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New gymnasium officially opens for public use at Sweetwater park

Officials gathered this week for the opening of a recreational facility that has been in the works for more than a decade. The Sweetwater Gymnasium officially opened with a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning.

"We've been working on this a long time," said Recreation Board Chairman Mike McQuaig. "It's just a super facility, and I think it's going to really add a lot to the county."

The $2 million gym is equipped with two full-sized basketball courts and plenty of office and storage space for the recreation department. Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax paid for the construction of the new facility, which is a solid use of the tax dollars, officials said.

"It's going to be great for the kids," Dr. McQuiag said. "...It's going to really give us an opportunity to expand the programs. It's been a long time coming, and I think everybody's really going to enjoy it."

According to Recreation Department Director Bob Howard, the new gym can be used for basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and a host of other activities. He said during basketball season, having the new building will free up some school system gyms currently in use.

"I'm glad we can have this facility to get out of the school system's hair a little bit," said County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton.

Recreation Department activities will take place in the gym during regular business hours. It will be open to the public from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays. The gym will also be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The daily cost to use the gym is $2 for adults and $1 for students.

Thomson City Councilman and Recreation Board Member Mike Carrington joked at the ribbon cutting that he would soon be asking for a swimming pool to be added to the facility. An Olympic-sized pool was in preliminary plans for the gym but was cut early due to budget limitations.

Web posted on Thursday, September 07, 2006

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