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Looking ahead: Face-lifts on way for downtown Jefferson

POSTED: January 3, 2009 11:56 p.m.
BRANDEE A. THOMAS /The Times

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This year will be a big one for downtown Jefferson, as both a fixture to downtown and the general area will receive face-lifts.

In March, the Crawford W. Long Museum will reopen after several months and $200,000 worth of renovations.

The museum, located on College Street, is named after Dr. Crawford W. Long, who used sulfuric ether to perform the first-ever surgery using anesthesia in medical history. The surgery was performed in 1842 in Jefferson, where Long owned a medical practice.

In addition to the visual renovations that the 1880s two-story museum has undergone, the new facility will also feature new exhibits, in addition to the original displays, featuring some of Long's personal artifacts and early medical equipment.

Though the museum renovations will be completed in 2009, the renovations for the general downtown Jefferson area will just be kicking off.

City officials hope to start the Jefferson Streetscapes Project in February. Under this project, which is expected to cost around $600,000, officials are planning to bring back some of the charm of the 1800s, while increasing modern conveniences.

The project, which will be centered at the intersection of Washington, Lee and Sycamore streets, will include the addition of crosswalks, wider sidewalks and more plantings.

In order to bring more historic charm to the area, city officials are also planning to remove the overhead traffic signals. Those traffic lights will be replaced with signals that will be mounted on wrought-iron styled poles with matching street lights along the nearby sidewalks.

While the downtown renovations are changes that will be visible in 2009, there are also changes in the works that aren't so apparent.

Jefferson Police Chief Joe Wirthman has several projects in mind that he said will add to the overall safety of the city.

"We want to keep adding neighborhood watch programs throughout the year. We also want to upgrade our technology and equipment to help us continue to be an effective department, but considering these tough economic times, we want to be able to do that within our budget," Wirthman said.

Wirthman said he would also like to get his department more involved in the area school system.

"I'd like for us to start a DUI intervention program with the youth," he said. "For the program, we would work with the schools' driver education classes. We'd give kids a pair of ‘beer goggles,' which simulate being under the influence of alcohol, and let them drive through an obstacle course on a golf cart. This helps to show the students what could really happen if they were to engage in underage drinking and try to drive a vehicle while they are intoxicated. The goal here is to deter that behavior, which would in turn help to make the streets safer for all drivers."



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