The Mooresville Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to allow Mitchell Community College and Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina to use space at the towns new Selma Burke Community Center.
But dissent erupted over allowing in Easter Seals UCP North Carolina. Commissioners Rhett Dusenbury and Eddie Dingler voted against Easter Seals UCP, while commissioners Lisa Qualls, Bobby Compton, Mac Herring and Thurman Houston approved letting the agency use space.
Dusenbury and Dingler said they were concerned about some of the people served by Easter Seals UCP, including former prison inmates, those experiencing mental health crises and adolescents whove been in trouble with the law.
The community center is no place to house a mental health counseling center for people seeking psychiatric care, Dusenbury told his fellow commissioners. But Mayor Miles Atkins loudly banged the gavel to silence Dusenbury when Dusenbury added: I wish our commissioners would have enough guts...
Dingler told the Observer after the vote that he was concerned about mixing such clients with children who also will use the center. After-school tutoring and other activities for youth also are planned at the center.
Houston replied to Dusenburys concerns before the board voted, saying that to exclude certain populations would be to defeat the purpose of the community center.
Herring said the contracts with the nonprofits are good only until June 15, when they will be evaluated.
In voting to allow the agencies to use the center, commissioners also mandated that each nonprofit pay the town $100. Commissioners originally considered allowing the agencies to use the center for free because of the services they provide the community.
On Nov. 5, the commissioners voted 6-0 to rename the former Agape child development center in honor of Burke, an African-American sculptor who grew up in the nearby Cascade community. Agape Drive is near the intersection of N.C. 115 and N.C. 150 East, just north of downtown Mooresville.
Burke is best known for sculpting then-President Franklin D. Roosevelts portrait in 1944. The sculpture was unveiled in September 1945 at the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C., where it still is displayed. Artist John Sinnock used the portrait for his design of the dime.
Also on Nov. 5, commissioners unanimously approved an agreement allowing the Mooresville Graded School District to use classrooms rent-free at the center from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays for tutoring. The agreement runs through June 6.
Marusak: 704-987-3670. On Twitter: @ jmarusak.
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