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New Pembroke City Hall marks grand opening
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By Alex Floyd.

Elected officials, staff, project partners, friends and well-wishers gathered on the front lawn of the new Pembroke City Hall on Thursday to see Mayor Judy B. Cook, Mayor Pro-tem Tiffany Walraven and Ellis Floyd “unofficial building inspector” cut the ribbon.

The last time an event like this occurred, Cook was a utility clerk, Walraven’s grandfather was Mayor and little Ellis was over 4 decades in the future.

A more beautiful day couldn’t be asked for as the crowd toured the new facility that will house a growing city staff in a city almost guaranteed growth in the near future.

According to Mayor Cook, the new City Hall is the first building project that the City has done on its own completely through SPLOST funds with no state of federal strings attached. Financing is provided through the Georgia Municipal Association which allows cities to fund brick and mortar projects throughout the state.

In all, the project cost about $2 mlilion.

The former City Hall will not go to waste however. It already houses municipal court and the offices and payment counter will transition into a police station. The building vacated by the police dept downtown is now housing Bryan County EMS dayshift. In the last few years, the Fire Dept. moved into and renovated the former Georgia Forestry unit, improvements were made to the Public Works shop and a second water tank was brought on-line. Pembroke appears to be better housed and better prepared to serve a growing population than it has ever been in its 120 year history.

The City Hall building sits on one of the most visible lots in town. A triangle at the junction of Strickland Street and Ga Hwy 67. 67 sees 3,000 car trips per day including troop movements from Fort Stewart. It will be something that Mayor and Council agree the community and the region will be able to point to with great pride. Architectural inspiration is a nod to the cities roots as a railroad depot community in the late 19th to early 20th century. Architect Todd Naugle of Lott and Barber, at the insistence of city staff, studied Heritage Bank downtown when designing the building.

One of the challenges facing the project was soils. Engineer Marcus Sack of ME Sack and contractor John Lavender of Lavender and Associates had to remove over four feet of substandard soil and put back over six feet per a Whitaker Labs Geotech report. Amazingly, even with those difficulties, hurricane season, a pandemic, and an unprecedented material and labor shortage, the entire project groundbreaking to ribbon cutting was eleven months. Two highlights that the City officials and staff had wanted for some time was a drive-thru for utility payments and work orders and a digital message- board sign. The drive thru system in Claxton’s new city hall was studied and shown to be extremely efficient. The drive thru layout is designed to circle on and off of Highway 67 to not put additional traffic in the Strickland Street neighborhood. The message- board sign can be controlled from inside the building. It’ll announce upcoming meetings and events 24-7.

Mayor Tiffany Walraven summed it up well, “Today was a momentous day as we cut the ribbon on our new City Hall. I am honored to be part of this occasion. We are blessed here in our city with this new facility to accommodate the growth of our staff and community.” Ellis Floyd who at 3 years old has watched the construction from start to finish added, “I’m so excited. I put on a bow-tie so me and Ju-Ju (Mayor Judy Cook) could cut the ribbon with the big scissors.”

Editor’s note: Full disclosure, Alex Floyd was city administrator of Pembroke for a portion of the time the city spent planning its new city hall. Ellis Floyd is his son.

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Ellis Floyd, “unofficial building inspector,” helps Pembroke Mayor Pro Tem Tiffany Walraven and Mayor Judy Cook cut the ribbon on the city’s new City Hall. Photo provided.
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