NEW ELLENTON — Good things are happening locally, and there will be more to come.


On Sunday afternoon, New Ellenton Mayor Vernon Dunbar delivered that positive message during the grand opening celebration at the newly renovated City Hall near the corner of Main Street and Pine Hill Avenue.


“This is a milestone,” he said, before using a pair of scissors to cut a red ribbon.


The short ceremony had more than one purpose because it also was a time to recognize two other nearby projects. Evans Field, which is located behind City Hall, has a new restroom facility, and the work is almost done on New Ellenton's new Community Center on Pine Hill Avenue. The community center will replace the New Ellenton Civic Center, which is located on Oak Ridge Avenue and will be used for storage space.


“Our newly renovated City Hall is really impressive,” Dunbar said. “I've been smiling all week about the results of the construction. Stewart Builders did an outstanding job.”


Guests at the grand opening included S.C. Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, and S.C Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken. Ted Felder, Aiken/Barnwell Regional Office director for U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., also was on hand.


“This has been a long time in coming,” said Eartha Rogers, a member of the New Ellenton City Council, of the newly renovated city hall. “We've worked very hard on this, and we've finally got it. This building is 100 percent different now. It looks like a new building.”


The February ice storm delayed the completion of the new community center, which will have a large open meeting space that will hold 270 or so people, according to Dunbar.


“We're about three weeks behind, but it's understandable that Aiken Electric Cooperative chose to get the power back for people that lost their service before they took care of the new service at our community center,” Dunbar said. “But everything is looking good now.”


The original estimated combined cost of the city hall renovation, new community center and new bathroom facility was more than $900,000.


“We added a couple of things, and it will come out to be just over $1 million all told,” Dunbar said. “I think we were pretty thrifty.”


As for the future, “we've got a lot more planned,” Dunbar promised. “The Urban Land Institute is coming in to help us with some planning, and we are undertaking a beautification project for Highway 19. We've also got some neighborhood revitalization plans going, and we're looking at a sewer expansion.”


Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013.