feet by 90 feet – enough to coverabout half of the front of the building. Powell said the idea toseek a cover for the facility has been in the works since lastsummer, when people began to notice how the weather made people innice clothes who were attending nice events make a mad dash throughwind and rain to get inside the facility.

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“There’s a lot of people who use this facility,” Powell said.”We counted up about 100,000 last year. We have weddings, birthdaysand political rallies, and sometimes the weather is so harsh wehave to rent a tent to put up outside. It’s hot, hot, hot; and thenit’s cold, cold, cold.”

In order to raise the money, the “O” Foundation is seekingsponsorships. Powell said donations to the project are divided intofour categories – platinum, $500; gold, $250; silver, $100; andbronze, $50. Business and personal advertisements, in honor or inmemory of, will be permanently placed on the awning in differentsizes according to the level of donation.

“It’s really good advertising for your business because of allthe people that use the multi-purpose building,” Powell said. “Andthe more you sponsor, the bigger the area you can have.”

Powell said the first donations have recently trickled in, withthe project budget currently at $250 from five bronze donations,including one all the way from a Brookhavenite residing inItaly.

Powell is looking for local businesses, banks and concernedcitizens to add to the total. She noted the project to place theawning will grow in quality if the budget goal is exceeded.

“We’re going to make it as nice as the money we can raise,”Powell said.

And raising the money is all about the “we.”

With the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Commission locked into itsbudget and managing several upgrades across the property, no countyfunds will be put toward the purchase and installation of theawning. The effort will be 100 percent community supported, saidfacility manager Quinn Jordan.

“We’re within a budget year, and it goes from budget year tobudget year,” Jordan said. “We strongly rely on community supportin order to bring these needed improvements to the facility whilewe operate on a very tight budget.”

Jordan said he and the commission encourage the project. Henoted, though, that final commission approval would be needed, inorder to “dovetail” the project into the facility’s one-, three-,five- and 10-year plans already in place.

While commission chairman Pat McCullough said he and thecommission were behind the project, an engineering plan must beseen and approved before the awning plans can go forward.

“We have to see some kind of design criteria,” he said. “Thecommission is aware of the plan, but we have to see the engineeringplans before final approval.”

Pending final approval of the engineering specs, McCullough saidthe awning project would be a worthy addition to the facility.

“The idea of the construction itself is a good thing, and wedon’t have the money to make that type of addition ourselves,”McCullough said. “If anyone wants to compliment the facility with aplan like this, we’d be foolish not to take advantage of it.”

Powell is scheduled to meet with representatives from Reed’sMetals, Inc. – the company that will manufacture and install theawning – at the multi-purpose facility Monday morning to examineand discuss the project and develop a cost estimate.

Reed’s Metals owner Bernard Reed said his company will generateits own engineering plans. He hopes to have them ready to presentto the commission within a week of Monday’s meeting.