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FRIDAY, APRIL 6, 2007
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Morgan County employee Dale Blackwood uses a backhoe to tear up the foundation and parking lot of what was once Decatur's first natural gas building on Lee Street Southeast. The County Commission is considering either landscaping the property or possibly building another parking lot for the courthouse.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Morgan County employee Dale Blackwood uses a backhoe to tear up the foundation and parking lot of what was once Decatur's first natural gas building on Lee Street Southeast. The County Commission is considering either landscaping the property or possibly building another parking lot for the courthouse.

Urban renewal, county-style
Commission clearing city lot; area 'beginning to look much better'

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

Another property is going from ugly to pretty in historic downtown Decatur.

A year after the demolition of what was once the city's first natural gas building and later a car dealership, the Morgan County Commission began tearing up the building foundation and parking lot Thursday.

The Lee Street property is adjacent to the Morgan Keegan building.

This roughly 1-acre property is offset in front of the new Morgan County Jail. District 4 Commissioner Stacy George said the commission is considering either landscaping the property or possibly building another parking lot for the courthouse.

Countywide effort

The cleanup project is a countywide effort with District 4 providing the backhoe and two dump trucks and Districts 1, 2 and 3 providing dump trucks.

County employee Dale Blackwood was moving his backhoe quickly through the parking lot, breaking up the concrete one large piece at a time. The trucks are hauling the cement and rock to Basham United Methodist Church, which needs the materials to fill a low spot on its property.

George, who got involved in the project at the request of District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark, said the church is saving the county about $7,000 in dump fees. He estimated the work will take about three or four days.

Bill Wyker, managing director of Morgan Keegan & Co., said he is happy to deal with the noise while the county makes improvements. He pointed out that this is the latest in projects on his end of Lee Street as it curves onto Bank Street.

Temple Inc. recently moved into a $1.9 million building, built to match the former Warehouse Groceries building. The traffic control systems manufacturer and distributor now occupies both buildings.

"We're glad to see the improvements (of the county lot)," Wyker said. "This end of Lee Street is really beginning to look much better."

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