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Posted: September 17, 2009 1:30 a.m.

Future of NHCC debated again

Recreation Commission could take over operation and funding

While the county commissioners continue to debate the future of the recently completed Nelson Heights Community Center, the possibility has arisen that the center could be taken over by the Recreation Commission.

On Tuesday night, the Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to have the Recreation Commission board look into the situation to see if it would be willing and able to run the center from its budget.

The NHCC was completed a couple of months ago, but after the years of delays, the original purpose and function of the building was called into question. The most important question is who is going to operate and fund the center. Originally, District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson wanted the center to be run by a non-profit board of directors, and partially funded by revenue the center could bring in as well as by county appropriations money.

However according to records, the BOC never actually voted to set up a non-profit, 501(c)3, nor did it specify how the center would be run and operated. The center was approved by residents in the 2005 special local options sales tax vote, but District 1 Commissioner said that the wording of the SPLOST only specified that the county was to buy land in District 4 and build the center.

“From my perspective, I feel that the Board of Commissioners has fulfilled its obligation to voters of Newton County by approving the purchase of the land and the construction of the building,” Ewing said, adding that he thought it should be entirely funded by renting it out to interested groups.

In an attempt to settle the debate and get the center up and running, Hailey said that he would discuss the idea of the Recreation Commission taking over the center with the commission’s board of directors at its Sept. 28 meeting.

“I think this a great project and we need to get the logistics worked out. I can’t speak for the (Recreation Commission board), but I serve at your pleasure, and if you commission us to do it, we will run that facility like we run Tuner Lake or any facility,” Hailey said.

For more information on this story read Friday’s Covington News.
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