Last updated: May 15. 2014 4:20PM - 799 Views
By Chase Jordan cjordan@civitasmedia.com

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GARLAND – Mayor Winifred Murphy wants to reopen the town’s community center, but her idea did not gain steam with town board members ealier this week when the group gathered.

During a Tuesday meeting, board members held several discussions regarding improvements in the area.

Murphy expressed her concern about the state of the Garland Community Center, saying she would like to explore how to get the building up and running in the future.

“We have seniors and children who can use that building for something,” Murphy said about the facility which closed in January.

It was previously used for various purposes and Murphy said it could provide space for interior programs. She said the library can only hold about 20 children.

For financial reasons, Commissioner Ralph Smith previously made a motion to close the center up, turn off the power and use it for storage.

“It’s ridiculous for it to be burning power and not be using it,” Smith said of the center.

Murphy said she would like to ask the Sampson County Board of Commissioners for funding to assist with infrastructure problems. A specific amount was not specified, but officials said improvements could cost thousands of dollars. Some of those improvements include painting and providing fire-rated doors, which could cost between $5,000 and $6,000.

But Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson said the city should not get boxed in with a specific amount if a request was made. Smith said if Garland is going to ask the county for money, it should be for recreational purposes. He also mentioned a need for improvements for locations such as the library and the senior building.

Murphy’s idea to make a request to the commissioners was also shot down.

“At this point, I don’t know when they plan to re-open it,” she said.

The commission also looked at making recreational improvements.

Johnson presented an idea to get basketball equipment set up in town. He would like for the city to purchase at least two goals and the concrete to build a court. The estimated cost is about $5,000.

“We have to work a plan to get it,” Johnson said.

Board members later made a motion for Johnson to continue his research for the court.

The board also looked at making progress with the softball field. Town clerk Jennifer Gray said a few truckloads of clay can be brought to the field before programs begin in the fall.

With summer approaching, a Fourth of July event is also in the works. NC STEP (Small Towns Economic Prosperity) Program coordinator Brenda Cromartie presented the event idea to members. Some of the ideas include an essay contest, rides for children, water slide, video trailer and a small farmers’ market.

“These were just activities suggested at random and nothing was nailed down,” Cromartie said.

The board agreed to move forward to form a committee for the celebration. Johnson voted against it. Before the decision, he made a suggestion not to have too many events in one year.

Murphy, however, said she was looking forward to the event.

“We have a lot of people who are not able to go into Clinton or to White Lake,” Murphy said. “I think anything that we can do is positive for our young people.”

(Chase Jordan can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext.136. Follow us on Twitter @SampsonInd.)

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