Fairmont: Donation will bring year-round recreation

First Posted: 1/15/2009

FAIRMONT - The town got something Tuesday that it hasn't had in years - a year-round recreation program.
The revival of the program comes by way of a $25,000 gift from the South Robeson Medical Development Board. The commissioners voted unanimously to accept the donation.
“We are excited about the future of recreation and we want to do our part to make it better,” said Butch Lennon, who serves as vice president for the medical board.
The board discussed in April using $7,000 to pay for a program administrator for a summer recreation program. The commissioners are now expected to use the combined $32,000 to fund the program for the entire year.
“The town is deeply grateful for it being made,” said Mayor Charles Kemp, who directed the town's summer recreation program from 1973 to 1982. “The best we could do was have a summer program … now we can run one a whole year.”
Kemp said the county Recreation Department would provide supplies, and he has asked the school system to open the gym at Fairmont Middle School. Potential activities offered include youth sports and group exercise for older residents.
Lennon, a former town commissioner who is father of current Commissioner Wayland Lennon, said the non-profit organization believes the gift can help improve the health of residents.
“We know the town is strapped,” Butch Lennon said. “They will see a benefit from this hopefully.”
In other business, the board approved the purchase of the old Pope’s Dime Store building on Main Street to use as a community building. The town will pay $50,000 - $25,000 in cash and $25,000 in tax write-offs - for the 7,104 square-foot building across the street from the new Heritage Park.
The purchase inches the town closer to the completion of a community building that was first proposed in 1998. The board now must renovate the building at an expected cost of up to $500,000.
The board recently submitted a $508,000 grant proposal to the Golden LEAF Foundation, and state Sen. David Weinstein requested that $600,000 for the center be included in the state’s budget.
Kemp assured the board that costs would not increase as they had in early 2000, when a committee proposed renovations costing more than $1 million.
Also Tuesday, the board agreed to donate $500 to the Border Belt Museum. The farming museum has run out of money, Town Manager Blake Proctor said. Proctor said he will include $1,000 for the museum in next year’s budget proposal.
Also Tuesday, the board approved an ordinance to lower the speed limit on Golf Course Road from 55 to 45 mph. The board also wants the stretch near Fairmont High School dropped to 35 mph.
“I’ve traveled that road every day of my life,” said Commissioner Mary Bruce Grantham. “I’m going too fast, and the kids fly around me like I’m standing still.”
The state Department of Transportation must approved the change. The board took no action on a resolution in favor of naming the portion of Interstate 74 that runs Robeson County “American Indian Highway.” Proctor said he would speak with other town managers and share his findings at a future meeting.

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