Gregors: Busy spring ahead for Thronateeska

ALBANY, Ga. -- Thronateeska Heritage Center will have a full dance card this Spring, its executive director told the Downtown Sertoma Club on Thursday.

Tommy Gregors said the organization is poised for a busy year and has already embarked on what he said he hopes will be an exciting Spring at the museum and science center.

One of the biggest events of the first quarter will come Saturday as former NASA Astronaut Norm Thagard -- a shuttle commander and the first American to board a Russian space vessel -- gives a question-and-answer session following a presentation at the museum's Wetherbee Planetarium at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

Thagard was invited to Albany to participate in the Albany Symphony's Masterworks Series which is focusing this year on Gustav Holst's piece, "The Planets."

Following his presentation at the museum, Thagard will help narrate the program performed by the symphony during its show at the Albany Municipal Auditorium on Saturday evening.

Gregors said the museum will move from that, to preparing for Albany's Downtown Mardi Gras Festival and Rock, Roll 'N' Run weekend beginning March 4.

Now in its ninth year, the festival features a Boston-qualifier Marathon, professional and semi-pro bicycle races through downtown and a street festival that brought roughly 50,000 people downtown last year.

The museum has also recently added an "Air and Space" component to the science museum and is currently displaying a textile exhibit at the history center in the old train depot.

But, perhaps the biggest event on the horizon for the center are projects funded through the passage of a special local option sales tax.

Those projects include a planned 10,000 square-foot expansion of the Fryer-Merritt House to include warehouse and archival space for vital historical documents from the city of Albany, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Dougherty County Commission.

Thronateeska is digitizing documents from local governments in an effort to preserve them and make them permanently available to researchers, genealogists, and the general public, he said.

Gregors has said the center hopes to expand that portion of the its operations to other governments in Southwest Georgia.

Additionally, the center will use some of the SPLOST funding to increase its warehouse space to hold its growing number of exhibits.