How many of us would venture down South Magnolia Street for an iconic PDI burger and gaze across the street at the mammoth brick building sitting in disrepair? Many likely remember when a thriving industry was contained within its walls, only to have it shuttered for years.

Slowly over the past three years or so, we started to see activity at that old building. Workers were slowly transforming it piece by piece, seeing it as the jewel it could be one day. As each day passed, more and more of the building began to be repaired. Each setback overcome, much like the lives of the people responsible for bringing that old factory back to life.

And now look at it — another jewel in the Laurel landscape thanks to the vision of Richard Headrick, Hellfighters and the Mission at the Cross. Most people here know of the Mission and how it takes men suffering from addictions of many forms, helps them rebuild their lives and return to being productive members of society. Those who have successfully kicked their addictions with help from the Mission will speak openly and honestly about their lives — messes rebuilt.

The Leader-Call had been wanting to tell the story of that building and its transformation for many months, but the timing just never seemed right ... until this year when the newest addition to our editorial team, Tori Ellis, was able to tell that story. It fit just right with our theme, “What’s Old is New Again.”

The work on the new Hellfighters is not complete yet and we are certainly excited at the prospects of a restaurant inside. But as those at the Mission know, turning an eyesore into a jewel is much like turning coal into a diamond —  it takes patience and time. 

If you haven’t been to the new Hellfighters yet, do yourself a favor and stop by. It’s an inspiration, to say the least, on what is possible.

A happy birthday

It tickled our heartstrings to see a large group gathered at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art for a special program kicking off the Leontyne Price exhibit break into a rendition of “Happy Birthday!”

On Sunday, Price celebrated her 92nd birthday. The internationally acclaimed opera singer was born in 1927 in Laurel and began singing in the church choir. Her rise to international prominence was nothing short of astounding.

The museum exhibit that now showcases her life and career is, similarly, amazing and a can’t-miss for local residents and tourists. Watching a diverse group of people from all races, ages and social statuses singing together a rendition of happy birthday should bring a smile to everyone’s face.

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