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Posted: October 10, 2013 8:44 p.m.

Gym will stay silent ... for now

Construction moves concert indoors

An orchestra concert originally planned to celebrate the renovation of Porterdale’s historic gym has been relocated to Covington.

The Converse College Symphony Orchestra concert scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday will be held at First United Methodist Church of Covington, 1113 Conyers St. SW.

According to an email blast from the Newton County Arts Association, which is co-hosting the event with Main Street Porterdale, though the construction crew has been working diligently, the project will not be in a place to showcase the venue to its full potential by Saturday evening.

Converse College’s Symphony Orchestra, from Spartanburg, S.C., will perform selections from Handel’s "Water Music" and other favorites. The classical music event is free to the community.

Porterdale City Manager Bob Thomson previously said the gym renovations were nearing completion and were expected to be finished in time for the concert, but Wednesday he explained that a few glitches caused a delay.

"They’ve been working hard, and they have made a lot of progress, but because of the rain they are still behind about two months," Thomson said.

"We thought we could do it, but then they ran into other problems with the lighting that they fixed and some other problems with the bathrooms that they fixed. But every little problem delayed them about half a day. And when you are on a tight time schedule like that…"

Thomson said once construction is officially completed, the city of Porterdale will have a big grand opening and possibly hold some Christmas events in the venue.

"We’re disappointed, but at least we had a good venue backup," Thomson said.

The 74-year-old Porterdale historic Gym caught fire Oct. 20, 2005. Walls and the center of the roof collapsed into the facility. Even though a $10,000 reward was offered, the cause of the fire was never discovered.

The repurposing of the open-air building cost an estimated $950,000, and is being paid for using proceeds from SPLOST.

The Porterdale City Council decided to make the gym an open-air facility without a roof because it would have cost about $4.2 million to totally rebuild the structure, money that wasn’t available.

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