Theo’s center gets slam dunk

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

More than two years ago, Mark Pettus and Luke Hallmark decided to ask an old friend for a new favor. On Thursday, the state of Alabama decided to become a part of the favor.

A planned community activity center, spurred by Pettus and Hallmark and partially funded by NBA star and Demopolis native Theo Ratliff, will receive a $250,000 grant from the state of Alabama, thanks to a Community Development Block Grant.

Along with the additional funding, sought by Pettus through a grant writer in Alabama, the Theo Ratliff Activity Center has now secured $450,000. Ratliff has pledged $200,000.

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Pettus and city organizers have estimated the center to cost $600,000 to construct. The city of Demopolis has pledged in-kind help that will used to prepare the site of the new center &045;&045; located on three lots next to U.S. Jones.

As for the remaining $150,000 needed to construct the center, Pettus said Ratliff plans to contact a few of his NBA friends for donations.

At this point, Pettus believes construction on the center can begin within a year, and he estimates it may take less than two years to complete the project.

Along with a basketball court &045;&045; obvious by the profession of the major donor &045;&045; the Theo Ratliff Activity Center also will include a walking track, meeting rooms and even a computer lab.

John Harrison, head of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, said the state would award the grant "subject to your meeting the terms and conditions," of the grant request.