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Nelson Heritage Center meets fundraising hurdles in push to reopen gym
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Nelson Heritage Center meets fundraising hurdles in push to reopen gym

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The Nelson Heritage Center is looking to have its gymnasium open and available for use around mid-fall, and the center is launching a fundraiser campaign as it simultaneously pushes forward with its renovations.

According to Johnette Burdette, executive director of the Heritage Center, the facility is in phase two out of three of its gym renovations. Currently, officials are installing the new HVAC system before laying the new wood flooring.

“We’re doing targeted fundraising right now for our very specific projects,” Burdette said.

Burdette said she anticipates the HVAC system to be installed by the early fall. After a period of roughly three weeks to adequately allow moisture to dry, the center will begin installing the floors closing the books on the second phase.

The gym will be fully functioning and available for use at the end of phase two. Phase three consists of other renovation projects, Burdette said.

“We are extremely excited,” Burdette said of the gym reopening in the near future. “It’s given us the inspiration and motivation to rev up our fundraising campaigns.”

The gym of the county’s former middle school, located at 1653 Thomas Nelson Highway in Arrington, has seen significant water damage over several years. In November of last year, work began to remove the warped and cracked portions of flooring to dry excess moisture and make room for the new wood planks.

Damaged floors and bleachers have rendered the space unusable.

Burdette said the Heritage Center received a grant of $52,500, which it must match dollar for dollar. The combined $105,000 will cover the completion of phase three, she added.

In phase three, officials will shift their focus other renovations, including windows, doors and upgrading the existing locker room.

“That’s what we’re looking for. A new face on an old treasure,” Burdette said.

In addition to the ongoing gym repairs, Burdette said the Heritage Center also received an anonymous $40,000 donation to install solar panels on the recently renovated roof. She estimated that work would being in the coming weeks and should be complete even before the center enters phase three.

“In phase one of the gym we put a new roof on and the new roof is perfect for solar panels,” Burdette said. “In addition to decreasing our operation budget ... we also just wanted to decrease our footprint.”

Burdette said the center also is in the midst of a membership drive in order to bolster the ranks of the Millennium Group, which owns and operates the facility.

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