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Posted: August 29, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Community center at Nelson Heights celebrates grand opening today

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The grand opening of the long-awaited Nelson Heights Community Center will take place today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the center, located at the intersection of Laseter and Puckett streets.

An official ribbon cutting will take place around 3:15 p.m. and several community leaders will give speeches, including Washington Street Community Center Director Bea Jackson, whose organization will operate the center and run its programming.

Other speakers will include Newton Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey, Dr. Melvin O. Baker and Johnny Pressley, chairman of the WSCC and recreation commission boards respectively, and county Chairman Kathy Morgan.

"We’re excited to get everything behind us and get this center opened up for the people of District 4. We’re really excited to be able to partner with Washington Street, and Bea Jackson will do a great job of running the center’s programs," Hailey said Saturday.

District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson spearheaded the center’s creation, including getting it placed on the 2005 SPLOST and will perform a dedication. Rev. James Russell will say the invocation.

The public is invited and will be able to tour the interior of the center; light refreshments will be provided. In addition, Jackson said information about the center’s programming will be available and she will also be looking for numerous volunteers to help staff the keystone tutorial program and other programs.

WSCC will receive up to $32,000 per year from the recreation commission in order to run programs and pay for routine maintenance and utilities. The $64,000 was originally appropriated for the NHCC in the county’s FY2009 budget and has been added to the recreation commission’s budget. The building has an area of about 3,000 square feet.

County Special Projects Coordinator Cheryl Delk said in June that the county had spent $555,412 to build and furnish the center. The NHCC has sat vacant since it was completed in the summer of 2009.

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