Welcome center gets renovation

Published 10:59 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Visitors to Pearl River County who stop at the Pearl River County Mississippi Welcome Center on Interstate 59 soon will enter a historic building with a fresh new look.

The visitor’s center on I-59 is undergoing some renovations, such as plumbing, electrical and new cabinets. Work planned for the renovation also will make the building handicapped accessible, said Pearl River County Welcome Center Supervisor Cindy Schoonmaker.

The work began on Jan. 12, of this year and is expected to be completed by the beginning of July, Schoonmaker said. Other repairs and improvements include a new roof made out of copper clad metal, new lighting, a bathroom renovation and a reduction in height of the countertops to 34 inches, said Brady Wuestenhoefer, project manager for David Smith Construction Inc.

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An addition to the site will be a guard shack in front of the Welcome Center. Previously the guard had a small office inside the Welcome Center.

The center’s parking lot also will see some improvement work, Schoonmaker said.

New heating and cooling systems will replace aged ones while electrical system renovations will bring the building up to modern standards, Wuestenhoefer said.

Schoonmaker said the project was in a bidding process for the previous four years, but bids kept coming in too high. The $1 million project finally began this year.

Even though the center is being renovated, it will still host a week’s worth of events during National Tourism Week, which is May 9 through 17. Schoonmaker said special events will be held May 13, to celebrate Picayune Day, where ice cream, popcorn and possibly a petting zoo will be featured. Local businesses usually set up their own tables and bring food for visitors to sample, she said.

Every day during National Tourism Week an event will be held at the Pearl River County Welcome Center near the temporary location. Schoonmaker said the events will be held in the grassy areas behind the temporary location, which is adjacent to the Welcome Center.