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Oxford finally gets new maintenance facility
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Most people know Feb. 29 as the day that comes once every four years in leap year, but in Oxford, the day now carries added significance.

At the long awaited open house ceremony on Friday for Oxford's new maintenance facility on Emory Street, Mayor Jerry Roseberry presented volunteer Tom Turner with a plaque declaring Feb. 29, 2008 as "Thomas Turner" day to thank him for his countless hours and tireless efforts in bringing about the facility.

"He got done what needed to get done," said former Oxford Mayor Don Ballard, on whose watch the project began.

Turner, a New York native, Army veteran, and mechanical engineer by trade, had moved to Oxford in 2000 to escape the snowy New York winters. The 70-year-old sought to have several dilapidated and abandoned houses near his home torn down, and saw an opportunity to update the maintenance facility as well when he was appointed on a Citizen's Committee by Ballard.

Ballard described the old facility as a "hog pen." There was a small shed for the workers and the equipment was left out to weather the rain and the elements.

Turner began drawing up designs in 2004 for a new facility on his home computer, which "blew its mind out," he said. Halfway through the process, he got together with designers from Sunbelt Builders and they combined the best of their ideas to present to the town.

A contractor told Roseberry, who had headed the Citizen's Committee, that the hours that Turner devoted to the project, in designing and seeing the project through, was worth tens of thousands of dollars. Turner did all of it for free.

At the ceremony, Turner thanked family members and other key players, including Ballard, Roseberry, council member Virgil Eady, Brenda Sweat, Charles Green of the Dekalb Maintenance Department, Jonathan and David Eady, and Sunbelt Builders.

He had worked on the design but left the politics to Ballard, he said with a laugh.

There was opposition to the project along the way, but, said Ballard, the proponents of the project didn't pay it much attention and went on ahead.

"If they can't appreciate it, something's wrong with them," said Ballard.

An audience of about 20 people came out on Friday to marvel the $1.2 million dollar facility that houses all the equipment and supplies along with offices for the staff.

As Oxford's biggest project, it took about two and a half years, although the opening was postponed because of the drought, which delayed the landscaping.

Assistant Supervisor Scottie Croy pointed out the building will help the department's 10 trucks, which cost about $100,000 each, three pickup trucks and two tractors, and other equipment and last much longer.