‘Dream’ comes true

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2008

JACKSON – “All we had was a dream…”

Those were the words of Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins on Saturday as the citizens and government officials celebrated a dream come true during an open house for the Northampton County Cultural & Wellness Center.

The open house allowed citizens to explore the new facility that promotes health, wellness and cultural arts within the county.

A sampling of what the center is all about was available to citizens; local artists set up their work inside as music from local bands flowed from the muti-purpose room.

Outside, an array of activities were offered for children, including bounce houses, face painting, a slide, Bo-Ho the Clown and Smokey the Bear. Both children and adults could survey the entirety of phase one of the complex as a motorized train took passengers out to the labyrinth of sport fields and courts.

“Please know that this is only the beginning of many events to come your way,” said Commission Chair Robert Carter in his remarks to the crowd before the day’s events began.

Congressman G.K. Butterfield made a brief appearance at the open house. Butterfield was responsible for securing unused funds originally earmarked for Warren County for the project.

“I feel right at home when I’m here in Northampton County,” he said.

Commission Vice Chair Fannie Greene and Commissioner James Hester were also in attendance for the open house.

“We encourage each of you to commit to wellness,” said Greene. “Let’s join together and live more healthy and productive lives. This facility is only as effective as you make it.”

Hester noted the facility could not only yield physical benefits for citizens, but spiritual good as well.

“You don’t have to jump on those machines…start light,” he said. “Think of what those machines will do for your spiritual life.”

While the officials had their say, it was perhaps the citizens’ opinions that carried the most weight.

Adrienne Joyner of Conway brought her niece to the open house. Joyner said she had visited the center before and is a member to use the exercise room. She is also trying to book the multi-purpose room for a wedding reception.

Overall, Joyner said she was happy with the facility and said she planned on getting a lot of use out of it.

“They needed some activities in the county,” she said.

Steven Umphlett, 14 of Conway, expressed his contentment with the facility.

“It’s cool,” he said. “It’s got a lot of stuff for children to do.”

Caudie Drewry of Gumberry said he plans to get plenty of use out of the facility with the exercise equipment and bringing his grandchildren.

“It’s really nice,” he said. “I’m amazed to see Northampton County have something like this…it’s unreal.”

Fundraising for the center also took center stage as representatives for the Northampton County Recreation & Cultural Arts Center, Inc. spoke about how citizens, organizations and churches can leave an impact on the complex.

The non-profit organization was organized in 2006 to help raise funding for facility.

“We need program support in particularly for our seniors and youths,” said Elaine Grant. “We need the public to be a part of it.”

Three plaques bearing the names of those who have donated to the center will be hung in the foyer, each specified for an amount range.