Bartow County Commissioner approves plans for the Allatoona Resource Center

By CHEREE DYE

Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor approved plans for the Allatoona Resource Center that is set to open in late summer or early fall of 2014.

The center will provide assistance to the residents in the portion of Acworth located within the county. The center include a trash compactor site, a gymnasium, a playground and a large building to house offices for county services.

The six-acre building site is located at 6505 Glade Road and was purchased by Special Option Sales Tax funds. While the SPLOST money will finance the construction of the gymnasium, the remainder of the project will funded by a $500,000 Federal Community Development Block Grant.

“We are not sure exactly what services will be provided yet,” said Nichole Varnell, the director of ARC. “However, we would like to partner with the Bartow County Health Department, the Division of Children and Family Services and local mental health organizations, or possibly the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office.”

Varnell attended a local community event to tell residents about the plans for the center.

“The Allatoona area spoke loud enough and Bartow County heard. We would like the residents to know we are here, and the ball is rolling on some projects to address the local concerns,” said Varnell.

Varnell contacted local churches and Allatoona Elementary School officials to inform them of the county’s plans.

Jim Bishop, principal of Allatoona Elementary School, is hopeful for the positive impact the center will have on the community. AES, a school with 75 percent of its population participating in free or reduced lunch programs, feels the impact of poverty and its side effects.

“One benefit this will hopefully bring to our students is year-round services,” said Bishop. “We close our doors in May and do not reopen them until August. There is a two-and-a-half-month gap for students.”

Bishop hopes there will be library or a book room open for children so they can continue to improve their reading over the summer. The students are given a reading assessment test at the end of each school year and another one at the beginning of the following year. The tests show there is a significant decrease in proficiency over the summer break.

Many of the specifics have not been decided yet, but it is agreed the ARC will be equipped with industrial-sized washer and dryers. As lice are a reoccurring problem at Allatoona Elementary. If a parent is having a difficult time ridding their home of lice, the school will give them a voucher that will allow them to wash all of their affected linens and clothing at the center.

The only challenges Bishop anticipates are transportation and cost associated with attending the programs.

“Last summer we opened our library so students could continue checking out books during the break, but we had very little participation. We believe that was mainly due to problems with transportation,” said Bishop.

At this time, no specific agreements regarding what types of organizations or programs will be offered at the center have been made.

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