By Joel Hall
Earlier this month, Congressman David Scott (D-Ga.), former state representative Gail Buckner, and Morrow city officials came together to discuss the funding and logistics for building the county's first permanent Boys & Girls Club in the city of Morrow.
Next month, Scott will approach Congress with a request for $600,000 to get the project started.
"I've been involved in this effort for several years now, and this is the best prospect that we've had up to this point," said Buckner. She has been rallying for financial support of the project from the private sector. "There have been many efforts in the past ... this one, we plan on making happen," she added.
"There is no Boys and Girls Club in Clayton County and there is no county with a greater need for a Boys and Girls Club," said Scott. "We have a growing number of youngsters who really need the structure. I'm willing to go to bat and get some appropriations from Congress.
"The $600,000 is what we will request to help get this moving," Scott continued.
Morrow City Manager John Lampl said the city is currently researching existing properties in Morrow, which can be renovated to meet the space and facility requirements of a Boys & Girls Club. However, he said the project will require the parties involved to have at least two years of staffing and operational funding in hand before they can operate the facility.
"If we think we can pull it off, and the support is there from the community ... I think there is a pretty serious chance to make this work," said Lampl. "The community support is certainly out there; it's just a matter of bringing it to the forefront."
Lampl said five elementary schools lie within the city of Morrow, or on its outskirts, and Morrow would be a prime location for the center.
"Our main goal as a city would be locating the building," said Lampl. "We have inmate labor and things that can make it a little more economical."
"This is great news for the community that everybody can get involved in," said Scott. "This will only be successful to the degree the community ... gets involved and buys a piece of it. People must buy into it and contribute their own dollars from the private sector to make it work," he said.
Buckner said she has been visiting schools and meeting with Parent Teacher Associations, as well as seeking support from private and corporate sponsors.
"It's very important that the community embrace building a Boys and Girls Club here," said Buckner. "We are reaching out to the entire community, because this has to be a community effort."