GARLAND — The Garland Community Center could soon have its first tenant in what town officials hope is the start of a new era for a facility trying to get its foundation back beneath it.
Taekwondo master Ron Whitted made a request to the town to utilize the facility at least three times a week, possibly more if there is interest for his classes. Whitted Taekwondo has offered such services in Garland, notably at Pearls Academy, and Mayor Winifred Murphy said they have been well received.
During a special session this week, the Garland Board of Commissioners officially approved the request by Whitted, with the stipulation that the town receive 20 percent of the tuition of all participants.
Murphy said Whitted currently offers Taekwondo in Fayetteville on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He requested to use the Garland Community Center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and possibly expand those offerings if there is interest. The actual use, and any town revenue that would come with it, is dependent on that interest.
Whitted is scheduled to hold an informational meeting Monday to explain his services, gauge interest and start registration.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for our young people and adults,” said Murphy, “but it also would generate some revenue for us in terms of getting that building repaired. In the city of Fayetteville, they get 20 percent of every tuition. So, if he charges $40 (a student per month), we would get 20 percent of that ($8) per month. I think it’s fair, because if he gets up to 75 students, we would get more money. If he gets only 35, it would be less.”
Whitted is the president and founder of the North Carolina Taekwondo Organization. An accomplished Taekwondo master, Whitted is a USA Taekwondo Level I Olympic Taekwondo Coach, USA Taekwondo Level 2 Sport Poomsae Referee, a USA Taekwondo A-2 National Referee, USAT Ultra-senior National Champion and has coached his teams to more than 50 national medals.
“When I was working in Clinton City Schools, he did lessons for me for my Blazing Stars Academy. He’s currently doing something after school down at Pearls Academy,” said Murphy. “The kids love him. It’s a lot of discipline and it kind of rolls over into their academics as well.”
In a presentation to Garland commissioners, Whitted touted the health and disciplinary benefits of Taekwondo.
Approximately 20 percent of all children in the United States are overweight, and obesity in children can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and poor academic performance — a shortage of physical activity is a major contributor, Whitted said. While only a limited few adults or children can ever hope to become a national, world or Olympic champion, he noted, “we can all train like one.”
Whitted said his Garland Olympic Taekwondo Program would teach the five tenets of Taekwondo, including courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit. Additionally, he said, it would help develop discipline, build self-esteem and confidence and bring an understanding of different culture.
Whitted has proposed to offer classes at the Garland Community Center on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m., as well as on Saturdays from 9-11 a.m. Additional hours would be requested by Whitted based on the interest. According to Murphy, the cost of the classes would be $40 per month for students who commit to the whole year; $50 per month for a six-month commitment; and $60 per month if attending on a month-to-month basis.
If there were 40 students and all signed a year commitment for $40, that would be $1,600 a month in tuition, of which the town of Garland would receive 20 percent, or $320. After the overhead cost of utilities, notably the light bill, the rest would be revenue.
Murphy pointed to Whitted’s request as a good idea, and said she felt, like at Pearls Academy, it would be just as well received throughout the community.
“We didn’t have any idea of how we were going to use the facility,” said Murphy. “There has been a lot of interest at Pearls Academy, because I can’t give them as much as they want. And parents are wanting it for their children as well as themselves.”
The Community Center, which for decades served as the Garland Head Start site, has been the subject of much discussion the past year.
Last summer, it was announced by incoming Head Start grantee Telamon Corporation that 3- and 4-year-old Head Start children in Garland would be bussed to Charles E. Perry in Roseboro or Union Elementary School until the Garland facility received the work needed to pass inspection and be licensed for Head Start services. Telamon officials later said they had no plans to open the doors to the Garland facility, citing extensive renovations to meet federal mandates.
An environmental assessment revealed the presence of both lead paint and asbestos, and additional repairs to the HVAC system, windows, playground equipment, and some interior areas need attention to bring the building up to code, they said, estimating a six-digit cost to get everything done.
Following Telamon’s departure, Murphy said late last year the town was essentially on its own. Being able to use the structure in some way would help raise money toward its ultimate repair, she noted. Town clerk Jennifer Gray said the town recently sought the opinion of county inspections director Myron Cashwell, who said it was OK to use the building.
“N.C. STEP has been meeting there and we’re looking at other uses,” said Murphy. “We’re looking at hopefully having this so we can generate some revenue for that building.”
For more information, contact Garland Town Hall at 910-529-4141 or Master Ron Whitted at 910-385-4653.
In other business this week, the town board also approved a mowing bid, which will now extend over the course of two years.
Previously a six-month contract, the town decided to lengthen the contract following discussion at recent meetings. Commissioner Matthew Register said the change would be “nice,” seeing as any business that gets the contract is mandated by the state to carry $1,100 in worker’s compensation insurance.
“I think we need to start making this contract a little longer than just six months,” said Smith. “The way the insurance works, six months doesn’t really give you time to accumulate your money. I say we go two years, maybe three.”
The town opened bids and received two of them, approving Turning Leaves’ bid in the amount of $525 for a two-year contract. That includes regular mowing at two cemeteries, the Garland Cemetery and the Garland Community Cemetery.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.