Williston, Elko communities have 'ground-clearing' for future community center

Community leaders in Williston and Elko have talked and planned a great deal on the Williston-Elko Community Center project.

Now the public can get a visual on the idea March 28.

At 10 a.m. that day, the group promoting the idea will unveil an artist drawing of the proposed center at the center's site on Academy Street in Williston. They will also hold a "ground-clearing" ceremony there instead of a groundbreaking, said Freddie Houston, one of the driving forces behind the center and a Barnwell County Councilman.

The land - about four acres - was donated by Barnwell County resident Robert O. Collins.

The artist drawing to be unveiled is on a four-foot by two-foot board.

The ceremony, in which a copy of the drawing will be planted at the site, is open to the public. The event will occur behind the Williston library.

Houston said Williston Mayor Tommy Rivers and Elko Mayor Marty Schumpert will be there. Members from both town's councils have been invited as well as S.C. Sen. Brad Hutto and Rep. Lonnie Hosey.

The ceremony is the official launch of a fund-raising campaign for the about $2.5 million center.

Houston stressed that the project is not affiliated with any church but the center is there for the whole community, he said.

"It (the idea) started at a church, but it is totally a community project. I guess you could say it's a community project that arrived out of a church," he said.

The center will have a multipurpose room, a computer room, a fitness room and a conference room that will hold about 100 people.

The conference room will also be wired for video and teleconferencing, Houston said.

Smaller churches could rent space at the center for some of its larger events like homecomings or revivals, he said.

Businesses could also rent office space for temporary events as well or to handle short-term operations, Houston said.

Rental of the center's spaces and functions would cover its costs, he said.

"It's not a town project or county project but one that's self-supporting," Houston said.

Houston said he is pleased with the center's location, which is near downtown Williston and within walking distance for many of its residents.