City staff has worked for several days in preparation of rewiring, new drywall, doors, windows and refinishing of the original heart pine floors.
Scott Smith, Sr., project superintendent, said his crew – Leanne Smith, Bernard London and Douglas Lamar Whatley - has encountered no difficulties while on the job.
Smith, an interior specialist, said he had been busy reconstructing a load-bearing wall so that an arch can be built in the center of the building.
He has also worked on other projects in Rockmart, including the administrative, police and cultural arts buildings that are part of the new municipal complex.
“I enjoy working for the City and we all want to continue this work to make everything beautiful,” Whatley said.
Retaining the character of the 5,000 square foot historic structure, built in the early 1900s, is also a goal of Rockmart Mayor Curtis Lewis.
“The front doors will be replaced to original specifications,” he said. “The brick exterior is almost perfect and the building has a new roof.”
Lewis said the jail cells would remain and provide a focal point as part of Rockmart’s history. When complete, the restored building will be unique.
Bob Culver, spokesman for the Rockmart Historical Society (RHC), has been involved in helping find a location for this group for several months.
“I have an interest in history and was concerned that the building would continue to deteriorate unless it was occupied,” he said.
Culver also lauded volunteers with RHC. “There are several dedicated people who will be involved in the move into the downtown building,” he said. “My role has been in helping them find a place to locate.”
Mayor Lewis said the structure should be completed by late May or early June and ready for occupancy by the Rockmart Historical Society and Polk Chamber soon thereafter.
Bryan Griffin, past chair, said the issue was discussed during 2010 but the Polk County Chamber felt it would be too expensive. The decision was brought back to the table when news was received that the City would pay for the renovation – at a cost of up to $100,000.
Chairman Rick Hall, Polk Chamber, said he believes the downtown building is a good location and one that Eric McDonald, president, Economic Development Authority of Polk County, would be “proud to bring any visitor.”
Executive Director Tamaka Hudson, Polk Chamber, said staff was pleased with the idea of new offices that she hopes will look as good or better than the ones now occupied in Rockmart.
“Basically we need what will help us do our job,” she said. “Other things can be purchased at a later date.”
Hudson was referring to the vote by the Chamber’s Board of Directors to make $12,000 available for purchase of new furniture. This purchase will include new desks for the staff.