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Center is progressing

JACKSON – Phase One of the four phase construction of the Northampton Wellness and Cultural Arts Center began April 16.

When the phase is finished, the Center will open new baseball and softball fields, a walking track with equipment for stretching, a tennis court, and an indoor classroom for aerobics classes with fitness equipment.

“It’s going,” James Roberts, the head of the Northampton County Recreation Department, said. “They poured the concrete for all the building.

“They’ve moved all the dirt they’re going to move,” he added. “They started reseeding the fields. They’re moving.”

Roberts hopes construction on Phase One will be finished by April 2008.

This phase of construction will allow the Northampton County Recreation Department to move all their summer programs into one area. It will also allow them to start offering tournaments to bring money and expand their programs to include adults.

“We can start tournaments on weekends and bring folks in from other areas,” Roberts said. “We’re going to be able to offer programs for adults, church softball or industrial leagues.”

Phase One will cost about 2.5 million dollars. So far the project has been funded by a USDA grant, loans from the federal and state governments, a grant from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and the County Commissioners.

More money could come into the county if new businesses are attracted by the project.

“One of the things I’m looking at is bringing revenue back into the county,” Roberts said.

“This is a great opportunity for the county to get something and work its way up.”

Roberts plans to use the current staff of the Northampton County Recreation Department, Roberts and his assistant, Colin Snead, to run Phase One.

Eventually the Center will need maintenance crews, someone to run the recreation leagues, and someone to run an auditorium, planned to be built later. Some of the workers will be volunteers, some will be part time, and some will be full-time.

“Once Phase Two gets here, that’s when most of the staff will be hired,” Roberts said.

Phase Two is slated to begin after Phase One is finished, and the seven members on the Board of the Northampton Recreation and Cultural Arts, Incorporated will begin to raise money for Phase Two soon.

“We’re going to start raising money for phase two in the coming months,” Roberts said.

“We’re coming up with fundraisers for this year.”

For more information on the center, call 534-1303.