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Recreation commission gets new home
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Newton County Recreation Commission employees are no longer packed into the Turner Lake Complex after some officials moved their offices into the two-story home near the complex's entrance that was purchased in late 2009.

The 2,900-square-foot house was converted into six offices, a receptionist's desk and a boardroom. It also has an attached garage and two detached storage buildings for rental furniture, equipment and vehicles. The recreation commission purchased the house and 3 acres from a subsidiary of the Arnold Fund for $300,000 in late 2009, Sunbelco executive Charlie Tuller said Tuesday. Sunbelco was the property's leasing agent.

The previous property owner had discussed placing a senior high-rise facility on the property. Tuller said the Arnold Fund trustees did not think that was a good use for the property and agreed to a land swap for the property. The commission agreed to a lease-purchase agreement with the Arnold Fund.

Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey said the county wanted to ensure that the property fit into the existing park.

"Money is tight, we realize that, but we considered the fact that (the development of) the property could have been detrimental to the park and Turner Lake Road. I think the Board of Commissioners wanted to keep the beauty of the house intact, and not have a high-rise senior center or something else the park could not support," Hailey said.

He said the commission recently finished paying off a lease-purchase agreement for the lights at City Pond Park and will roll over that money for the house agreement.
One of the biggest benefits is that employees are no longer working on top of each other, Hailey said.

Hailey, fiscal officer Greg Sullivan, marketing coordination Carol Rooks and Tamara Richardson, consultant for the Miracle League of Newton County project, moved into the new facility, which has a scenic view of Turner Lake. Rooks said she wouldn't be surprised if productivity had increased 200 percent since she moved to the quieter office.

The remaining employees at the complex were able to move into their own offices, and the cubicles will still be available for part-time employees as needed.

"To have their own office, privacy, it meant a lot to them. With the way the county is going with the cuts and increase in unpaid holidays, this is a nice perk for them," Hailey said, adding the increased productivity is required, because the commission has cut staff while adding oversight of new parks and facilities.

The commission board will also have its monthly meeting at the house. In addition to the purchase, the commission has been clearing out the brush from the land around the house.

The next project for the commission will be to clear out the wooded area next to the ball fields at the entrance to the trails, pour some concrete slabs and place some additional picnic tables there.