Plans for Woodmen Community Center, water park unveiled
Photo: Charles Buchanan / The Free Press
Sue Ellen Maddux, head of the Woodmen
Community Center for the Kinston Parks and
Recreation Commission, and Ray Amyette,
executive director for Lions Industries for the
Blind's Kinston affiliate, unveil an artist's
rendition of the Woodmen Community
Center Family Water Adventure.
September 21, 2011
Staff Writer, Kinston Free Press
Drawings were unveiled Tuesday showing a water park slated for Kinston, which its promoters hope will be “the best east of Greensboro.”
That was the hope of Kinston Interim City Manager Bill Ellis, who presided over Tuesday’s announcement of the commencement of construction of the Woodmen of the World Community Center and its adjoining water park.
“I think this project will change Kinston and Lenoir County,” Ellis told an audience of local officials, civic leaders and Woodmen of the World representatives gathered at the Kinston-Lenoir County Visitors and Information Center. “It is a wonderful, great project.”
The Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, based in Omaha, Neb., has contributed $7 million toward the building of a more than $12 million complex through its charitable and community arm, the Woodmen Foundation.
“Not only will this development be an icon for the community, there will be significant construction employment in this area for the next year,” said Jim Stolze, director of community partnerships for the Woodmen. “The finished project will be the pride of Kinston and Lenoir County for many years to come.”
Public and local private dollars are covering the remainder of the project’s cost. The city and the county contributed a combined $1 million, the state $500,000, and the Golden LEAF Foundation $350,000.
“It is a primary example of what can happen when government and business work hand in glove,” George Graham, chairman of the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners, told the audience.
Graham regaled the audience with a slightly altered rendition of the Rogers and Hammerstein tune, “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’.”
“It is a beautiful morning/it is a beautiful day,” he read. “Oh what a wonderful feeling/everything’s going my way.”
Private donations covered the remaining $4 million to pay for the water park, and the Kinston affiliate of the Lions Industries for the Blind contributed a major portion of that money.
As a result, the water park will be named the Lions Industries for the Blind Family Water Adventure, and it will be built to accommodate blind and visually-impaired people.
Ray Amyette, executive director of the Kinston LIB affiliate, expects the park to become a “national model for ensuring that persons with visual impairments, other disabilities and their families have equal access to appropriate leisure activities in the most normalizing environment.”
The Lions Industries for the Blind employs the blind and visually impaired at its manufacturing plants around the country, including a plant in Kinston that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.
Amyette did not say how much money the Lions Industries raised, but stated it was a “significant” amount.
“The Kinston-Lenoir County community has been very supportive of our efforts over the past 40 years, and it is an honor to give thanks to them by supporting this exciting venture,” he said.
The community center, the first built anywhere in the United States by the Woodmen, will include space for the Woodmen’s local and state offices, offices for the Kinston-Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department, a banquet facility, meeting room, teen center, senior center, elevated walking track and fitness center.
The water park will include a 25-yard swimming pool, a therapy pool for seniors, two water slides supported by a 36-foot tower, a children’s swimming area and a 665-foot lazy river.
Ellis expects construction to begin in the next week to 10 days; Sotlze expects the water park to be open by Memorial Day of 2012, and the community center open by the fall of 2012.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.