Foundation wants to preserve chapel
by Lindsay Field
October 03, 2012 01:07 AM | 1862 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dobbins Chapel (MDJ File)
Dobbins Chapel (MDJ File)
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SMYRNA — Members of the Chapel Foundation at Dobbins Air Reserve Base are reaching out to the community for help in an effort to preserve the 63-year-old building.

The group has also garnered support from most of Cobb’s six city councils in the form of a resolution supporting saving the chapel.

Chief Dick Roberts, who chairs the chapel’s foundation, said they must raise between $80,000 and $100,000 to move the more than 2,000-square-foot building, which otherwise will be demolished to make room for a parking lot.

“We’re faced with a deadline now,” he said. “My understanding is that the bids went out the latter part of September to demolish it. This is kind of a last-resort effort now.”

He said the demolition could cost around $20,000.

There were originally two options to save the chapel — either move a proposed road or raise the money to move the building — but now they are down to just one option.

“We’re ready to move it on a moment’s notice,” Roberts said.

The foundation has been preparing for the demolition since 2005 and has received money from nearly 500 donors to help maintain the building, but none to move it.

Roberts said they have been working with base commanders to try to preserve the chapel.

“I have no complaints against the Air Force except that they want to tear it down,” he said.

Roberts’ history with the chapel goes back to February 1953, when he joined the military.

“This effort is my dedication to my brothers who were in the guard. It’s just something that I’ve supported and have been a part of since then,” he said, adding that the 94th Airlift Wing still uses the facility once a month, along with the guard.

Additionally, there are still weddings held there from time to time, he said.

“It’s not only important to me, it’s important to a lot of people,” he said. “I’ve taken seven years out of my retirement to try and save this chapel. We still believe in it whole-heartedly.”

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, who served on a unit at Dobbins between 1966 and 1970, supports the preservation effort.

Bacon met with each city’s mayor about three weeks ago to encourage them to sign a resolution in support of saving the chapel. Smyrna’s City Council unanimously approved the document Monday night.

“It’s got a lot of history to it,” he said of the chapel. “I’m hoping all the other cities will pass a similar resolution. It does nothing but just let folks know that we’d like to save it. It’s not OK to tear down everything in this day. You can still save some things that have some value.”

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said his Council will consider approving the resolution at their Oct. 15 meeting, and Powder Springs will take it up the same day.

“If it can be preserved, I’d hate to see it torn down,” Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn said.

Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said he’s already signed the resolution and his Council supported him in doing so.

“I’m all about historic preservation,” he said. “(The chapel) is an important asset for Cobb County.”

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin said he plans to sign the resolution.

“Every time you drive down (Highway) 41, you can see it,” he said. “It’s important to our community, so you can look for (the City of) Marietta to follow suit (in supporting the preservation).”

Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins was unavailable for comment.
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October 03, 2012
Why has he waited until 'the last ditch effort' to make this so public? Also, if it's to be preserved for historic value then move it to a more suitable place where tours can be given. Currently, the public doesn't have access to it unless they go through a myriad of paperwork just to get on the base. Do you really want just anyone to have the right to drive on to our local Military Installation? If tax dollars are used to support it, then it has to be open to EVERYONE, that includes any religious group interested in using it, (are you comfortable if a Muslim group wants on our base) because profiling isn't allowed! It's rarely used and unless those supporting it in it's current place has the finances to maintain it, then the SMARTEST thing to do is to MOVE it, which is an option given but not accepted because of one's personal agenda. When pride and personal agendas overrides common sense people turn to telling half-truths. You were given an option to move it, that option didn't have to be offered. Now, each City that has signed the petition to keep it, cough up the finances to keep it on the government property. And exactly how much information did you find out about it (the reasoning) before you jumped at signing that resolution simply because someone told you to or believed a sad, one sided story? We only want the separation of church and state when it's convenient for us. If the government (tax payers dollars) support a religious building then the government has the right to hand down their orders in determining how we use our freedom of religion. And what about those who do not believe in organized religion? Why don't you just move the building, apply for grants, start an ongoing fund-raising campaign, put a donation box in the Chapel, open it for tours, weddings, services for the public (and many small church groups would love to be able to meet there) and think how better it can be used with more access than sticking your head in the sand on only wanting your personal desires met. Common sense, where has it gone?
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