Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 21, 2012

Cain Center not young at 30

Director says many repairs must be made, and at a high cost

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Cain Center in Athens turns 30-years-old in 2013, and is showing its age, Director Tere Lawyer told the Athens Kiwanis, Tuesday.

The center was built after a gift from Effie and Wofford Cain at a price of about $8.5 million. It was their way of showing their love for the city and its people.

“For 30 years, we’ve had this beautiful center,” Lawyer said. “When you’re 30, you think you’re pretty young, fancy and smart, but buildings don’t usually feel that way.  They start to have a lot of little cracks and tears and holes that need repair.” 

Lawyer was on the Cain Center board before being chosen to head the operation earlier this year.

“It’s been a real challenge, but I’m enjoying it,” Lawyer said.

The Center has been closed for Thanksgiving week to allow time for some major scrubbing at the facility. Lawyer said a little paint and a good cleaning are improving the appearance of the Center, but some problems go much deeper, and will cost a lot of money to fix.

The Murchison Foundation donated money for the Center to do a study of what improvements have to be done, and what they might cost. The prognosis was that it will cost several million dollars to make the needed changes.

The biggest expense, Lawyer said, will be repairs to the swimming pool.

“The swimming pool was revolutionary 30 years ago, but we can’t even buy parts for most of the equipment now,” Lawyer said.

Years of using chlorine to clean the water have taken their toll on pipes and electrical wiring. Lawyer would like to go to a salt water system.

Another big challenge is making the center ADA compliant. The center has avoided making sweeping overhauls to date, because it has been “grandfathered” as a building that was in existence before the disabilities act became law.

“The Cain Center logo will be changed for the 30th birthday year,” Lawyer said. “And special events are being planned for each month of 2013.”