Commissioners discuss rec center ownership

The Holmes County Board of County Commissioners held a workshop to discuss taking ownership of the Bonifay Recreational Center Monday, Feb. 21.

Members of the community packed the board room, all concerned about the fate of local youth sports programs if commissioners don’t accept ownership of the aging recreation center. 

The City of Bonifay sent a letter to the county on Feb. 15 offering to donate the facility back to the county; now the county is faced with making the decision to accept or not. 

According to County Attorney Nate Nolin, the letter is not enough to make the exchange of property happen. “In looking at the past deeds for the property, a donation will not be enough to complete the process,” said Nolin. “The city will need to formally abandon the property in order for the reverter clause from the deed in 1991 to kick in. However, should the county choose to not accept the facility, the reverter clause from the 1987 deed will send the center back to the Kiwanis Club who originally owned it.”

The county is checking into what it will cost to take over ownership of the recreational center, citing tasks such as getting an insurance quote and estimating average annual energy costs. 

Commissioners say they will make a decision based on these numbers. 

With the request being made nearly  halfway into the budget year, commissioners are trying to figure out how to pay for the added costs of the facility. 

Members of various organizations addressed the board, speaking in favor of the county taking ownership and offering to help. 

Danny Carnley, pastor  of Life Out Loud Church, expressed how his congregation would like to work with the county. 

“We are growing by leaps and bounds,” said Carnley. “We have a large youth group, and we need a larger place to hold services and expand our outreach programs. We would like to host after school programs and the rec center is perfect for what we want to do. We believe we can partner with the county and other organizations to bring the rec center back to where it used to be.”

Dixie Youth Baseball Board Member Kevin Womble expressed how important the center is to the community’s youth, “If we can just keep the lights on, we will be okay because we are the ones that do most of the upkeep anyway,” he told commissioners. “We don’t have much in this town, but we have that. If we lose this, our kids are the ones that will lose at the end of the day.”

The county is expected to make a decision at their next meeting.

The Holmes County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in regular session at 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 1.


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