So Long Casino

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So long, casino

October 28, 2003

  • The venerable Radium Springs Casino's obituary has been written for awhile, but the structure is officially coming down.

ALAN MAULDIN
STAFF WRITER

ALBANY Demolition equipment moved in for the kill in recent days and began its task this week of tearing apart Radium Springs Casino.

A pile of aromatic heart pine support boards and brightly colored insulation was all that was left of much of the building Tuesday, when workers spent half the work day in the effort.

But the 76-year-old building's fate had already been decided in 2000, when the owner sold the building to Dougherty County. Federal agencies provided money to purchase the property and remove or destroy buildings on the site.

"It's a sad-looking sight," said Michael Johnson, who lives in the Radium Springs neighborhood and was involved in efforts to have one of Southwest Georgia's most famous landmarks spared. "You see what happens to our history. I just think the whole community ought to be grieving, because it won't be replaced."

Johnson, 62, said that political figures from the local level to Congress failed in helping save the building. He said the Radium Springs Preservation and Development Group perhaps could have done more.

"You can only fight things so long," he said. "We devoted a lot of time to it."

The last glimmer of hope, a request by the Dougherty County Commission for an extension on the Dec. 31 date to close out demolition, was denied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Last year, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources bought 85 acres of timberland, the springs and Radium Springs Creek from Skywater Properties, but there is no money budgeted for planned projects, Russ Ober, regulations supervisor for the agency's Fisheries Management office, said Tuesday.

Ober hopes the community will pitch in for clean up of the property he said has had little upkeep in several years.

"What we feel like we can do is use it for striped bass management and hopefully hold some kids fishing tournaments there this year," he said during a Tuesday visit to the springs. "There's going to be a little bit of mourning, then I hope folks will come in and volunteer to help."

There is no money in the state budget for the springs in the 2003 budget and it will not be in next year's budget, Ober said.

"Right now it's all up in the air," he said. "With the budget crunch we don't have the funds to do anything."

The spring is the southern terminus of a trail that will begin at the Parks at Chehaw and is part of the Albany Downtown Riverfront Master Plan.

Ober hopes that the spring can be a natural learning environment for students from all over Southwest Georgia to study an aquifer system, and Chehaw is interested in working with the state on the project.

Photographed during the destruction

by

Buster Wasden, Class of '55

Photographed after the destruction

by

Adair Mellichamp, Class of '54

The Pavilion

 

Photographed previous to the destruction

by

Al Higginbotham, Class of '54

Pictures taken January 27, 2003

radium14.jpg (11178 bytes) radium15.jpg (10710 bytes) radium16.jpg (12209 bytes) radium17.jpg (11761 bytes)
radium18.jpg (10619 bytes) radium19.jpg (14685 bytes) radium20.jpg (12429 bytes) radium21.jpg (10950 bytes)

radium27.jpg (11992 bytes)

radium13.jpg (13069 bytes)

Photographed by

Jimmy Holland, Class of '58

January 26, 2003

radium22.jpg (14577 bytes)

radium23.jpg (27083 bytes)

radium24.jpg (19913 bytes)

radium25.jpg (17482 bytes)

radium26.jpg (17062 bytes)

Submitted by

Brinson Phillips, Class of '54

radium w island.jpg (33310 bytes)

radium29.jpg (34068 bytes)

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