Before the Newton County Recreation Commission decided whether it would operate the Nelson Heights Community Center, it naturally had a few questions, including
“If the Recreation Commission decides to take this facility, will there be any outside pressure from established 501c3 or district four commissioner once we take over?”
Recreation Commission members said they simply wanted to understand the organization, but District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson said he was personally offended by what he felt was the implication that his involvement was not wanted.
“We had community meetings and this is what they (the community) said they wanted and to not have my input when I’m the commissioner … that’s what I was offended by,” Henderson said Thursday. “I thought it was unfair that they didn’t want anything to do with it.”
Henderson has been the center’s biggest proponent, and he is the one who initially suggested that the Recreation Commission run the center at the Sept. 15 Board of Commissioner meeting. However, on Tuesday night he asked the BOC to rescind that Sept. 15 motion.
“My motion was made so that we could look at (the center) objectively and take out the politics, but it seemed like they didn’t want me or anyone else to look at it, and so I wanted someone else to make the motion,” Henderson said. “If (they’re) going to take over the facility and be run this way, then you make the motion and work it out how you want.”
However, the BOC voted not to rescind the motion, with Henderson and Commissioner Simmons in favor and Commissioners Mort Ewing, Nancy Schulz and Tim Fleming in opposition to the rescinding.
Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey said the commission never meant to offend Henderson, but they needed to know that they would in charge if they were expected to run the NHCC.
“There are so many rumors about what to put in (the center) and what not to put in. I think our board, if we were going to go in and were going to run programs, we would want Commissioner Henderson to be a part of that,” Hailey said. “We just wanted to make sure the Recreation Commission was making the decision on what programs were going to be used for.”
In an official memo from the commission the concern is phrased: “First and foremost, the Recreation Commission has to have the assurance that there will be no outside interference from the Nelson Heights 501C3 Board.” Hailey said several commission members expressed the concern, and even after the commission met on Sept. 28, they were still confused about the 501(c)3’s role.
“All I know is that our recreation board wants to make sure if we take over and operate the center, they (the Board of Commissioners) give us a clear definition,” Hailey said.
A work session between the BOC and Recreation Commission was scheduled for Tuesday, but it has been tabled until the next meeting, Hailey said. The work session will also cover other important questions related to the NHCC’s current and future funding.