Ratliff Center bounds ahead

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 22, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – The Theo Ratliff Activity Center got the green light from the city council Thursday during its regular meeting at city hall.

Council members accepted a bid from Fraiser-Deason, a Selma-based contractor, to construct the facility for $574,700, opting to hold out on an $8,000 alternate bid for padding around the center’s basketball court.

Parks and Recreation Director Mark Pettus told council members his department was pleased with the bid, coming in at around $64 per square foot.

Demopolis native and National Basketball League standout Theo Ratliff kicked off the concept of the activity center that will be located near the U.S. Jones Elementary School and the existing Jones Recreation Center.

Ratliff donated $215,000 in stock toward the project. In addition, Pettus said about $10,000 in donations from individuals and local companies have been made.

A $250,000 community development block grant will also be used to fund the construction.

“That will leave us short about $200,000,” Pettus said.

Of that shortfall, site preparation, paving and utilities are items that the city would be responsible for under the bid.

A renewed fundraising effort is under way, said Pettus, in an effort to develop “community ownership” of the center.

“We want community ownership and want the citizens to help in maintaining it … whether it’s $1 or $100, it helps the citizens to give thought and input into the center,” he said.

A small committee is now at work brainstorming ideas, led in part by Ratliff’s mother.

Pettus said Ratliff also planned to launch a capital campaign within the NBA to help fund the building he plans on offering camps and clinics in.

Meanwhile Pettus said he was focusing his attention on seeking additional grants and federal funds to help pay for the building.

“Even if we don’t get another dime, we will have a nice, functional building with room to grow – we have future dreams,” he said.