Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Velma Young Center

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Meridian, Miss. Velma Young Park in East End was filled Wednesday with community members and leaders celebrating the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Velma Young Community Center.

City leaders say the $2 million project is the first time the City of Meridian, Lauderdale County, Meridian Housing Authority, and East Mississippi Development have all worked together on a project in a predominately African-American part of the city.

"We knew we wanted to have a community center over here. We were driven to do it. With talks with Lauderdale County we were able to take it to the Meridian city council who pledged almost $900,000 dollars to support our grant application," said Ward 2 City Councilman Dustin Markham.

"This has been an under-served area for a number of years, and this community center right here is going to be a huge shot in the arm for this community," said Mayor Percy Bland.

State Representative Charles Young was also there and talked about what it means to him that the center is named after his grandmother.

"It was really a true honor for the city to consider naming this park after her. She was a true leader in the community, and a tremendous asset in helping to educate young people, cosmetologists, and women," said Young.

Construction on the center should start within the next couple of weeks and will take four or five months.