What to do with Nel­son Heights

The Covington News - - OPINION -

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers had a lively de­bate this past week about what to do af­ter a May 30 party at the Nel­son Heights Com­mu­nity Cen­ter was marred by a gun re­port­edly be­ing fired into the air by a pass­ing car and hours of people milling about in the streets af­ter­ward.

There were also re­ports of the party ap­par­ently be­ing tied to a lo­cal gang.

While Hen­der­son said noth­ing il­le­gal hap­pened at the cen­ter, board mem­bers agreed that some tighter re­stric­tions need to be placed on the cen­ter. We agree.

The fact that the cen­ter is in this sit­u­a­tion is a shame be­cause it was built to be a safe gath­er­ing place for the people of the com­mu­nity, in par­tic­u­lar chil­dren who needed a place to go af­ter school to work on home­work and learn, as op­posed to be­ing out on the streets.

The cen­ter sat empty for a long time be­cause of fund­ing short­ages and dis­agree­ments about who would run it. Many in the com­mu­nity were skep­ti­cal that Com­mis­sioner J.C. Hen­der­son would run the cen­ter ef­fec­tively when he was named chair­man of its board of di­rec­tors in 2013.

How­ever, based on the talk in the com­mu­nity, the cen­ter’s af­ter­school pro­gram, run by Di­rec­tor Veda Miller, has been a suc­cess. Chil­dren’s lives are be­ing en­riched.

And that’s why the county and the cen­ter’s board need to be care­ful with who they let use the build­ing.

Yes, it’s a com­mu­nity re­source, but if people’s pri­vate events put the cen­ter and the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity at risk, they need to be stopped.

The de­ci­sion to rent out the cen­ter to groups who don’t show re­spect for them­selves or other’s people’s property was a poor one.

Hen­der­son said he dis­cussed the is­sue with Sher­iff Ezell Brown and the two de­cided fu­ture renters should have to pay for a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer to be sta­tioned.

We think that’s a good start, and we also agree with Chair­man Keith El­lis’ sug­ges­tion to con­sider a 10 p.m. cur­few and Com­mis­sioner Le­vie Maddox’s sug­ges­tion to be more vig­i­lant about who is rent­ing the fa­cil­ity.

Hen­der­son also ex­pressed his opin­ion that the is­sue was be­ing raised in an ef­fort to harm his chances at win­ning a runoff elec­tion.

In our opin­ion, Hen­der­son’s com­ments are po­lit­i­cal baloney. It’s no se­cret that many people want Hen­der­son out of of­fice, but there have been no short­age of sources for valid cri­tique of Hen­der­son. He’s not re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of his con­stituents, but he is re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing county property.

We ap­pre­ci­ate Hen­der­son’s ef­forts to fight for a com­mu­nity cen­ter for his district and the en­durance he dis­played year af­ter year in get­ting it up and run­ning. And, be­cause of his com­mit­ment, we ex­pect noth­ing less than that same ef­fort to keep the cen­ter and sur­round­ing com­mu­nity safe.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.