The newly reorganized Nelson Heights Community Center is impressing county commissioners, who have voted to give the center an additional $8,000 for the second half of fiscal year 2014.
Commissioners applauded Commissioner J.C. Henderson for his leadership and fundraising efforts as chairman of the center’s board and said they were pleased with the detailed financial reporting from the center. The compliments were a stark change from past years, when the center had difficulty getting a director and programming in place, and commissioners questioned whether the county was getting a good return on its investment.
The center has a budget of $32,000, but it originally requested $40,000; commissioners said over the summer they would reevaluate the budget request at the end of 2013, and they were impressed enough with that they saw to give the center another $8,000.
The center provides after-school tutoring for area students, as well as entertainment and snacks.
"Once again, I’d like to applaud Commissioner Henderson and his efforts here. I think this is a 10-year, 12-year vision; it’s been quite a journey, and it’s one of those things where you’re all in or you’re not," Commissioner Levie Maddox said. "I think fostering and molding this model helps that particular community, and I’m excited for Commissioner Henderson and the Nelson Heights community."
Commissioner John Douglas said the center is "the epitome of what happens when you have elected officials get involved in their community. I’ve been in the business for some years now, and I think Commissioner Henderson is one of the most involved officials I’ve ever seen in his community, and I think Nelson Heights is a result of that interaction."
Maddox credited Henderson for being an active fundraiser. From July through October, the Nelson Heights center received $3,075 in donations from local businesses and individuals, according to paperwork distributed to commissioners. More donations came in over the holidays. The center also received $964 in rental fees through October.
All told, including the $2,667 monthly appropriation the center receives from the county, the center has received $14,917 in revenue through October and had $15,444 in expenses, with the biggest costs being contract labor (the center’s director) and legal expenses. Other costs included utilities, minor building repairs, grounds maintenance, telephones, food and other supplies.
Henderson said Tuesday the center had taken in $21,000 in revenue to date and spent $20,000, but based on projections by county finance officials, the center would still end up with a $5,000 deficit at the current $32,000 funding level.
County Chairman Keith Ellis, a non-voting member on the center’s board of directors, said the center has made good strides and he asked the board to strongly consider the request for more funding.
Commissioner Nancy Schulz said the Nelson Heights Community Center was reporting at a high level, and she wanted all of the other groups the county gives money to — a variety of groups including the library system, senior services, the chamber of commerce, DFACS and several others — to also give quarterly reports of their finances and operations. Schulz said that level of reporting is important because the groups receive taxpayer dollars.
Henderson said the center has more plans, including getting a GED program up and running.
Veda Miller, the center’s director, was hired in September and has been credited with much of the improvement. She said previously the center partners with staff at Middle Ridge and Livingston elementary schools, who have noted behavioral and academic improvement in the students who attend the center.
Miller said previously the center is always in need of volunteers and donations of supplies.