Civic Center keeps promise

Published 10:53 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

Have you noticed the construction taking place on the new Civic Center on the campus of Jefferson State Community College? If you haven’t, it is worth a drive by. The campus is located on Highway 145 in Clanton.

The center is a joint effort between the city of Clanton and Jefferson State Community College.

When completed, the $11 million-plus facility will provide ample meeting space for our community, the college and others who might choose Clanton as a central location for statewide meetings.

Mayor Billy Joe Driver said this week construction of the 65,000-square foot complex is scheduled to be completed in January 2010.

“We designed the building for the future,” Mayor Driver said this week. “It might be oversized for meetings we have now but it will allow much larger meetings and events to be held here in the coming years.”

Jefferson State will operate the facility under an agreement it reached with the city of Clanton in July. The college will be responsible for scheduling events, providing staffing and the upkeep of the grounds.

The city has reserved 60 days per year where it can use the facility or allow other organizations to use it.

Mayor Driver said he believed the 60 days would be plenty for the city but believed it could obtain more from the college if needed.

The main meeting room in the center will seat 1,800 people at tables. A theatre-type room is also being constructed that will allow 660 people to attend smaller, stage-oriented functions. The facility will have a food staging area that will allow caterers to bring in food for banquets and luncheons.

It certainly sounds like a lot of thought has gone into the design of the center to meet the needs of the area now and in the future.

Mayor Driver said the city still owns approximately 102 acres adjacent to the college and civic center for necessary parking and future expansion.

The civic center will be financed through the collection of a 1-cent sales tax set by the council several years ago. The purpose of the tax was to build a new city hall and a civic center.

Clanton’s City Hall was completed a few years back, and it has no debt. When the civic center opens next spring, the city will have made good on its promise.

That fact in itself is refreshing these days.