High bid may delay community center’s expansion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2003

[7/22/03]Plans to expand Kings Community Center may be delayed after the only bid received by Vicksburg officials Monday was higher than expected.

Fordice Construction offered to do the work for $233,200, but the proposal was more than city officials budgeted to add 2,700 square feet of space to the facility on North Washington Street.

Officials said the city accounting department will go over the bid specifics to determine if the city will have to readvertise for the project.

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Mayor Laurence Leyens said the expansion is part of plans to fix up the former elementary school and Head Start center.

“It’s a joke. It’s an embarrassment,” Leyens said. “It needs to be fixed up.”

The center has had no major renovations since the former elementary school opened its doors as a city-run center in 1990. Classroom and office spaces are now limited due to the growing number of children and programs at the center.

“There is no private space to meet with parents because the offices are so small,” said Diane Smith, director of Human Services. “In fact, the director’s office is located in the weight room.”

Smith said that on a daily average, not including the summer season, there are 12 to 15 students in classrooms as part of the Vicksburg Juvenile Alternative Program, which was established by North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young to assist first- or second-time offenders. They are sent to the program by the Warren County Youth Court. However, during the summer, there are 75 spaces available in two different sessions that last for a month. Smith said that in both sessions, there are about 150 children.

Classrooms also need to expand to fit the behavioral modification mode, which includes anger-management programs and after-school programs.

“We also had a GED program that had to come to a halt because of limited space,” Smith said. “However, we are still offering math, reading and homework assistance.”

Many of the programs at the center are funded through state and federal grants. The center’s budget, which does not include the planned renovation, is about $200,000 per year, including six staffers.

Along with the Kings center, city officials opened the $1.5 million Jackson Street Community Center last summer. Leyens said both are providing valuable services to the community.

“They’re serving two separate communities and serving two separate purposes,” he said.

In other matters, the city board:

Approved board meeting minutes from June 2.

Continued a public hearing concerning property on Porters Chapel Road until 10 a.m. Monday.

Presented the Senior of the Month Award to Fran Brown.

Presented certificates of recognition to Billy and Pauline Sheffield, Ameristar Casino and Coca-Cola Bottling Company for their sponsorships of the Fourth of July celebration.

Awarded bids for tree-cutting services.

Tabled a request for funds in the amount of $5,833 to the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport.

Denied a request for advertising in the 2004-2005 Chamber of Commerce community map of Vicksburg and Warren County.

Reappointed Blake Teller to the Board of Architectural Review.

Entered a contract with the Warren Central High School band for use of the city pool.