The Mary H. Richardson Community Center is now open – Picayune Item

The Mary H. Richardson Community Center is now open

Posted 9:07 am on Wednesday, October 12, 2022

With a September 2018 start date, it may have taken three years to finally complete, but now the people of Pearl River County have a new community center.

On Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Mary H. Richardson Community Center, located at 780 South Beech Street in Picayune.

The long wait to complete the project was due to the COVID pandemic and the withdrawal of shale support services from the project, District I Supervisor Donald Hart said.

The total cost of building the Mary Halen Richardson Community Center was approximately $350,000. Hart said the county received several donations from local industries and individuals to help complete the building. Then Shale Support Services offered to construct the building.

“They took the building from its concept and they said they were going to go from there with the design and build the building,” Hart said. “Then the pandemic hit and slowed down the economy, they (Shale) downsized…they came to us and said they were going to finish blocking the building and then they were going to have to pull out (from the project) because they were taking a hit.

At this point, the Mary H. Richardson Community Center was only a year away from construction. Construction of the building came to a standstill for some time during the pandemic until funds from the Cares Act, HEROS Act and ARPA became available. The county was able to use ARPA funds to complete the interior of the building.

Richardson tried to start a community center in 2012. Hart said Richardson was at an MLK Jr. meeting and asked people to donate money to build the center, but not much was done after that meeting . After his election, Hart made it his goal to make the community center a reality. They named the center after Richardson because it was her idea and because she did a lot for suffrage in Mississippi.

“I wanted to name it after her because she did a lot for suffrage. She and her husband were rights pioneers in the area, helping people with paid poll taxes in the civil rights era… She’s just been a trailblazer in this community for as long as I can remember,” Hart said.

Now that the ribbon cutting has taken place on Friday, October 7, 2022, it will serve as a polling station and community center. Currently, the center is where Climb CDC will offer assistance to the region young people aged 16 to 24 by providing educational opportunities, high school diplomas and job placement assistance that will provide employers with skilled workers.

Hart said the center would also serve as a site for the elderly as a senior feeding site. It will also be a place that can be rented by the public for various functions like weddings, parties and other events.

“It’s been a long time coming and we’re happy to have a site like this,” Hart said.

Jill E. Washington