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Nelson Heights to expand programs

COVINGTON -- Some concerned citizens are getting involved in planning the future of Nelson Heights Community Center.

Washington Street Community Center Inc., the non-profit that has contracted with the Recreation Commission to manage Nelson Heights, invited mothers in the community to a fish fry last Friday to brainstorm about programming that could be offered. About 60 people attended. The meeting was a joint venture between Washington Street and the Family Resource Center and yielded some exciting results, said Bea Jackson, executive director of Washington Street.

"It was a powerful, powerful meeting of the minds. It's so refreshing to see that they want to learn and be a part of shaping the future for the center," Jackson said.

The center opened last year, offering after-school tutorial and GED programs. The GED program graduated 12 and is still ongoing. The after-school program is slated to begin again on Monday, Sept. 12. Registration takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Nelson Heights Community Center, located at 7200 Laseter St., S.W. The cost to attend is $25 and a sliding scale payment plan is in place for families with more than one child.

In addition to these programs, the community pitched ideas for a mother's club; cooking and sewing groups; computer services; literacy and recreation programs; and employment readiness workshops.

"We will meet monthly to hammer out an action plan of how to pull all this together. We realize that is a long list, but we're going to tackle it one activity and program at a time," Jackson said. "This is the right beginning for the right direction."

Programming will be added as funds, staffing and resources become available, she said. County commissioners allocated $64,000 to run the center during the first two years. Jackson said the cost of operating the facility is more than the $32,000 that is available this year. Grants and other resources are being sought, Jackson said.

Nelson Heights community activist Greg Shy has been named facilities manager and a director for the facility will be hired soon, she said.

Volunteers are being sought to help with programming. For more information, call Jackson at 770-786-4002.