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Clark County

April 1, 2007

Jeffersonville's Ken Ellis Center is back

RiverStage fundraiser, NAACP forum among facility’s first events

The Ken Ellis Center is back.

The Jeffersonville Parks and Recreation Department is scheduled to take possession of the new Ken Ellis Center this week and plans to welcome the return of the Spring Hill neighborhood community center with a fundraiser for RiverStage on Thursday.

The original center was destroyed by a tornado during Memorial Day weekend in 2004. The new structure is located a 1425 Pennsylvania Ave., a few hundred feet north of the former Ken Ellis Center.

“It’s going to be a tremendous asset for us,” said Parks Superintendent Rob Poff, adding that a problem with the

installation of a water line means that the building will likely be open for about two weeks before it has running water. “They are going to have, not only twice the space, but twice the opportunity.”

The new center is 6,000 square feet and cost and estimated $844,000, money that came from a state grant, insurance proceeds on the former building and some County Economic Development Income Tax funds.

The original Ken Ellis Center, which was located at 211 Martin Circle, was constructed as a tavern, but was purchased by the city under the direction of the late Mayor Richard Vissing during the 1970s. For 30 years, the building served as a senior citizens’ and community center for the Claysburg and Spring Hill neighborhoods.

One group that is returning home, so to speak, is the Jeffersonville/Clark County Chapter of the NAACP. Since the original Ken Ellis Center was destroyed, the NAACP has hosted its monthly meetings and some of its special events at Community Action of Southern Indiana.

“We intend to go back to the Ken Ellis Center,” said Gary Leavell, the chapter’s president, adding that the NAACP will host a “meet the candidates” event on April 19 at the center.

Leavell said the rebuilding of the center restores something of value to Claysburg and Spring Hill.

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