PORTERDALE, Ga. — Boys & Girls Club officials are targeting Porterdale for a permanent location for its Newton club that could serve as the eventual hub for a series of satellite locations within the county.
Bob Mackey, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Georgia, said the organization is working with Porterdale city officials to locate a building to replace its current location in portable structures in west Newton.
“What we’re attempting to do is to serve more kids, more often,” Mackey said. “It boils down to what’s best for the community.”
Mackey said he also envisioned having satellite locations to serve more areas of the county than just the westside where its Brown Bridge Road location operates.
A new main location and satellite locations will allow it to offer a drone certification program for teens, which is already offered, as well as fashion design and development, workforce development, financial education, sports programming and more in more locations, he said.
About 75 club members attend programming at the Newton club, which only serves teens ages 14 to 18, Mackey said.
“We’ve outgrown the space,” he said.
Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman said she was happy the city was working with the organization to find a location closer than the current site.
She said the club could serve Porterdale youth without the need for buses to transport them.
City Manager Frank Etheridge said work to locate a building was in the “very early” stages.
The Newton club is among five the Madison-based Boys & Girls Club of North Central Georgia organization operates. Others are in Monroe, Greensboro, Madison and Barnesville.
Members of Newton’s civic, government and business communities worked for about a decade to establish a Newton Boys & Girls club before it opened in June 2019 in two temporary buildings at 13634 Brown Bridge Road.
“We went in with the ‘temporary’ mindset,” Mackey said.
Mackey said the club was considering existing space rather than new construction.
He said he hoped the Newton club could eventually serve around 300 members and expand to include children 13 and younger.
A variety of activities and programs are offered at the Newton club, such as the drones course that is designed to prepare club members to work for any number of companies or government agencies, Mackey said.
However, he said expanding the Newton club’s offerings will require funding.
“Growing takes dollars,” he said.
The club is in the midst of its annual Duck Derby fundraiser set for Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. and broadcast on Facebook Live.
Organizers give a number to each duck and send the numbers randomly to those who buy tickets.
It then awards cash prizes to those given rubber ducks that finish first through third in a race of ducks floating downstream.
In past years, the event was on the Yellow River in Porterdale — including 2020 when it was done virtually for the first time. Mackey said it was moved this year to allow other areas the club serves to host the Derby.
The Newton club hosted its inaugural New Year’s Eve gala fundraiser in 2019 with plans for making it an annual event. It was forced to cancel the 2020 event because of COVID-19 safety concerns.
Mackey said he still believed 2017 SPLOST funds of $495,000 for a “Westside Youth Outreach Facility” could be used for a club location if it establishes a satellite location in west Newton.
The Newton County Commission earlier this year briefly debated whether the funds should go to the nonprofit club without the county government having some control over its programming.
For more information on the club and its fundraisers, call 770-867-8034 or visit www.bgcncg.com.