'Twerk' party held at Nelson Heights

COVINGTON — Nelson Heights Community Center drew a large crowd on Friday through a social media campaign that promoted young females to “twerk” or get kicked out.

What was reserved as a graduation event at Nelson Heights, located at 7200 Laseter St., turned into a party that was advertised across social media as “Bounce Dat A— Part II.”

The flyer said the cost was $2 for girls and $3 for boys, asking for “no drama and come clean … if you not shaking yo a— you get kicked out.”

Newton County Commissioner and Nelson Heights board of directors Chairman J.C. Henderson said he was made aware of the party and social media flyers after the event had already begun. But Henderson wasn’t surprised by what was said on Facebook and other websites.

“I was concerned but wasn’t surprised with all the stuff the kids put on Facebook,” Henderson said. “I didn’t know that it was there. Nothing on Facebook surprises me because people could take your picture, put it on Facebook and you wouldn’t even know.”

According to Henderson, the parents of a young female reserved the community center for $150 for a graduation party, which began around 7 p.m. and ended around 11 p.m.

Henderson said he was notified of the party and then later attended with his wife. He said the parents who reserved the building were present along with about five other parents and anywhere between 65 to 75 teenagers.

“When I saw the reservations for a graduation party, I thought maybe the family was having a dinner or get-together. I didn’t know how many people were going to be there. But we had committed to allowing it,” Henderson said.

He thinks next time when people reserve Nelson Heights for a party, the renters should bear the cost of hiring an off-duty deputy to ensure nothing gets out of hand.

“I think when a group of young kids gets together, there’s going to be something they do that they probably shouldn’t,” Henderson said. “At the center there was no criminal activity or on the property. If anything happened, it was in the streets. Parents were there and I attended to make sure the kids didn’t act up and stayed in line.”

Chairman Keith Ellis said the county-owned building has a policy in place that requires a fee to be paid as well as rules to follow for renting.

“Routinely the facility is rented for community events and the committee runs the operations including making reservations for events. Any rent fees the center is receiving, a report is then turned into the county finance department,” Ellis said. “I had talked to Commissioner Henderson before and after the event and was sent the flyer. Obviously, if the need arises to revise the policy, the committee will certainly review those rules.”

Although the center can be rented for events, Ellis also said it serves a dual purpose, providing a polling location for the county.

Ellis said the county also owns community centers in Mansfield, Almon and Gum Creek which also can be rented and serve as polling locations.