After months of construction, the city of Fort Oglethorpe was finally able to celebrate the opening of its new gymnasium with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 6.

Once an old machine shop, the building now houses hardwood floors, bleachers, concession stands, basketball goals, and a new scoreboard thanks to the hard work of many officials and SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) dollars.

"I'd like to thank the mayor, City Council and city staff for a very successful grand opening of the city gymnasium," said City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins. "Also, a special thanks to Public Works and Recreation Director Jeff Long for his time and dedication in managing the construction of this project."

Renovation of the gym has been going on since the city awarded a $611,000 bid for the project June 12. That agreement was followed up by multiple change orders on Oct. 23, at which time the council approved an additional $58,158 for needed changes and $34,121.01 for the necessary recreational equipment to furnish the facility.

The majority of the project has been funded from the 2009 SPLOST. From that SPLOST cycle, $480,000 was allocated to recreation capital improvement projects in the city of Fort Oglethorpe. Those funds along with funds allocated from the city budget were used to acquire the property and revamp the facility.

Councilman Derek Rogers, who was recently appointed the city's new mayor pro tem, said he's excited about the gym and the service it will provide area children.

"The opening of the gym was wonderful," Rogers said. "Jeff and the rest of the city staff did a fantastic job. It's a beautiful facility."

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.