Contractor: DHS saucer can be saved

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 18, 2014
The DHS flying saucer entrance. Photo provided by Terry Kearns

The DHS flying saucer entrance. Photo provided by Terry Kearns

City Schools of Decatur held a public input meeting on Thursday, Aug. 14, about plans to renovate the city’s high schools and middle school.

A few dozen residents attended. The contractor, Winter Construction, said the company could seek construction permits as early as March 2015. Residents asked several questions about the project, but no one addressed what has long been one of the most debated issues: the high school’s flying saucer entrance.

Winter Construction is taking a fresh look at the plans for adding classroom space. Giffney Nagel, Director of Marketing for Winter Construction, said the saucer can be saved if that’s what the community wants. She said even if the saucer – also referred to as the spaceship – were demolished, the company would “like to pay homage to it” in some way. Nagel said the entrance, constructed in 1964, has “good bones” from an architectural standpoint.

“It can be kept,” she said.

Winter Construction will have a concept design in place by the end of September, according to a timeline provided at the meeting. There will be another community meeting before the company develops a Phase 1 schematic design by the end of December. CSD borrowed $18 million in certificates of participation money, referred to as COPS, to pay for the projects at Decatur High and Renfroe Middle. The School Board recently awarded more than $1 million in contracts for these projects.

Some of the questions residents did ask at the input meeting involved what will happen to the master plan if the city of Decatur continues to annex residential properties. There did not appear to be any representatives from the city of Decatur at the Aug. 14 meeting, as one resident noted.

DHS Garden Club President Zoey Laird asked that the plans accommodate the Decatur Pollinator Garden, located at the corner of Commerce Drive and West Howard Avenue in Decatur.

“For me, it’s really important that we keep that area,” she said. “A lot of work and a lot of time has gone into it.”

There will be another input meeting on Aug. 19 at the Renfroe Middle School Library.

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Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • GPMeg

    Please please please save the saucer! I have so many fond memories there, including watching a tornado form over the school through the windows at the top! Fingers crossed…

  • Winter Construction

    In order to offer more accurate information regarding the article
    entitled “Contractor: DHS Saucer Can Be Saved”, please note the quotes from
    Giffney Nagel, employee of Winter Construction, were taken out of context and
    came from her personal community investment in the City of Decatur; they are in
    no way a reflection of the direction of the in-progress design intent by Winter
    Construction, Cooper Carry, City Schools of Decatur, nor its staff.

    provide additional clarification, the more prudent driving forces, which will
    ultimately determine the direction of the design decisions behind the Decatur
    High School renovation, are the DHS program and Georgia Department of Education
    requirements along with phased funding. Winter Construction is currently in the
    initial programming stage of the project. Cooper Carry, the architect on our
    design build team, is working diligently with Winter and CSD to explore any and
    all options to ensure that we maximize the budget and provide the best possible
    facility with the funds available for Decatur High School and the local Decatur

    • Giffney Nagel was being interviewed by two reporters when she made her comments: myself and the AJC.. The reporter for the AJC, Bill Banks, asked her a direct question about the “saucer” structure at Decatur High during our conversation, and I quoted her accurately, within the context of her answer to that question. The report is accurate.

      • Sine qua non

        So now I fear Giffney Nagel is in big trouble because her boss thinks she overstepped her boundaries by saying she hoped the “saucer” feature could be somehow reflected in the renovated structure even if the “saucer” itself takes a dive.

        Oh, brother. Winter Construction, give this woman a break. That saucer feature is classic mid-century detailing and the most interesting thing about that building. Trust me, saving it will endear you to many more people than it will annoy. The question is, will the annoyed people be the monied and powerful? if so, the saucer is probably toast.


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