‘This is only the beginning’

Doors open on new Dobbins Heights Community Center

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* June 18: Delays set back Community Center opening

DOBBINS HEIGHTS — Antonio Blue got his flag pole. He got his plaque, too.

And so it was with firm handshakes and a confident grin that the Dobbins Heights mayor supervised the preparation for and the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon with members of the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce and nearly 100 guests to open the new Dobbins Heights Community Center on Tuesday evening along Earle Franklin Drive.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Councilman Tyre' Holloway, Councilwoman Mary Ann Gibson, Mayor Pro Tem Gracie Jackson, Mayor Antonio Blue, Councilwoman Angeline K. David and Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. are among those at the front of the ribbon-cutting celebration Tuesday in Dobbins Heights for the opening of the new Community Center.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Councilman Tyre’ Holloway, Councilwoman Mary Ann Gibson, Mayor Pro Tem Gracie Jackson, Mayor Antonio Blue, Councilwoman Angeline K. David and Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. are among those at the front of the ribbon-cutting celebration Tuesday in Dobbins Heights for the opening of the new Community Center.

Not bad for a town of 864 people.

Officials broke ground on the $500,000 federally funded project on May 1, 2014. Then, Blue expressed hope the building would be open as soon as Sept. 30 but certainly by the end of the year. Recently, Blue talked with The Pee Dee Post about a myriad of issues that delayed the opening of the building for another six months. There was a water leak which required tile replacement and cleanup, and there were issues getting cable and an Internet signal to the building. There was the issue of getting the flag pole, installing the audio equipment for the larger multipurpose room and getting the plaque honoring the mayor and Town Council for a job well done.

None of that, however, mattered on Tuesday night as visitors swarmed the 4,000-square-foot building and toured the two computer rooms, the warming kitchen and found seats — folding chairs with padded blue cushions — to their liking.

The building’s covered entrance was tested before the doors officially opened. As a thunderstorm approached, 12 speakers stood under the archway. As the clouds grew darker and the lightning drew closer, those in the crowd edged closer to the building in hopes of staying dry.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Blue was the last of the 12 speakers, and the rain drops began to fall — hard — as he offered  his thanks for a team effort that took a lot of “hard work.”

Appreciation for that hard work was shown by a donation from Melvin’s Mission, a nonprofit formed by San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram, a Hamlet area native. Representatives donated a new HP computer to the center.

“We put together a dream team,” Blue said of a committee of residents, The Wooten Company, HH Architecture, both out of Raleigh and Hawks Builders, of Rockingham. “It is a happy day.”

The town received the building essentially for free. Blue acknowledged that “to whom much is given, much is required.”

The work to fulfill the mission of the new Community Center begins in earnest on Wednesday. The center, adjacent to the Dobbins Heights Community Park, is the centerpiece of a planned town overhaul that includes a park facelift and, in September, the start of construction of a new Habitat for Humanity home.

Tyre’ Holloway is, at age 36, the newest and youngest member of the Dobbins Heights Town Council.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“I love this community,” Holloway said. “The best is yet to come.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Holloway told The Pee Dee Post that efforts are underway to hire an executive director to manage the building’s operations, including the two computer labs. He said the building will be available to rent on a half-day, full day and multi-day basis to residents within and outside of Dobbins Heights. Rental rates, if established, have not yet been made public.

Until an executive director is hired — and no money appeared in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget the town recently passed to pay for such a position — Holloway said the building would be “run by committee.”

Town Councilwoman Gracie Jackson is nearly finished what she said is her 28th — and final — year in public office. She moved to Dobbins Heights in 1964. She credited Blue with the vision for the Community Center.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“I never doubted him,” Jackson said. “I’m not a doubting person.”

Jackson said that “if you put your mind, heart — and your hands — in it, you can do all kinds of things.”

Officials joked about just how hands-on Blue in the 13 months since the groundbreaking. But in light of the building being open for business, they were thrown in a lighthearted manner.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Dobbins Heights Mayor Pro Tem Gracie Jackson, Councilwoman Mary Ann Gibson, Councilwoman Angeline K. David (front), Kristen Hess of HH Architecture (back), Mayor Antonio Blue, Ronnie Hawks of Hawks Builders and Councilman Tyre' Holloway stand for a photo op inside the new Community Center.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Dobbins Heights Mayor Pro Tem Gracie Jackson, Councilwoman Mary Ann Gibson, Councilwoman Angeline K. David (front), Kristen Hess of HH Architecture (back), Mayor Antonio Blue, Ronnie Hawks of Hawks Builders and Councilman Tyre’ Holloway stand for a photo op inside the new Community Center.

 

 

 

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News

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