By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The construction of new restrooms at Atmore’s SAIL Center might not seem like a big deal to most people. But to the patrons and staff of the local senior facility, the new facilities are like an early Christmas.
“We’ve got completely new bathrooms,” said SAIL Center Manager Charlotte Purvis during the October 1 open house to formally unveil the restrooms and celebrate their construction. “The old ones weren’t even handicapped-accessible, but these are. And the light comes on when the door is opened.”
Purvis said the project also included a new tile floor for the restroom area, as well as a supply closet.
“I’ve never had a supply closet before,” she said. “It’s just great what they did. Our seniors are very appreciative.”
The makeover was funded by a $15,000 grant from Gulf Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D). Escambia County Commission Chairman Raymond Wiggins, who also serves as vice-chair of the council, noted the importance of the new facilities.
“We are very happy to be able and reach out to help so many people,” he said. “This project is one that won’t go away tomorrow, or next week or next year. It will be here for years to come. Restroom facilities are very important; having them handicapped-accessible and functional is what it’s all about. Gulf Coast RC&D is happy to have provided the funding for this project.”
The ceremony was also attended by Ricky Rhodes, director of South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, which serves Escambia, Baldwin and Mobile counties, as well as Poarch Band of Creek Indians. He said he is always pleased to see new projects funded here.
“Atmore is very important,” said Rhodes, who has helped secure grants for the Brown Precision factory in Atmore and the Provalis plant that is coming to Brewton. “I’m from Bay Minette, and I take a special interest in doing what I can for Escambia County.”
State Rep. Alan Baker, who was accompanied by his wife Kaki, and State Sen. Greg Albritton were the driving forces within the state legislator for the SAIL Center renovation project.
Baker said Monday that the procurement of funding, the architectural services and all other phases of the renovation were “a team effort.”
“It was made known to us the need for restrooms, upgrading and improvements at the SAIL Center,” he said. “This was a team effort between Gulf Coast RC&D and everyone else involved. We [he and Albritton] continue to try and support the needs of this particular center. This was much needed. I’m glad to see it has now happened, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Baker also recognized Mayor Jim Staff and City Councilwoman Susan Smith for their support of the project.
GCRC&D Executive Director Roland Perry, who Wiggins said “came on board, got it going and was wide open,” brought the ceremony full circle with his closing comments.
“Congratulations to all involved,” he said. “Gulf Coast RC&D is proud to be the sponsor of the senior center here. These restrooms are first-class. I visited them earlier and I can attest to that.”
News photo by Don Fletcher