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Buildings may be gone but the spirit lives on

It’s disheartening, to say the least that, demolition has begun on Langdale Mill. It’s the last link to our local textile heritage and when it’s gone, all of the historic West Point Manufacturing Company plants in Chambers County will be history.

It’s unfortunate but inevitable. It makes no sense to keep it sitting there if it cannot be transformed into something new that can at least break even. It costs the City of Valley around $60,000 a year just to have it sitting there vacant. There are costs for insurance, utilities, security and so on. If a water pipe on the mill site bursts, the city incurs the cost of having it repaired.

Should it sit there for the next 10 years, that’s $600,000 in public money that could have been put to better use.

City officials deserve much credit for going to great lengths to find a new use for the building. There were lots of good ideas suggested, and a number of them might have worked had they been attempted. The problem is the initial investment somebody would have to come up with. That would be in the range of $12 to 15 million.

No one was willing to step forward and take that kind of risk.

The same applies to other historic buildings that have come down or are about to. Bethlehem Church on River Road in Valley was an historic treasure in every sense of the word. It dated to the 1870s and had a Greek Revival look about it. The grand old building was in an advanced state of decline and had it been allowed to sit there indefinitely, it surely would have fallen in the not-too-distant future.

We can also add River View Gym to the list of buildings on the way out. River View has lost so much over the years. The River View Hotel, the theater, drug store, Hunt’s Store, a post office and now Riverdale Mill are among the buildings that are no more. Thank goodness River View still has the boat landing, the little park by the dam, the River View school building and some really nice churches, great people and that old spirit of RIV-vu.

None of us can cling to our past. We can appreciate what our forebears experienced and what they left us. They wanted us to have a better life than they did. We can honor their legacy by building a world that will be better for future generations.

We can buy in to our past with the “Strength Woven In” mindset. You can take the mill buildings out of the Valley, but you can’t take the pride, the honesty and the work ethic out of the people who live here. You can’t ask anyone to work harder than Valley people do. You can’t ask anyone to give it all they’ve got the way Valley people do, and you can’t ask anyone to give a better day’s work than do the folks who live along the middle stretch of the Chattahoochee River.