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Posted: February 15, 2012 12:00 a.m.

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Social Circle reopens Welcome Center

By Gabriel Khouli/

Social Circle's remodeled Welcome Center had its official ribbon cutting Tuesday morning, eight months after a fire damaged the building.

Residents and officials gathered for the ceremony and to hear Mayor Hal Dally speak about the city's efforts to develop a strategic plan.

The Welcome Center caught fire June 2 during the installation of a new roof. Before the fire, the original cost to update the facility was $120,000, said Better Hometown Manager Mike Miller.

Repairs to the building were completed Monday; the building was built in 1998 or 1999, Miller said.
Dally told residents the city's strategic plan should be completed in a few weeks. He also took questions from the audience.

He said the city's bypass road should be completed in 2013, as only three more pieces of right-of-way remain to be purchased.

Residents agreed it would be better to call the bypass road a truck route instead, because they still want people to come into town, just not tractor trailers. A resident asked if a truck stop could open on the bypass, and Dally said the city's industrial development authority has talked about a combined truck stop and Waffle House station.

Bettye Ray, superintendent of Social Circle City Schools, said the school system is planning to renovate its existing elementary school and then build a $12-$14 million kindergarten though fifth grade school.
She said the school is going through its second SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accreditation.

Dally said Lou's Soda Fountain and Grille, which closed, will reopen as Hot Rods. Another restaurateur is planning to open in the former Debbie's Cherokee Grill location. A third building needs to be renovated and then could also house a restaurant.

In other city news, Zumafilmz, a production company in Abilene, Texas, has selected six cities with populations of less than 5,000 for a quality-of-life-focused documentary. The company was in Social Circle last weekend and is expected to come back for the city's Friendship Festival in October.

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