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Porterdale: SPLOST funds will help pay for gym renovations

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Editor's Note: This story is part of a multi-part series on projects that will be funded if SPLOST 2011 is approved by voters in the March 15 special election. The SPLOST is expected to generate $57.6 million over a six-year collection period.

PORTERDALE -- Newton County's municipal officials are hoping SPLOST revenues will help complete or get a good head start on some projects they've been pursuing for a long time.

The city of Porterdale's portion of SPLOST funding is $850,000. The majority of that -- $450,000 -- will be used to help pay for the renovation of the Porterdale Gym, which was destroyed by an intentionally set fire in 2005.

"It is a historical site for Newton County and it's also on the National Register of Historic Places," said Mayor Bobby Hamby. "We'd like to get it rebuilt. At a minimum, our goal is to get the roof back on it so it's secured and protected from the elements until we raise the money to totally redo it."

The cost to replace the roof is an estimated $1.2 million; the entire rehabilitation project will likely run $4 million, Hamby said. SPLOST would be a big help, he said, noting that a non-profit group, Friends of Porterdale, along with the city, has raised about $500,000, and grants are currently being sought.

"There's a lot of history in the gym, not just Porterdale's history, but the history of Newton County, so it's an important project for the whole county," Hamby said.

The gym, built in 1939, is where legendary coach B.C. Crowell coached athletics for the Porterdale School System. It has also been used as a practice site for the Newton High School and Georgia Tech basketball teams. The Harlem Globetrotters have performed there, and the Grand Ole Opry held one of its only live broadcasts outside Nashville there.

Once the gym is finished, Porterdale officials hope it will be a multi-use facility, with meeting space for community gatherings, a satellite library and a stage for community plays and entertainment.

The city is also slated to receive $240,000 for transportation projects, which will include improvements to the aging storm drain system and curb and gutter and sidewalk improvements on several streets.

Finally, the city will receive $140,000 for recreation projects, which Hamby defined as purchasing new playground equipment for existing parks and a new park near the Yellow River.

The city of Oxford has been allocated $1,233,050 of revenues if SPLOST is approved. All the funds will be used to replace the city's aging water lines, according to Mayor Jerry Roseberry.

He said the water lines, which are on Emory and Asbury streets, are about 80 years old and made out of cast iron pipe, which rusts away over time.

"They're prone to leak a lot. It's pretty frequent we have to go in there and replace a section of pipe because of age," Roseberry previously told the Citizen. "There's been a lot of work done, but they've never been replaced."

Roseberry said the lines would have to be replaced and moved under the sidewalks because the Department of Transportation doesn't allow lines under highways anymore and that is where these are placed.

The city of Mansfield will receive $252,630 for transportation projects. Mayor Bill Cocchi said the funds will be used to pave portions of several roads, possibly Kellogg Street and Loyd Road, and to make sidewalk improvements.

Staff Reporter Michelle Floyd contributed to this story.