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School officials: 'Performing Arts Center needs facelift'

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The roof of the Clayton County Performing Arts Center sometimes leaks when it rains, according to school system officials. The building's alarm system often malfunctions, and goes off without reason.

Maintenance workers had to do an emergency repair job a few months ago after a lightening bolt hit the building. And, to make matters worse, the air conditioning system cuts out occasionally.

School officials say it is time for the 19-year-old facility, which has not been renovated since it opened in 1990, to get more than a patch-up job. "It's the crown jewel of the school system," Performing Arts Center Coordinator Anita Lloyd said. "Some people never see it, though, but the little lady is starting to show some wrinkles."

District leaders said the facility will close in July and August so substantial renovations can be made, makeovers of the air conditioning and alarm systems, and the installation of a chandelier and tile flooring in the lobby area.

School System Spokesman John Lyles said the district will spend $288,767 of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) III funds to pay for the renovations to the facility, which was built in the late 1980's at a cost of $7.5 million.

Hogan Construction of Norcross has been hired to do the work, according to School System Acting Chief Operations Officer Cephus Jackson.

Jackson and Lloyd said the alarm and air conditioning systems are the most pressing issues which must be addressed. When lightening struck the Performing Arts Center a few months ago, it temporarily knocked the alarm system off-line. While maintenance workers were repairing the system, they evaluated it's condition and decided it was time to replace it.

"Those systems typically tend to last 10 to 15 years, so it was due to be replaced," Jackson said. "We were able to repair the alarm system after the lightening hit it, but it was determined that it needed to be replaced."

In addition to the school system's "little lady" showing some signs of age, "she" has also been taxed by thousands of performances since opening "her" doors nearly two decades ago, according to Lloyd.

Lloyd said the Performing Arts Center is home to more than 1,000 events per year, meaning "she" has hosted scores of plays, concerts, festivals, musicals, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings, and student performances over the last 19 years.

"Since we are having so many events here, it needed to be upgraded," Lloyd said.

Lloyd said a terrazzo-style tile will be installed on the ground-level floor of the lobby, and the carpet will be replaced on the stairs, and the upper-level floor of the entrance. She said the county's "crown jewel" also will receive a jewel of a different kind in its lobby - a chandelier. "It's going to look a lot more 2009, than 1990," Lloyd said.

The tile, she said, is being installed in the lobby to not only give the entrance a more modern look, but to also make cleaning easier. The Performing Arts Center staff recently began selling refreshments in the lobby, and having a tile floor would make it easier to clean up drink spills and food crumbs, Lloyd said.

In addition to the new tile and the chandelier, there will also be four Ficus trees - donated by Conner's Florist in Morrow - in the lobby.

Jackson said more renovations for the Performing Arts Center may be in the facility's future. School officials are considering using money from a proposed SPLOST IV to continue upgrading the dressing rooms, he said.

Jackson quickly added, however, that the school system has not yet decided what projects will be in the new SPLOST proposal, or when it might go before voters for approval.