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Community center to break ground

COVINGTON - The groundbreaking for the Nelson Heights Community Center in Commission District 4 will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, and the public is invited to attend.

The center, to be located at the corner of Laseter and Puckett streets, is a project spearheaded by District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson and partially funded through special purpose local option sales tax revenues.

Henderson has said he hopes it will serve as a community gathering spot and provide a safe place for children to study and play.

The land, approximately 8 acres, and building, are being paid for through $500,000 in SPLOST funds.

The building will include a meeting room for 75 to 100 people, a catering kitchen, restrooms, a 200 square-foot office and storage space.

The Covington City Council has agreed to donate .48 acres and give $21,000 worth of in-kind services to the project.

The property donated by the city could in the future be used for a pavilion and basketball court, which are not included in the current budget, according to Cheryl Delk, special projects coordinator for Newton County.

The city also agreed to give $21,000 in in-kind services related to the extension of a waterline, installation of a water meter vault, a water meter and fire hydrant, including the cost of labor and materials.

Eventually, Henderson said he would like to have ball fields and a tot-lot with play equipment and picnic tables at the site. Those associated costs are also not included in the current budget. He is also looking into programming options, he said.

Henderson said he would like to see the site used for recreational purposes and an after school program, similar to what is offered at Washington Street Community Center on School Street, also in District 4.

He said the center is especially needed by the children in the Nelson Heights and Green Acres neighborhoods.

"I've been working on this for a long time. I'm very excited about it, especially for the community," Henderson said.

He said the center could be open by August.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.