In preparation for a booming spring and summer market, Perry Wellness Center is in the process of constructing a new greenhouse. The 80’ x 30.6’ construction will have a firm foundation, thanks to the expertise of two gentlemen who are now hard at work.
Lead masonry technician Lawrence C. Smith, Jr., and assistant Fred E. Dennis have decades of combined experience in masonry work and carpentry. Smith, 83, and Dennis, 68, have worked in the field on and off for 35 years. One of Smith’s major undertakings was the conversion of a military base on Southerfield Road into what is now the thriving South Georgia Technical College.
"That was a challenging project because we had some government guidelines that we had to follow,” Smith recalls with a smile.
Many years ago, he also travelled to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to do masonry work. “I worked there for months and months and made little money,” he notes. “I had to call my father for money to come home.” But since these earlier days, his skills have served Smith well. He has served as a residential/business contractor and built over 40 homes.
Dennis enjoys working with his older, experienced colleague. “I am here with the master,” he jokes. Both Dennis and Smith take obvious pride in their work as they demonstrate the correct way to spread mortar.
“It is important on the base courses and the entire wall to spread adequate mortar for the best and strongest construction,” Smith explains. “I remember we built a large 4’ brick wall, and the wind and drying moisture removed the mortar from one side – and the wall soon toppled! That was over 50 years ago and a real learning experience. I now am sure to use enough cement at the right consistency.”
Listening to such stories, one can easily draw a parallel between the importance of craftsmanship in building structures and establishing a stable foundation in recovery.
As the weather improves, progress quickens on the greenhouse foundation. In the photo, Fred Dennis, left, and Lawrence Smith stand at the completed first corner, as they prepare to erect scaffolding.