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Palmetto Commission gets new look for 2011

PALMETTO -- The Palmetto City Commission has done a little redecorating to ring in the new year.

Or, to be more precise, the commission let the city’s would-be interior designers, Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant and Deputy Clerk Diane Ponder, realize their visions for the chambers.

During the holiday break, the city, on the advice of Groover Bryant and Ponder, refurbished the commission chambers to be more functional and citizen-friendly.

Workers installed new carpet, steam-cleaned the 72 stadium-style seats and rearranged them to create a large center aisle instead of two side aisles, relocated a large lectern and turned a conference table to sit perpendicular to the dais.

Groover Bryant estimated the carpet was at least 15 years old, which showed in the holes and stains that had long dotted the floor. She suggested the rows of seats be staggered so those who attend commission meetings could better see commissioners and presenters.

“It was long overdue,” Groover Bryant said. “I think it’s going to be much nicer. They can see the presentations better.”

The commission will unveil its revamped chambers at 7 p.m. today during the first regular meeting of the year.

Other than the bright blue carpet, the most no- ticeable change is the relo- cation of the lectern from the middle of the room, directly in front of the com- missioners, to a spot next to Ponder’s seat on the dais.

When it sat directly in front of the commissioners, the lectern forced those speaking to the commission to turn their backs to the crowd. It also prevented audience members sitting in the first few rows from seeing a few of the commissioners and Groover Bryant.

“Sometimes the presenters would have to come up and turn around to the audience,” said city Clerk Jim Freeman, who oversaw the renovation.

“Now they can look at both the commission and the audience during presentations. It opens up the space and makes it more efficient and offers better functionality.”

Freeman said the project cost just less than $5,000. It was paid for with funds from the repair and maintenance budget, he said.

Manasota Flooring Inc. installed the new carpet. City employees did the rest of the heavy lifting.

Two commissioners, Mary Lancaster and Brian Williams, stopped in to get an early look and were impressed with the redesign, Freeman said.

“Feedback’s been very good. We’ll see on Monday if they all agree,” he said.

Commissioners may be even more excited by the next item on the spruce-up list.

They all get new chairs. They’ll test prototypes before tonight’s meeting.