Rendering of the Performing Arts Center planned for the new Orange Beach High/Middle School.By John Mullen

January 17, 2019 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – The Orange Beach City Council voted on Jan. 15 to spend $7.2 million toward the construction of an $8.6 million performing arts building on the campus of a new high-middle school. The Baldwin County Board of Education will pay the remaining $1.4 million.

“I was so happy everybody was in agreement and I think it’s a tremendous step forward for Orange Beach,” Mayor Tony Kennon said. “It’s going to be something special and with us being able to utilize it as we see fit at the school, I would think it’s really going to be a nice community asset.”

Kennon said the center will serve the community in a variety of ways but first and foremost be used by students and faculty of the new school. The new school is expected to open in August of 2020 and Kennon said the performing arts center should be ready then, too.

Orange Beach, Alabama, Mayor Tony Kennon.“Assemblies, anything the teachers need or want, any kind of performance that the school wants to do there,” Kennon said. “They could bring in other schools if they want to utilize it during the day. And, they can schedule other schools on weekends at nights.”

But when the school is not using it the city will have access to the center for public events and other meetings.

“Everybody else will be second to the city’s schedule after the Orange Beach High School itself,” Kennon said. “All types of concerts. We’re really trying to get a community theater going. I just think there are all types of opportunities there for anyone of every age and for entertainment. A concert series, whatever we want to do.”

One group expected to take advantage of the center is the drama class from the city’s afterschool program Expect Excellence. The class is a few weeks away from its first production, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

“We have a strong group of drama kids that have been working since last year and are pretty darn good at it,” Kennon said. “Now they’ve got a place where they can really show their skills in a professional environment. That’s a motivator. When you put on a play you can have 500 people there watching your kids play and not many community theaters can say that.”

There will be room for almost 700 people to performances.

“The way it set up we’ll have the stage, all the audio-visual,” Kennon said. “It will have floor seating that’s called theater seating for about 300 seats. Behind that will be another 300-400 seats that are stadium style.”

The center will be connected to the high school and have space for music students as well.

“It’s going to have a band and chorus room attached to the back of it that will be attached to the school,” he said. “The performing arts center will have separate entrances to the school and to the public so it can be separated at night and weekends from the school itself.”

Kennon said the Baldwin County Board of Education worked closely with the city on what the city saw as priorities for the new building.

“They’ve been really good about working with us,” Kennon said. “None of us have that great of amount expertise but what we told them is what we wanted in the outcome, the number of uses, the number of folks, the setting. They went out and researched it and brought back a set of plans and it’s really nice. The county got their experts and statewide experts from what I understand to look at the performing arts.”

Cindy Veazey has been named principal of the new Orange Beach, Alabama, high school.Site work for the new school is continuing but the frequent winter rains have slowed progress for getting the foundation laid.

“There’s a lot of rain and still a lot of groundwater on the site that’s creating issues with pouring the footers,” Kennon said. “That big old red pile of dirt is just like a big sponge. It’s soaked up a lot of water that’s sitting at about two feet below the surface. It’s just created a nuisance for the contractors but they are working on it. But we all know weather’s weather. That’s just the way it is.”

On Jan. 17 the Baldwin County Board of Education announced that Chris Veazy would be the high school principal and Kyle McCartney would be the middle school principal. Both serve in those capacities now in Gulf Shores but will transfer on Feb. 1 to start making plans for a fall opening of seventh through 10th graders for this fall in Orange Beach.

During the regular session, the council:

Approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of four vehicles for the police department from state bid in the amount of $134,126.

Kyle McCartney was named principal of the new Orange Beach, Alabama, middle school.Approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of a vehicle for the Community Development Department from state bid in the amount of $26,926.     

Approved a resolution declaring certain personal property owned by the City of Orange Beach as surplus and unneeded and authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk to dispose of such property via govdeals.com

Approved a retail beer and wine liquor license for, for Kayden's Candy Factory which recently opened in the old Little New Orleans location.

During the work, session the council also discussed:

A resolution adopting an amending policies on purchases for the city employees to say employees can make purchases of $2,500 or more with a purchase order. Any purchases of $15,000 or more must receive council approval if the new policies are enacted.

A resolution adopting a fixed assets policy for Orange Beach to provide more control and accountability over city assets including infrastructure, buildings and improvements, vehicles and equipment and land.

A resolution awarding the bid for a used full-size SUV for the Administration Department.

A resolution authorizing the purchase of two passenger vans for Camp Sunshine through Sourcewell in the amount of $76,026.

A resolution authorizing execution of a performance contract with Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance for $12,500.