First phase of Lanett Mill demolition begins - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

East Alabama

First phase of Lanett Mill demolition begins

By Chris Vessell -  bio | email

LANETT, Ala. (WTVM) - The West Point Stevens Mill has served as Lanett's economic and cultural foundation for more than a hundred years now. The first bricks were taken down Monday -- essentially knocking out pieces of pieces of Lanett's history. For some Lanett residents, it's still hard to believe.

Construction equipment scars the rear façade of the Westpoint Stevens mill, revealing a few scars in the people who live in Lanett. "I went to work out there when I was 16 back in 1946," Artis Hill, a longtime resident said. The mill provided Hill with his first job. "All my family worked out there, if you didn't work for Westpoint you didn't work. It really wasn't a surprise, the way things have been going, there's really nothing left here as far as the textile industry," Hill added.

"On up until a few days before it closed, I was there 36 years," Mary Dingler said. The mill shut down in November of 2006, forcing Dingler out of a job. She says the demolition of the structure brings about mixed emotions. "I loved it, I loved the people, I got to mix and mingle with them, and all the supervisors, the plant managers. I was not looking to be without a job, I wanted to work, until I wasn't able to work, but I really didn't have a choice," Dingler said.

In the first phase, the majority of the 750,000 square-foot facility will be torn down for retail and commercial space--all together the project expected to take two years.  However, city officials are interested in salvaging a small part of it for a museum. "Maybe something new will come that we can look at, but its just sad, its really, really sad," Dingler said.

"From here to the railroad track, they are talking about building a park, but I don't know what they're going to put out there. Its not going to be the same," Hill said. Tallapoosa Heart Pine Demolition Company is tearing down the mill. Roy Grainger, the company's owner said he's open to input from the community concerning how the property will be redeveloped.

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