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Renovation of historic building delayed

By Scott Mims

The renovation of the old Thorsby Elementary School lunchroom will not be completed in time for this year’s Swedish Fest due to building code issues, the town council learned Monday night.
Tracia Bussey of the Swedish Fest Committee said the renovations could not continue without a certified architectural plan as required by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. This is because the building is being renovated for public use and it is owned by a municipality.
Initially, the old lunchroom was going to serve as the gathering place for a meeting of descendants of Thorsby’s founders on Oct. 15, but unexpected delays have forced a change of venue. The meeting will now be held at Helen Jenkins Chapel on Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
“We did not realize we would have to pursue an architectural drawing, so we did not figure that into the cost of the renovation,” Bussey said.
The committee had estimated the cost of plans would not exceed about $1,000, but Bussey estimates the winning bid will be at least $2,500. While the group plans on pursuing the project, the timing is not what they had hoped.
“It’s all on hold for now,” Bussey said.
Bussey hopes to complete the renovation so the structure can be rented by groups and families for events. This would free up Helen Jenkins Chapel for much needed repairs.
“That building is used weekly,” Bussey said, noting that the windows are in need of additional repair and there are soft spots in the floor.
Ed Angel of Clanton has put more than 400 hours into the old lunchroom, mostly for window repair. Bussey said his generosity has saved the town a lot of money.
“That kind of craftsmanship would normally be about $70 an hour,” she told the council.
The Swedish Fest Committee uses funds raised from past Swedish Fests to pay for projects in the town.
In other business, the council will hold a work session at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 18, followed by its regular council meeting at 7 p.m. The primary topic of discussion will be the town budget.
For more information, call Thorsby City Hall at 646-3575.