Meridian Star

October 20, 2013

Activity centers in the news

By Barbara Wells
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — This has been a busy month for Meridian Parks and Recreation staff!

     You may have noticed the new mayor is placing a lot of emphasis on improving facilities for youth and family recreation. This past week the "old" Velma Young Center was renewed – it was given a facelift and turned into a children’s activity center. The ballfield and swimming pool have been updated, and the area is fenced for children's safety.

    The new facility will open for public use in November, from 8 a.m.-noon. The Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi will use it in the afternoons.  

    Velma Young was the wife of E.F.Young Jr., who, in 1931, while working as a barber in Meridian, recognized a need for hair care products for the African-American population and started a manufacturing company. Young also opened a hotel and barber shop, a shoe shine parlor and a beauty shop in his name. The hotel still stands and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

     Velma Young took over the family business at her husband's death. Her son Charles L. Young became a representative to the state Congress – a seat now occupied by her grandson Charles L. Young Jr. Her granddaughter Veldore Young is a local youth court judge.

    For those unfamiliar with the Velma Young Center, it is located next to Magnolia Elementary School, at 2400 16th Ave. (turn off 23rd Avenue at 24th Street).

    On the first Saturday of this month, Highland Park was the focus of a family-oriented Play Day. Children and their parents were invited to come out and enjoy the weather, as well as games and a light lunch. Highland Park is the source of many memories for citizens of Meridian. Mayor Percy Bland said he hopes to revive these good feelings so that future families and groups may return for activities.


Walk to School Day


    Remember the days when you walked to school? Well, some kids still are walking to school, if they live close enough.The difference? In our day there were not so many automobiles speeding to work.

    On Oct. 29, Meridian Public School District will sponsor another Walk to School Day event. Meridian Parks and Recreation employees participated in one on Oct. 11, assisting students as they walked the road leading into Northwest Junior High School. Next Tuesday, you will see Parks and Rec employees manning the crossing at United Fence Company and up 39th Avenue to help children cross the street safely. There is a real need for crossing guards in that area for the school kids forced to dash through early morning traffic.

    Let’s try to keep an eye out for these children as they cross the streets mornings on their way to school.

Eight-week classes

begin Monday

    For all you grownup kids: Our eight-week classes begin Monday – that’s tomorrow, folks! (I’ve noticed that retired people quickly forget what day of the week it is)

    As a reminder ... we are open to adults 21 years of age and older. If you live in Meridian, the fee is $20 for one class; outside the city, $25. People over the age of 55 pay half price.

    You’ll find that some classes cost a bit more due to materials provided. Computer classes are $15 for a five week class. We are teaching Windows 7 and 8 Monday nights, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

    The following classes are still available. Help us keep these instructors busy by signing up:


    • Floor Exercise with Kay Nelson, from 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

    • Decorative Painting with Joyce Luke, from 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

    • Line Dancing, from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

    • Slimnastics with Brenda Golisch, from 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

    • Color Pencil Techniques with Don Shaffer, from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.


    • Cake Decorating, from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    • Crochet, from 9 a.m.-noon


    • Color Pencil Techniques with Don Shaffer, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.


    • Basic Sewing with Zielda Gandy, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

    • Knitting with Theresa Twente, from 9 a.m.-noon

    • Pine Needle Basket Weaving/Gourd work with Millie, from 9 a.m.-noon

    All other classes usually fill up with no problem but if you have a question about any, call (601) 485-1812.

    Our newest instructor Zielda Gandy wants to teach sewing – and what a good time to introduce this class, which will begin Thursday afternoon.

    You will need to bring a sewing machine with you, a good pair of scissors, straight pins   (Zielda will let you know what else you’ll need) ... and creativity. Imagine making whimsical Christmas stockings for your grandchildren or friends. Have you ever seen red and green striped high-heeled stockings with curled toes? Hot glue a strip of fur along the top ... well, I digress.  

    It will be a fun class, as well as learning all about your machine. Sewing colorful placemats will be a breeze.

    Our ceramics studio is sure to be a colorful place to work in the next month or two. Carole Ewing will be busy pouring the molds, while you can clean and paint them in preparation for the holidays. We have both Thanksgiving and Christmas to decorate for – and what a cute present: a handmade bowl filled with mints or nuts to give as a gift!

    Carole will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays until 5 p.m. Her phone number is (601) 485-1810.

Extra! Extra!

Read All About It!

    As Halloween falls on Thursday this year, Meridian Activity Center is planning a bit of a “Trick or Treat” Bingo game at 1 p.m. You’ll never guess what your hand will find inside your gift bag! We’ll reveal at that time the names of songs submitted in our Horror Hit Parade of Songs contest. Remember that old favorite: “Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun?” Or, “My Funny Frankenstein?” You still have time to send in a request to: or You can always mail your song name in to Horror Hit Parade of Songs, 3300-32nd Avenue, Meridian, MS  39307.

    Meridian Activity Center is located off 29th Avenue and 36th Street in the old Lamar Elementary School building. Phone (601) 485-1812 if you have any questions about our classes.

    • Barbara Wells is director of Meridian Activity Center. You may e-mail her at