Haddle, a Douglasville and Douglas County community leader for the past 40 years, was guest speaker at the noon Rotary Club of Douglas County in the Douglasville Downtown Conference Center.
“The architect has done his thing, and we’re ready for what we’re going to build,” Huddle said. “We’re meeting today with the city attorney to structure our bidding process.”
Haddle said once the low bidder is picked, he hopes construction will start in late April or early May. He said it will take about 8-9 months to build the structure.
He said the city of Douglasville received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for the Teen Center last September which it must match with local funds. Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller provided a $100,000 donation from drug confiscation money toward the matching amount.
“Through pledges from GreyStone Power, Georgia Power, Gold’s Gym and others, we now have about $400-425,000 in the matching fund,” he said.
The 6,000-square-foot Teen Center will be attached to the side of the current building at the gymnasium. It will have a separate entrance and check-in area for teenagers and include a learning center, computer room, a music/video studio, a leadership room, game room, cultural enrichment room and a fitness room. This addition to the current facility will allow the club to accommodate about 100 to 115 more members.
Haddle said the club will also have to raise funds for the maintenance and operating costs for the first two years of the Teen Center before United Way picks up funding. He estimates these costs to be about $100,000 per year.
Haddle said the Boys & Girls Club was started here in 1982, with the club meeting the first year at the Spiritual Life Center at the Douglasville First United Methodist Church.
“We then built a 4,000-square-foot building on Timber Ridge Drive, with about 1,000 square feet of office space,” he recalled. “We had about 200 kids then.”
In 1998, the current Boys & Girls Club building, located at 8828 Gurley Road, inside Hunter Park, opened with 16,000 square feet. The building has a full gymnasium, computer room, teen room and game room.
“We have 341 members in the club, 121 of them teens,” Haddle said. “Our average daily attendance is about 160.”
He said the Boys & Girls Club is open Monday through Friday, but will be open Friday and Saturday nights for teens when the Teen Center opens. Annual membership is $35, but Haddle said, “We never turn anyone away who can’t pay.”
He said while the county has a graduation rate of about 78 percent, “we have 87 percent of teens who graduate.”
Haddle said of all the youth who have been referred to the club by the juvenile court system, “94 percent have never had another brush with the law.”
“As Ben Franklin, I think it was, once said, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ This is our ounce of prevention here,” Haddle said.