Deed to community center presented to Columbiana

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe, Mayor Pro Tem Tom Seale and Councilmember Leslie Whiting Sr. met with members of the Wallace-Campbell Community Center Board of Directors last Thursday night to sign the deed to the center which once served the black community as a school over to the city of Columbiana.

The action was pre-cleared by the council at its regular March 2 meeting.

According to Lowe, the signing ceremony held at City Hall last Thursday night was the culmination of three years of work between the city and the center’s board of directors.

Lowe reported that once the city assumes possession of the center, long range plans include after-school tutoring, recreational facilities, mentoring programs and a Meals-On-Wheels program.

&uot;I think this is going to be the start of something beautiful,&uot; said Lowe.

He told the board of directors, &uot;I appreciate your trust that we will do what we say we’ll do.&uot;

Lowe also told the board of directors that the action being taken

is &uot;all out in the open.&uot;

&uot;We are doing something we are proud of,&uot; he said.

The community center, located two miles south of Columbiana on Highway 47, once served as a school in the black community.

Ollie Mitchell, a member of the center board of directors said she graduated from the school about 50 years ago.

Seale explained that directors were signing documents acknowledging that there are no unpaid taxes on the property, that title to the property is free and clear, that there are no unpaid claims against the property as well as signing over the deed to the city

Lowe noted, however, in the event the center is not offered for public recreation within a one-year period, ownership will revert to the center’s board of directors.

On hand from the board of directors were Brenda Martin, chairman, Barbara Booker, Clarence Harris Sr., Soloine Madison and Mitchell. Freda Abrams was unable to attend.

&uot;The pressure is on us (the city) to make it (the center) safe and functional for the whole city,&uot; Lowe said.

However, he pointed out that the property cannot be sold without the consent of the city and the board of directors.

And he explained that to avoid conflict, no member of the city council could serve on the board of directors of center.

Whiting pointed out that in keeping with that understanding, he has resigned from the Wallace-Campbell Board.

Lowe also noted that Clarence Harris from the center’s board has been appointed to the city’s Park and Recreation Board.

Lowe said the turning of the center over to the city would not have happened had Whiting not kept the need for something in the community to be done for the children in the council’s face.

Whiting recognized the contribution of Councilmember Tim Billingsley to make the center a part of the city.

Whiting’s wife, Teresa, said the center was the one thing that meant more to Leslie than any other.

&uot;I had a place to go when I was coming up,&uot; Whiting said, indicating that was one reason he was able to &uot;make it out of the neighborhood.

&uot;I had caring people to keep me straight.&uot;

Lowe also recognized the efforts in the community near the center where a Neighborhood Watch program has been established to help fight crime and clean up the area. He recognized Madison and Abrams for those efforts.

&uot;The city owes it to the community to take things a step further … (to let others know) don’t bring your drugs and dump your trash out,&uot; Lowe said.

Madison said: &uot;I’m happy and delighted over this union.&uot;

She thanked the mayor and council of Columbiana for making the union between the city and the board of directors possible.

Whiting said of the center’s future, &uot;One day we can come back and have reunions and bring back memories that are nice.&uot;