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Newborn schoolhouse to be repaired

NEWBORN -- The Newborn Community Center is about to get an overhaul after being closed for nearly a year.

A pre-bid meeting on renovations to the center, also known as the "old schoolhouse," was held Monday morning and included more than a dozen contractors who came out to inspect the building and learn more about the project before submitting their bids.

The roof of the building will be replaced and improvements made to the foundation, according to Mike Clark, of Michael E. Clark and Associates, a consulting engineering firm from Macon.

In addition, contractors can bid on several other aspects of the project as separate bid items, including replacement of a handicap ramp; replacing the steps and rails at the exit of the building; and cleaning the crawl space of trash and debris.

Those projects will be completed only if money is available, said Mayor Roger Sheridan.

Contractors will be required to fix their bids for 90 days after submission, to give the town council time to make a selection and secure all the needed funding.

"We're trying to secure a grant or a loan; we need the price before we can finalize anything," Sheridan said.

The contractor will have 120 days to complete the project once a notice to proceed is issued, meaning it should be completed by fall. Sealed bids will be opened the afternoon of April 5.

The building, built circa 1923, has a heavily damaged roof with broken beams and rafters, sagging spots and leaks, Holly Firth, chairwoman of the Newborn Area Heritage Trust, previously told the Citizen.

The building is owned by the town and is maintained and leased by the trust. It is perhaps now best known as the home of the Newborn Opry. Both the town and the trust are contributing to funding for the project. Residents have also made donations.