City buys ‘whole lot’ of plugs

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

The city of Demopolis knows it needs to buy "a whole lot of plugs." To be exact, the city needs to buy about $200,000 worth of them.

For more than three years, the Old School on Main Street has survived rain, wind and fire. The roof of the historic building all but crumbled into the third floor of the historic building. And earlier this year, an electrical fire somehow contained itself to faulty wires and didn’t turn the building into a pile of ash.

The problems at the building, which is used for numerous civic activities, eventually forced city leaders to shut down the Old School, and on Thursday night, members of the City Council took another step toward making the building viable again.

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In May, the city of Demopolis invested more than $60,000 to fix the roof. Now, the city will pay Premier Service Company $199,465 to re-wire the whole building.

Though no City Council members opposed the investment, Councilman Woody Collins admitted the city was about to buy "a whole lot of plugs."

Mayor Austin Caldwell, who made the decision to close the Old School in May, said the city had no choice if it ever wanted civic groups to have access to the building again.

Though Collins asked if the electrical work could be done in installments, Caldwell said the city would come out paying less if all the work was done at once.

Only one electrical company &045;&045; Premier Service Company &045;&045; bid on the project, but Councilman Mike Baker said friends in the electrical business indicated the cost was in line with what other businesses would charge.

More than three years ago, an insurance company warned the city of Demopolis about the Old School. According to that company, the building was not in safe condition for young people, and the city was urged to stop use of the Old School.

Some organizations &045;&045; like Demopolis Middle School’s suspension program &045;&045; continued use of the building.

Despite the high cost of the electrical work &045;&045; scheduled to begin at the first of January 2004 &045;&045; Caldwell and the council voted unanimously to spend the money.

Neither Caldwell nor City Clerk Vickie Taylor could give specific completion date times, though council members suggested it would take at least six months.