Still a center of attention

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 10, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-the excitement surrounding the Theo Ratliff Activity Center’s grand opening three weeks ago is still going strong. Since the center officially opened its doors on Sept. 16 children and adults have made full use of its services.

Demopolis Park and Recreation Director Mark Pettus reported to the city council Thursday the new recreation center has been a huge success so far.

“It has been packed,” Pettus said. “They are seeing several kids a day and are doing a great job.”

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Carlow James, an employee of the Theo Ratliff Activity Center, said the numbers are growing every week.

“We have been doing pretty good,” James said. “I think we have been averaging about 80 to 90 kids a day.”

The Center is offering a variety of programs for youth and adults. Programs include weight loss and fitness, church league basketball, peewee basketball, ballroom dancing; youth support services, tutoring programs, pre-employment classes, parenting classes and anti-drug programs. Several other programs are in the works. The center also had mental health representatives come in on Monday and Wednesday.

The wide variety of programs and the great turnout have created a need for personnel. James said they are hoping to draw more help from the community.

“We always need volunteers,” James said. “We are looking for someone else right now, but we are mainly looking to see how the participation is going.”

James said it would be great to have volunteers come in to assist during busy times.

“We could always use some parents to come out and help us about two or three times a week,” James said. “That would be a big help.

Equipment is another area of need. The center is hoping to add padding around the basketball court to cut down on the risk of injuries and absorb some noise. They also need sporting goods.

All of the centers needs are not centered on sports. Because a large part of their services are centered on academics Pettus said the center is also looking for equipment to help with tutorial sessions.

“We are trying to find some computers to go out there,” Pettus said. “We are trying use them to help us with some of our tutorial projects after school.”

The center is currently open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. There is also another session from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

James said the center has been busy, but a lot of fun. He said the response from local youth has been very positive.

“It has been a lot of fun,” James said. “The kids have really been great.”