Miracle League Consultant Tamara Richardson and Tommy Hailey discuss ongoing construction of the complex at City Pond Park. Hailey is the former director of the Recreation Commission and serves on the Miracle League board. Hailey brought his vision for a field to serve special needs children to the Recreation Commission board in 2008, “So he’s the reason we’re going to have this wonderful treasure in this community,” Richardson said. (Staff Photos: Crystal Tatum)
COVINGTON - More than $420,000 has been spent with 23 local businesses on the Miracle League field, Consultant Tamara Richardson reported to county commissioner Tuesday night.
Richardson and Project Managers Tom Garrett and Debbie Bell gave the board an update on the project at the request of Commissioner Levie Maddox.
Maddox said at the board’s last meeting that he wanted local businesses to be involved in the project and requested that a low bid of $31,000 for roof installation on the concession stand by PK Consruction out of Loganville be tabled. Two local companies also submitted bids. Outback Companies out of Oxford bid $35,500 and SteelCo Buildings Inc. out of Covington bid $35,650.
Richardson presented commissioners with a list of local businesses that have been used during the project that included the dollar amount spent with each one. A total of $420,328.89 has been spent with local businesses so far, and Richardson said more dollars will be spent with several of the companies.
Following the presentation, Maddox made the motion to accept the bid by PK Construction, which was unanimously approved.
The lion’s share of funding for the entire project will be $1.5 million in SPLOST dollars. After county commissioners agreed no SPLOST projects would be bonded, Newton Federal Bank agreed to loan the nonprofit the money so that construction could begin before all the SPLOST money was collected. The nonprofit is responsible for paying all interest in the loan; no SPLOST funds will be used, Richardson said.
Including SPLOST money, the available budget for the project is $1,636,592, including grants and private donations.
The nonprofit fundraising group has raised more than $491,000, and more than half of that has been set aside and earmarked, but a portion has been used for operating expenses for the nonprofit over the last four years, including Richardson’s salary and purchasing coffee for inmates on the Department of Corrections construction crew, she said in a follow-up interview.
“Without the involvement of those two groups that I just mentioned, the Department of Corrections and Newton Federal, none of us would be here today,” Richardson said. “It was truly a Godsend that both of those groups … stepped up to help us.”
The Department of Corrections is providing free labor, saving 35 to 40 percent on construction costs, Richardson said.
“Yes, the rain has caused a little bit of a delay but that’s OK because free is free, and the labor from the Department of Corrections is free,” Richardson said.
Thus far, $175,221 has been raised for the playground that will be accessible for both special needs and able-bodied children. That money is included in the more than $490,000 raised by the nonprofit.
Richardson said she is awaiting word on two grants that would total more than $80,000.
In addition to the Miracle field, it’s hoped that a new 225-foot artificial field can be created for Recreation Commission baseball, but that will depend on what funds are left in the budget once the Miracle field and accessory structures and playground are completed.
Richardson reported that there are 2,538 special needs children in the Newton County public school system. Miracle fields typically draw from a 60-mile radius, so children from Morgan, Walton and Jasper counties are expected to play there as well. This will be the first therapeutic recreational program in Newton.
Opening day will be in April, she said.